What does "right wing" mean?

Jean V. Hardisty, Ph.D.

Director, Political Research Associates

At PRA, we are often asked how we define the right wing. In the U.S., there is an identifiable right-wing agenda. Its roots lie in the lynchings of Blacks in the South by the Ku Klux Klan, the ideological principles of the John Birch Society, and the McCarthy hearings of the 1950's.

Central to the agenda is white supremacism, preservation of individual wealth in a setting of free market capitalism, preservation of rigidly traditional religious and family structures, and defense of US military hegemony.

There is virtually universal agreement that para-military white supremacists or neo-Nazis are right wing. More subtle distinctions are required when right-wing groups operate within mainstream US culture.

For example, an organization uses the slogan "The Environment As if People Matter", which sounds innocuous. But the group's vicious attacks on the environmental movement, its revealing financial backing, and its demonstrations timed to coincide with Earth Day, bespeak a hidden agenda -- in this case, the defense of profits and policies now being challenged by the environmental movement.

Hard evidence is required to classify an organization, an individual, or a policy as right wing. PRA exists to collect the information necessary to insure the accuracy of that classification. We believe that without such an intellectual yardstick, it will become more and more difficult to identify anti-democratic forces and expose their (often hidden) agendas.

Read more about the Different Sectors of the Right.

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