The divide: how the left assumes being right-wing comes from a negative place

An op-ed in German newspaper Bild describes the rift in German society today, between “those who support the government, and those who despise it.” Or, to put it another way: those who support mass immigration and those who oppose it. The author offers examples of his own family being split on the issue, and skipping birthdays because of it. His colleagues mention that they don’t recognize their old friends anymore when talking about mass immigration (or the “refugee crisis”, as the author still calls it). In a response, Dutch columnist Sietske Bergsma (who lives in Germany) illustrates her and a friends’ experiences being non-PC and how it feels to have become “unrecognizable” to old friends and relatives. Her conclusion is that the same does not apply the other way around, the left is not unrecognizable to the right.

It is a theme that has been part of Europe’s political landscape for some time now, in The Netherlands since the rise of Pim Fortuyn certainly, and in the US now more than ever since the Trump v Clinton campaign. An example of this happened to show up on my Twitter feed today:

People like the girl in this video are completely disconnected from the possibility that we may have legitimate reasons to disagree with them. The author of the article in Bild at least acknowledges that the fairly standard response of mainstreamers to condescend to right-wingers is counterproductive, but ultimately his own conclusion is inevitably that those on the right are driven by fear, or even hate and prejudice. “Populists are dangerous. They have no solutions or answers.” The implication is of course that those who vote for “populists” have fallen for a trick. It’s unclear what makes a populist according to this author, but I have come to define populism as “anything supported by a significant portion of the population but declared taboo by the political establishment.” The answers and solution of the populists are not those preferred by the author, but by decrying that they have none at all he attempts to invalidate them as a political force entirely. Lo and behold, the author is doing exactly what he said mainstreamers shouldn’t do: condescending to the right and telling us what to think.

It is an automatic assumption shared by many that right-wing beliefs must come from a negative place: fear, anger, a personal trauma. It doesn’t occur to the average leftist that being right-wing can come – and more often than not does come – from a place of love. Love for our countries, our culture and civilization, our freedoms, our wealth, our families and compatriots.

I am right-wing because of what I support, not what I oppose. I am right-wing because I realize these things I care about are connected. It is no coincidence that the West has achieved what it has. That is the sum of our history, culture, philosophical roots and political practices. And I will do what I can to protect the West’s amazing achievements against all of its threats, but the most urgent ones right now are our overburdening governments (which cripple individual growth and freedom as well as our economic status and cultural identities), cultural Marxism (which deliberately seeks to do the same) and other civilizations attempting to undermine the West in order to impose their own way of life (most prominently Islam). I am not so much against big government, the regressive left or Islam as I am for individual freedom and Western civilization. But the mainstream has designed the public discourse in such a way that the right is commonly defined by what it stands against, while the left is defined by what it supports. This is why the right is so often playing defense, and why it has been so refreshing to see Donald Trump playing offense for a change.

Social media platforms have given all of us, left and right, our own echo chamber. But for years, PC left-wingers have had an echo chamber in all of mainstream culture itself. Those who support big government and immigration without assimilation have been spoonfed exactly what they believe in (or believe exactly what they have been spoonfed). They may have never challenged what they were taught, and they may never have been challenged for what they believe. We can hardly blame them for turning out in precisely the way we have all been conditioned to turn out.

We, on the right, may try to ignore mainstream views. I can’t say that I would be fair enough to actively seek out left-wing opinions if I were not bludgeoned senseless by them anyway. But for right-wingers it’s virtually impossible not to know what drives the left and the mainstream (which is also the left).

I may profoundly disagree with the left on almost everything, and I believe leftism is responsible for bringing our great civilization to the brink of its demise, but I grant the supporters of left wing ideologies the benefit of the doubt and I believe most of them think the way they do because they are convinced it will bring about good. Let it be clear: there are ideologues who distinctly do not fit that description, as they openly advocate the destruction of everything upon which Western civilization is built. I am certain that most left-wing voters and (non-fanatical) supporters are unaware of these ideologues, and that they believe their politics will have a positive impact. However, I don’t think we are granted the same courtesy the other way around.