Right-wing, The Right, Far-Right, and the political Right, are terms used in the spectrum of Left-Right Politics, and much like the opposite appellation of left-wing, it has a broad variety of definitions, and can sometimes mean different things. However, it is generally used to refer to the segments of the political spectrum often associated with any of several strains of conservatism, nationalism, monarchism, traditionalism, militarism, nativism, populism, or simply the opposite of all that is left-wing politics.
The term originates from the French Revolution, when liberal deputies from the Third Estate generally sat to the left of the president's chair, a habit which 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 Ancien Régime were commonly referred to as "Rightists" because they sat on the right side. It is still the tradition in the French National Assembly for the representatives to be seated left-to-right (relative to the Assembly president) according to their political alignments.
The meaning of the terms have changed in other countries often according to perceptions and the spectrum of ideas and stances being compared. In recent times, the term Right almost always continues to include some forms of conservatism; Left is identified with liberalism, Marxism, socialism and communism.
Outside the United States (where classic liberal capitalism is supported by both establishment political parties), the most notable distinction between Left and Right is in economic policies. The traditional Right cautiously supports capitalism with social responsibility; liberalism advocates total deregulation of trade and industry with little or no social responsibility; whereas The Left advocates socialism (including democratic socialism) or communism, leading to total control by the State.
The British UK media, almost universally Left, hated Margaret Thatcher and therefore, for them to identify her policies as being "Right", was natural and in keeping with their never-ending demonisation of all they loathe as right-wing. Thatcherism advocated laissez faire capitalism, with little government intervention in the economy other than to control the money supply and little taxation except to support military and police functions, and even a limited amount of the wealth redistribution measures more characteristic of social democracy. Many in the United Kingdom define this classic Manchester Liberalism and not "Right" at all.
Those on The Right, as with the centre-right Gaullists in post-World War II France, advocate considerable social spending on education and infrastructure development, as well as extensive economic regulation and responsibilities. For instance, Mussolini's Italy advocated corporatism.
More recently with new left-wing social agendas being aggressively pursued, right-wing views have been concerned with keeping "traditional" values (often religious values) and the preservation of individual rights, such as freedom of speech, through constraints on government power.
- The Political Compass and Why Libertarianism is Not Right Wing by J. C. Lester