On The Right Choice
People belonging to both the Developed and the Developing world have started supporting the Far-Right-Wing Politics, across the globe. The Republican Party of the US (from the Donald Trump era) and the pro-Brexit group in Britain have emerged stronger in recent times. Marine Le Pen, the Far-Right leader, and the Alternative for Germany (AfD or Alternative für Deutschland, influenced by neo-Nazism) have emerged as the main Opposition forces in France and Germany, respectively. Currently, Far-Right-Wing parties are in power there in Italy, Hungary and Poland, while a neo-Nazi party has secured its place in the ruling coalition in Sweden. Among the Developing nations, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is enjoying power in Turkey, and Narendra Modi in India. Although Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeated his Right-Wing opponent in the 2022 Presidential Polls in Brazil, former President Jair Messias Bolsonaro received 49.2% of the votes. The Left parties are in power in different Latin American countries; however, the formidable presence of Right-Wing parties is there (in Parliaments).
In his publication ‘A World of Insecurity: Democratic Disenchantment in Rich and Poor Countries’ (2022), Dr Pranab Bardhan, the Distinguished Professor (Emeritus) of Economics at the University of California (Berkeley), discussed this issue in detail.
Many are of the opinion that the Right-Wing Politics has gained popularity in recent times, because of increasing income inequality across the globe. However, a number of Right-Wing leaders, such as Trump, Le Pen, Erdoğan and Viktor Mihály Orbán (Hungary), own assets worth multi-billion dollars. Although Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, himself, is not that rich, some of his friends are business leaders who are listed among the richest people in the world. Fiscal policies prepared by the Right-Wing leaders, too, are pro-rich, as well. In September 2019, the Modi Administration cut corporate tax to the extent that was equivalent to half of India’s total health budget in terms of Rupees. The Government of India has also relaxed environmental regulations in order to provide a section of industrialists with greater benefits at the cost of public interests. Still, majority of Indians are backing Prime Minister Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In fact, people do not care that much about inequality, rather only about their income and food. It is often seen that the Right-Wing leaders, around the world, often promise to address issues pertaining to food security and jobs.
Dr Bardhan has opined that the Cultural Insecurity, and not the economic issues, prompts common people to support Right-Wing Politics. There is no job security or income security in many countries, including China, where production is seen to be gradually decreasing. On the other hand, the use of automation and automated robots is increasing. According to a survey carried out in 11 European countries, the Far-Right parties have become popular in those countries, where robotics has become an integral part of livelihoods. Economic distress is supposed to push people towards the Left-Wing Politics. However, the opposite is seemingly happening in this case.
The main reason behind this is that many of the policies, advocated by the Left leaders in the past, have been assimilated by the Right-Wing leaders in recent times. President Erdoğan talks about housing and health facilities for workers, while Prime Minister Modi has increased allocation to Rural Employment Scheme, and strengthened Food Security Act, as well. Today’s Right-Wing leaders believe in the role of the State more than their predecessors. While the Left-Wing Politics describes the Role of the State from the aspect of Human Rights, the Right-Wing Politics projects it as an act of benevolence by the leader.
Secondly, the Left-Wing trade unions have lost their strength worldwide in recent times. Statistical reports from Developed nations have revealed that membership of trade unions has almost halved nowadays compared to 1985. These organisations used to play an important role in building resistance against Right-Wing Politics. Several factors have led to a precipitous decline in trade unions. In the post-Second World War period, large industrial firms had a kind of monopoly in Developed countries. A part of the surplus income from that monopoly would also reach the workers through trade unions. However, the market share of those companies has decreased, with an increase in global competition. Now, Capitalists maintain their margin of profits with the help of the State. Else, they threaten to emigrate, along with their capital. However, workers no longer enjoy the portion of profit. Hence, they have lost their faith in trade unions.
Thirdly, low-skilled workers were the main members of trade unions. In today’s technological world, the importance of highly skilled workers, as well as the gap between skilled and unskilled workers, is increasing. The main focus of trade unions was in the manufacturing and transportation sectors all over the world. The importance of these two sectors have decreased in modern economic system, while the importance of service sector has increased. As service sector workers remain scattered, it is difficult to organise them. Even in the Developed World (or in Gig Economy), the number of unorganised workers is increasing.
Interestingly, Right-Wing Politics has been more conducive to the Cultural Uncertainty, rather than Economic Uncertainty. The Refugee Crisis in Europe has prompted residents of a particular region to think that the arrival of refugees, with a completely different culture, could damage their own traditional culture. Right-Wing Politics is exploiting this uncertainty, as it spreads hatred by distorting 1,000-year-old history. Ahead of a recent election in Austria, a Right-Wing party recalled the history of 16th-17th Century, informing voters that the Ottomans had launched a devastating attack on some areas around Vienna at that period of time. The outcome of the election shows that the party managed to increase its percentage of votes in those areas, where it had carried out the campaign. There was no difference among people in this regard even a few years back.
Right-Wing Politics skillfully incites baseless fear in the minds of the majority. A Right-Wing party has repeatedly claimed that Muslims, who are 15% of the total Indian population, would rapidly increase their numbers to become the majority in the South Asian country. It is an absurd claim. Furthermore, the rate of population growth depends on education level of mothers, and not on religion. Unfortunately, Right-Wing Politics does not talk about this fact. Such false propaganda about refugees is going on in Europe, too. Right-Wing Politics has started using Social Media to spread Lies and distorted Facts.
Right-Wing Politics often slams socially Liberals for appeasing minorities or refugees. This position (of Right-Wing Politics) can be called Anti-Elite, with which common people feel solidarity. However, the distance between common people and the powerful policy-makers in New Delhi, Washington DC or Brussels is huge. In actuality, Right-Wing Politics opposes the Liberal Elite, and not the Financial Elite.
Left-Wing Politics, too, has failed to reach out to common people. This sort of politics depends a lot on the State apparatus, especially the Bureaucracy, to implement development programmes. In case of Developing nations, the majority of government officials and bureaucrats are corrupt, evasive, and unsympathetic toward common people. The Left parties ruled the eastern Indian province of West Bengal for 34 years (from 1977 to 2011). However, the Left leaders had no control over their party cadres, who used to create troubles for the Civil Society. Instead, the Left leaders reportedly encouraged the cadres to do so for the sake of electoral politics.
On the other hand, Right-Wing Politics reaches out to the people directly through social organisations. In various Muslim countries of North Africa, Right-Wing Politics has ensured basic primary services for common people through a number of religious organisations. It has become increasingly difficult to counter Right-Wing Politics, now.
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