The word “political spectrum” has been thrown around quite often in political debate. For most people, the political spectrum goes from right to left and vice versa. There seem to be two major competing views – conservative and liberal. They are not wrong. As a matter of fact, the left and right sides of politics make the most important part of the spectrum but there are still other aspects that rarely get discussed.
Some analysts have even argued that the political spectrum doesn’t move from left to right. Instead, it moves from top to bottom. In essence, they account for the power of the wealthier upper class in society to influence governance in any political system. We have also seen some arguments about Libertarianism and Totalitarianism. Political scientists argue that a political spectrum can be viewed in terms of the rights extended to citizens. For example, in a libertarian system, people are free and act voluntarily to solve their problems and help one another. Libertarian states are characterized by strong people’s power and highly accountable governments.
Totalitarianism, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. It represents a system of governance where the state has a lot of power and holds control of all instruments of coercion including the police and the military. It can be argued therefore from these standpoints that a political spectrum can move from libertarianism to totalitarianism.
In addition to this, when you talk about the Right and Left, there are certain aspects in the spectrum that need to be discussed. After all, there is such a thing as the radical right and the radical left. So, let’s look at the political spectrum from each of these sides until a point where they intersect. The Right, for instance, can also be characterized by classical liberalism where the state respects the individual rights of all citizens and puts measures to protect them.
This is the less radical view of right-wing ideology. You have also heard many GOP members talk about constitutional conservatism. This is where the constitution remains supreme and keeps the power of the government in check. There is also the concept of representative democracy which is also in the less radical side of the spectrum. However, when you start to look at nationalism, fascism, theocracy, islamofascism, and Nazism, you start to get into extremely radical elements of right-wing ideology. They are all part of the spectrum.
The left is also not any different. Civil libertarianism where the personal freedoms of all are unlimited is the less radical part of the spectrum. Localism too, where communities decide their own laws and regulations, is on the less radical side. The left have direct democracy which is the same as representative democracy. However, when you start to get into social engineering, where the state encourages people to behave in a certain way, the radical aspects of the left spectrum become clear. You also get things like Eugenics, the dictatorship of the proletariat, socialism, Marxism, and later communism. All these concepts fall in the political spectrum. But some of them are less radical than others.