Right-wing politics

Right-wing politics hold that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal or desirable,[1][2][3] typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics or tradition.[4]:p. 693, 721[5][6][7][8][9][page needed] Hierarchy and inequality may be viewed as natural results of traditional social differences[10][11] or the competition in market economies.[12][13] The term right-wing can generally refer to "the conservative or reactionary section of a political party or system".[14]

The political terms "Left" and "Right" were first used during the French Revolution (1789–1799) and referred to seating arrangements 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 Old Regime.[15][16][17][18] The original Right in France was formed as a reaction against the "Left" and comprised those politicians supporting hierarchy, tradition and clericalism.[4]:693 The use of the expression la droite ("the right") became prominent in France after the restoration of the monarchy in 1815, when it was applied to the Ultra-royalists.[19] The people of English-speaking countries did not apply the terms "right" and "left" to their own politics until the 20th century.[20]

Although the right-wing originated with traditional conservatives, monarchists and reactionaries, the term extreme right-wing has also been applied to movements including fascists, Nazis and racial supremacists.[21] 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 towards capitalism.[22] This general economic shift toward capitalism affected centre-right movements such as the British Conservative Party, which responded by becoming supportive of capitalism.[23] In the United States, the Right includes both economic and social conservatives.[24] In Europe, economic conservatives are usually considered liberal and the Right includes nationalists, nativist opposition to immigration, religious conservatives and historically a significant presence of right-wing movements with anti-capitalist sentiments including conservatives and fascists who opposed what they saw as the selfishness and excessive materialism inherent in contemporary capitalism.[25][26]


5 May 1789, opening of the Estates-General in Versailles in 1789, as the conservatives sat on the right

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 president'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, monarchists 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).[18] On the right, the Legitimists and Ultra-royalists held counter-revolutionary views, while the Orléanists hoped to create a constitutional monarchy under their preferred branch of the royal family, a brief 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.[citation needed]

In British politics, the terms "right" and "left" came into common use for the first time in the late 1930s in debates over the Spanish Civil War.[27]

The Right has gone through five distinct historical stages: (I) the reactionary right sought a return to aristocracy and established religion; (II) the moderate right distrusted intellectuals and sought limited government; (III) the radical right favored a romantic and aggressive nationalism; (IV) the extreme right proposed anti-immigration policies and implicit racism; and (V) 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.[9][28]

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