- AS, A-Level
- AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB
Last updated 22 Mar 2021
Someone with right-wing politics would have a political position that views social inequality or social stratification as natural, normal, inevitable or even desirable. They will typically defend this political position on the basis of tradition, natural law or economics. Therefore, people with right-wing politics view society having hierarchies and the inequalities that result as being the natural outcome of traditional social differences or the result of competition in market economies.
The political terminology of right and left were first used during the French Revolution in 1789. Politicians sat in the French Parliament were either to the right of the chair (the Parliamentary President), meaning they were supportive of the institutions of the monarchist Ancien Regime, or to the left of the chair, meaning they wanted these institutions to be changed. Right-wing politicians in France supported hierarchy, tradition and clericalism (involvement of church leaders in politics). It wasn’t until the 20
In Britain, the main right-wing party is the Conservative Party. Conservatism is an ideology that tends to react to alternative, more radical movements. Hence in the 1860s the Conservative Party positioned itself as a reaction to the classical liberal support of unfettered capitalism – defending the nobility and aristocracy against the changes that were taking place. However, once Socialism proposed an alternative to capitalism, the Conservative Party, being essentially pragmatist, defended capitalism against this radical movement. It is this constant reaction to radicalism that leads to right wing politics being labelled reactionary
The right-wing has now expanded from traditional conservatives to encompass neo-conservatives, nationalists, fascists, racial supremacists, Christian democrats, religious fundamentalists, and, after Margaret Thatcher, Classical Liberals.
Right wing in the United States has a different history and meaning. It is an integral part of the conservative movement, which supports American traditions such as republicanism and the rule of law, but also Judeo-Christian values, anti-Communism, advocacy of American exceptionalism and defending Western civilisation from threats they perceive to be coming from moral relativism (where, for instance, terrorism against US interests is justified by reference to US military actions), multiculturalism and ridicule of traditional culture. They also tend to support the free market, oppose high taxes and any government and union encroachment on entrepreneurs running their businesses.