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In politics, right-wing, the political right, and the right are terms used in the spectrum of Left-Right Politics, and much like the opposite number of Left Wing, it has a broad variety of definitions and terms- the same name can, in politics, sometimes mean different things. However, it is generally used to refer to the segments of the political spectrum often associated with any of several strains of conservatism, monarchism, fascism<ref>"Fascism.", The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005</ref>, libertarianism, anarcho-capitalism, reactionism, the religious right, nationalism, militarism, or simply the opposite of left-wing politics.
The term originates from the French Revolution, when liberal deputies from the Third Estate generally sat to the left of the president's chair, a habit which began in the Estates General of 1789. The nobility, members of the Second Estate, generally sat to the right. In the successive legislative assemblies, monarchists who supported the Ancien Régime were commonly referred to as rightists because they sat on the right side. It is still the tradition in the French Assemblée Nationale for the representatives to be seated left-to-right (relative to the Assemblée president) according to their political alignment.
As this original reference became obsolete, the meaning of the term has changed as appropriate to the spectrum of ideas and stances being compared, and the point of view of the speaker. In recent times, the term almost always includes some forms of conservatism.
Some consider the political Right to include those forms of liberalism that emphasize the free market more than egalitarianism in wealth, but many free-market advocates, including most libertarians, share certain political ideologies with the left-wing and conceive of a two-dimensional political spectrum that they say more accurately portrays their political position.  (See Nolan chart, Pournelle Chart, Political Compass). Many anarchists (including libertarian socialists) also avoid placing themselves on the classic political spectrum.
Outside the United States (where capitalism is supported by politicians and people from both the left and right), the most notable distinction between left and right is in economic policy. The right advanced capitalism, whereas the left advocated socialism (often democratic socialism) or communism. Some on the right advocate laissez faire capitalism, tending toward minarchism, with little government intervention in the economy other than to control the money supply and little taxation except to support military and police functions. At the other extreme within what is usually considered right of centre, the centre-right Gaullists in post-World War II France advocated considerable social spending on education and infrastructure development, as well as extensive economic regulation and even a limited amount of the wealth redistribution measures more characteristic of social democracy.
More recently as new social issues arise, right wing views have been concerned with keeping "traditional" values (often religious values) and the preservation of individual and corporate rights through constraints on government power. In a hard-line form the second and third of these priorities are associated with libertarianism, but some on the right reject the most ardent assumptions of libertarianism, especially outside of the United States. Many libertarians do not consider themselves to be right wing and reject the traditional one-dimensional political spectrum, preferring to think in terms of liberty vs. authority rather than socialism vs. capitalism.
A more obscure strand of right wing thought, often associated with the original right wing from the times of monarchy, supports the preservation of wealth and power in the hands that have traditionally held them, social stability, and national solidarity and ambition.
Strands of right wing thought come in many forms, and individuals who support some of the objectives of one of the above stands will not necessarily support all of the others. At the level of practical political policy, there are endless variations in the means that right wing thinkers advocate to achieve their basic aims.
The values and policy concerns of the right vary in different countries and eras. Also, individual right wing politicians and thinkers often have individual priorities. It is not always possible or helpful to try to work out which of two sets of beliefs or policies is more right-wing (see political spectrum).
History of the term
Since the French Revolution, the political use of the terms "left" and "right" has evolved across linguistic, societal, and national boundaries, sometimes taking on meanings in one time and place that contrast sharply with those in another. For example, as of 2004 the government of the People's Republic of China claims to remain on the "left," despite an evolution that has brought it quite close to what is elsewhere characterized as "right," supporting national cultural traditions, the interests of wealth, and privately owned industry. Conversely, the late dictator of Spain, Francisco Franco, who was firmly allied internationally with the right and who brutally suppressed the Spanish left, nonetheless pursued numerous development policies quite similar to those of the Soviet Union and other communist states, which are almost universally considered to be on the "left." Similarly, while "right" originally referred to those who supported the interests of aristocracy, in many countries today (notably the United States) the left-right distinction is not strongly correlated with wealth or ancestry.
Fascism is usually described as right-wing<ref>"Fascism.", The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005</ref>, although some scholars dispute that classification. Others argue that there are elements of both left and right ideology in the philosophy underlying the development of Fascism. See: Far right and Fascism and ideology.
- Left-Right politics
- Glossary of the French Revolution
- Political spectrum
- Political compass
- Nolan chart
- World's Smallest Political Quiz
- The Political Compass, an alternative view of the political spectrum.
- The Nolan Charts, other alternative political spectra (mostly libertarian-oriented).
- publiceye.org - A leftist organization's perspective on the right.
- The Political Compass and Why Libertarianism is Not Right Wing by J. C. Lester