Right-wing politics are political positions or activities that view some forms of social hierarchy or social inequality as either inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically justifying this position on the basis of natural law or tradition. Within the right-wing spectrum, views differ on whether hierarchy and inequality stem from traditional social differences or from competition in market economies. In Europe’s history, there have been strong collectivist right-wing movements, such as in the social Catholic Right that has exhibited hostility to all forms of liberalism, including economic liberalism, and has historically advocated for paternalist class harmony involving an organic-hierarchical society where workers are protected while hierarchy of classes remain. The term “right wing” has been used to refer to a number of different political positions through history. The political terms Right and Left were first used during the French Revolution (1789–99), and referred to where politicians sat in the French parliament; those who sat to the right of the chair of the parliamentary president were broadly supportive of the institutions of the monarchist Ancien Régime. The original Right in France was formed as a reaction against the Left, and comprised those politicians supporting hierarchy, tradition, and clericalism. The use of the expression la droite (the right) became prominent in France after the restoration of the monarchy in 1815, when le droit was applied to describe the Ultra-royalists. In English-speaking countries it was not until the 20th century that people applied the terms “right” and “left” to their own politics. From the 1830s to the 1880s, there was a shift in the Western world of social class structure and the economy, moving away from nobility and aristocracy, and moving towards the bourgeoisie and capitalism. This general economic shift towards capitalism affected centre right movements such as the British Conservative Party that responded by becoming supportive of capitalism. Although the term ‘right-wing’ originally designated traditional conservatives and reactionaries, it has also been used to describe neo-conservatives, nationalists, racial supremacists, Christian democrats, religious fundamentalists, and classical liberals. In the United States “right wing” has quite a different history and meaning. For the most part the American right wing is an integral part of the conservative “movement” in the U.S. The right has been a major factor—and often dominant—in American politics in the Age of Reagan since 1980. There are also fringe “extremist” elements who reject key elements of the American consensus, are vehemently opposed to the nation’s political leadership, and try to exclude groups they hate, sometimes by using violence.
You are here: / / the right