New Right is a descriptive term for various right-wing political groups or policies in different countries. It has also been used to describe the emergence of Eastern European parties after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Soviet-style communism.
New Right by country
In Australia, “the New Right” refers to a late 1970s/1980s onward movement both within and outside of the Liberal/National Coalition which advocates 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 neighboring New Zealand, the 1980s saw the Australian Labor Party initiate Third Way economic reforms, which bear some familiarity to “New Right” ideology. After the John Howard Coalition ended the 13-year rule of the Hawke-Keating Labor government at the 1996 federal election, economic reforms were taken further, some examples being wholesale labor market deregulation (e.g. WorkChoices), the introduction of a Goods and Services Tax (GST), the privatization of the telecommunications monopoly Telstra, and sweeping welfare reform including “work for the dole”. 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. It is a philosophy which tends to advocate a free market economy, increased deregulation, privatization, lower direct taxation and higher indirect taxation, and a reduction of the size of the welfare state. The politicians favoring New Right ideology were referred to as “dries”, while those advocating continuation of the economic policies of the post-war consensus, typically Keynesian economics, 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 new right in Brazil has grown sharply in recent years within population, intelligentsia and academia. That is mainly due to a generalized discontent with the current left-wing government and its policies.
This new movement distinguishes itself from what is known in Brazil as “old right”, which was ideologically associated to the Brazilian military government, União Democrática Nacional(National Democratic Union) and Integralism. It is identified by positive views regarding democracy, personal freedom, free-market capitalism, reduction of bureaucracy, privatization of state-run companies, tax cuts, parliamentary, political reform. It rejects “cultural Marxism”, Socialism of the 21st century and Populism.
There have been two major phenomena relating to the rise of the new Brazilian right: the Free Brazil Movement, which has managed to bring together millions of people on demonstrations against the government in March 2015; and the creation of the New Party (Partido Novo) and Libertários, the first liberal party since the First Brazilian Republic.
Some Brazilian new-right thinkers are: Roberto Campos, Wilson Martins, Olavo de Carvalho, Luiz Felipe Pondé, Paulo Francis, José Guilherme Merquior, Bruno Tolentino and Miguel Reale.
The term New Right (Spanish: Nueva derecha) has come into mainstream political discourse since the election of Sebastián Piñera in 2010, when interior minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter used it to describe his government. Hinzpeter’s introduction of the term caused a buzz among newspapers, politicians and analysts. According to a column published in The Clinic, the New Right is different from the old dictatorial right of Augusto Pinochet, in the sense that it embraces democracy. It is also different from the religiously conservative Unión Demócrata Independiente party, in that it is more open to discussing issues like divorce. According to the same analysis, the New Right is becoming increasingly pragmatic, as shown by their decision to increase taxes following the 2010 Chilean earthquake.
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 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 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 civic 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 rhetoric of right-wing politicians such as Gregor and Otto Strasser. Another noted New Right group in Germany is Thule Seminar of Pierre Krebs.
Failos Kranidiotis, a Greek politician who had been expelled by New Democracy chairman Kyriakos Mitsotakis for expressing views more similar to political rival Golden Dawn than those of former Prime Minister of Greece Konstantinos Mitsotakis whose legacy expressed the most important principle of its recently elected leadership, including Adonis Georgiadis who had been a member only since leaving far-right Popular Orthodox Rally in 2012, instead of those expressed by the previous heads of the party who had close friendships with him, specifically Kostas Karamanlis, Antonis Samaras and Vangelis Meimarakis, founded the New Right party based on national liberalism in May 2016.
The New Right (NR) was the name of a far-right/nationalist political party in the Netherlands from 2003 to 2007. The Party for Freedom (PVV), founded in 2005 and led by Geert Wilders, also is a New Right movement. Since March 2017 Forum voor Democratie is another new right party in the Dutch parliament.
In New Zealand, as in Australia, it was the Labor Party that initially adopted “New Right” economic policies, while also pursuing social liberal stances such as decriminalization 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 Labor at the New Zealand general election, 1987 in approval of its economic policies. At first, Labor corporatised many former government departments and state assets, then emulated the Conservative Thatcher administration and privatized them altogether during Labor’s second term of office. However, recession and privatization together led to increasing strains within the Labor Party, which led to schism, and the exit of Jim Anderton and his New Labor 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 Labor Party and Alliance Party alone. During the Labor Party’s second term in office, the Opposition New Zealand National Party (popularly known as ‘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 Party 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 been a partner in coalition governments led by both National (1996–98) and Labor (2005–08 and 2017-ongoing). 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-Labor 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 Labor and National themselves, their fortunes have been mixed. Labor was out of office for most of the nineties, only regaining power when Helen Clark led it to victory and a Labor/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 became leader of National in 2001, it was thought that he might lead the party 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 became leader, 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 criticized it for deviating from its former New Right economic policy perspectives, and at the same election, National did little to enable ACT’s survival. Don Brash resigned as National party leader, being replaced by John Key, who was a more moderate National MP.
As for the centre-left, Helen Clark and her Labor-led coalition were criticized by ex-Alliance members and non-government organisations for their alleged lack of attention to centre-left social policies, while trade union membership recovered due to Labor’s repeal of the Employment Contracts Act 1991 and labor market deregulation and the deunionization that had accompanied it in the nineties. It is plausible that Clark and her Cabinet were influenced by Tony Blair and his British Labor Government, which pursued a similar balancing act between social and fiscal responsibility while in government.
In Poland, a conservative libertarian and eurosceptic political party Congress of the New Right (New Right) was founded on 25 March 2011 from former political parties Freedom and Lawfulness (WiP) and Real Politics Union (UPR) by Janusz Korwin-Mikke. It is backed up by various voters, some conservatives, people who want to legalize marijuana and citizens who endorse free market and capitalism.
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.
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 economic liberalism (often referred to in United States discourse as fiscal conservatism) 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.
In the United States, New Right refers to three historically distinct conservative political movements. These 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(1933–55) on issues concerning foreign policy with neoconservatives being opposed to the non-interventionism of the Old Right.
First New Right
The first New Right (1955–64) was centered around the libertarians, traditionalists, and anti-communists at William F. Buckley’s National Review. Sociologists and journalists had used new right since the 1950s; it was first used as self-identification in 1962 by the student activist group Young Americans for Freedom.
The first New Right embraced “fusionism” (classical liberal economics, traditional social values, and an ardent anti-communism) 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 Republican U.S. presidential candidate
Second New Right
The second New Right (1964–2016) 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 emotional, wedge issues (such as abortion) and was often linked with the Religious Right. The second New Right formed a policy approach and electoral apparatus that brought Ronald Reagan into the White House in the 1980 presidential election. The New Right was organized in the American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation to counter the so-called “liberal establishment”. 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. It was mostly ignored by scholars until the late 1980s, but the formation of the [second] 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 the Free Congress Foundation
- Ronald Reagan – President of the United States
Third New Right
Since 2016, the term ‘New Right’ has been used to describe the alt-lite, supporters of President Donald Trump who share a number of the views of the alt-right, but reject its racialism, antisemitism and homophobia.
- 鈴木邦男『これが新しい日本の右翼だ: 「恐い右翼」から「理解される右翼」へ』日新報道 1993年7月 ISBN 9784817403049
- 鈴木邦男『新右翼 改訂増補版』彩流社 2005年4月 ISBN 9784882029892
- 猪野 健治『右翼・行動の論理』筑摩書房 2006年4月 ISBN 9784480421807