Thursday, 10 November 2016

The true meaning of "The Right"

As Donald Trump gets ready to take the Oath of Office, The Right will once again be maligned for producing a man as incompetent as Trump. But as a proud Right winger myself I want to set the record straight as to what “Right” really means. In the times that we live in, The Right has become, unfortunately, almost exclusively identified with the conservative agenda. Nothing could be farther from the truth when one examines the origins of the economic position of free-trade and free-markets. 

Milton Friedman rightly pointed out, more than 50 years ago, that the Right was and in many ways remains the original bastion of liberal ideas and showed how economic freedom is a necessary (although not sufficient) condition for political and personal freedom. The system that we find so easy to deride is the very one that gives us the freedom to dissent, even if it is against the system itself. Yes, not all who hold a right wing position on economy support gay marriage or democracy or abortion. But name me one true communist system that is also a democracy!

What most people fail to understand is that right-left is but one axis of political views. Then there is the Liberal-Conservative axis that defines our views on subjects like gender, sexuality, marriage, reproductive rights, and religion. A third axis is the Hawks-Doves that pertains to views on relations between nations, diplomacy, and the use of force beyond ones’ own borders. There are probably others as well if one were to think on it hard enough. It is possible to be a right wing-conservative-dove just as much as it is to be a right wing-liberal-hawk. Ironically, though, today the term “Right-wing” has come to signify, at least in the popular consciousness, the definition of only a Right-wing conservative. The term Liberal has been appropriated almost entirely by the intellectual Left (who would actually shudder to actually live in a Leftist economy) and so I find myself in the position of forever having to explain the concept of a Right-wing Liberal. 

That Trump has been elected is in large part a reaction to the free market and consequences of globalisation, and a sexist vote in other ways. And hence, it is doubly ironical if the right as a whole were to be derided. A true economic right-winger would not support the restriction of global trade, or outsourcing. Restricting economic freedom and competition are both ideologies that stand at odds with the bedrock of the economic right. 

Today, with the complexities of the economic system having increased manifold, there is confusion on positions that were once as clear as night and day. Today, the same economic freedom that promoted competition domestically is being played out on a  scale where, through the lens of national borders, an entire nation of people feels cheated of their “dream” and so we have swathes of Britain voting for a “Brexit” and an even larger swathe of America voting Trump for President. So, let us not blame the ideal of economic freedom, or The Right, for what is, irrespective of political ideology, a recipe for disaster.

And Trump is a disaster not because of his ideals but because of his lack of them, because of his ignorance, for his vitriolic diatribes, and because of his lack of common decency.

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