By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Have you ever noticed that countries considered Western are always said to have “right-left” politics, but countries considered non-Western often don’t have a “right”, because the “right” in a Western dialectic is connected with “bad”, and “radical right” with “evil”. The “right” is connected with being “wrong” and the left is naturally “good”.
Those in media and the opinion-makers in the West tend to come from the cultural sphere and are educated on the “left-right” divide primarily by an academic system that feeds the concept of “right=bad” and “left=good”.
In order to project the value judgements abroad, therefore anything that is considered “bad” is given a “right wing” or “radical right” label. Therefore in Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s the Christian parties were called “right” whereas all the other parties were often called “left”. In India the BJP or “Hindu-nationalist” party is called “right”. In Japan there is a “right”, in Taiwan, in Australia, in all of Europe, and in Mexico and Argentina.
But then things become foggy. South Africa does not have a “right”, and neither does Pakistan or Bangladesh, neither Malaysia or Indonesia.
Turkey has a “right” (the MHP) because Turkey was considered part of the Western cultural orbit. But as Turkey drifts into the “Middle Eastern” dialectic, it has less of a “right”. Erdogan is not “right”, even though if his party was in America, it would obviously be “radical right”.
You can see this divide in India-Pakistan, you see clearly India is “us” and therefore has a “left-right” whereas Pakistan does not. Is the People’s Party or Muslim League right or left?
Today Lebanon, which has become “Middle Eastern” rather than it was in the 1970s “Western” has no “right and left”. Hezbollah isn’t “right”, even though if there was Hezbollah in the UK it would be. Egyptian politics has no “right”…Sudan, no “right”.
Ask yourself why. Because the dominant narrative is that the “other” has no “right-left” divide because it would require making a value judgement on many parties. Obviously all Islamic parties is radical extreme religious right. But they are all seen as non-political in order to obscure their totalitarian and fascist nature. So if they oppose abortion, that isn’t “right”…but if a group in France or Ireland opposes abortion on religious grounds, it is “radical right”.
“Right-left” is a litmus test for “one of us” or one of them…since the Western dialogue fears “judging” the holy-other…that means it cannot be subjected to the “right-left” litmus test…sometimes the radical left, such as Judith Butler, even defines the extreme radical religious right, such as Hezbollah, as “part of the global left”…i.e “good”.