What would cause you to classify somebody as far left?

I often see comments to this effect:

The USA is a center-right country.
There is a big lump of people way over on the far right.

What I am wondering are the gradations of the left. How would YOU classify someone as far left as opposed to average left or just nominally left? What policies would cause you to do this? Or do you never see anyone as far left?

Even if you consider the USA a center-right country, that doesn’t mean anything about policies not under debate in the USA. Surely there must be theoretical possibilities that are only wanted by a small minority that would be considered far left. I would also consider a cumulative effect; if you would consider someone far left by adopting a whole basketload of positions belonging to the left.


Is eco-terrorist the right word? Don’t they plant spikes or some kind of hazard in trees(?) that will hurt the people who harvest trees? That’s far left.

Far left is basically communism/anti-capitalism, income redistribution, anti-imperialism/anti-globalism, that sort of thing, depending on how radical. (e.g. anarchism is definitely far left). But I am not sure that “far” left is a useful distinction, or that there are precise criteria.

Well, spiking trees is not in itself a complete politico-economic theory.

My wife’s cousin is, IMO, far-left, at least by U.S. standards. He’s likely agree.

He’s a big Bernie Sanders fan, believes that all large corporations are toxic and evil, and is an advocate for radical changes to the U.S. political structure and economy – i.e., break up the big companies, nationalize a lot of industries, etc. He’s very much in favor of universal free healthcare, guaranteed basic income, and broad-scale adoption of green energy.

He’s not quite “eat the rich” (he’s an extremely non-violent person), but he sees most Americans as being either corrupt or complicit in what’s wrong with the country.

You have nothing to lose but your chainsaws!!

A far left position is not necessarily that the rich be violently eliminated. For example, maybe their position is to get rid of the use of money, then nobody is rich. Or maybe (perhaps more mainstream) to make sure nobody is poor or lacks food, health care, etc. so that it is not necessary to be rich.

I’m not sure, I see the situation as follows:

Depends on how you define “left,” and whether that definition is synonymous with “liberal.”

Sometimes the clowns are in the front, hoods on the right, punks in the back.

Like ~90% of democrats have similar opinions and ~35% of republicans do. Hardly far-left positions.

Nice guess, but incorrect.

Support for universal, single payer healthcare:

  • Democrats 36%
  • Republicans 15%

Support for universal basic income:

  • Democrats 66%
  • Republicans 22%

I was mainly referring to government reform and breaking up large companies.

Government reform (whatever that means to the individual advocating it), sure, but “breaking up large companies”? And nationalizing industries? Like, you think most Americans believe that the government should just be able to walk into Disney or Amazon and tell them “Okay, you have to sell off substantial parts of your organization and not own them any more”?

I very much doubt that even liberal Democrats are mostly in favor of that. Much less that they would support the position that the government should outright take away the assets of certain entire industries and own and administer them itself.

By Americans standards, according to political compass type quizzes, I am extremely far left. Literally on the far left edge of the map. By Canadian standards I’m about halfway to the left of centre to the edge a compass just as a point of comparison. About the only person I would vote for if they were running in Canada would be Bernie Sanders. He’s right about one thing in particular. The economy is broken and isn’t work for everyone, and it needs to be rebuilt so that it works for everyone. Continuing to push ever increasing amount of wealth into ever increasing less hands is not sustainable.

This would not apply to United States policy or politics as both composers (who also performed the song) are Scottish. It may be informative as to a replacement for Boris Johnson, but any application to the spectrum of US political views would be tangential. For goodness sake, those people have a word they spell: C-O-L-O-U-R!!

If an American had to go a hundred miles to vote , then had to change a flat . . . .
A Brit would go 160.934 Kilometers before he or she changed their TYRE. The whole matter could put you in a bad humoUr.

On a more serious note, I do have a friend who is a small business owner. She has told me on more than one occasion that she personally would advocate for redistribution in all matters large and small. I am not on a close enough personal basis to know how the books are run in HER business- but I do know she is adamant about providing healthcare for ALL employees.

I don’t believe in far left as meaningfully different from far right. I don’t believe there exists a political spectrum that somehow runs from communist centralized government to fascist centralized government with some vaguely defined democratic constitutional socialist representative government somehow located in the middle.

Where is anarchy in that continuum?

I would like to point out that the John Freaking Birch Society, a seriously right-wing faction by nearly universal acknowledgment, makes that exact same point (go pick up a copy of None Dare Call it Conspiracy). I’m no John Bircher. Most of my views tend to cause me to get categorized as part of the far left. But I am fundamentally an anarchist, not a socialist. And it’s different. We aren’t really on the continuum. Because it isn’t one. It’s an artifice designed to convince the rest of you that the extremes in either direction involve coercive dictatorship and that therefore you’re so much better off in the bland everyday middle where you’ve always been stuck.

You aren’t in the middle of anything except cynically managed populace control.

I know its a terribly old-fashioned model of thinking about the world, but what about a conviction that:

  • the collective needs of all people outweigh those of the individual
  • ownership of the means of production should rest with the broad spectrum of citizens
  • economic and social disadvantage is a bad thing, and society should be actively working to remove or fix the structures that create that disadvantage [such the aforementioned ownership of the means of production, capital and ability to manipulate the system to their own benefit, inherited transfer of wealth, institutionalised discrimination etc etc]?

I’d say those principles would not be present in a right-winger, and a centrist / centre-leftist would say they are fair enough, but what about … and start talking about the struggles of the factory-owners.

Not necessarily. I can be argued that all those libertarian billionaires and those who would like to be rich like them who do not recognize the state are right-wing anarchists: sounds oximoronic, but you only have to take away the “oxi” and you got it. Peter Thiel and Elon Musk are two good examples of this nefarious breed. So far they are getting away with it.

I think maybe a more useful model is a two axis one:
Conservative / Liberal would be your x axis. Right would trend towards “individualism” while left would trend towards “collectivism”.

They y axis would be degree of government control. So your extremes at the 4 quadrants might look something like this:

Fascism | Communism

Libertarianism | Anarchy-ism

I wasn’t sure about the Fascism quadrant because Fascism puts the state above all. But i[om further thinking, I believe Fascist philosophy sort of represents a kind of state mandated individualism. Power, strength, Übermensch, etc.

I think any political position becomes “far” when it’s no longer about addressing actual society problems such as feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, fighting crime, making the trains run on time, etc, and becomes about instilling the philosophy.

Isn’t that the model of thinking about the world of Vulcan?

The standard I would apply is the need for a redistribution of wealth, and the need for speed. I’d say that someone who wants wealth redistributed at all is a liberal, but someone wants it redistributed starting right now is a mild leftist and someone who wants it redistributed starting right now and ending at a finite point soon is a far leftist.