What are the essential features of Right Wing thinking today; what is the underlying philosophy  ?

The fundamental approach of the Right is the desirability of conserving the traditional order and all that is valuable from the past because they have proven worth

That is the broad approach, the perspective of the Right.

But what is the Right’s  underlying philosophy ?

To answer that question we need to understand where we are historically.

For two centuries the previously prevalent spiritual worldview of Christianity has been eroded by the Materialism spawned by the Enlightenment

It is vital to understand that the ideas for change from the existing order, ie Left wing ideas, originate in the Materialist, therefore humanistic and anti-religious thinking of the Enlightenment – the age of science, pure reason and the rejection of all that is perceived as superstition.

This on-going historical conflict explains today’s clash between Left and Right. The clash is fundamentally a philosophical one, and explains the policies which each view inspires, and the underlying conflict.

At the heart of this clash lies the Nature/Nurture debate. In the traditional and centuries old Christian perception of mankind, human beings are made in God’s image but tainted by sin. They are capable of good, but selfish by nature.  Jesus Christ came to expunge Sin and so reconcile us to our Creator and Judge. God is there; God cares; God will act for those who obey him.

In Enlightenment thinking, this paradigm is rejected and replaced by a conception of man as a material entity fashioned by his environment. The answer to social ills is therefore to change the environment, not the person; people will respond to an improved environment. That – and not religion  – is the answer.

The Right wing emphasis on personal responsibility, however,  means that Law and Order is paramount to combat individual sin.  For the Right, individual selfishness and the consequent irresponsibility towards others is the fundamental source of social ills – not lack of material possessions. The State must prioritise law enforcement and punishment.

For the Left however, selfishness is not the fundamental problem. Environment is the problem. Solve environmental issues, and you solve social issues. There is no intrinsic right and wrong about the human being; human beings are what they are. End of.

For the Left, Moral right and wrong is no longer a matter of individual responsibility; instead, the question of right and wrong revolves around social justice for all. And the State is the arbiter of that and responsible to promote that.

This thinking has given rise to what is characterised today as political correctness. The State should consciously control the political and educational climate to ensure that the cultural and conceptual environment promotes total equality. Indeed, the State and Society should stigmatise and marginalise any questions raised which the Left perceives as a threat to its paradigm. So Right wing thinking must be eliminated …

This is a totalitarian mindset and this writer defines political correctness as a form of conceptual and psychological fascism.

But where Left wing thinking welcomes State intervention and influence, the Right upholds the natural role of family, and is wary of State influence. For the Right in the English speaking world, Magna Carta of 1215 is the cornerstone of liberty. So, State action is suspect; its role must be defined and confined; the State must ensure justice, not become an agent of injustice and oppression.

The underlying philosophical contrast is evident in 4 primary dimensions:

  • individual

  • social

  • economical

  • national

The Right emphasises

  • individual social responsibility according to traditional cultural norms

  • law and order, strict Justice and personal responsibility

  • economic freedom, personal financial independence/responsibility, therefore private wealth

  • national identity and history, including religious tradition

The Left emphasises

  • personal expression regardless of traditional social norms

  • material welfare as the basis for good social behaviour

  • corporate or collective [usually State] control and direction of resources and of the economy

  • international action and co-operation, viewing national identity and self interest as a threat to world peace

These are the main features of the thinking of Left and Right – and many individuals will undoubtedly find themselves with preferences and tendencies which are a mix of the two. A Left wing voter may  indeed be patriotic, while a Right wing voter may well see value in international agreements and institutions.

In terms of the overall thrust of thinking, however, Right wing philosophy reflects an underlying Protestant Christian doctrine of personal responsibility in making moral and socially acceptable choices; and individual responsibility for personal economic welfare. We are responsible for our own lives, for our families and for what we can influence by our own individual actions. As far as the bigger world is concerned, a Providential God is in control.

By contrast, Left wing thinking fundamentally rejects all idea of a god in control of events, to whom human beings are accountable. Instead, the Left believes that we must take our destiny into our own hands; that we must improve the physical conditions for all human beings because that – not religion – is the true facilitator of freedom and happiness.

In concrete policy terms, the difference becomes explicit in areas like Taxation or Regulation.

The Right believes in less tax while the Left believes in redistribution via more tax.

The Right believes in less government and less regulation, while the Left sees more government action and regulation as necessary to improve the condition of society.

Most people reading this analysis would see positives on both sides, and this writer firmly believes that in a rational and democratic society both sides have something to contribute to constructive discussion and decisions. That is the basis of assembly in a parliament: to listen to others, to debate, and to decide what should be done after orderly discussion.

The key problem for the Right today is that it is losing the sense and value of its historic moral basis in Christianity. It is unwittingly absorbing Left wing philosophy, and therefore policy.

This absorption of Left wing thinking is distorting the mindset and approach of the Right; it is producing a grotesque caricature more akin to the Left’s propaganda image of the Right than according to its own fundamental philosophy.

The core tenets of the Christian faith supply the essential ethical ingredient to Right wing politics, off-setting and counter-acting the worst features of individual self assertion, capitalism and national self interest. It is the salt which cleanses and flavours the overall mix to provide an agreeable end product.

The concept of a loving and disciplining God who set an example in the ministry of Jesus Christ is inextricable and essential to Right Wing thinking.

Without it, the Right has lost both its moral reference point and the will to steer the ship of State to the safe harbour of individual liberty founded upon individual responsibility. Instead, the practitioners of politics on the ostensible Right now drift with the materialistic, man centred tide. They fail to set out a clear course with a clear alternative to the State control paradigm of Left wing Rationalism and Materialism.  

The Right urgently needs to examine its underlying worldview, value its particular contribution, and champion its own credentials.

Ray Catlin

for a pertinent insight into the absorption of left wing thinking, see Dr Bruce Newsome’s post at

Copyright © 2018 Ray Catlin. All rights reserved.