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Leftist or Liberal-What Do You Need To Know?

Leftist or Liberal-What Do You Need To Know?

There are more ideas and opinions on the social divide than just left and right. There are different political views and opinions on both sides.

You can find everything from moderate left to leftist to liberal on the left side. Most of these words may be confusing to anyone who leans left or right.

Someone could be a leftist without knowing it or someone can be liberal without being a leftist. While both liberals and leftists are on the left side of the political spectrum, they differ significantly.

The main difference is that liberals believe in more conservative economic practices. Leftists believe the government should be more involved in the economy.

Liberals, for example, believe that there should be more tax breaks for the wealthy and less overall government oversight.

Leftists believe that the wealthy should pay higher taxes in order to fund other social programs aimed at assisting those who do not benefit from capitalism.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about the differences between a leftist and a liberal.

Let’s begin!

What is a Leftist?

Political Spectrum Explained

A leftist is a political left supporter. Leftists feel that the government should be more involved or have a bigger part in the economy.

Leftists feel that the rich should pay more taxes to support people who do not gain from capitalism and to help fund their programs.

Right-wingers frequently use the terms “the left” and “leftist” to describe anyone to their left, which includes the clear majority of liberals. What classifies as “leftist” differs around the world, just as it does with “liberalism.”

If you’re interested to know the difference between strategists and tacticians, check out my other article.

How did Leftism Begin?

The Labour Party in England was the birthplace of leftism. They witnessed poverty that has worsened over time as a result of capitalism’s liberal structure. They felt Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand benefited capitalists at the expense of other people.

This was not the intention of the country when it embraced the concept. It left the poor alone, trying to make bills paid while the government did nothing at all to save people.

The Liberal Party was eventually replaced by the Labour Party. They created rules that are now widely regarded as leftist. Insurance policy, the National Health System, and senior pensions are examples of these rules.

Income taxes were also increased. These concepts find their way to the United States from Europe.

To help the country get out of hardship during the Great Depression, President Roosevelt seeks different ways. A leftist proposal known as The New Deal played a role in his election. Roosevelt advocated for liberal views on the market and the function of government in societies.

Everybody in the country was guaranteed a stimulus package under the New Deal. This was the first time people of the nation gained direct financial assistance from the government to which they had paid any taxes.

Roosevelt was there to establish a number of other government welfare initiatives aimed at assisting and protecting the middle people. During the Second World War, these initiatives would remain a part of the political situation.

Even four decades later, Heads of state would take account of leftism into their electoral platforms.

Leftism became unpopular in the 1970s. In the same year, some economists argued for a restoration of a free-market economy. 

Reagan, the then-presidential aspirant, shared this view. He desired to eliminate all market constraints imposed by the government.

He believed that by doing so, the market would be able to start working its miracle and satisfy everyone. He was a firm believer in Adam Smith’s concept of the Invisible Hand guiding the market and, as a result, society.

After Roosevelt advocated the leftist program called The New Deal, the subsequent Presidents continued the program that they began.

What is a Liberal?

statue of liberty
Statue of Liberty


  1. an advocate of genuinely liberal programs that enhance social welfare
  2. someone who supports the social and political ideology that values individual liberty, free capitalism, and democracy.


  1. People’s rights, liberties, democracy, and economic freedom are all promoted under this political and social philosophy.
  2. open to fresh ideas; open to accepting or understanding behavior or viewpoints that vary from anyone else’s.

Liberal comes from the Latin word liberty-liber which means “free” and was previously used to imply “kind or forgiving”. It is now used to refer to a political stance or point of view.

How did Liberalism Begin?

Understanding the history of each of these beliefs can help you better know the contrasts between liberalism and leftism.

Liberalism has a long history, but in terms of current politics, the core period to consider is 19th-century England. There were two major political parties in England. First is the Tories where the primary concern is their interest of the crown and people in the country, and the second one is the Whigs where the merchants and the aristocratic interest are presented.

Left and right were not conceptions until the mid-nineteenth century. Today, none of those major parties would fit well into any of those categories.

However, by the 1840s, the Tories and Whigs had lost their ability to accurately work for the people because Britain was becoming more industrialized.

To deal with the new difficulties that society was experiencing, it needed fresh thinking. The title “new liberals” was given to these new intellectuals because of the concepts they proposed.

Liberals were trying to know if capitalism benefited employees as well as factory owners. They accepted Adam Smith’s concept of the Invisible Hand, which he presented in The Wealth of Nations.

The market would be directed to workers’ advantage by this Invisible Hand. A factory would establish and hire new employees, according to the plan.

The theory was that if they could get this idea to operate quickly enough, through lower tax rates and free trade regulations, the method would raise the laborer’s value while maintaining the price of goods cheaply.

The Liberal Party’s role was to maintain the economic cycle going with minimal participation. When a new political party appeared in the early twentieth century, everything changed.

This political party, known as the Labour Party, questioned if liberals were sufficient or doing enough for the community.

What is the Nineteenth Century Classical Liberalism?

The nineteenth century was the golden age of ‘classical liberalism.’ As a matter of fact, Britain is often seen as the society that embraced liberalism so much in helping to shape its advancement throughout that century, as the United States would do in the 20thcentury.

During the 1840s, a distinct ideology, known as ‘liberalism’ had appeared, but it was not until 1868, and William E. Gladstone’s first ministry, that a unique ‘Liberal’ government, instead of a rebranded Whig Party, got into power in Britain.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, ‘utilitarianism’ offered another moral foundation for liberalism. Utilitarianism, as advanced by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, contended that rationale may be used to reveal basic rights and organize human institutions.

According to utilitarians, democracy is the best way to ensure “the greatest happiness for the greatest number” in societal structure. Even though it was subject to criticism that it lowered individual human rights for the presumed good of society, this doctrine had a massive impact on liberal understanding and practical measures.

John Stuart Mill played an important role in systematizing nineteenth-century political liberalism. In the name of equality, he feared that populist politicians would misinform the general public and thus destroy the very foundations of a free and open society. They may suffocate the unconventional by making public opinion the standard of ‘right,’ as French liberal writer Alexis de Tocqueville proposed in his important and powerful Democracy in America (1835–40).

However, by the late nineteenth century, reality had officially started to pose a significant dilemma to classical liberalism and the laissez-faire government policies linked with it. Scarcity, illness, and ignorance managed to remain harsh realities for the majority of people.

Despite objections from the ‘Social Darwinian’ wing of liberalism, practical politicians and liberal philosophers started to reassess their perspectives on the importance of the state.

What are the Liberal Themes?

The perspective of the liberals is that society is founded on self-interested ethics of consensual support and respect. While enlightened self-interest is the driving force of the liberal society, it becomes a balancing act of interests, organizations, and, finally, political power in society.

There are several key themes in liberalism:

  • a dedication to liberty
  • government with few powers
  • economics and liberism
  • individuals and their rights
  • a positive outlook on human nature
  • a faith in advancement
  • a dedication to internationalism

Who are Liberals?

Here are a few of the most prominent liberal politicians.

  • Bill Clinton– Clinton was necessary to appoint liberal Democrats to Senate while serving as the Democratic President of the United States. He didn’t accomplish much more to change policy because he was focused on maintaining Reagan’s liberal economics.
  • Hillary Clinton– She holds the same ideas that her husband did during his presidency. Hillary Clinton, like her husband, is a liberal Democrat.
  • Barack Obama– Due to the financial crisis of 2008, he was a big supporter of helping out banks and corporations.
  • Donald Trump– His platform has always been about cutting taxes for the rich and reducing welfare programs. He even led the nation back into isolationism by withdrawing from the United Nations. These are all characteristics of a liberal.

Final thoughts

The United States is a market economy with a capitalist structure that is comparable to most countries in some ways.

The most widely used labels are “liberal” and “conservative,” as liberalism is the country’s dominant political ideology and conservatism is an ever-present stance against most sorts of social and economic change. Leftism is on the rise in the United States today, although its more extreme expressions remain on the margins.

As a result, when you encounter leftism, it’s usually the kind that has some characteristics with some of liberalism’s most extreme versions.

It all makes it hard to come up with internationally accepted labels, particularly because political spectrums are evaluated differently over the world.

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