The terms ‘right wing’ and ‘left wing’ refer to different types of political ideology – how people think society should be run. They are best summed up in relation to people’s views on the economy.
People who are right wing are in favour of ‘free market economics’. This is where private companies are unregulated so they are free to go about their business without any interference from the government, which is sometimes referred to as ‘the state’.
Right wing societies are based on a ‘survival of the fittest’ model where it is believed that the most talented and hard-working individuals will eventually become successful.
Right wing people believe that those who have earned lots of money should not be taxed disproportionately and deserve to enjoy the benefits that their wealth can bring such as being able to pay for a higher quality of education or healthcare.
People with right wing views argue that some inequality in society is a good thing because it gives people something to aspire to and encourages them to work harder for the benefit of themselves and their communities.
Right wing ideology argues that tax breaks for the rich benefit all members of society, including the poor. So because they get to keep more of the money they have earned, they will end up using it in ways that will help to grow the economy like buying more goods or employing someone, for example. This is sometimes referred to as ‘trickle down economics’.
Privatisation is a key feature of right wing ideology. This is where something that was once publicly owned – run by the government or state – has been sold off to private companies who become responsible for their operation.
Capitalism is a right wing ideology.
People with right wing values often have traditional ideas about what society should look like. They may have strong beliefs about traditional gender roles, the make-up of the family unit or the part religion has to play in society, for example.
However, it must be stressed that there are many people with right wing economic views who are also big supporters of equality when it comes to issues such as race, gender and sexuality.