Sunday, April 03, 2016

The meaning of "right wing": Europe vs. America

Frauke Petry
Frauke Petry, head of the populist Alternative for Germany, gets interviewed by an aggressively ignorant reporter for Der Speigel:
SPIEGEL: Ms. Petry, in an interview with the right-wing populist weekly Junge Freiheit, you once said: "Many voters want to avoid one thing above all: being associated with the 'right-wing'." Now, though, your party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), is a pretty far to the right, to put it politely.

Petry: You are beginning this interview with an insinuation, not a question. That's too bad! The AfD is a liberal-conservative party. Furthermore, I think it's wrong to see the political battle between left and right as a fight between good and evil. In Germany, the right is associated with xenophobia and the politics of the Nazi regime. In America, the liberal economic policy of Milton Friedman is seen as right-wing. So it depends on the definition. [Emphasis added]

The point that Ms. Petry makes is important: "right-wing" means something different in the US than it does in Europe. Historically, the "right" wing in Europe were monarchists while the left wing opposed the monarch. By contrast, in the US, the right wing descended from the founding fathers and the philosophy of natural rights and individual liberty and the consequent desire for small limited government. Thus, these two versions of right wing often have little in common.

Neville Chamberlain
Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain illustrate this point.  In the US, Churchill's foreign policy realism is identified as right-wing while Chamberlain's faith in negotiated treaties, as written on paper, is Obama-esque and decidedly left-wing.   Both, however, were in the "conservative" party. Clearly "conservative" means something different there.

The difference between Euro-right and American right is clear to us in America.  It is clear to Ms. Petry in Germany.  The news media, whether the MSM in America or Der Speigel in Germany, has its own reasons for not wanting to recognize the obvious difference.

No comments:

Clicky Web Analytics