Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

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Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jun 07, 2019 5:51 pm UTC

I see conservatives and other right-wing people on the internet talking about "leftism" all the time, rather than say liberalism or progressivism or what have you. But nobody ever seems to talk about "rightism". Why is that?
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby Thesh » Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:08 pm UTC

Probably because leftism is cosmopolitan tendency that is globally aligned, and the right is a bunch of different factions united only when it is in their own self-interest, rather than a specific ideological tendency.
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby elasto » Fri Jun 07, 2019 7:11 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I see conservatives and other right-wing people on the internet talking about "leftism" all the time, rather than say liberalism or progressivism or what have you. But nobody ever seems to talk about "rightism". Why is that?

Might be the circles you move in (or I don't move in).

The term 'leftism' is new to me - more typically people talk about greens or feminists or whatever - just like people split the other side into alt-right, neocon, christian right etc. Even the center is subdivided where I come from.

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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:15 am UTC

Rightwing nuts tend to work together in spite of in theory being opposed. E.g., Trump, that Brazilian douche, Putin, that Filipino asshole, etc. Leftwing nuts tend to constantly bicker over the dumbest minutia, in spite of in theory being aligned.

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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby elasto » Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:12 am UTC

I think that's true in today's politics, and I think that's because many of the current crop of right-wingers value power over ideological purity - pragmatically feeling that it doesn't matter what you believe if you can't carry it out - whereas many of the current crop on the left value ideological purity above all.

I think it's a pendulum though, and that situation regularly reverses. The seemingly inevitable march towards a no-deal Brexit in the UK is a case of the right putting ideology over pragmatism, and it wouldn't be beyond the bounds of possibility that it fractures the right here for a generation.

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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby Thesh » Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:54 pm UTC

When has this ever not been the case? It seems that the right has always been a coalition of opportunists, and the left has always been a loose group of people who want to tear down the system but disagree on how to do it. It's why solidarity is such an important part of leftism.
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby Pfhorrest » Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:03 pm UTC

it occurs to me also that “liberal” and “progressive” just sound like good things from the name, and maybe right-wingers who think the left is anti-liberty and not actually for true progress don’t want to concede the left’s self-labels. see also the “democrat” party vs democratic party, another right-wing shibboleth.
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby elasto » Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:33 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:When has this ever not been the case? It seems that the right has always been a coalition of opportunists, and the left has always been a loose group of people who want to tear down the system but disagree on how to do it.

Part of the issue on the left is that whenever the left try to form a coalition in order to gain power they get decried and condemned from within their own ranks.

An example within my lifetime was Blair's government in the UK which was a broad church with views from the left to the center ground. However, the heavy compromises that Blair made in order to win election after election were so repugnant to so many on the left that now we've ended up with Corbyn, who is ideologically much purer but, as a result, far less likely to actually win power.

The right here has traditionally been much more relaxed with being a broad church, with everyone realising they can't always have things all their own way, but that detente has broken down with Brexit, with rigid ideology running rampant there too.

The first party that manages to pivot to appeal to the center instead of their extremists will be in power for a decade, and being in power is always better than not.

(Ideology only succeeds in dictatorship type situations; Pragmatism and compromise is the only way to succeed in a democracy. Populism also succeeds, as we see with Trump, but that exacts a terrible price in the end...)

Pfhorrest wrote:see also the “democrat” party vs democratic party, another right-wing shibboleth.

As a foreigner I never really got that. The terms seem synonymous to me: A democrat believes in democracy, and if you're democratic then you do too, so where is the distinction..?

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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Jun 09, 2019 2:23 am UTC

elasto wrote:As a foreigner I never really got that. The terms seem synonymous to me: A democrat believes in democracy, and if you're democratic then you do too, so where is the distinction..?


The names of the parties have little if anything to do with "supporting a representative republic" versus "supporting a direct democracy", and AFAIK the names are really "my party is about democracy; no, my party is about democracy!". People's Front for Judea vs Judean People's Front. Just treat them as "cyan party" and "magenta party" instead.

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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:48 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:I see conservatives and other right-wing people on the internet talking about "leftism" all the time, rather than say liberalism or progressivism or what have you. But nobody ever seems to talk about "rightism". Why is that?

Might be the circles you move in (or I don't move in).

The term 'leftism' is new to me - more typically people talk about greens or feminists or whatever - just like people split the other side into alt-right, neocon, christian right etc. Even the center is subdivided where I come from.

Whatever your circles, "leftism" is about 8x more common than "rightism" and "leftist" is about 4x more common than "rightist", according to Google Books ngrams.

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?c ... 29%3B%2Cc0
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby EdgarJPublius » Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:00 pm UTC

I would think 'conservative'/'conservatism' would be the more common terminology relating to the right.
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:46 pm UTC

Yes, but the logical opposite terminology for the left would then be "progressive", and the traditional opposite terminology (at least in mainstream media when and where I grew up) seemed to have always been "liberal". I don't remember anybody ever really saying "leftist" before, but now that seems to have become a thing, while "rightist" is still not really a thing that I've seen, and that asymmetric shift is what I'm wondering about in this thread.

I modified that Ngrams link from above to also graph liberalism/conservativism and progressivism/conservativism and it looks like liberalism is also a much bigger topic than conservativism, way dwarfing the leftist/rightist ratio. Of course now that I'm typing this out I see that spellcheck doesn't like "conservativism" and suggests "conservatism" instead, and has no suggestions for "progressivism" which is also doesn't like, so maybe these aren't the best terms to be searching for. I also tried just liberal/conservative and progressive/conservative but then figured that those would be pulling a lot of results that have nothing to do with political orientation so I dropped those.
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby arbiteroftruth » Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:03 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:it occurs to me also that “liberal” and “progressive” just sound like good things from the name, and maybe right-wingers who think the left is anti-liberty and not actually for true progress don’t want to concede the left’s self-labels.


I think that's basically it. You have some of the more libertarian-leaning right-wingers clarifying that they are "classically liberal", making the unqualified term "liberal" slightly ambiguous, and you have terms like "the regressive left" explicitly disputing the notion that the left is truly "progressive".

In the other direction, I think we do see the same thing. It's just that when the left wants to describe the right in less flattering terms than their self-applied labels, they generally go with "fascism" instead of "rightism".

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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby Thesh » Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:23 pm UTC

Until recently, fascist was only used in mainstream discourse as more of a synonym for authoritarian. Fascism is being used today because it is the most accurate term to describe the ideology of modern Republicans. On the other hand, socialist, communist, and Marxist being used to insult anyone who does not support Republican economics has been around for a while, and the right have, despite being literally liberals themselves, turned the word "liberal" into a pejorative that means "opposes free market capitalism" - whereas for most of the world, liberal is used in the same sense as "classical liberal" i.e. "supports free market capitalism with the role of government limited to protecting property", which the Democrats would be contemporary liberals i.e. "support free markets capitalism with the role of government to limited to correcting market failures".

Basically, the reason this is confusing in America is because capitalists have successfully deployed newspeak to turn every word into synonyms for either big government or private business.
Last edited by Thesh on Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:28 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:27 pm UTC

arbiteroftruth wrote:and you have terms like "the regressive left" explicitly disputing the notion that the left is truly "progressive".

The places I've seen "the regressive left" used seem to be people who consider themselves on the left, deriding other aspects of the left that they see as violating the progress that the left as they see it stands for. I'm not sure I've ever seen it used to claim that the left as a whole is regressive.
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Jun 11, 2019 3:06 am UTC

At its core, the "Regressive Left" is a dispute as to how the leftwing should respond to radical Islam.

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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby ivnja » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:49 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:it occurs to me also that “liberal” and “progressive” just sound like good things from the name, and maybe right-wingers who think the left is anti-liberty and not actually for true progress don’t want to concede the left’s self-labels. see also the “democrat” party vs democratic party, another right-wing shibboleth.


I think this is a lot of it. A quote from the introduction of "Leftism: From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse" (652-page pdf warning)(also, mises.org warning and hyperpartisan bullshit warning):
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn wrote:...The Weimar Republic, the near-republican Italian monarchy, the Spanish republic, the "decolonized" free nations from Haiti to Tanzania, from North Vietnam to Indonesia, Latin America from Santo Domingo to Buenos Aires--all have been grievous disappointments to "progressive" Americans, all terminating in dictatorships, civil wars, crowded jails, confiscated newspapers, gallows and firing squads, one-party tyrannies, sequestrations, nationalizations, "social engineering."

Yet beyond these obvious failures, besides the brutal and open elimination of liberty and decency, there is also--so clearly foreseen by de Tocqueville --the democratic evolution towards nonviolent slavery due to a turn of mind and outlook basically like the one leading to the more obvious forms of tyranny. One should not be surprised about this, because the roots of the evil are historically-genetically the same all over the Western World. The fatal year is 1789, and the symbol of iniquity is the Jacobin Cap. Its heresy is the denial of personality and of personal liberty. Its concrete realizations are Jacobin mass democracy, all forms of national collectivism and statism, Marxism producing socialism and communism, fascism, and national socialism, leftism in all its modern guises and manifestations to which in America the good term "liberalism," perversely enough, is being applied. The issue is between man created in the image of God and the termite in a human guise. It is in defense of man and in opposition to the false teachings which want to lower man to the status of an insect that this book has been written.
Emphases mine. I haven't read much past the introduction and frankly don't plan to, but the "Right and Left in State, Society, Church, Economy, and Daily Life" definitions section on page 426 (pdf page 424) is also interesting. "Democracy" was apparently also a dirty word.

Additionally, voices on the American right just seem much more interested in re-framing the terminology of the debate than those on the left. There's not a Rush Limbaugh on the left spending three hours a day hammering home to millions of dittoheads that the "Democrat" Party (a term pushed by the GOP since the 1940s) is not really democratic, etc. The mainstream left has also not been especially consistent with what they call themselves, and has adopted a series of new terms as the old ones have been poisoned. On the right, they've been consistent with calling themselves conservatives for generations, and there's overall been very little pushback on that term from anyone else, probably because nobody else *wants* the term.
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby elasto » Thu Jun 13, 2019 3:53 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Whatever your circles, "leftism" is about 8x more common than "rightism" and "leftist" is about 4x more common than "rightist", according to Google Books ngrams.

Ok. It's probably an Americanism then I guess.

I agree with Edgar then: I think the equivalent umbrella term for the right is probably 'conservatism', which, like 'leftism', covers a multitude of sins.

I am still interested in why 'democratic' is ok but 'democrat' is a slur though. That still puzzles my foreigner mind.

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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby Thesh » Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:08 pm UTC

I would guess "leftism" is more common in Europe. I was watching an interview with Oliver Thorn on Novara Media, and (IIRC) he identifies as a leftist. I just don't think it's common in mainstream media where you don't get serious discourse on left-wing politics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfwOPrx_VFU
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:29 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:Whatever your circles, "leftism" is about 8x more common than "rightism" and "leftist" is about 4x more common than "rightist", according to Google Books ngrams.

Ok. It's probably an Americanism then I guess.

Google Books also says there's not a significant difference between rates American and British English.
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby ivnja » Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:30 pm UTC

elasto wrote:I am still interested in why 'democratic' is ok but 'democrat' is a slur though. That still puzzles my foreigner mind.

"Democrat" isn't at all a slur in itself - members of the Democratic Party call themselves Democrats - but the pointed use of "Democrat (n) Party" instead of the proper "Democratic (adj) Party," which is its official name, is intended as a deliberate slight to emphasize that the speaker doesn't think that the Party is small-d democratic, just made up of people who use the name Democrats.
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby elasto » Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:47 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:I just don't think it's common in mainstream media where you don't get serious discourse on left-wing politics.

That might explain it then. I don't really engage in political discourse online at all apart from here. When I do it's usually high-brow arenas where maybe 'leftism' is a bit too broad and meaningless a term to really engage with, and it's preferred to actually drill down as to what specific policies people actually support.

ivnja wrote:"Democrat" isn't at all a slur in itself - members of the Democratic Party call themselves Democrats - but the pointed use of "Democrat (n) Party" instead of the proper "Democratic (adj) Party," which is its official name, is intended as a deliberate slight to emphasize that the speaker doesn't think that the Party is small-d democratic, just made up of people who use the name Democrats.

That's interesting.

I guess the same thing can't occur the other way around because Republican/Conservative/Liberal/Libertarian are all both adjectives and nouns...

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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby ivnja » Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:42 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
ivnja wrote:"Democrat" isn't at all a slur in itself - members of the Democratic Party call themselves Democrats - but the pointed use of "Democrat (n) Party" instead of the proper "Democratic (adj) Party," which is its official name, is intended as a deliberate slight to emphasize that the speaker doesn't think that the Party is small-d democratic, just made up of people who use the name Democrats.

That's interesting.

I guess the same thing can't occur the other way around because Republican/Conservative/Liberal/Libertarian are all both adjectives and nouns...


I should also add that no matter the origin, at this point most of the people who say "Democrat Party" are the same people who delighted in saying "Barack HUSSEIN Obama" every time they mentioned him, and for the same reason. They know it pisses off the left, and that's reason enough.
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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:57 pm UTC

In 1920, Lenin wrote a pamphlet called Detskaya Bolezn "Levizny" v Kommunizme. The quotation marks are telling. They suggest that "leftism" was a new phrase at the time, not regular at least in Russian. It was immediately translated into various languages, as it was a response to debates in various countries.

There is an English translation called "Left-Wing" Communism: An Infantile Disorder but the original translation was The infantile sickness of "Leftism" in Communism. French got La maladie infantile du communisme: le « gauchisme ». But in most languages they put an alternative for "Leftism". The translation in Italian is L'estremismo,. In German it's sometimes Radikalismus and sometimes linke Radikalismus. These were all languages that Lenin understood or spoke, the different translations are no accident.

AFAICT, this divide lasts to this day. Both leftism and gauchism are in use, their cognates in other languages are vanishly rare although people understand would surely them by analogy. It seems that the construction doesn't work in many languages.

I wonder how the book is called in China. I don't even know if there is such a thing as an -ism in Chinese.

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Re: Why isn't "rightism" a thing?

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:01 pm UTC

In 1920, Lenin wrote a pamphlet called Detskaya Bolezn "Levizny" v Kommunizme. The quotation marks are telling. They suggest that "leftism" was a new phrase at the time, not regular at least in Russian. It was immediately translated into various languages, as it was a response to debates in various countries There is an English translation called "Left-Wing" Communism: An Infantile Disorder but the original translation was The infantile sickness of "Leftism" in Communism. French got La maladie infantile du communisme: le « gauchisme ». But in most languages they put an alternative for "Leftism". The translation in Italian is L'estremismo,. In German it's sometimes Radikalismus and sometimes linke Radikalismus. These were all languages that Lenin understood or spoke, the different translations are no accident.

AFAICT, this divide lasts to this day. Both leftism and gauchism are in use, their cognates in other languages are vanishly rare although people understand would surely them by analogy. It seems that the construction doesn't work in many languages.

I wonder how the book is called in China. I don't even know if there is such a thing as an -ism in Chinese. Edit: -ism has a standard translation in Chinese, but the Lenin book does not use it for leftism. It says zuopai, left wing


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