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
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.
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