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In politics and religion, a moderate is an individual who holds an intermediate position between those generally classified as being left-wing or liberal and those seen as being right-wing, conservative, or fundamentalist. The word "moderate" can also be used as an adjective describing such a position.
In politics, moderates often seek conciliation between the views of various political parties, and often take positions partially derived from opposite views. For example, political moderates do not support the end of private property in the way advocated by Marxists, but they also do not support laissez-faire capitalism. Religious moderates tend to take a position that is more liberal than that of fundamentalists, but not as liberal as those who would readily and proudly call themselves such.
Perhaps because of their conciliatory and cautious general nature, it has been stated that there are no great moderates. While this point could certainly be argued, it is inarguable that most political and religious leaders recognized as great have generally been at least largely identifiable as either left-wing or right-wing. But moderates have their own importance. Usually the acceptance of the position being advocated by one of the two polar opposites is a result of one of them coming to terms with moderate supporters of that position, and usually, modification to make it acceptable to them.
Some political moderates are "bi-polar" in the sense that they side with right-wingers on certain classes of issues, but with left-wingers on others, rather than consistently staking out intermediate positions across the board. In the United States, the term "libertarian" is often used to denote those who hold conservative views on economic issues such as taxes and welfare, but are liberal on social and moral issues like abortion and gay rights. A person holding views opposite to this on both counts - taking a liberal stand on economic issues while lining up with the conservatives socially and morally - is sometimes characterized as a "communitarian."
See also: centrism