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In India, it appears as though suddenly the media have just slapped Left, Right labels on political parties out of the blue, because it certainly didn't seem to be there before.

To my eyes, there are certainly more people around.

  • Real conservatives - The actual people who want medieval Indian values of spirituality come back, and that consumerism has been imported from the West. Not business oriented.
  • New religionists - Those who think Indians was so much more advanced in the past and that we only have to look into Vedas and religious texts to go ahead. Business oriented.
  • Nehruvian socialists - Those who think India has suffered due to systemic defects in native cultures and religions, and generally prefer importing Western concepts. The more radical among them are Marxists. Not business oriented.

Here is an article wondering the same thing, though saying something different : http://indospheric.blogspot.in/2008/10/afterword-on-quigleys-comparative.html

So I keep wondering if Right-Left are applicable to India, or indeed, anywhere outside USA.

OTOH, there is some clustering into 2 groups going on even here.

So is there some political theory explaining how religion, business orientedness, social programmes are all tied together necessarily?

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    For what it's worth, right and left aren't all that applicable inside the usa if you dig past slogans – user4012 Oct 15 '14 at 12:30
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    I hope not. The left-right paradigm has impoverished meaningful dialog and problem solving. What does the left and right hand of a French king have to do with modern society anyway? – LateralFractal Oct 15 '14 at 12:31
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    Is Left-Right applicable in the USA? I think it is the only country where there is no left. – Anixx Oct 15 '14 at 14:22
  • @Anixx except an open socialist was almost the head of one of our two (2!) major parties..... – hownowbrowncow Feb 14 '17 at 15:59
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The political axis of Europe is not applicable to India. In India, there's the concept of Hindu Traditionalists - the people who believe that western/colonialists were to blame for India's downfall.

However, these "Hindu Nationalists" support political viewpoints that are traditionally considered left-wing in Europe:

  • environmentalism
  • homosexuality and sexual minorities
  • animal rights and vegetarianism
  • welfare and charity
  • pacifism
  • continentalism
  • drug liberalization
  • human rights and civil liberties
  • etc...

The idea of integrating western values would be against the far-right's ethos in Indian culture, which would include Christianity and Islam.

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The left and right patterns are not able to meet the complexity of modern civilisations. Presumably they weren't even able to describe complexity at the time they arose and grew.

I think the closest look one can get on all the intersecting systems you mentioned (religion, business, social programs, politics) is studying systems theory (f.e. Introduction to Systems Theory from Niklas Luhman) in the first place.

After going through the analysis of manifestation styles and reuse of social patterns, one could try to build a political theory regarding the most "important" parties in India on top of these recurring mechanisms (like Political Theory and Postmodernism from Stephen K. White tried it for Europe).

As systems theory is not very old (about 30 years - its application in daily sociologist work even younger) and simultaneously competing with other theory constructions (f.e. action theory) you might be able to find serious information only in papers and articles from Indian universities...

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Your list fits well with the European traditional definition of Left-Right.

Real conservatives - The actual people who want medieval Indian values of spirituality come back, and that consumerism has been imported from the West. Not business oriented.

These are right-wing. They possibly want to resurrect the caste system. In Europe these would be the aristocracy, clergy, nationalists and those who supports social estates and monarchy. In Europe such people are usually anti-Capitalist because they want Feudalism better. One characteristic of feudalism is the social estates, closed groups of people, more closed than social classes but less closed than castes.

Classes are groups with no official distinction. They differ by their relation to property. You can change your class by acquiring property (means of production).

Estates are groups officially deliniated by the state (nobility, clergy, peasants, traders, craftsmen, armymen, natives, foreign-religion people etc). In theory one can change the estate but it is not that easy. One can be granted promotion to a better estate as a gift from the state for service, with change of religion or with a marriage.

Castes are totally closed groups with promotion is impossible even with marriage or for good service.

New religionists - Those who think Indians was so much more advanced in the past and that we only have to look into Vedas and religious texts to go ahead. Business oriented.

These are pro-capitalist people, they are more left than the previous party. They empathize work and wealth, similar to the views of Euriopean protestants. They are possibly against castes and support equality before the law (though no equality in wealth).

Nehruvian socialists - Those who think India has suffered due to systemic defects in native cultures and religions, and generally prefer importing Western concepts. The more radical among them are Marxists. Not business oriented.

These are the most left party. They possibly promote equality at more than just by-law mode. They possibly call for equality of opportunities and wealth redistribution and strongly oppose castes even as a traditional custom rather than a legal concept.


That said I strongly advise you not to make comparisons with the USA where the left-right distinction is very unclear and contrived (possibly as a result of determined efforts). As for comparison the best suitable models would be 18th-19th centuries France, Germany, Russia.

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