In politics, the Left, left-wing, and leftists are people or views which generally support social change to create a more egalitarian society.They usually involve a concern for those in society who are disadvantaged relative to others and an assumption that there are unjustified inequalities (which right-wing politics views as natural or traditional) that should be reduced or abolished.
The political terms Left and Right were coined during the French Revolution (1789–1799), referring to the seating arrangement in the Estates General: those who sat on the left generally supported the radical changes of the revolution, including the creation of a republic and secularization, while those on the right were supportive of the traditional institutions of the Old Regime. Use of the term “Left” became more prominent after the restoration of the French monarchy in 1815 when it was applied to the “Independents”. The term was later applied to a number of revolutionary movements, especially socialism, anarchism, and communism as well as more reformist movements such as green politics, social democracy, and social liberalism.
The spectrum of left-wing politics ranges from centre-left to far left (or ultra-left). The term centre left describes a position within the political mainstream. The terms far left and ultra-left refer to positions that are more radical. The centre-left includes social democrats, social liberals, progressives and also some democratic socialists and greens (in particular the eco-socialists). Centre-left supporters accept market allocation of resources in a mixed economy with a significant public sector and a thriving private sector. Centre-left policies tend to favour limited state intervention in matters pertaining to the public interest.
In several countries, the terms far left and radical left have been associated with communism, Maoism, Autonomism and many forms of anarchism. They have been used to describe groups that advocate anti-capitalist, identity politics or eco-terrorism. In France, a distinction is made between the left (Socialist Party and Communist Party) and the far left (Trotskyists, Maoists and Anarchists). The US Department of Homeland Security defines left-wing extremism as groups who want “to bring about change through violent revolution rather than through established political processes.”
In China, the term Chinese New Left denotes those who oppose the current economic reforms and favour the restoration of more socialist policies. In the Western world, the term New Left refers to cultural politics. In the United Kingdom in the 1980s, the term hard left was applied to supporters of Tony Benn, such as the Campaign Group and Labour Briefing, as well as Trotskyist groups such as the Militant Tendency and Socialist Organiser. In the same period, the term soft left was applied to supporters of the British Labour Party who were perceived to be more moderate. Under the leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown the British Labour Party re-branded itself as New Labour in order to promote the notion that it was less left-wing than it had been in the past. One of the first actions however of the Labour Party leader who succeeded them, Ed Miliband, was the rejection of the “New Labour” label. (wikipedia)