Deconstructing the “Left-Right” Spectrum: Part IV
Eric Lendrum, Politics Contributor
In the previous two installments, I have used the original French definitions of “left-wing” and “right-wing” politics to upend our conventional knowledge of past historical issues and paradigms. I discussed how the Republican Party is actually the left-wing party, while the Democrats are the right-wing party. I also revealed how fascism and communism - thought to be radical opposites, with fascism on the far-right and communism on the far-left - are actually one in the same, and both are far-right.
Now, to close out this four-part series, I shall apply this same method of deconstruction to a very important current issue that could determine the future of our world: The rise of so-called “right-wing” populist parties in Europe and the United States.
Part IV: “Right-Wing” Parties?
Let’s dispel the myth that these so-called “right-wing” parties are really the “far-right” entities that their critics label them to be. First, we will deconstruct this lie based on the conventional understanding of “left vs. right.” A closer look at a handful of examples proves that these parties actually don’t hold traditionally right-wing or conservative opinions, even by today’s standards.
For example, the issues of same-sex couples and LGBTQ rights as a whole actually put Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, and Geert Wilders further to the left than their more traditionally conservative counterparts. Wilders and Le Pen in particular also support broader, more accessible health care systems reminiscent of universal health care. Trump and Le Pen are also much more lax on the issue of abortion than their respective Republican parties. Trump is also rather liberal on social issues such as the drug war, in direct contrast to the recent policies and stances of his own Republican Party.
Ironically, the one who is perhaps considered the most radical, Le Pen, actually holds a number of social positions – namely on government control of certain elements of society – that even rival the Socialist Party. She supports increased nationalization (read: government control) of health care, transportation, education, and energy, while also being extremely open towards expansion of social welfare programs.
Does this sound “right-wing” to you? Of course not - on these infrastructure issues in particular, Marine Le Pen is actually to the left of the current French Socialist Party. On the whole, a vast majority of these parties are actually quite moderate - even somewhat liberal - on a variety of issues, from LGBTQ rights to health care. The only issues on which almost all of these parties are consistently right-wing are: border security, strict immigration laws, and skepticism of multinational organizations like the European Union.
However, factoring in the original French definition of “left” and “right,” there is one other significant - and much less-discussed - way in which the notion that these parties are “right-wing” can be thoroughly demolished.
One word: Populism.
The one other factor that links all of these parties together is their populism, which is essentially nothing more than a broad appeal to the general population of a country, under the message that they are being taken advantage of by a small, ruling elite. Thus, the populists seek to give more power back to the people and take it away from those already in power within the government. This rhetoric has not only been applied to the populations of individual countries in the form of their governments, but to entire groups of countries in the form of the specter of globalism.
To put it plainly, that ideology just might be the most perfect personification of the French definition of “left-wing.” Think of it as the more realistic - and obviously, more popular - version of Marx’s concept of “proletariat vs. bourgeoisie.”
And, of course, their populist message seems to be working. From Switzerland, to Poland, to Hungary, to India, to the United Kingdom, to the United States, these populist parties or candidates have been winning, while others in countries such as the Netherlands, France, and Austria are only gaining traction.
Therefore, what we are witnessing today is not a “right-wing” uprising at all. In fact, it is a “left-wing” uprising that would make the original participants of the French Revolution proud.
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