Back in 2019 when Boris Johnson won a landslide Tory electoral victory not seen since Margaret Thatcher’s triumph in 1987, it became evident that the world politics is heading toward right-wing populism. But with Donald Trump losing the presidential election in 2020 many thinkpieces were written asking: are populism’s days numbered?
I don’t think so.
Right-wing populist and nationalist governments are in power in Russia, India, Israel, Hungary, Poland, and Philippines. They share power with left-wing populists in Italy. Japan’s Shinzo Abe has taken his conservative Liberal Democratic Party in a notably nationalist direction. And with Angela Merkel announcing her intention not to run for re-election, and her party anxiously watching the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany, it’s likely her conservative coalition will also begin sounding right-wing populist themes.
First of all, let’s look into what is right-wing actually and why it is named so.
Some people might wonder is politics a bird which has two ‘wings’? Why is the right-wing called ‘right’; not ‘left’?
Hmm, buckle up. I’ll get you sorted.
What is the concept of right and left-wing?
During French Revolution (1789–1799) AD; the seating arrangement in French Parliament was such, that the people sitting on the left of the Parliamentary President were of liberal ideologies like: “All men are equal by birth so their rights should be equal too”; and the people on the right side of the Parliamentary President were of conservative ideologies like: “All men are equal by birth, but their rights will vary only according to their degree of actions.”
In British politics; these terminologies like ‘left’ and ‘right’ entered in the 20th century; little late and then it entered as usual in Indian politics.
However, the rule of thumb in politics is that there is no middle way or central position. Anybody who is claiming he holds the middle-path or something like center-right or center-left; is simply either a confused one or a highly diplomatic one seeking his own interest only.
Politics has only two ends, or two opposing destinations only: Right and Left. They are like two brinks of the river where you can build a good home in any side. But anybody who is standing in the middle of the bridge above the river has simply no clue about his own destination, and he’s just measuring both sides cautiously.
For years, liberals or left-wing is supportive of human rights, democratic reform and the protection of minorities. They are a class of Socialists, Communists, Social Democrats, Liberals, Environmentalists, etc. Often, it is still these “progressive” causes that appeal to younger activists.
But today, with an increasingly diverse mix of people and political goals, with those on the right are gaining traction. They are Conservatives, Ultra-conservatives, Nationalists, Revisionists, etc. For example, The BJP of India which won two consecutive elections to form the central government, advocates social conservatism and a foreign policy centered on nationalist principles.
The Idea of Extremism
By now, you must have already got the idea; that since the Right-wing is the highly pragmatic version of ideologies, it’s quite an extremist in approaches.
Who is an extremist? Anyone who seeks a final solution for every problem is called an extremist.
I came for peace, but I am prepared for war. I will fight for the ideas of the Republic and all that She stands for.
It’s not essential that the right-wing preaches war, but they indeed think of it as a viable option when all other intelligent solutions are exhausted.
This leads me to my next point.
Do Wars lead to the rise of Right-Wing politicians or is it the economy?
World War 1 started due to Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism and Nationalism. It was the primary cause of the great depression (1929–1939) And that so-called Great War, along with the Depression it spawned, was the driver that eventually produced the even greater catastrophe of World War II. Any war; therefore; must have an important or unimportant, significant or insignificant—economic reason. Around which the Politics revolves; and based on the axis of that politics; the War rotates
Let’s take the case of The Great Depression
The biggest economic disaster
The great depression was the largest economic collapse yet, in the history of economics; and it turned people hungry and poor overnight; lots of dices changed on the boards of Wall Street just like, with a single snap of a finger.
And the worst thing it created: Mass unemployment.
Now we all now ill-effects of unemployment. It leads to hunger, poverty, high crimes and so on. Apart from that, low self-esteem, anxiety and other mental health issues also prevail. The latter is more dangerous when you club it with the former.
My mother always quote a famous line which goes like this- ” An empty mind is a devil’s workshop”. So keep yourself preoccupied with something, lad.
Long stretches of leisure; if not handled properly; can be choking—and makes people impatient. Spending a life of emptiness; purposelessness makes people mad—and mind starts to ponder all kinds of negative thoughts. And if this conflict in mind goes on for too long; slowly they become frustrated to get rid of this restlessness feeling. Not that they wanted to get rid of great depression at that moment; but they wanna get rid of their own madness running inside their mind.
And then A man like Adolf Hitler, or Benito Mussolini comes out of the mass and claims: “I can get you out of this madness chaps”
We need heroes first and foremost because our heroes help define the limits of our aspirations. So that heroic leader attracts you with his persona, the subtle rhetorics, and ultimately his charisma works! He promises to his people, the final solution and extreme ways for each and everything.
The mob gets happy and the leader gets the candy: Power.
The Modern World
Now if we look at how India chose a right-wing Nationalist party like BJP to rule the country, the root is yet another economic disaster. 2008 was the year when the global market was hit by another economic disaster, the biggest after the Great Depression. The stock market crashed, companies became bankrupt or sold out, a recession followed by mass unemployment led to people on streets walking with a CV to get a job.
Same scenario but with a comparatively less impact than the Great Depression!
India didn’t take the brutal blows as its economy recovered quite quickly, but the other factors such as rising inflation, high fuel prices, scams and corruption on a large scale by the ruling coalition government led by Congress party made people mad again.
People were impatient to throw away this incompetent government. And then people saw the rise of a charismatic leader- Narendra Modi.
The Middle East and the Syrian Civil War
After the recession of 2008, the oil prices spiked up. This led to more money pumping in the middle east where most of the oil reserves are. Some of this money was also invested in the extremist organization.
The Syrian dictator Bashar-Al-Assad who has been the President of Syria since 17 July 2000( his family has held the presidency in Syria since 1971); started killing rebels with help of Iraq and Russia. Saudi Arabia and Qatar provided weapons to rebels.
According to the United Nations, over 100,000 people were killed by June 2013. When chemical weapons were used in 2013, the UN got alarmed and the US army started bombing Syria on a daily basis. With the bombing as an excuse, Islamist extremist organizations strengthened the ISIS and recruited more new and unemployed, fresh soldiers.
So, in this case, we saw the rise of the world’s biggest terrorist organization ISIS.
To prevent the rise of ISIS and its terror attacks; American people who had already passed a phase of hopelessness and impatience during 2007–2010; were not very to take another risk; and started to support Trump; when he promised them the final solutions for everything.
Trump bet his whole campaign on the idea that popular hostility to liberal immigration and free trade policies would propel him to the White House.
Nationalism, divisive and polarizing campaigns won him the silent voters
The Social Media factor
Modern politicians and especially right-winged are smart to realize that social media is their weapon to catch the nerve of common people. This is the reason they are investing so much on social media, creating IT cells to propel their propaganda and trying hard to woo voters.
The fact that Trends on Twitter, political ads on Facebook can actually win elections was strengthened in the US election of 2016.
It’s a reality that world politics is heading towards right-wing populism and people are loving it, and our left-wing friends are lagging behind.
Reason for their fading popularity is because:
- Leftist are still stuck in Orthodox politics
- They are failing to read the mindset of youth after the social media revolution
- They are not able to comprehend the shift in world politics and new world order.
- They ignore that Nationalism has become the core sentiment due to the global uprising of brutal religious organizations.
If you’ve made this far, thanks for reading! 🙂 Do let me know your views on this one.