New Right

New Right

New Right is used in several countries as a descriptive term for various policies and/or groups that are right-wing. It has also been used to describe the emergence of Eastern European parties after the collapse of communism.[1]


New Right by country


In Australia the "New Right" refers to a movement in the late 1970s and 1980s which advocated economically liberal and increased socially conservative policies (as opposed to the "old right" which advocated economically conservative policies), and small-l liberals with more socially liberal views. Unlike the United Kingdom and United States, but like neighbouring New Zealand, the Australian Labor Party initiated many "New Right" policy reforms (the Third Way), but desisted from others, such as wholesale labour market deregulation (e.g. WorkChoices), a GST, the privatisation of Telstra and welfare reform including "work for the dole", which John Howard and the Liberal Party of Australia were to initiate. The H. R. Nicholls Society, a think tank which advocates full workplace deregulation, contains some Liberal MPs as members and is seen to be of the New Right.

Economic liberalism, also called Economic Rationalism in Australia, was first used by Labor's Gough Whitlam.[2] It is a philosophy which tends to advocate a free market economy, increased deregulation, privatisation, lower direct taxation and higher indirect taxation, and a reduction of the size of the Welfare State. The politicians favouring New Right ideology were referred to as "dries", while those advocating continuation of the economic policies of the post-war consensus, typically Keynesian economics, and/or were more socially liberal, were called "wets" (the term "wets" was similarly used in Britain to refer to those Conservatives who opposed Thatcherite economic policies, but "dries" in this context was much rarer in British usage).


The term New Right (Spanish: Nueva derecha) has since the election of Sebastián Piñera in 2010 commed into the mainstream political discourse as interior minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter used it to describe his government. Hinzpeter's introduction of the concept caused buzz among newspapers, politicians and analysts. According to a column published in The Clinic the new right is different from the old autocratic right of Augusto Pinochet in that embraces democracy and different from the religiously conservative Unión Demócrata Independiente party in that it is more open to discuss questions like divorce. According to the same analysis the new right is increasingly pragmatic as their heightening of taxes following the 2010 Chile earthquake showed.


In France, the New Right (or Nouvelle Droite) has been used as a term to describe a modern think-tank of French political philosophers and intellectuals led by Alain de Benoist. Another noted intellectual, who was once part of Alain de Benoist's GRECE, is Dr. Guillaume Faye. Although accused by some critics as being "far-right" in their beliefs, they themselves claim that their ideas transcend the traditional "left/right" divide and actively encourages free debate. France also has one Identitarian New Right group (which is connected with Thule Seminar in Germany); that is Terre et Peuple of Dr. Pierre Vial, who was once an integral part and founding member of Alain de Benoist's GRECE.


In Germany, the "Neue Rechte" (literally, new right) consists of two parts: the "Jungkonservative" (literally, young conservatives), who search for followers in the civically part of the population; and, secondly, the "Nationalrevolutionäre" (national revolutionists), who are looking for followers in the ultra-right part of the German population, and use the rhetorics of right-wing politicians such as Gregor and Otto Strasser. Other noted New Right group in Germany is Thule Seminar of Dr. Pierre Krebs .


The New Right was the name of a political party in the Netherlands. The party hadn't much to do with the "New Right", it was more of a classic conservative party with some populist leanings.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, as in Australia, it was the Labour Party that initially adopted "New Right" economic policies, while also pursuing social liberal stances such as decriminalisation of male homosexuality, pay equity for women and adopting a nuclear-free policy. This meant temporary realignment within New Zealand politics, as "New Right" middle-class voters voted Labour at the New Zealand general election, 1987 due to approval of its economic policies. At first, Labour corporatised many former government departments and state assets, then emulated the Conservative Thatcher administration and privatised them altogether during Labour's second term of office. However, recession and privatisation together led to increasing strains within the Labour Party, which led to schism, and the exit of Jim Anderton and his NewLabour Party, which later formed part of the Alliance Party with the Greens and other opponents of New Right economics.

However, dissent and schism were not to be limited to the Labour Party and Alliance Party alone. During the Labour Party's second term in office, National selected Ruth Richardson as Opposition finance spokesperson, and when National won the 1990 general election, Richardson became Minister of Finance, while Jenny Shipley became Minister of Social Welfare. Richardson introduced deunionisation legislation, known as the Employment Contracts Act, in 1991, while Shipley presided over social welfare benefit cuts, designed to reduce "welfare dependency" - both core New Right policy initiatives.

In the early nineties, maverick National MP Winston Peters also came to oppose New Right economic policies, and led his elderly voting bloc out of the National Party. As a result, his New Zealand First anti-monetarist party has become a coalition partner to both National (1996–1998) and Labour (2005–2008) led coalition governments. Due to the introduction of the MMP electoral system, a New Right "Association of Consumers and Taxpayers" party, known as ACT New Zealand was formed by ex-Labour New Right-aligned Cabinet Ministers like Richard Prebble and others, and maintaining existing New Right policy initiatives such as the Employment Contracts Act, while also introducing US-style "welfare reform." ACT New Zealand aspired to become National's centre-right coalition partner, but has been hampered by lack of party unity and populist leadership that often lacked strategic direction.

As for Labour and National themselves, their fortunes have been mixed. Labour was out of office for most of the nineties, only regaining power when Helen Clark led it to victory and a Labour/Alliance coalition and centre-left government (1999–2002). However, the Alliance disintegrated in 2002.

National was defeated in 1999 due to the absence of a suitable, stable coalition partner given New Zealand First's partial disintegration after Winston Peters abandoned the prior National-led coalition. When Bill English took over National, it was thought that he might lead the Opposition away from its prior hardline New Right economic and social policies, but his indecisiveness and lack of firm policy direction led to ACT New Zealand gaining the New Right middle-class voting basis in 2002. When Don Brash took over, New Right middle-class voters returned to National's fold, causing National's revival in fortunes at the New Zealand general election, 2005. However, at the same time, ACT New Zealand strongly criticised it for deviating from its former New Right economic policy perspectives, and at the same election, National did little to enable ACT's survival. ACT currently has five Members of Parliament, and its survival depends on whether or not ACT leader Rodney Hide can retain his Epsom electorate seat at the next general election. Furthermore, Don Brash resigned as National party leader, being replaced by John Key, who is seen as a more moderate National MP.

As for the centre-left, Helen Clark and her Labour-led coalition have been criticised from ex-Alliance members and non-government organisations for their alleged lack of attention to centre-left social policies, while trade union membership has recovered due to Labour's repeal of the Employment Contracts Act 1991 and labour market deregulation and the deunionisation that had accompanied it in the nineties. It is plausible that Clark and her Cabinet are influenced by Tony Blair and his British Labour Government, which pursues a similar balancing act between social and fiscal responsibility while in government.


In Poland, a conservative liberal and eurosceptic political party Congress of the New Right (New Right) was founded on 25 March from former political parties Freedom and Lawfulness (WiP) and Real Politics Union (UPR) by Janusz Korwin-Mikke. It is backed up by disappointed voters, some conservatives, people who want to legalize marijuana and citizens who endorse free market and capitalism.


In Romania, the far-right nationalist organization "Noua Dreaptă" (New Right) was founded in 2000. In 2006, Noua Dreaptă staged a peaceful anti-gay rally in Bucharest. The organization uses the paraphernalia of interwar Iron Guard and practices a cult of personality towards the slain Iron Guard leader Corneliu Zelea Codreanu. Noua Dreaptă is an active member of the far right European National Front.

South Korea

In South Korea, the South Korean New Right movement is a Korean attempt at neoconservative politics. The Lee Myung-bak government led by President Lee Myung-bak and the conservative Grand National Party is noted for being a benefactor of the domestic New Right movement.

United Kingdom

Use of the term New Right in the United Kingdom is rather ambiguous and very different. There is National Anarchist Movement in which perhaps most prominent figure today is an author, writer, and musician Troy Southgate; there are also independent New Right thinkers such as Alex Kurtagić and artists such as New Right chairman Jonathan Bowden .

Another example of the new right (which is different from above mentioned New Right) is used today in connection with post modern neoliberal capitalist politics. This is explained below.

Philosophy: New Right ideas were developed in the early eighties and took a distinctive view of elements of society such as family, education, crime and deviance. In the United Kingdom, the term New Right more specifically refers to a strand of Conservatism that the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan influenced. Thatcher's style of New Right ideology, known as Thatcherism, was heavily influenced by the work of Friedrich Hayek (in particular the book The Road to Serfdom). They were ideologically committed to neo-liberalism as well as being socially conservative. Key policies included deregulation of business, a dismantling of the welfare state, privatization of nationalized industries and restructuring of the national workforce in order to increase industrial and economic flexibility in an increasingly global market. Similar policies were continued by the subsequent Conservative government under John Major and the mark of the New Right is evident in the New Labour government, first under Tony Blair, then Gordon Brown.

Influential figures:
Margaret Thatcher—Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
John Redwood—Conservative MP.
Chubb, John E. and Moe, Terry M—New Right theorists who spoke about education in their book "Politics, Markets and America's Schools"

United States

In the United States, New Right refers to two historically distinct conservative political movements.[3] Both American New Rights are distinct from and opposed to the more moderate tradition of the so-called Rockefeller Republicans. The New Right also differs from the Old Right (1933–1955) on issues concerning foreign policy with the New Right being opposed to the non-interventionism of the Old Right.[4]

The first New Right

The first New Right (1955–1964) was centered around the libertarians, traditionalists, and anti-communists at William F. Buckley's National Review.[5] The first New Right embraced "fusionism" (classical liberal economics, traditional social values, and an ardent anti-communism)[6] and coalesced through grassroots organizing in the years preceding the 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater. The Goldwater campaign, though failing to unseat incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, galvanized the formation of a new political movement.

First New Right figures:
William F. Buckley, Jr.—editor of National Review
Frank Meyer—anti-communist libertarian and creator of the "fusionist" political theory
James Burnham—anti-communist political theorist
M. Stanton Evans—journalist and writer of Young Americans for Freedom's "Sharon Statement"
Barry Goldwater—U.S. Senator from Arizona and 1964 Republican U.S. presidential nominee

The second New Right

The second New Right (1964 to the present) was formed in the wake of the Goldwater campaign and had a more populist tone than the first New Right. The second New Right tended to focus on social issues and national sovereignty (i.e. the Panama Canal treaty) and was often linked with the Religious Right.[7] The second New Right formed a policy approach and electoral apparatus that brought Ronald Reagan into the White House in the 1980 presidential election. In elite think-tanks and local community organizations alike, new policies, marketing strategies, and electoral strategies were crafted over the succeeding decades to promote strongly conservative policies. Though mostly ignored by scholars until the late 1980s, the formation of the New Right is now one of the fastest-growing areas of historical research.

Second New Right figures:
Richard Viguerie—direct mail activist
Howard Phillips—founder of the Conservative Caucus
Robert Grant—Christian right activist and founder of Christian Voice
Terry Dolan—founder of the National Conservative Political Action Committee
Phyllis Schlafly—anti-feminist activist and founder of the Eagle Forum
Paul Weyrich—founder of the Heritage Foundation and Free Congress Education and Research Foundation
Ronald Reagan—President of the USA

The "third" New Right

A third group often labeled "New Right" are a group of theorists and scholars whose work on public policy issues such as crime and the family assisted policy makers in the 1970s and 1980s. Their work came to prominence around the same time that the second New Right emerged and came into power.

"Third" New Right theories

Family —Much like functionalists, New Right theorists see the family as the cornerstone of society. The nuclear family is the ‘normal family’ in the view of the New Right. For example, according to John Redwood: ‘the natural state should be the two-adult family caring for their children’. The New Right sees the family in a state of deterioration. They point to the following evidence to support their claims: lone-parent families, fatherless families, and divorce rates.

Criticisms[who?] of the New Right's views on the family include arguments that they tend to blame the victims of disadvantaged families, and that they hold an idealized view of the past.

Crime and Deviance

‘Thinking about Crime’—1975—James Q. Wilson. Wilson denies that trying to eradicate evils such as poverty will help to reduce crime. According to him, programs to reduce poverty in the U.S. lead to subsequent rising levels of crime. He therefore believes crime can neither be explained nor tackled by the nanny state. Wilson sees crime as a result of rational calculations. People will commit crime if the benefits outweigh the risk involved. Therefore, suggesting remedies like harsher sentences would help resolve crime. Wilson sees the main problems of crime as undermining communities—‘[crime]prevents the formation and maintenance of community’. With the absence of community, crime rates soar.

Murray—1990, 2001. According to Murray, increased numbers of young, healthy, low-income people choose not to take jobs, but instead turn to crime; in particular, street crime and regular drug abuse. According to Murray, this is a result of the increase of lone parent families without a father figure. As a result, the young males lack role models that demonstrate how to live in society correctly. Murray believes the welfare dependency that these young men have lived on throughout their childhood has led them to a lack of work ethos, and subsequently pushed them towards a life of crime.

Wilson—1985. In Wilson’s more recent work, he has moved towards a biological explanation for the causes of crime. He argues that people are born with a natural predisposition for crime. This potential can only be realised through poor socialization provided by inadequate families—e.g., single-parent families. Wilson also goes on to say how the welfare state has led to the easy life for many people. There is no longer the hard work needed to hold down a job, and one can live solely off the state. Also, from an increasingly affluent society, the potential gains of crime are increasing, and thus inviting more people to a life of crime.

"Third" New Right figures:
James Q. Wilson—advisor to Reagan. Ideas very unpopular among left-wing British sociologists.
Charles Murray—New Right theorist, spoke about family, crime, and deviance.
George Erdos and Norman Dennis—New Right thinkers who were sociologists, and wrote about families without fathers.

Aside from the above mentioned ideologies, the "New Right" also refers to a form of Conservativism which calls for survival-of-the-fittest, and a retention of the 1960s permissive society.

See also


Richards, David/Martin J. Smith. 2002. Governance and Public Policy in the UK. New York: Oxford University Press. pp: 92-121.

  1. ^ The New Right in the New Europe By Sean Hanley
  2. ^ John Quiggin - Journal Articles 1997 - Economic rationalism
  3. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. ISI Books: Wilmington, DE, pp. 624-625.
  4. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. ISI Books: Wilmington, DE, p. 625.
  5. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. ISI Books: Wilmington, DE, p. 624.
  6. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. ISI Books: Wilmington, DE, pp. 338-641.
  7. ^ Gottfried, Paul and Thomas Fleming (1988) The Conservative Movement. Twayne Publishers: Boston, pp. 77-95.

External links

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