The Political Spectrum - George Washington High School

IB 20th Century Topics
 The
political spectrum is a term used to
refer to the differences in ideology
between the major political parties in the
 A person’s views on the issues help
determine where they fall on the political
 The labels used on the spectrum are not
pure categories, but they make up a
continuum, or value line, and citizens and
politicians fall somewhere on that line
depending on what they believe.
 An
aspect of a culture’s worldview
 A philosophical tradition
 Certain psychological attitudes
 A partisan tradition and set of positions
on current political issues
 Two
major factors shape political views.
 The first is how much change a person is
willing to have within their society and
 The second deals with how much government
involvement in the economy a person calls for.
 Others also bring in the question of how much
freedom from government authority a leader is
willing to give the people.
A philosophy of
socialism demanding
the end of government,
capitalism and religion
 Revolution through
“direct action” –
terrorism and
 No planning of future
society and economy
 Against all forms of
authority and private
Seen as being on the far
left of the political
spectrum, radicals call for
wide-sweeping rapid
change in the basic
structure of the political,
social, or economic
They may be willing to
resort to extreme
methods to bring about
change, including the use
of violence and
V.I. Lenin:
Mastermind of the
Russian Revolution
and Father of the
Soviet Union
 Revolutionary
 Extreme equality-
 Violent rationale
 Anti-capitalist,
illiberal, intolerant
 Act on behalf of
workers, poor and
marginalized social
 Communism
Ernesto “Che” Geuvara pictured right.
Che was an Argentine Marxist
Revolutionary who was instrumental in
the Cuban Revolution
 “It
is better to die standing than to live
on your knees.” -Che Guevara
 “One
man with a gun can control 100
without one.” -Vladimir Lenin
Trust in the ability of
government to reform
 Promote social and
economic equality
 Strong government
regulation of the
 Social welfare
 Peaceful, gradual
May share viewpoints
with both liberals and
 Patriotic, practical, and
 Value compromise and
 Consider both sides,
use common sense
 Easiest group to
persuade but dislikes
Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) is
widely regarded as the father of the
modern conservative movement
People who hold conservative
ideals favor keeping things the
way they are or maintaining the
status quo if it is what they
Conservatives are usually
hesitant or cautious about
adopting new policies,
especially if they involve
government activism in some
They feel that the less
government there is, the better.
They agree with Jefferson’s view
that “the best government
governs least.”
Seeks to preserve the
best aspects of society
and is skeptical of
 Values liberty, order,
 People with power are
not to be trusted
 Favor low taxes, a strong
national defense, tough
laws against crime, free
market capitalism,
traditional family values
 Against abortion but
favor the death penalty
Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a typical
reactionary manifesto
Sitting on the far right of
the ideological spectrum,
reactionaries want to go
back to the way things
were—the “good ol’ days.”
Often reactionaries are
willing to use extreme
methods, such as
repressive use of
government power, to
achieve their goals.
 “The
truth is that men are tired of liberty”
–Benito Mussolini
 Extreme Violence: “Might Makes Right”
 In revolt against Modernity
 Irrational appeal to emotion, mythical
visions, vengeance, racial or religious
 Against democracy, liberalism, capitalism,
individualism, minorities, free speech,
women’s rights, and cultural changes
Though we have discussed the Political Spectrum on a one dimensional basis,
many believe that they are overly simplistic for today's complex political
On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and
Gandhi? It's not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi.
There are fundamental political differences between them that the old
categories on their own can't explain.
2008 Primaries
2008 Election
Hmmmm…. Notice how Obama, McCain and Joe Biden
switch their political views closer to the election…. Why is

similar documents