Right-wing politics embraces the view that certain social order
s and hierarchies
are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable,
typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law
, or tradition
[T. Alexander Smith, Raymond Tatalovich. ''Cultures at war: moral conflicts in western democracies''. Toronto, Canada: Broadview Press, Ltd, 2003. p. 30. "That viewpoint is held by contemporary sociologists, for whom 'right-wing movements' are conceptualized as 'social movements whose stated goals are to maintain structures of order, status, honor, or traditional social differences or values' as compared to left-wing movements which seek 'greater equality or political participation.' In other words, the sociological perspective sees preservationist politics as a right-wing attempt to defend privilege within the ''social hierarchy''."] [''Left and right: the significance of a political distinction'', Norberto Bobbio and Allan Cameron, p. 37, University of Chicago Press, 1997.] [Seymour Martin Lipset, cited in Fuchs, D., and Klingemann, H. 1990. The left-right schema. pp. 203–34 in Continuities in Political Action: A Longitudinal Study of Political Orientations in Three Western Democracies, ed.M.Jennings et al. Berlin:de Gruyter] [Lukes, Steven. 'Epilogue: The Grand Dichotomy of the Twentieth Century': concluding chapter to T. Ball and R. Bellamy (eds.), The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Political Thought. pp.610–612]
Hierarchy and inequality
may be seen as natural results of traditional social differences or competition in market economies
. The term ''right-wing'' can generally refer to "the conservative
section of a political party or system".
In Europe, economic conservatives are usually considered liberal, and the Right includes nationalists
, nativist opponents of immigration
, religious conservatives, and, historically, a significant number of right-wing movements with anti-capitalist
sentiments, including conservatives
, who opposed contemporary capitalism because they believed that selfishness and excessive materialism
were inherent in it. In the United States, the Right includes both economic
and social conservatives
According to ''The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Political Thought
'', the Right has gone through five distinct historical stages:
# The reactionary right sought a return to aristocracy
and established religion
# The moderate right distrusted intellectuals and sought limited government.
# The radical right favored a romantic
and aggressive form of nationalism
# The extreme right proposed anti-immigration
policies and implicit racism
# The neo-liberal
right sought to combine a market economy and economic deregulation with the traditional right-wing beliefs in patriotism
, elitism and law and order.
The political terms ''Left'' and ''Right''
were first used in the 18th century, during the French Revolution
, in reference to the seating arrangement of the French parliament
. Those who sat to the right of the chair of the presiding officer (''le président'') were generally supportive of the institutions of the monarchist Old Regime
[Goodsell, Charles T., "The Architecture of Parliaments: Legislative Houses and Political Culture", British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 18, No. 3 (July 1988), pp. 287–302.]
The original "Right" in France was formed in reaction to the "Left" and comprised those supporting hierarchy, tradition, and clericalism
The expression ("the right") increased in use after the restoration of the monarchy in 1815
, when it was applied to the Ultra-royalist
From the 1830s to the 1880s, the Western world
's social class
structure and economy shifted from nobility
. This shift affected centre-right
movements such as the British Conservative Party
, which responded in support of capitalism.
The people of English-speaking countries did not apply the terms ''right'' and ''left'' to their own politics until the 20th century. The term ''right-wing'' was originally applied to traditional conservatives
, and reactionaries; an extension, ''extreme right-wing
'', denotes fascism
, and racial supremacy
Rightist regimes were common in Europe in the Interwar period
The political term ''right-wing'' was first used during the French Revolution
, when liberal
deputies of the Third Estate
generally sat to the left of the presiding officer's chair, a custom that began in the Estates General
of 1789. The nobility, members of the Second Estate
, generally sat to the right. In the successive legislative assemblies
who supported the Old Regime
were commonly referred to as rightists because they sat on the right side. A major figure on the right was Joseph de Maistre
, who argued for an authoritarian
form of conservatism
Throughout the 19th century
, the main line dividing Left and Right in France
was between supporters of the republic (often secularists) and supporters of the monarchy (often Catholics).
On the right, the Legitimists
s held counter-revolutionary
views, while the Orléanist
s hoped to create a constitutional monarchy
under their preferred branch of the royal family, which briefly became a reality after the 1830 July Revolution
The centre-right Gaullists in post-World War II France advocated considerable social spending on education and infrastructure development as well as extensive economic regulation, but limited the wealth redistribution measures characteristic of social democracy
The dominance of the political right of inter-war Hungary
, after the collapse of a short-lived Communist regime, was described by historian István Deák
:Between 1919 and 1944 Hungary was a rightist country. Forged out of a counter-revolutionary heritage, its governments advocated a "nationalist Christian" policy; they extolled heroism, faith, and unity; they despised the French Revolution, and they spurned the liberal and socialist ideologies of the 19th century. The governments saw Hungary as a bulwark against bolshevism
and bolshevism’s instruments: socialism
, and Freemasonry
. They perpetrated the rule of a small clique of aristocrats, civil servants, and army officers, and surrounded with adulation the head of the state, the counterrevolutionary Admiral Horthy
In the politics of India, the terms right and left are never used, but a majority supports what is called right-wing politics outside India. Although freedom fighters
are favored, the right-wing tendency to elect or appoint politicians and government officials based on aristocratic and religious ties is common to almost all the states of India. Multiple political parties however identify with terms and beliefs which are, by political consensus, right or left wing. Certain political parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party
and the All India Majlis-e-Ittahadul Muslimeen
, identify with conservative and nationalist elements. Some, such as the Indian National Congress
, take a liberal stance. The Communist Party of India
, Communist Party of India (Marxist)
, and others, identify with left-wing socialist and communist concepts. Other political parties take differing stands, and hence cannot be clearly grouped as the left- and the right-wing.
In British politics, the terms ''right'' and ''left'' came into common use for the first time in the late 1930s during debates over the Spanish Civil War
The United States Department of Homeland Security
defines right-wing extremism in the United States as "broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."
The meaning of right-wing "varies across societies, historical epochs, and political systems and ideologies." According to ''The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics'', in liberal democracies, the political right opposes socialism
and social democracy
. Right-wing parties include conservatives
, Christian democrats
, classical liberals
, and nationalists
, as well as fascists
on the far-right
British academics Noël O'Sullivan
and Roger Eatwell
divide the right into five types: reactionary, moderate, radical, extreme, and new. Journalist Chip Berlet
wrote that each of these "styles of thought" are "responses to the left", including liberalism and socialism, which have arisen since the 1789 French Revolution.
[Berlet, p. 117.]
# The reactionary right looks toward the past and is "aristocratic, religious and authoritarian".
# The moderate right, typified by the writings of Edmund Burke
, is tolerant of change, provided it is gradual and accepts some aspects of liberalism, including the rule of law and capitalism, although it sees radical ''laissez-faire
'' and individualism as harmful to society. The moderate right often promotes nationalism and social welfare policies.
# Radical right
is a term developed after World War II to describe groups and ideologies such as McCarthyism
, the John Birch Society
, and the Republikaner Party
. Eatwell stresses that this usage has "major typological problems" and that the term "has also been applied to clearly democratic developments." The radical right includes right-wing populism
and various other subtypes.
# The extreme right
has four traits: "1) anti-democracy
, 2) nationalism
, 3) racism, and 4) the strong state."
# The New Right
consists of the liberal conservatives
, who stress small government
, free market
s, and individual initiative.
Other authors make a distinction between the centre-right and the far-right.
* Parties of the centre-right generally support liberal democracy, capitalism, the market economy (though they may accept government regulation to control monopolies), private property rights, and a limited welfare state (for example, government provision of education and medical care). They support conservatism and economic liberalism and oppose socialism and communism.
* By contrast, the phrase "far-right" is used to describe those who favor an absolutist government, which uses the power of the state to support the dominant ethnic group or religion and often to criminalize other ethnic groups or religions.
Typical examples of leaders to whom the far-right label is often applied are: Francisco Franco
, Benito Mussolini
, Adolf Hitler
in Nazi Germany
, and Augusto Pinochet
The original use of the term "right-wing", relative to communism
, placed the conservatives on the right, the liberals in the centre and the communists on the left. Both the conservatives and the liberals were strongly anti-communist
. The history of the use of the term ''right-wing'' in reference to anti-communism is a complicated one.
Early Marxist movements were at odds with the traditional monarchies that ruled over much of the Europe
an continent at the time. Many European monarchies outlawed the public expression of communist views and the ''Communist Manifesto
'', which began "
is haunting Europe", and stated that monarchs feared for their thrones. Advocacy of communism was illegal in the Russian Empire
, the German Empire
, and Austria-Hungary
, the three most powerful monarchies in continental Europe prior to World War I
. Many monarchists (except constitutional monarchists
) viewed inequality in wealth and political power as resulting from a divine natural order. The struggle between monarchists and communists was often described as a struggle between the Right and the Left.
By World War I
, in most European monarchies the divine right of kings
had become discredited and was replaced by liberal
movements. Most European monarchs became figureheads or they yielded some power to elected governments. The most conservative European monarchy, the Russian Empire, was replaced by the communist Soviet Union
. The Russian Revolution
inspired a series of other communist revolutions across Europe in the years 1917–1923
. Many of these, such as the German Revolution
, were defeated by nationalist and monarchist military units. During this period, nationalism began to be considered right-wing, especially when it opposed the internationalism of the communists.
The 1920s and 1930s saw the decline of traditional right-wing politics. The mantle of conservative anti-communism was taken up by the rising fascist
movements on the one hand and by American
-inspired liberal conservatives
on the other. When communist groups and political parties began appearing around the world, their opponents were usually colonial authorities
and the term ''right-wing'' came to be applied to colonialism
After World War II
, communism became a global phenomenon and anti-communism became an integral part of the domestic and foreign policies of the United States
and its NATO
allies. Conservatism in the post-war era abandoned its monarchist and aristocratic roots, focusing instead on patriotism, religious values, and nationalism. Throughout the Cold War
, colonial governments in Asia
, and Latin America
turned to the United States for political and economic support. Communists were also enemies of capitalism, portraying Wall Street
as the oppressor of the masses. The United States made anti-communism the top priority of its foreign policy, and many American conservatives sought to combat what they saw as communist influence at home. This led to the adoption of a number of domestic policies that are collectively known under the term ''McCarthyism
''. While both liberals and conservatives were anti-communist, the followers of Senator McCarthy were called ''right-wing'' and those on the right called liberals who favored free speech, even for communists, ''leftist''.
In France after the French Revolution, the Right fought against the rising power of those who had grown rich through commerce, and sought to preserve the rights of the hereditary nobility. They were uncomfortable with capitalism, the Enlightenment, individualism, and industrialism, and fought to retain traditional social hierarchies and institutions.
In Europe's history, there have been strong collectivist
right-wing movements, such as in the social Catholic right
, that have exhibited hostility to all forms of liberalism
(including economic liberalism
) and have historically advocated for paternalist class harmony involving an organic-hierarchical society where workers are protected while class hierarchy remains.
In the nineteenth century, the Right had shifted to support the newly rich in some European countries (particularly England) and instead of favouring the nobility over industrialists, favoured capitalists over the working class. Other right-wing movements—such as Carlism
in Spain and nationalist movements in France, Germany, and Russia—remained hostile to capitalism and industrialism. Nevertheless, a few right-wing movements—notably the French Nouvelle Droite
, and American paleoconservatism
—are often in opposition to capitalist ethics and the effects they have on society. These forces see capitalism and industrialism as infringing upon or causing the decay of social traditions or hierarchies that are essential for social order.
In modern times, "right-wing" is sometimes used to describe ''laissez-faire'' capitalism
. In Europe, capitalists formed alliances with the Right during their conflicts with workers after 1848. In France, the Right's support of capitalism can be traced to the late nineteenth century.
The so-called neoliberal
Right, popularised by US President Ronald Reagan
and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
, combines support for free markets
, and deregulation
with traditional right-wing support for social conformity.
(sometimes known as libertarian conservatism
or conservative libertarianism
) supports a decentralised economy based on economic freedom
and holds property rights
, free markets
, and free trade
to be the most important kinds of freedom. Political theorist Russell Kirk believed that freedom and property rights were interlinked.
Conservative authoritarians and those on the far-right
have supported fascism
a political ideology
which advocates the organization of society by corporate groups
—such as agricultural, labour, military, scientific, or guild associations—on the basis of their common interests.
[Clarke, Paul A. B; Foweraker, Joe. ''Encyclopedia of democratic thought''. London, UK; New York, USA: Routledge, 2001. Pp. 113]
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In France, nationalism
was originally a left-wing and Republican ideology. After the period of ''boulangisme''
and the Dreyfus Affair
, nationalism became a trait of the right-wing. Right-wing nationalists sought to define and defend a "true" national identity from elements which they believed were corrupting that identity.
Some were supremacists
, who in accordance with scientific racism
and social Darwinism
applied the concept of "survival of the fittest
" to nation
s and races
. Right-wing nationalism
was influenced by Romantic nationalism
, in which the state derives its political legitimacy from the organic unity of those who it governs. This generally includes the language, race, culture, religion, and customs of the nation, all of which were "born" within its culture. Linked with right-wing nationalism is cultural conservatism
, which supports the preservation of the heritage of a nation or culture and often sees deviations from cultural norms as an existential threat.
Natural law and traditionalism
Right-wing politics typically justifies a hierarchical society on the basis of natural law
Traditionalism was advocated by a group of United States university professors (labeled the "New Conservatives" by the popular press) who rejected the concepts of individualism
, and social progress
, seeking instead to promote what they identified as cultural and educational renewal and a revived interest in what T. S. Eliot
referred to as "the permanent things" (concepts perceived by traditionalists as truths that endure from age to age alongside basic institutions of western society such as the church, the family, the state, and business).
is a combination of civic- and ethno-nationalism, along with anti-elitism
, using populist rhetoric to provide a radical critique of existing political institutions. According to Margaret Canovan, a right-wing populist is "a charismatic leader, using the tactics of politicians' populism to go past the politicians and intellectual elite and appeal to the reactionary sentiments of the populace, often buttressing his claim to speak for the people by the use of referendums".
In Europe, right-wing populism often takes the form of distrust of the European Union
, and of politicians in general, combined with anti-immigrant rhetoric and a call for a return to traditional, national values. In the United States, the Tea Party movement
states that the core beliefs for membership are the primacy of individual liberties as defined by the Constitution of the United States, preference for a small federal government, and respect for the rule of law. Some policy positions include opposition to illegal immigration and support for a strong national military force, the right to individual gun ownership, cutting taxes, reducing government spending, and balancing the budget.
Philosopher and diplomat Joseph de Maistre
argued for the indirect authority of the Pope
over temporal matters. According to Maistre, only governments which were founded upon Christian constitutions—which were implicit in the customs and institutions of all European societies, especially the Catholic Europe
an monarchies—could avoid the disorder and bloodshed that followed the implementation of rationalist
political programs, such as the chaos which occurred during the French Revolution
. Some prelates of the Church of England
–established by Henry VIII
and headed by the current sovereign—are given seats in the House of Lords
; but they are considered politically neutral rather than specifically right- or left-wing.
American right-wing media outlets frequently urge the government to enact laws which support their religious tenets. They also oppose sex outside marriage and same-sex marriage
, and they sometimes reject scientific positions on evolution
and other matters where science tends to disagree with the Bible
The term ''family values
'' has been used by right-wing parties—such as the Republican Party
in the United States, the Family First Party
in Australia, the Conservative Party
in the United Kingdom, and the Bharatiya Janata Party
in India—to signify support for traditional families and opposition to the changes the modern world has made in how families live. Supporters of "family values" may oppose abortion
, and teenage pregnancy
Outside the West, the Hindu nationalist movement
has attracted privileged groups which fear encroachment on their dominant positions, as well as "plebeian" and impoverished groups which seek recognition around a majoritarian rhetoric of cultural pride, order, and national strength.
In Israel, Meir Kahane
advocated that Israel should be a theocratic state
, where non-Jews
have no voting rights, and the far-right Lehava
strictly opposes Jewish assimilation and the Christian presence in Israel. The Jewish Defence League
(JDL) in the United States was classified as "a right wing terrorist group" by the FBI in 2001.
groups have been called right-wing, including the Great Union Party
, the Combatant Clergy Association
/Association of Militant Clergy, and the Islamic Society of Engineers
Right-wing politics involves, in varying degrees, the rejection of some egalitarian
objectives of left-wing politics
, claiming either that social
or economic inequality
is natural and inevitable or that it is beneficial to society.
[''Left and right: the significance of a political distinction'', Norberto Bobbio and Allan Cameron, pg. 68, University of Chicago Press, 1997.]
Right-wing ideologies and movements support social order
. The original French right-wing was called "the party of order" and held that France needed a strong political leader to keep order.
Conservative British scholar R. J. White, who rejects egalitarianism, wrote: "Men are equal before God and the laws, but unequal in all else; hierarchy is the order of nature, and privilege is the reward of honourable service".
[Moyra Grant. ''Key Ideas in Politics''. Cheltenham, England, UK: Nelson Thornes, Ltd., 2003. p. 52.]
American conservative Russell Kirk
also rejected egalitarianism as imposing sameness, stating: "Men are created different; and a government that ignores this law becomes an unjust government for it sacrifices nobility to mediocrity".
Kirk took as one of the "canons" of conservatism the principle that "civilized society requires orders and classes".
Italian scholar Norberto Bobbio
argued that the right-wing is inegalitarian compared to the left-wing, as he argued that equality is a relative, not absolute, concept.
reject collective or state-imposed equality as undermining reward for personal merit, initiative, and enterprise.
In their view, such imposed equality is unjust, limits personal freedom, and leads to social uniformity and mediocrity.
In the view of philosopher Jason Stanley
in ''How Fascism Works
'', the "politics of hierarchy" is one of the hallmarks of fascism
, which refers to a "glorious past" in which members of the rightfully dominant group sat atop the hierarchy, and attempt to recreate this state of being.
[Stanley, Jason (2018) ''How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them''. New York: Random House. p.13. ]
* Christian right
* Conservative revolutionary movement
* Dark Enlightenment
* List of right-wing political parties
* New Right
* Old Right
* Paternalistic conservatism
* Radical right (Europe)
* Radical right (United States)
* Right-wing authoritarianism
* Right-wing terrorism
* Structural functionalism
* Bacchetta, Paola, and Margaret Power, eds. 2002. ''Right-Wing Women: From Conservatives to Extremists around the World''. New York: Routledge.
* Berlet, Chip. 2006. "When Alienation turns Right." In ''The Evolution of Alienation: Trauma, Promise, and the Millennium'', edited by Langman, Lauren, and Kalekin-Fishman. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. ,
* Davies, Peter. 2002. ''The Extreme Right in France, 1789 to the Present: From De Maistre to Le Pen''. New York, NY: Routledge. , .
* Eatwell, Roger. 1999. "Conclusion: The 'End of Ideology'." In ''Contemporary Political Ideologies'', edited by R. Eatwell and A. Wright. Continuum International Publishing Group. , .
* —— 2004. "Introduction: the new extreme right challenge." In ''Western Democracies and the new Extreme Right Challenge'', edited by R. Eatwell
and C. Muddle
. London: Routledge. ,
* Fielitz, Maik, and Laura Lotte Laloire, eds. 2016. ''Trouble on the Far Right. Contemporary Right-Wing Strategies and Practices in Europe''. Bielefeld: transcript.
* Gottlieb, Julie, and Clarisse Berethezéne, eds. 2017. ''Rethinking right-wing women: Gender and the Conservative Party, 1880s to the present''.