I loathe when American conservatives define themselves as “right wing” anything, even in jest — just as I loathe when the liberal press uses it as identification for American conservatives — because it is an inaccurate use of the term.
The terms Right and Left were coined during the French Revolution, referring to seating arrangements in parliament; those who sat on the right supported preserving the institutions of the Ancien Régime (the monarchy, the aristocracy and the established church). Use of the term “Right” became more prominent after the second restoration of the French monarchy in 1815 with the Ultra-royalists.
In the successive legislative assemblies, monarchists who supported the Ancien Régime were commonly referred to as rightists because they sat on the right side.
Ancien Régime is an ideology diametrically opposed to that of American conservatism, which advocates for the bare minimum of authority. The terms are also used to describe a split in modern-day leftist (by the correct definition, “far right”) ideologies in WWI Italy.
A key element in the creation of fascism was the fusion of agendas of nationalists on the political right with Sorelian syndicalists on the left, around the outbreak of World War I.
Nationalist and militarist influences that had begun to combine with syndicalism since 1907 created a split in the political left. This split was strong in Italy, where nationalists and syndicalists increasingly influenced each other. Maurassian nationalism, close to Sorelism, influenced radical Italian nationalist Enrico Corradini. Corradini spoke of the need for a nationalist-syndicalist movement, led by elitist aristocrats and anti-democrats who shared a revolutionary syndicalist commitment to direct action and a willingness to fight. Corradini spoke of Italy as being a “proletarian nation” that needed to pursue imperialism in order to challenge the “plutocratic” French and British. Corradini’s views were part of a wider set of perceptions within the right-wing Italian Nationalist Association (ANI), which claimed that Italy’s economic backwardness was caused by corruption within its political class, liberalism, and division caused by “ignoble socialism”.
Corradini occasionally used the term “national socialism” to define the ideology which he endorsed. Though this is the same term used by the movement of National Socialism in Germany (a.k.a.Nazism) no evidence exists to indicate that Corradini’s use of the term had any influence.
In 1914, the ANI began to tilt towards authoritarian nationalism with its endorsement of the creation of an authoritarian corporate state, a radical idea created by Italian law professor, Alfredo Rocco. Such a corporate state led by a corporate assembly rather than a parliament, which would be composed of unions, business organizations and other economic organizations that would work within a powerful state government to regulate business-labour relations, organize the economy, end class conflict, and make Italy an industrial state which could compete with imperial powers and establish its own empire.
In this instance, “left wing” and “right wing” was used to describe a fracture on one side only. No where in political history is “right wing” used to describe the ideology of limited government except during recent times by the left to discredit American conservatism — and many American conservatives allow such an uneducated misuse.
Using Norway’s government as an example: Norway is ruled by the Labour Party, a socialist party, and is affiliated with the Party of European Socialists. The Labour Party embraces the Keynesian economic theory and more centralized state control. This, according to the proper definition of the term “right wing,” would classify not only Norway’s socialist Labour Party as “right wing,” but would also classify America’s Democratic Socialists as “right wing.” Nazis, officially the National Socialist Party, would be correctly classified as “right wing.” Ideologies which oppose such heavy-handed government control would be accurately considered “left-wing.”
Further confusion with the term “right wing” begins by misidentifying the hallmarks of such beliefs. “Right wing” accurately applies to total or increased government control (communism, socialism, monarchy, oligarchy, et al.) where as “left wing” describes either zero or little government control (anarchy, republic). An oldie but goodie video illustrating the differences and identifying factors of both wings:
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The media, in misusing “right wing” to immediately politicize the Oslo tragedy, indicted themselves on both ignorance and callousness.
In covering the tragedy in Norway, education on the accurate application and definition of these phrases is important, as is compassion for the suffering of Norway at this time.
More on NazismMarxism/Socialism (cue to 6:18 if you’re short on time). A must watch, courtesy P’oed Patriot:
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*Update: Keith Olbermann-n-crue tried to rebut the facts laid out above by pointing out that my radio bio says “member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.” Unfortunately for Keith, I didn’t write that, my radio station did, and unless he’s more illiterate than I thought, it reads as a joke, borrowing from Hillary Clinton’s favorite phrase in the 90s.