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Luke March of the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh defines the far-left in Europe as those who place themselves to the left of social democracy, which they see as insufficiently left-wing. The two main sub-types are called the radical left due to 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 specifies four major subgroups within contemporary European far-left politics: communists, democratic socialists, populist socialists and social populists.
Vít Hloušek and Lubomír Kopeček add secondary characteristics to those identified by March and Mudde, such as anti-Americanism, anti-globalization, opposition to NATO and rejection of European integration.
In France, the term extrême-gauche ("far left") is a generally accepted term for political groups that position themselves to the left of the Socialist Party, such as Trotskyists, Maoists, anarcho-communists and New Leftists. Some, as political scientist of marxist background Serge Cosseron, will limit the scope to the left of the French Communist Party, but there is no real consensus. Many leftists with strong anti-Americanism, anti-globalization, opposition to NATO and rejection of European integration try to avoid the negative and reductive impression associated with the far-left categorization by using the parable la gauche de la gauche ("the left of the left"), reflecting what some might view as a cultural ambiguity.
This section may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints. (August 2017)
Political scientists Herbert McClosky and Dennis Chong state that in the United States, far-left groups studied are deeply estranged from American society and highly critical of what they perceive as the spiritual and moral degeneration of American institutions. These groups view American society as dominated by conspiratorial forces working to defeat their ideological aims.
A number of far-left parties gave birth to militant organisations in the 1960s and 1970s, such as the Red Brigades and the Red Army Faction, that were active in the late 20th century. These groups generally aimed to overthrow capitalist systems and replace them with socialist societies.
- March, Luke (2008). Contemporary Far Left Parties in Europe: From Marxism to the Mainstream? (PDF). Berlin: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. p. 3. ISBN 9783868720006. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
- Hloušek, Vít; Kopeček, Lubomír (2010). Origin, Ideology and Transformation of Political Parties: East-Central and Western Europe Compared. Farnham: Ashgate. p. 46. ISBN 9780754678403.
- Cosseron, Serge (2007). Dictionnaire de l'extrême gauche. Paris: Larousse. p. 20. ISBN 2035826209.
- McClosky, Herbert; Chong, Dennis (27 January 2009). "Similarities and Differences Between Left-Wing and Right-Wing Radicals". British Journal of Political Science. 15 (03): 329–363. doi:10.1017/s0007123400004221.
- Weinberg, Leonard; Pedahzur, Ami; Perliger, Arie (2009). Political Parties and Terrorist Groups (2nd ed.). London: Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 9781135973377.
- Chaliand, Gérard (2010). The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to Al Qaeda. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520247093.