Difference Between Left Wing and Right Wing

Left-wing refers to an outlook supporting social equality and opposing social hierarchy.  The terms left and right have their roots back to the French Revolution and refer to the seating arrangements in the Estates General of France. The members of the 1791 Legislative Assembly had split into three general groups, each of which sat in a different part of the meeting hall. These were the Radicals, Moderates and Conservatives.

  • The Radicals sat on the left side of the hall. The opposed the King and the idea of monarchy. They favoured sweeping changes in the government and proposed that the common people have full power in a republic. They were Left Wing.
  • The Moderates sat in the centre of the hall. They wanted some changes in the government but not as many as the Radicals. They were Centrists.
  • The Conservatives sat on the right of side of the hall. They upheld the idea of a limited monarchy and wanted few changes in the government. They were Right Wing.

There were two more groups viz. Émigrés and the sans-culottes. The Émigrés comprised the nobles and others which refer to the Extreme Right group. The sans-culottes “those without knee breeches” made the most Radical group of all.  This group typically comprised the urban labourers, wage-earners and small shopkeepers. Though ill-clad and ill-equipped, they had made up the bulk of the Revolutionary army during the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars. They were the extreme left group.