The nastiness of the right
Posted by RDN under Politics & campaigns on 10 November 2008
People flinch whenever one mentions “the right”. It’s true: right wing arguments are a hard sell. Here goes.
There are three main reasons people don’t like the right.
Reason #1: “The right is fascist”
It is assumed that to be right-wing is to be fascist, or at least skinhead. This is true of some right-wingers but not all or even most.
Actually, many right-wingers are the very anti-thesis of fascist. Many right-wingers dislike the state and want it to be very weak. The are terrifed of the state becoming fascist. Others (my kind) argue that the state is crucial and valuable, but that we have to be vigilant about it. It can become fascist, sure. Or just bossy.
What’s important here is that we know we ought to be suspicious of the state precisely because of the totalitarian tendencies of the fascist right and the communist left.
This isn’t a matter merely of avoiding extremes. It’s a matter of avoiding certain sorts of extreme.
Reason #2: “The right is unkind”
This is a tougher rap to beat. The right certainly is inclined to believe in tough-love. It is inclined to argue that quite often you have to be cruel to be kind. It argues that pandering to people’s weakness is doing them no favours. I am the kind of right-winger who often argues in this vein.
Reason #3: “The right believes in charity not rights”.
Again, a tough rap. I do more or less believe that people do not have a right to other people’s kindness. But I do not want an unkind society and I don’t think it is sensible (or moral) of the lucky to be careless of the needs and wants of the less-blessed.
I am inclined to believe that society needs compassion and that the state is not clever at being compassionate.