While it may be a crude categorization most politics can be divided into left-wing and right-wing. Left-wing politics have a focus on egalitarian values and strive to help those who are disadvantaged. The term left-wing politics came from the French Revolution. Those who were against the monarchy were left wing and so the phrase was born.
In terms of economic principles, those on the left tend to be ardent supporters of that welfare state, promote industrial action and prefer public services over privatization. That on the far left, which appears to be having a resurgence in Weston politics, tend to advocate the social and economic practices of theorists like Lenin and Karl Marx.
Those on the left also believe that the state should play a key role in economic foundations. For example, they believe in a decentralized economy which is highly influenced by cooperative and the trade unions. This is in direct contradiction to those on the right to believe in the basic principles of a free market economy.
There is, however, an important distinction to be made between left-wing politics and communist countries such as Russia and China. Despite the aforementioned country being based on similar theoretical works, they have removed democracy from the system and let the elite flourish, this is in contradiction to left-wing politics in countries like the United States, France, Germany in the United Kingdom.
During the 1990s a new type of leftism flourished. New Labour, for example, was a left political party that adopted many policies of those on the right such as deregulating the banks and advocating the use of private companies in the public sector. A backlash is currently underway against this new type of leftism, closely associated with Tony Blair.