Alternatives for calling someone “Right Wing”

Several of those whom I would put in the “right wing” camp in Indian politics have expressed their dislike for the term. Perhaps they feel it’s too poorly defined, or that it’s well defined and doesn’t fit them, or that it’s used in an insulting way. Maybe all three. While it’s true that those on the opposing side are as, or more likely to be insulted by words such as “commie” etc, that’s no reason to continue using something which a certain section of people find insulting. After all, the purpose of debate is constructive dialog and not insults.

Do we need an alternative phrase to "Right Wing?"

Do we need an alternative phrase to "Right Wing?"

Though the phrase “right wing” is already pretty well defined [wikipedia.com] so far as such things can be nailed down, it’s clearly not serving its purpose when the target audience takes offence or feels that the label is unjustified. So I write this post to invite ideas for new phrases that accurately describe the views of a large number of Indians. It’s important to have a phrase since it makes talking about a certain set of views easier in conversation instead of having to recite the traits from scratch. Pure convenience.

I think it best to start at the fundamentals by listing out the exact traits which the old phrase “right wing” was supposed to indicate. Then those who wish can decide whether or not they subscribe to the following views and if they do, they mustn’t take offence when someone describes them as such. Liberals for example never feel offended when someone calls them a “liberal” even if its meant as an insult since the word is so well defined that it could only be a compliment! After all, who could take offence at being told that they support equality, believe in human rights and democracy?

So here are the traits which I consider those on the “right wing” to possess.

Note: Until we find a suitable replacement for “right wing”, I’ll be using that phrase withing quotes when appropriate here – don’t take it as an insult!

Great Pride in the past and belief in a “Golden age”

One thing which I find very common is that those on the “right” take great pride in the history of their religion, community, or country. Now we’re all interested in the past to varying degrees and especially our own, but the kind of attachment I’m referring goes beyond mere interest. Those on the “right” take a lot of pride in their history and are apt to praise it above other cultures. So if we’re talking about the Hindu “right,” we hear phrases like “India was the greatest culture in the world at one time etc.”

Also, there is a belief that at some time in the past, everything was “perfect”  during a “Golden age” and that we’ve fallen from grace since then. So we have references to a “Raj Dharma” and the “Vedic times” when people were good, kings were righteous and everything was at peace.

So that is the first trait of what the “right wing” consists of. A great pride in history, and a golden age when everything was perfect.

But then everything changed and this paradise was shattered by Islam. Which brings us to the next trait.

A belief that Islam is a threat to Hindus

The second trait of the Indian “right wing” is a feeling of hurt and personal loss that Islam came and destroyed the peaceful Golden age. There is also a fear that history will repeat itself and that if left unchecked, Islam will overrun India and will make Hindus outcasts in their own land. Along with this, is a belief that all (or most) Muslims are silent supporters of violent acts like terrorism and that Islam itself is a violent religion which by definition makes all Muslims potential threats.

Strong sense of Nationalism, Religion, or Community

The final trait which I consider those on the “right” to possess is a powerful identification with a group that is determined by their birth. Religion, and nationality are not something most people choose and in my opinion, the “right” adopts the identity which birth has given them. This identification is very strong and is infused with a sense of pride and a tendency to raise that particular identity above all others. Descriptions such as “Proud Nationalist”, “Proud Hindu” and “Patriotic Indian” are common. Sometimes posts or comments will end with a “Jai Ho!” or something similar.

So these are three traits which I believe the “right wing” possesses. The challenge now is to come up with a phrase to describe those who think like this. Clearly many are uncomfortable being called “right wing,” and so I throw an open question to those to whom the above three traits apply. What phrase or word would you be happy with if “right wing” is unacceptable?

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Comments

  1. Kaffir says:

    “After all, who could take offence at being told that they support equality, believe in human rights and democracy?”

    ***

    But I thought that you were in favor of ignoring crimes of the “minority” while holding the “majority” accountable for even minor offenses. How is that equality? Or have you changed your mind and now believe that everyone should be held equally accountable, irrespective of his religion/majority/minority? If not, then your use of the word “equality” is nothing but Orwellian and a perversion of the truth.

    As for human rights, the silence of liberals when it comes to the human rights of Kashmiri Hindus, who were slaughtered in cold-blood and driven out of their homes, is deafening. Good to know that you associate yourself with such “human rights” and take pride in it. Oh wait, human rights are only for “minorities” and “majority” has to suck it up, correct?

    As for democracy, I doubt that there’s any disagreement between people whom you label “left-wing” and “right-wing” so I don’t see why you have to include that and feel smugly superior about it.

    As for why commie is an insult, perhaps you should read up on the history of Communist parties and their role in the freedom struggle, as well as their role in India post-Independence in subverting history. You won’t even need any left-wing/right-wing paradigm to come to that conclusion about the communists in India. But then again, you are not really interested in reading up on history, and believe it has no relevance to events today. So, it seems to me that you’re destined to keep asking such questions.

    BTW, you seem to deny or reject your identity based on country or religion. What do you base your identity on? And why do you not give others the freedom to base their identity on country or religion, or feel so threatened by it? It’s not as if one type of identity (yours) is better than the other, though you seem to present it that way. Oh, and it was an accident that your parents are your biological parents. So, do you consider them your parents when it’s all an accident of birth and you had no role in choosing them? And have you confirmed that your parents are really your biological parents through a DNA test, or do you accept it on faith?

    • bhagwad says:

      Do you really think I have ever advocated that a crime by a minority member should not be pursued to the full extent of the law? I think I know which sentence of mine you’re getting that idea from, but if you post it here for everyone to see, I think we can let readers judge for themselves whether or not I meant what you claim I meant.

      Your second, third, and fourth paragraphs have nothing to do with the purpose of the post – namely what term to use instead of “right wing” and so perhaps we can discuss that somewhere else and not here. Maybe you misunderstood. I was wondering why the word “commie” was applied randomly to just about anyone who has nothing to do with communism. That’s just laziness.

      Perhaps you feel that people are labelled as “right wing” unjustly in the same way? That is precisely the purpose of this post! So that you can yourself select a term which describes your beliefs in a way that we can talk about them easily without you taking offence.

      In your last para, you seem to think that I’m being judgmental. While it’s true that I personally don’t agree that someone’s identity should be based on their nation, country, or religion, I’ve tried very hard to be completely neutral in my post. The purpose here is not to say that such an identity is right/wrong, but to say that those on the “right” have such an identity. I realize that you feel I’m being judgmental, but a neutral person will not be able to make out that I disapprove.

      I’m showing complete respect for the views of the “right” here, and if you find any sentence which signals my disapproval, let me know and I’ll change it because the purpose of this post is not to insult or to judge, but to analyze.

      Try and enter into the spirit of a friendly and respectful dialog without being mean or insulting to anyone.

  2. How about “People I don’t like” ? ;)

  3. Bhagwad

    How about nutters? Or bigots? Little khakhi chaddis?

    I like little khakhi chaddis :) Don’t offer too much of respect to these dimwits. Calling them conservatives is an insult of conservatism.

    Cheers!
    AD

    • bhagwad says:

      I don’t think we should indulge in name calling even when the other side does the same. Stooping to insults just gives the “right” the fodder that’s needed to continue with the abuse. If one tries and speaks respectfully and still gets abused, then everyone can see who started it and who’s being childish.

      Plus, this gives the opportunity to reach out to those elements who have genuine grievances and are willing to respond to them in a respectful and proper manner without getting abusive. There are many such people, and for their sake I don’t think we must club all those on the “right” together.

  4. This is for Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Sanjeev, serious questions are being asked of Shantanu’s liberal credentials and all you’ve offered us so far is that he IS a liberal. You haven’t given us a single reason to believe that he’s not a Hindu nationalist. I had asked you about his views on Savarkar’s hindutva ideology, I had quipped you on his Hindu nation agenda, not only me, but many others question his bias against muslims (and you’ve admitted that yourself)…. and yet I see no clarification forthcoming!

    Well you might say that I shouldn’t ask these questions to you but then you are voluntarily defending Shantanu and I assume you are open to taking questions as well.

  5. Bhagwad

    I admire your spirit to connect with this lot. You are such an optimist. Don’t get me wrong. I am not against healthy debate neither am I advocating abusive behaviour. But you can only debate with people who are worthy of a debate, who understand the meaning of that word.

    These people have no intentions to debate (and I am sure you’ve experienced that yourself). I myself started with an open mind many moons ago and slowly realised that no matter what you say, you will only be abused.

    But I am not responding with abuse only as a tit-for-tat. I am resorting to ridicule and mockery only because I’ve come to realise that that’s what they deserve. Learnt it from Bill Maher. I’ve learnt to choose who to debate with and these little khakhi chaddis are not worthy of my time.

    • bhagwad says:

      I guess my hope is that a few people who hold these views will be willing to explain their problems to me and we can have a real honest and respectful discussion. I haven’t seen that happen yet though I have burnt my fingers repeatedly trying. I guess I am an optimist :)

  6. Aditya says:

    Very apt post, though i do believe that in item by item comparison of religions, Islam would have more to introspect compared to all others but that is besides the point here.

  7. SS says:

    First of all, I am a right winger and I don’t know of anyone who finds that term offensive.

    What does the Indian right believe about India? That at one time India was the greatest nation in the world. Now that would be a problem if it were untrue. But it’s not.

    Yes…India used to be the greatest nation on earth. It’s objectively true. The desire to reach the fabulous land of India has been a major force in history for almost 2000 years. Just like people cross continents today to reach the USA, so did everyone in the ancient world desire to reach India. Sikander Mahan (I guess you would want to call him Alexander the Great) went out looking for our great country back in ~300 BC. And guess which country Columbus was looking for?

    You make it sound like out grievance against Islam is phony…made up. Is it really? India’s progress in science was in no way inferior to that of Europe in the ancient world. Then, India stagnated. As the noose of Islam tightened around India’s neck, India began to choke. And then it stopped breathing. Europe forged ahead…way ahead. Soon enough, Europeans had enslaved India. In 200 years of slavery India’s share in world GDP fell from an estimated 24% (compare: US share in world GDP 2009 is also ~ 24%) to 2%. Am I being unfair here? Isn’t it true that across the world, the higher the share of muslims in the population, the less developed the country and the smaller the chance of democracy? Am I imagining this.

    In 1947, India was robbed off 1/3rd of its total territory by MUSLIMS. Is Pakistan imaginary? Tell me why I should not feel hurt at the FACT that Muslims took a third of my country? Why should I believe Muslims don’t have any intentions of taking the rest from me? Why should I believe that Muslims love our democracy like I do, when 100% of Muslim majority nations are dictatorships?

  8. JC Moola says:

    Are you on payroll of Islam propogandists? Writing content for them, which is what you are paid for?

  9. The Mindset says:

    1. Looks like you have got a good bashing from the Hindutwa forces or are you paid for spreading anti-hindu ideologies by ISI
    FYI we like to be called Right-Wing. YES we are “right” its you who are wrong, the bigots the, the hipocrites.

    Great pride in the past :- Yes why not, India was world’s largest economy for continuous 1500 years, its the Muslims who dstroyed the prosperity of this country. You can read it here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_history_of_India

    Islam is a threat to not only Hindus but the whole world, just because you people have your head up in your ass doesn’t mean that world is safe with 1.5 billion Muslims ready to cut everybody’s throat. You have to read my post Feb Report TROP 2011

    Jan Report TROP 2011 to understand more about Islam.

    “Proud Nationalist”, “Proud Hindu” and “Patriotic Indian” : Are you ashamed of being a Indian , Hindu or Calling yourself a Nationalist, go to Antarctica if you think so

  10. Anita says:

    I would actually prefer the term pseudo-nationalists rather than Right Wing for such people.

    The peopl you are trying to describe are basically bigots or social conservatives. While right wing can refer to people who have liberal valued but are fiscally conservative or prefer centre-right economic ideas like free markets and capitalism.
    While not seeking refuge in patriotism at the same time

    However, people who belong to the RSS, shiv sena e.t.c. and go on minority bashing sprees are basically pseudo-nationalists who try to fool people regarding their patriotism. Its a guise to capture political power and a large section of the Indian populace fall for it as can be seen from the comments online by the gullible pseudo-natiaonlist brigade. How else would you explain the case of RSS/Ram Sene workers hoisting a Pakistani flag in Udupi K’taka just before a bypoll there and blaming it on Muslims. Thankfuly the police was unbiased and caught the real culprits behind the mess

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