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The term far-right refers to the relative position a group or person occupies within a political spectrum. Since, by definition, most people are not far from the center, the terms "far-right" and "far-left" are used to say that someone is an extremist, not in tune with the majority. "Far-right" is thus usually a pejorative term.



The term "far-right" is often used to describe persons or groups who hold nationalist, racist, religious extremist, or reactionary views. This can include ideologies that range from absolute monarchism to neo-nazism and fascism. The term has also been used for certain populist or authoritarian regimes.

In other contexts -- particularly in the United States -- the term "far-right" may also be used to denote supporters of extreme conservatism, such as paleoconservatives and other isolationists, or supporters of extreme laissez-faire capitalism such as the libertarians. However, libertarians themselves reject this classification since they prefer a radically smaller and decentralized government, which is antithetical to the strong, centralized governments favored by most other groups labeled "far-right". Due to the confusion generated by simple left-right classification schemes, libertarians favor an alternative political classification scheme based on more than one dimension. See the eponymous Nolan chart.

More generally, the term has been applied to any stream of political thought that rejects democracy in favour of some form of elite rule (including monarchy, plutocracy and theocracy).

Difficulties with definition

The imprecise use of the terms "left" and "right" in politics, and there being no absolute consensus as to what the "archetypes" of left and right are, has led to a number of disputes over the proper usage of "far-right" and "far-left" other than as general terms of derision.

The terms "far-left" and "far-right" are meant to describe two diametrically opposed extremes. However, there are a good number of arguably extremist groups and ideologies that don't fit in the traditional far-left and far-right categories, and some seem to fit in both.

A possible solution to this problem is the use of a political compass instead of the traditional flat-line method of describing political positions. There are a number of different two-axis political models that were created for this reason, and they are discussed in detail in the article on the political spectrum.

Current parties generally referred to as far-right

See also

Last updated: 08-27-2005 15:59:53
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