john9blue wrote:ITT people think that anti-free market politics qualify as "right-wing"...?
As indeed they do.
Preservation of power in the hands of the few has always been the central organising theme of conservatism, and the free market with its limitless potential for the workers to rise up and create their own destiny is anathema to conservatism.
Mercantilism versus laissez-faire. The right wing may make dishonest noises about supporting the free market, but in actual fact always lines up on the side of restraint of trade and mercantilism.
The very terms "left wing" and "right wing" date to the French Revolution, where the ruling classes in favour of preserving their Royal Monopolies lined up on the right side of the Estates, and the bourgeoisie looking for the right to compete in a free market lined up on the left.
The lines between liberal and conservative impulses became more clearly defined in 19th Century England. Conservatives organised around the idea of preserving the power of inherited wealth through protectionist measures like the infamous Corn Laws. A brief introduction:
The Corn Laws were trade laws designed to protect cereal producers in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland against competition from less expensive foreign imports between 1815 and 1846. More simply, to ensure that British landowners reaped all the financial profits from farming, the corn laws (which imposed steep import duties) made it too expensive for anyone to import grain from other countries, even when the people of Great Britain and Ireland needed the food (as in times of famine).
The laws were introduced by the Importation Act 1815 (55 Geo. 3 c. 26) and repealed by the Importation Act 1846 (9 & 10 Vict. c. 22). These laws are often considered as examples of British mercantilism.
The economic issue, in essence, was food prices; the price of grain was central to the price of the most important food staple, bread, and the working man spent much of his wages on bread.
The political issue was a dispute between landowners (a long-established class, who were heavily represented in Parliament) and the new class of manufacturers and industrialists (who were not): the former desired to maximise their profits from agriculture, by keeping the price at which they could sell their grain high; the latter wished to maximise their profits from manufacture, by reducing the wages they paid to their factory workers -- the difficulty being that men could not work in the factories if a factory wage was not enough to feed them and their families; hence, in practice, high grain prices kept factory wages high also.
The Corn Laws enhanced the profits and political power associated with land ownership; their abolition was a significant increase of free trade.
The Liberal Party, on the other hand, was born out of the Anti-Corn Law League, an organisation built around the idea of free trade.
The most significant passage from the above, "dispute between landowners (a long-established class, who were heavily represented in Parliament) and the new class of manufacturers and industrialists (who were not)" gets to the root of the problem. The right wing was composed of those who were wealthy through their inheritance of land (the essential immorality of land claims that can in all cases be traced back to bandits who seized land from others at the point of a sword is a larger issue which I'll leave for another day) and felt that it was the natural order of things that they should remain at the top of the economic pyramid in perpetuity. The radicals were the free market manufacturers and merchants who felt, essentially, that current production and not ancient expropriations should be the determiners of wealth.
In the modern U.S. we see much the same thing playing out. The right wing is always first to trumpet protectionist tariffs (to protect yesterday's producers from being threatened by today's producers), anticompetitive measures of every sort, such as barriers to market entry, mandatory membership in various cartels, etc, etc.
Gabriel Kolko brilliantly summarises this in The Triumph of Conservatism:
According to Kolko, major American businesses not only did not oppose many of the regulatory acts from 1900 through 1916 but actively sought and supported many reforms and regulations. The effect of government and big business actions was the creation of 'political capitalism,' "an utilization of political outlets to attain stability and rationalization in the economy."(3) In the extended introduction, Kolko elaborates further on his terminology, formulates main questions, clarifies methods, and states his theoretical sources, before commencing his interpretation of the 1890-1920 period. Kolko summarizes an enormous amount of compelling ideas and data. The ability to present in comprehensive form his summary and conclusions to the reader is one of the main merits of his book.
Kolko's analysis is based on the correspondence between businesses and government agencies and on papers of various government officials, including presidents. The author meticulously follows the evolution of the largest American monopolies and mergers, the changes in financial capitalism, and the relation of American presidents from McKinley to Wilson toward big business. The merger movement and the financial structure of the United States became "a matter for the combined resources of the national state, a political, rather than economic matter."(146) The legacy of reform, initiated by Theodore Roosevelt, had at the time of William Howard Taft ambiguous character, reflecting the very nature of progressivism.(159) The creation of the Federal Trade Commission and Trust Legislation in 1913 confirmed that progressivism was in fact a conservative movement and that the Democrat Wilson continued the policy of his Republican predecessors.(205) Wilsonian policies marked the triumph of political capitalism, the synthesis of policies and economies.(279) Businessmen were the major initiators of federal intervention in the economy. The absence of a political party with such a program that suggested democracy and mass involvement foreclosed any challenge to big business's conception of political intervention.
The endorsers of anticompetitive legislation in the U.S. have always maintained the pretense that these things are being done for the benefit of the consumer, but in actual fact they are in most cases driven by Big Business seeking to keep small business upstarts from getting too big for their britches.