Am I right wing?

Brendan O'Neill
Jan 13, 2018 · 4 min read

I’m always surprised when people call me right-wing. I’m not offended – I think right and left are largely meaningless categories these days, so I see neither as a compliment or an insult – but I am surprised. So I scribbled down some of the ideas I’m most keen on, and have written about a lot over the past 20 years, and I am curious to know which ones are right-wing. I had always considered these leftish ideas, but perhaps I am wrong?

  • Abolish the monarchy.
  • Abolish the House of Lords.
  • Have a unicameral democratic system with more frequent elections.
  • Never expect an individual to live under laws or a political system that he or she cannot in some capacity consent to or influence.
  • Defend due process.
  • Defend legal rights – the right to silence, the right to trial by jury, the right to appeal etc – and do not let any government dilute or damage them.
  • Only imprison violent offenders who pose a threat. Non-violent offenders should be punished in other ways.
  • Get rid of all legal restrictions on speech, a la the First Amendment in the US: “Congress shall make no law…”
  • Diminish official interference into people’s personal and family lives.
  • Decriminalise abortion. No one should have the right to interfere with a woman’s bodily autonomy or individual sovereignty.
  • Trust that women are just as capable as men of negotiating public life and work life.
  • Decriminalise all drugs.
  • No “sin taxes” on alcohol or fast food, as this pinches the purses of the less well-off.
  • End the entire ideology of race and recover the humanist outlook that says our similarities are more important than our differences.
  • Devise a serious industrial and economic strategy to reinvigorate the economy and create masses of new jobs.
  • Support those in the Third World who aspire to have as much development and wealth as we in the West enjoy.
  • Reject all forms of coercion or social pressure in matters of reproduction and allow families to decide for themselves how many kids to have. No population control in Africa, no one-child policy in China.
  • Prioritise human need over environmental concerns, while acknowledging that the more a society develops, the more resources it can devote to cleaning up the environment, and that’s a good thing.
  • No Western wars overseas.
  • No interventionism that is likely to exacerbate foreign conflicts and cause harm to human life or safety.
  • Build foreign policy on the principle, “First, do no harm”.
  • Offer solidarity with all those fighting for progressive causes overseas, be it Iran’s rebels, the Kurds, or Yazidi women struggling against Islamo-extremism.
  • Confront and criticise – but do not ban – backward ideologies and religious outlooks that demean women or minority groups or which encourage communally divisive behaviour.
  • Use moral reasoning as much as possible in public life, as this is preferable to both narrow moralism (which eschews reason) and science (which eschews moral judgement).
  • Reject the politics of fear, whether on crime, terrorism, hate crime, green issues, migration or whatever, as this makes reasoned, practical discussion more difficult, and people more fearful.
  • People in power: never presume you know better than other people what they should think, say, read, eat or drink, who they should have sex with, how they should live, what they should believe, or how they should raise their children.
  • Never give an individual a greater say in democratic politics on the basis of his class, race, educational achievements or expertise.
  • It is preferable to give people work rather than welfare.
  • It is better to give people welfare than to let them go hungry. But to fetishise welfare as a positive thing in and of itself is perverse.
  • People in power: invest in research, development, technology, science, nuclear power, the space race, and new forms of industry.
  • Encourage the young to define themselves by their achievements rather than by their inherent characteristics.
  • Encourage them to be strong-willed, confident, self-possessed, desiring of autonomy, and resistant to the pressure to view their normal ups and downs as mental illnesses that require the intervention of officialdom.
  • Encourage them to respect their elders! We need more intergenerational solidarity.
  • Encourage excellence in the arts and staggeringly high standards in comprehensive education.
  • Reject censorship of any kind in art, literature, entertainment and public life.
  • Learn from the past, look to the future. Reject nostalgia but embrace historic achievements.
  • Individuals, intellectuals and leaders, take risks.

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Brendan O'Neill

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Editor of spiked. Presenter of The Brendan O’Neill Show podcast. Writer for the Sun and Spectator. Irish blood ☘️ Brexit heart 💓