Millennium Post

Beyond Left-Right paradox

In the ideological tussle of different socio-political and economic groups/parties, it is generally the national interest that suffers the most. From print and electronic media to academic and general intellectual discussions we came across a term called the ‘Right’ and often mistaken it due to its various ambiguous explanations, its widespread generalised use and its intended political connotations. The term ‘right’ and ‘left’ were coined during the French revolution and the Left has been called ‘the party of movement’ and the Right ‘the party of order’. Those who sat on the right of the chair of the parliamentary president were popularly called the right and vice-versa. The right were broadly supportive to the institutions, monarchic hierarchical system, authority, tradition, and clericalism while the left were supposed to be in favour of a democratic transition. There was another term called ‘centrism’ which was used for the people who were supposed to have a moderate stand and were neither in favour of blind protectionism nor in radical changes in the system.

As the time progresses the left were developed into a broad category that represents all those who wants major radical changes within the system and were even supportive of a total overhauling of its entire structure and functioning. They vociferously advocated a balanced and more pro-people, pro- weaker sections and environment friendly approach of development to ensure sustainable development. However, in their efforts to safeguard it, they swiftly transformed itself into an anti-capitalism and anti-globalisation group of people.

Broadly, they were anti-establishment, anti-status quoist group of progressives who were heavily influenced by the Marxist ideology. They criticise all kinds of authority, domination and exploitation; but over the period of time there comes major changes in their ideological stand, strategies and ultimate goal. They have as such no uniform pattern and they function according to the needs and requirement of both the time and space. On the other hand the rights’ were termed as the conservative traditionalists who believe in authority, authoritative systems and nationalist tendencies. They were also supportive to free market economy, economic development and capitalism for which they were also labelled as pro-market and anti-people.

‘The Right’ as such has nothing to do with the religion; but unfortunately in India the so called rightist parties have been largely labelled as rightist purely onto the basis of their religious affiliations and nationalist agenda, which is neither rhetorical nor authoritarian. The right wing political parties of India have incontestable faith in the democratic traditions and constitutional provisions. They participate in elections through the normal electoral process and bounded by all the democratic norms of individual freedom, institutional autonomy and constitutional superiority; and yet, sometimes they have been called as the radicals, fascists and dictators out of a very well calculated and deliberate attempt to malign their public image through false propaganda.

It is another paradox that the anti-establishment political parties that disown democracy and disrupt the developmental process have been projected as pro- people while the pro-establishment political parties, which largely believes in all the democratic freedoms and liberties, methods, institutions, processes and values have been termed as radical, divisive and capitalist.

The right wing politics has been often described as a political position which accepts social hierarchy or in other words social inequality as inevitable, natural or even desirable, is also just not true in case of the right wing political parties of India as largely they believe in unity, integrity, social harmonisation and development of all. Although, they discourage preferential treatment and appeasement of some select group/community and demands social benefits for all cutting across religious communities. Another notable thing is that within the right wing politics there are numerous variations, difference of opinions and policy preferences cutting across different countries, regions, and continents. All the right wing groups or parties or governments or rulers are incomparable from that perspective and it would be a grave, sometimes a deliberate, mistake to categorise them as one. And it is very often that nationalists were mistaken as the rightist.      
If we analyse the case of India then as such there is no political party which can be truly categorised as rightist. On the other hand if we calculate the ideological position of different political parties in the very specific sense of their pro-systemic and pro-development approach then most of them would fall in that category. So broadly, that categorisation and distinction is hollow and fabricated.
It suits the interest of certain political groups and political parties. Broadly, the groups and organisations which are either proud of their religious identity or have a nationalist approach have been branded as the rightist. Another interesting thing is that riding on a tactically planned and deftly executed propaganda they have been painted in negative shades and were labelled as fundamentalists, radicals, divisive and even fascists. None of the notable political parties which include all – the left, the right and the centrist – have claimed that they were against secularism or religious harmony.   

The so-called centrists were able to manipulate their balanced position and were able to grab both power and positions for a long time in collusion with other accomplices. Like all others they claim to be secular; but didn’t hesitate to adopt a policy of religious appeasement as and when required. They were no less nationalist or pro-establishment or pro- development then the rightist and they also claimed to be no less pro-people then the left. On the front of ideological distinction there is no notable difference between the right and the centrist and it is largely the result of a very well calculated strategy to build ones public image and grab power while barring others on ideological grounds.

The writer is a political commentator
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