As Ayn Rand knew all too well, the battle for the world is the battle for definitions. So let's define our terms.
Racism
Belief in the superiority of a particular race; antagonism between races; theory that human abilities are determined by race.(Source: The Oxford Minidictionary, 1991 )
Right-wing
Oh, wait, this one isn't so easy...
Jean-Marie Le Pen and Pim Fortuyn have occupied a fair bit of time in the European media recently. Almost every article or publication you read that discusses these two individuals associates them with the "far right". The "far right" is not a term they ever care to define. Let's try to define it ourselves.

The left/right wing division is primarily an economic one. Chairman Mao Tse-Tung was undeniably left-wing. So was Mahatma Gandhi. There is, of course, a huge difference. Gandhi is a man associated with peace and love, and Mao is associated with the death of millions of his own people through social experiments . We accept then, that political figures on the left can be differentiated from each other by a factor beyond their left-wingness.

The same can be said of the political right. Not all right-wingers are racist. The media (dare I say the liberal media?) are constantly bombarding us with information about racist right-wingers - in fact, now all they have to do is make reference to the "far right" and it is assumed that people will understand that they mean racist, bigoted, anti-semite holocaust deniers! This does damage to the right-wing as a whole, and the media strategy is one of misrepresentation: People ask themselves what the single most defining characteristic of Le Pen and Joerg Haider is, and arrive at the conclusion that they are racist. Then they are told that these people are "right-wing". The logical fallacy that results from this and that is peddled by the media is: The far right is inherently racist.

Le Pen and Joerg Haider's economic policies are almost of no consequence to this discussion. The problem with these people is not that they are right-wing, it is that they are racist - this is the characteristic that makes them despicable, makes people reject them so wholeheartedly. By throwing in the characteristic "right-wing" one merely creates an unnecessary association.

This alleged definition of "right-wing" (the definition which says they are racist) needs to be overcome by the true definition. At the moment, few politicians will stand up and proudly declare "I am right wing". To do so would be to draw immediate conotations of racism from the public and most probably slander along those lines from one's political enemies. Like the true definition of "left-wing" (which, I hasten to point out, is not "vicious bloodthirsty totalitarian murderer"), the true definition of "right-wing" is an economic one. As Conservatives and Republicans have always done, members of the right-wing advocate less government control of the economy, lower taxes and a reduction in the welfare state. The most important battle of today is that of statism vs. libertarianism, and to attribute properties such as racism to the libertarians is dangerous and a distortion of the discussion. Of course, attributing the property of totalitarianism and genocide to the statists (communists) is no better, but sadly the media does not even create a balance of this negativity.

I can't really find very much in the above writeup that's totally unreasonable. It is true that having a right-wing political affiliation does not necessitate having a racist mentality. However, I would argue that right-wing policies are, necessarily, detrimental to the elimination of barriers, whether those barriers are based on race, sex, class, or any other consideration.

The reason for this is that the right wing of politics is based, at least in part, on the principle that business should be impacted as little as possible by the government. However, only the government is able to dictate what kind of policies are unacceptable for businesses to pursue, as a matter of law. With the exception of rights provided by government legislation, businesses are for the most part not accountable to their employees (labour unions provide an exception, of course, but it's probably fair to say that the right wing is even less in favour of power in the hands of labour unions than power in the hands of the government). If change in the workplace is to be brought about, then, it must be brought about through the actions of the government.

The instances of overt, systematic racism that are seen today are still highly disturbing, but less frequent than they may have been thirty years ago. The more frequently encountered problem is that of institutional, systemic racism (embodied by the sentiment of "that's just the way we've always done things around here"). These attitudes are often highly exclusive, and account for major barriers in the workplace, as well as on a social and societal level. The same type of attitude is often in evidence in matters of sex, sexuality, religion, and other such considerations. In these circumstances, the people in positions of power often do not perceive there to be a problem, and in any case it is not reasonable to expect the people in positions of power to police themselves with regard to their own behaviour. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the government to clearly define what kinds of attitudes and policies are unacceptable, and to promote policies of equity - policies that compensate for the presence of ingrained, systemic barriers.

While a right-wing philosophy might not stem from intolerance, nevertheless the right-wing has traditionally been against the implementation of policies that promote equity in the workplace. While this may be rooted in self-interest and not neccesarily be indicative of a personal bias against people who are aided by these policies, it is nevertheless important to recognize that these policies are designed to combat problems whose scale and magnitude are truly appalling. In my opinion, the importance of effecting changes to combat racism, both systematic and systemic, is incontrovertibly more important that the closely-guarded independance of free enterprise.

Right-wing economic policies and limited government are our best guard against institutional racism.

There is a more nuanced position against government intervention put forward by libertarians or classical liberals. It is not the business of government to regulate private conduct and the free association of peoples. Institutional racism in the South was strengthened by Jim Crow legislation that aspired to regulate the conduct of individuals and private enterprise. This was reversed not by the agency of government or fiat, but by the concerted efforts of thousands who believed it was wrong and challenged it, all while being actively denied their constitutional rights to representation. At least in this instance, a broader definition of the state's rightful role in the social sphere perpetuated a great wrong.

Martin Luther King Jr. was able to use the threat of a voluntary community boycott to successfully change the hiring practices of various corporations. Similarly, Gandhi and Ambedkar were able to effect meaningful change to the caste-system in India via the force of personal example and conviction. To combat institutionalized discrimination that has plagued India for millenia, soon after independence, the Indian government enacted an affirmative action policy in hiring and admission to government run educational institutions for those of "low caste". This was implemented via a system of quotas for jobs in the civil service and government run colleges. Yet, in recent years this has led to widespread rioting as the quotas are considered unfair, especially to the poor who do not have the dubious privilege of being eligible for the positions reserved via a quota. There is also a market for fraudulent certificates documenting a lower caste. Yet another example of unintended consequences.

The classical liberal objection to government intrusion within private affairs is grounded in a fundamental distrust of coercive means used beyond a narrow sphere. The rationale for this distrust is that the coercive power of government is too easily arrogated by social improvers. All too often has the power of the state been used to promote the latest project of social engineering, whether this were prohibition, or segregation of Asian-Americans in California during the early 20th century. Classical liberals believe the government has no business criminalising consensual activity amongst adults. So, they oppose prohibition, laws against sodomy, criminalisation of narcotics, etc. In truth, this is the only position that can conscientiously be adopted by anyone who believes in individualism. If you cede to the government the right to regulate private conduct, you will soon find your own conduct questioned and regulated. Worse yet, such a system encourages the perversion of law as the more resourceful find ways to escape punishment. One of the worst instances of institutional racism in the US is the disproportionate punishment of young black men for narcotics related crimes. Yet only classical liberalism as a political philosophy has an answer for this scourge.

In essence, the two great burdens of a central or federal government are providing for national defence and protecting the rights of its citizens. So, for instance, the Civil War and federal action during the Civil Rights Movement were justified exercises of government authority because they protected citizens' rights. Another unintended consequence of the indiscriminate use of governmental authority is that it encourages the growth of special interests. Congressional or parlimentary manuevering then becomes a battle amongst lobbyists, and the people and their representatives lose control of the process. The legislative process then becomes a fight for the spoils of government action or inaction.

The classical liberal perspective would be called "right-wing" from an economic perspective. At the same time, as a political philosophy it intrinsically recognizes the equality of all its citizens.

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