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Definitions and characteristics
Dr. Luke March of the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, defines the "far left" in Europe as those that place themselves to the left of social democracy, which they see as insufficiently left-wing. The two main sub-types are the so-called "radical left", for their desire for fundamental change to the capitalist system while accepting of democracy, and the "extreme left" who are more hostile to liberal democracy and denounce any compromise with capitalism. March sees four major subgroups within contemporary European far-left politics: communists, democratic socialists, populist socialists and social populists.
In France, the term extrême-gauche ("far left") is a generally accepted term for political groups that position themselves to the left of the French Communist Party (such as Trotskyists, Maoists, Anarchists and New Leftist).
In Germany, Eckhard Jesse, a political scientist, regards different kinds of Trotskyists, anarcho-syndicalists, anarcho-communists, National Communists, Authoritarian socialists, Maoists and Autonomists as local "far left".These people include both Authoritarianists and Libertarianists.
McKlosky and Chong further claim that in the USA, the far-left groups they studied are deeply estranged from American society and highly critical of what they perceive as the spiritual and moral degeneration of American institutions, they view American society as dominated by conspiratorial forces that are working to defeat their ideological aims.
- March, Luke (2008). Contemporary Far Left Parties in Europe (PDF). Berlin: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. p. 3. ISBN 978-3-86872-000-6.
- Hloušek, Vít; Lubomír Kopeček (2010). Origin, ideology and transformation of political parties: East-Central and Western Europe compared. Ashgate Publishing. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-7546-7840-3.
- Cosseron, Serge (ed.). Le dictionnaire de l'extrême gauche. Paris: Larousse, 2007. p. 20
- Herbert McClosky, Dennis Chong (1985). "Similarities and Differences Between Left-Wing and Right-Wing Radicals". British Journal of Political Science. Cambridge University Press. 15 (03): 329–363. doi:10.1017/s0007123400004221. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
- Weinberg, Leonard; Pedahzur, Ami (2008). Political Parties and Terrorist Groups. Routledge studies in extremism and democracy. Volume 10. Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 9781135973377.
- Chaliand, Gérard; Blin, Arnaud (2007). The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to Al Qaeda. University of California Press. p. 257. ISBN 9780520247093.