The terms right and left wing are problematic. As European democracies took shape in the 19th centuries, “left” meant socially progressive, in terms of greater emphasis for working-class higher wages, shorter hours, conditions, housing state welfare, racial equality. “Right” means conservative, resistance to change, deference to hierarchy in terms of class and race, belief in free market with as little state intervention as possible. This is because those deemed “progressive” such as socialists, sat in the “left” of parliament or nation assembly/chamber.
However this is not always the case in reality. The terms left and right have been appropriated, especially in India but also western universities, by Marxist academics as progressive and regressive, respectively. Hence they are not explanatory, but laudatory and condemnatory. They are also problematic in the real world. If fascism never existed, Marxists would invent it as they have done with “Hindu fascism” in India . Fascism in its Italian version was anti-communist, and funded by big business and the church. But Mussolini had been a socialist.
Fascism retained a heavy reliance on state intervention, even though it did not completely stop the free market. Yet is called “extreme right” when it has much in common with the “Left”, especially its reliance on working-class support. Nazism in its full German nomenclature, is called “National Socialism”. Hitler was once a Marxist, and Nazism retained a heavy dose of Leftist ideas: state reliance, Keynesian economics with their socialist leanings and heavy state intervention in the economy, reliance on working class support, anti-capitalist rhetoric against big business. That is why it is important to read FA Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” written in 1944, in which this Austrian economist says that Marxism, socialism and communism is not the opposite but the precursor and forerunner of both Fascism and Nazism. This explains:
- Nazi and Communist collaboration in violent 1932 Berlin transport strike, and indeed Communist Red Brigades and Nazi stormtroopers, while fighting each other, nevertheless found no problem in changing rank and file.
- Nazi, Communist, Fascist and socialist hatred of liberalism and the free market
- Nazi-Communist collaboration in 2 year alliance between Hitler and Stalin
- Why Stalin had similar racial policies to the Nazis in regard to Jews and minorities
- Anti-Semitism in its centrality to Nazism and Communism (although not Fascism): Marx’s “Jewish Question” is as venomous as Mein Kampf
- Socialists were in the forefront of eugenics and other racial ideas which led to Nazism, in their belief in building the “New Man”
- Apartheid was castigated as capitalist when in fact it relied on socialist state intervention in its categorisation of every racial group. Poor whites were the main supporters of apartheid, while industrialists such as Oppenheim, though far from having pure altruism, saw apartheid racial quotes and segregation as impeding smooth operation of business. How can one forget the South African Communist party slogan of 1921 Rand Strike by white miners against the use of black labour which would undercut them: “Workers of the world unite for a White South Africa”.
- In the late 19th and early 20th century USA , the Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) had “Progressives” who pandered to the white working class. These included Tom Watson, Theodore Bilbo, and Vardaman. But they were also white supremacist, disenfranchising blacks, supporting lynching of blacks, and even “repatriation” to Africa .
- Russia is the most white racist country in the world. Skinheads and nationalist groups run amuck. Many former Communists have had no problem becoming neo-Nazis. Indeed demonstrations often combing Stalinists and ultra-nationalists. Eduard Liminov combined the two in his National Bolshevik party. The same has been the case in eastern Europe after communism. Former communists, still hating democracy, liberalism, globalisation, privatisation, free market,and Zionism, became ultra-nationalists and neo-nazis. In UK , British National Party emphasises what were once traditional Labour Party ideas on welfare and state support, and hence has gained support from former Labour voters. Now in such cases, which is Left and which is Right?
Using left and right accepts a discourse which is essentially Marxist. One could just as well sue paradigm of statism on one hand and libertarianism (the classic liberal free market ideas emanating from Adam Smith) on the other. That makes talk of left and right ridiculous.