Noah Millman writes for the American Scene:
It has become clear to me over the years that one of the causes of persistent confusion in our political arguments is the interchangeable use of taxonomic terms that, while they may have a natural affinity, are not actually synonyms.
Three terms that tend to get used interchangeably are:
Left / Liberal / Progressive
Their counterparts on the other side of the political spectrum are treated similarly:
Right / Conservative / Reactionary
The shades of difference among the meanings of the words within the triads, however, are not minor. One can very well be extremely right-wing without being a reactionary in any meaningful sense — think of Ayn Rand. One can be extremely left-wing without being a liberal in any meaningful sense — think of Lenin.
I propose, therefore, to accentuate the differences between the words commonly lumped together, to clear up all ambiguities by assigning technical meanings to commonly-used terms, and thereby define a three-dimensional space within which political writers and thinkers could more clearly be pegged.
Read more at The American Scene