Skip to comments.Nazis: Still Socialists. Were the Nazis more like today's Democrats or Republicans?
Posted on 02/28/2014 9:05:27 AM PST by SeekAndFind
This feels like old times. Across the pond at the Telegraph, Tim Stanley and Daniel Hannan are having a friendly disagreement on the question of whether the Nazis were in fact socialists. I dont usually wade into these arguments anymore, but Ive been writing a lot on related themes over the last few weeks and I couldnt resist.
Not surprisingly, I come down on Hannans side. I could write a whole book about why I agree with Dan, except I already did. So Ill be more succinct.
Fair warning, though, I wrote this on a plane trip back from Colorado and its way too long. So if youre not interested in this stuff, you might as well wander down the boardwalk and check out some of the other stalls now.
Stanley makes some fine points here and there, but I dont think they add up to anything like corroboration of his thesis. The chief problem with his argument is that hes taking doctrinaire or otherwise convenient definitions of socialism and applying them selectively to Nazism.
Stanleys chief tactic is to simply say Nazis shouldnt be believed when they called themselves socialists. It was all marketing and spin, even putting the word in their name. Socialism was popular, so they called themselves socialists. End of story.
So when Nazi ideologist Gregor Strasser proclaimed:
We are socialists. We are enemies, deadly enemies, of todays capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, its unfair wage system, its immoral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and their money, instead of their responsibility and their performance, and we are determined to destroy this system whatever happens!
. . . he was just saying that because, in Stanleys mind, socialism was fashionable.
Obviously theres some truth to that. Socialism was popular. So was nationalism. Thats why nationalists embraced socialism and why socialists quickly embraced nationalism. It wasnt a big leap for either because theyre basically the same thing! In purely economic terms, nationalization and socialization are nothing more than synonyms (socialized medicine = nationalized health care).
Nazis Hated Bolsheviks, Who Knew?
That Hitler wasnt a socialist became apparent within weeks of becoming Chancellor of Germany when he started arresting socialists and communists. He did this, claim some, because they were competing brands of socialism. But that doesnt explain why Hitler defined his politics so absolutely as a war on Bolshevism a pledge that won him the support of the middle-classes, industrialists and many foreign conservatives.
Theres a stolen base here. Sure, Hitlers effort to destroy competing socialists and Communists doesnt explain all those other things. But it doesnt have to. Nor does Stalins wholesale slaughter (or Lenins retail slaughter) of competing Communists and socialists explain the MolotovRibbentrop pact or the infield-fly rule. Other considerations economic, cultural, diplomatic come into play. But when people say Hitler cant be a socialist because he crushed independent labor unions and killed socialists, they need to explain why Stalin gets to be a socialist even though he did likewise.
The fact that many foreign conservatives supported Hitlers hostility to Bolsheviks is a bit of a red herring. Many conservatives today support the military in Egypt as a bulwark against the Muslim Brotherhood. That tells you next to nothing about the content of the juntas domestic policies. But, its worth noting that some foreign Communists and liberals, such as W.E.B. Du Bois, actually supported Hitlers domestic economic policies (though not the anti-Semitism) in the mid-1930s.
For what its worth, the reason that Hitler declared war on Bolsheviks is a rich topic. The short answer is that he was a socialist but he was also a nationalist (hence national-socialism). And the nationalist part considered Bolshevism an existential threat which it was!
Speaking of Nationalists
Stanley goes on:
Dan asserts that Hitler was a socialist with reservations, that:
Marxs error, Hitler believed, had been to foster class war instead of national unity to set workers against industrialists instead of conscripting both groups into a corporatist order.
Yet, by this very definition, Hitler wasnt a socialist. Marxism is defined by class war, and socialism is accomplished with the total victory of the Proletariat over the ruling classes.
Ah. So deviating from the definition of Marxism disqualifies one from being a socialist? Preferring national unity to international class solidarity will get your socialist membership card revoked? If thats true, no one is a socialist in the real world. Stanleys standard, if uniformly applied, would expel from the ranks of socialists: Stalin, Mao, Lenin, Castro, Chavez, Maduro, Ortega, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung (and progeny), Norman Thomas and all of the American Socialist Party, the Fabians of England, virtually every social-democratic or avowedly socialist party in the West now or recently. If none of them are socialists, then why ever again talk about socialism?
Simply put, no one talks about uniting the workers of the world anymore. Every socialist movement or party that comes to power promises national unity, not international solidarity. Sure, rhetorically a handful of tin pots may talk about their brothers across some border, but thats a foreign-policy thing. Domestically, economically, culturally, its all about nationalism, not internationalism. In other words, nowhere in the world does being a nationalist preclude a person or movement from being a socialist. Rather, its a requirement.
As for splitting with Marx, they all did it and continue to do it. Some admitted it, some simply stumbled on Marxs shortcomings without saying so and just tangoed-on, adding hyphens and modifiers: Marxism-Leninism, Marxism-Stalininism, Marx-Lenin-Stalin-Maoism, socialism with Chinese characteristics, etc. It was like totalitarians from across the globe kept forming booming law firms and adding names to the shingle. Finding Marx in error in one way or another isnt a disqualifier for being a socialist; it is once again a requirement for being one (outside the classroom, at least).
Stanley at times seems to hold up Marx as the only acceptable standard for socialism. It isnt and never was. I would argue as a matter of sociology and philosophy, socialism traces back to caveman days. But simply as a matter of accepted intellectual history it long predates Marx. Babeufs Conspiracy of the Equals, for instance, was hatched long before Marx was even born.
Hitler the Non-Egalitarian
Then Stanley goes on to insist Nazism wasnt socialist because it was anti-Semitic and racist. He writes, Hitlers goals were, in fact, totally antithetical to the egalitarianism of socialism.
This is some weak sauce. Yes, Nazism was the worst of the worst when it came to organized bigotry and prejudice. But Stanley misses that the basic idea of Nazism was egalitarianism egalitarianism for Aryans. Nazi rhetoric was incredibly populist. Workers were exalted over everyone. Economic policies were populist too remember the peoples car (a.k.a. Volkswagen)? But it was all aimed at good Germans. This differed from Stalinisms rhetoric to be sure, but its not all that dissimilar from various forms of African or pan-Arab socialism.
And again, why is only Nazism disqualified from the honor of belonging in the socialist club because of its bigotry? Why is it alone held up to the theoretical ideals of socialism, rather than compared to other socialist systems? (And, its worth noting, even in theory, socialism fails Stanleys test. One need only read what Marx had to say about the Jewish question or blacks to recognize that.)
Stalin was hardly a racial egalitarian (or any other kind of egalitarian). Before he died, Stalin was planning a major new assault on the Jews to improve on the impressive work hed already done. And he had no problem treating non-Russian Soviet populations as expendable playthings and puzzle pieces. Even later regimes had preferential policies for ethnic Russians. But, hey, is North Korea not socialist because its ideology is racist?
Its somewhat amusing that Stanley invokes George Bernard Shaw as an authority on the inauthenticity of Hitlers socialism. This is the same George Bernard Shaw who said the only fundamental and possible socialism is the socialization of the selective breeding of Man. Shaw wanted a human stud farm in order to eliminate the yahoo whose vote will wreck the commonwealth. Do such non-egalitarian comments mean that Shaw wasnt a socialist either?
Corporatism v. Socialism
Stanley is certainly right that German National Socialist economics differed from Russian Bolshevik economics. So what? The question was never, Were Nazis Bolsheviks? Nor was it Were Nazis Marxists? The question was Were Nazis socialists? Demonstrating that the answer is no to the first two doesnt mean the answer to the third question is a no, too.
I actually agree with Stanley that corporatism is the better term for Nazi economics. Heres the problem: thats also true of most socialist systems.
Yet in these historical debates, the term is only dusted off for Nazis and Italian fascists. Oh, the Nazis werent socialists, they were corporatists is a fine argument to make, if youre willing to acknowledge that corporatism is actually a more accurate word for the socialisms of Sweden, France, South America, etc. In other words, the they were corporatists! line is usually an attempt to absolve socialism of any association with Nazism and fascism rather than an attempt to get the terms right.
A Final Word
Ive come to believe that corporatism (which does not mean rule by corporations) is the natural resting state of pretty much every political order. Politicians naturally want to lock-in and co-opt existing stakeholders at the expense of innovation. They love talking about getting everybody at the table, which really means getting the existing insiders to create rules that help themselves.
Stanley says that politics came before economics in the Nazi state. Thats true. But where is that not true? Certainly not in America or the U.K. Which is why conservatives, libertarians, and other champions of free-market economics must constantly put pressure on politicians to fend off the natural human tendency to fight innovation as a threat to the status quo and the powers that be. Across the West theres a tendency among bureaucrats, politicians, academics, and other members of the New Class to convince the people to hand over the major decisions of their lives to the experts. These experts arent all in the government, but they all collude with government to convince people that the experts have all the answers and that the people need to hand the reins over to them. They will tell us what to eat, what to drive, what to think. Its an approach that puts politics before economics. Because it is an attempt to politicize peoples lives. Or as Hitler put it, Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings.
From the perspective of philosophy - Democrats.
On their ability to win wars - the Republicans.
the Nazi doctors did abortions
RE: On their ability to win wars - the Republicans.
The Nazis lost the war.
I posted the Hannan article over here the other day.
No matter how you slice it, Democrats.
Government control of business: Democrats.
Mistreatment of minorities: Democrats.
Voter fraud: Democrats.
Narcissistic leaders: Democrats.
Stooges in Power: Democrats.
Destruction of the military: Democrats.
Destruction of the country: Democrats.
I could go on and on.
That's really not a reasonable question to ask because neither party (yet) approaches the evil that was Nazism.
But for the sake of argument, the Nazis believed in:
- the leader-principle (do not dare to criticize the leader)
- a large and strong central government
- top-down control of the economy
- top-down control of everything else
- the silencing of opposition views
- state security over individual freedom
- strict gun control
- a master race
The first seven on the list are obviously Democratic views. The last one is both anti-Democratic and anti-Republican. However, if it were 1861, we would put that last one in the Democratic column also.
Thank you for the image. Wow.
The enemy of my enemies is my friend.
Collectivists:all of them.
Would have to say both as there doesn’t appear to be any distinguishable difference between the two.
Poli Sci 101:
Nationalist Socialists are Nazis.
International Socialists are Communists.
American Socialists are Democrats.
Democrats, on the other hand, are not terribly enamored with the constitution. Indeed, they seem to resent the constraints it places on their ambitions which is why we see their "all powerful president" who is clearly "a cult of personality" circumventing the constitution with excessive executive orders and consolidating power within the executive branch.
Keep in mind, when you circumvent the constitution, you are actually undermining it and weakening it which is another way of saying, being a threat to it.
So, first of all, it's difficult to concisely say what NAZIism was and then deduce from that whether it was more in line with the modern Democratic party or the modern Republican party. It's further complicated by an abundance of wishy washy Republicans In Name Only types that may as well be Democrats.
So, what wasn't Naziism first of all? NAZIism wasn't a Republican form of government. Hitler made the laws and he changed them as he thought necessary and he was not bound by the laws himself.
What was Naziism? Naziism was 100% unadulterated undeniable Hitlerism. It was all about Adolph Hitler and what Adolph Hitler wanted.
And Adolph Hitler was a cult of personality created through the extensive use of media propaganda and indoctrination.
It's also safe to say that Adolph Hitler didn't worry too much about how God might feel about his actions and we'll leave it at that.
I'll just leave you to decide who this all sounds like.
Nazis, Communists, Peronistas, Labor Party, Democrats: the differences are small.
or as I like to call them, “Control Freaks”
All of the isms on the left have the goal, complete and absolute control.
Goldberg hits the nail on the head. especially here...
“Stanley says that politics came before economics in the Nazi state. Thats true. But where is that not true? Certainly not in America or the U.K. Which is why conservatives, libertarians, and other champions of free-market economics must constantly put pressure on politicians to fend off the natural human tendency to fight innovation as a threat to the status quo and the powers that be. Across the West theres a tendency among bureaucrats, politicians, academics, and other members of the New Class to convince the people to hand over the major decisions of their lives to the experts. These experts arent all in the government, but they all collude with government to convince people that the experts have all the answers and that the people need to hand the reins over to them. They will tell us what to eat, what to drive, what to think. Its an approach that puts politics before economics. Because it is an attempt to politicize peoples lives. Or as Hitler put it, Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings.
the democrats are like the camp guards. the gop-e rinos are the kapos. most libtard american jews are little better than kapos too.
That’s why Ayn Rand just called them all collectivists. Their only real difference is how much they admit they are organized around Dear Leader. But their nature is strictly hierarchical, so there is always a Dear Leader. And their purpose is always power for power’s sake through strict hierarchical ranking - so, of course, they will always say they are about equality. After all, if they told the truth it would simply be that they want to turn the world into a prison camp, and that never sells very well to the stupid masses who don’t know what is best for them.
Exciting times in 1933 when the National Socialist German Labor Party brought Hope and Change to Germany and with it an exciting young leader.
The Republicans are as good as winning wars (political) as the NAZIs were at winning at winning wars (military).