Saturday, June 16, 2012

Yes, the Nazis were socialists

"The thinking worker comes to Hitler"
Over and over again I find myself clarifying that fascism and Nazism were sister movements to socialism and communism. This runs counter to the cheap political trick where modern capitalist-loving right wing movements are likened to Hitler and his followers. This is married to the false belief that free market economic policies and racism are intertwined, and therefore the Nazis must have loved capitalism because they hated Jews so much.

This is complete nonsense.

The socialist roots of Nazism doesn't require any digging; it's right there in the groups official title "The National Socialist German Workers Party." Sometimes this is waved off by saying they were "right wing socialists." As Jonah Goldberg wrote in Liberal Fascism, that remark is justified by the warmongering nature of fascism, not by its economic policies.

People make associations between the two by mistakenly projecting the hawkish nature of modern American conservatives into the 1930's. They do the same thing with the modern right wing tendencies of modern white supremacists, but that's also a mistake.

I recently stumbled across an in-depth video on Netflix from Philosophy Professor Stephen RC Hicks entitled "Nietzche and the Nazis" which attempts to explain the intellectual beliefs and philosophy of the Nazi party.

Hicks completely knocks it out of the park. He repeatedly highlights the embrace of socialism and contempt of capitalism that swam through the Third Reich and backs it up with specific quotations and excerpts.

There's been plenty of academic analyses that go into the collectivist nature of Nazi Germany's policies, including Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, but Hicks presents something in a format that's easy to digest by anyone.

He also drew attention to a pamphlet written by Joseph Goebbels, the head propaganda minister. Here are some notable lines:
What does anti-Semitism have to do with socialism? I would put the question this way: What does the Jew have to do with socialism? Socialism has to do with labor. When did one ever see him working instead of plundering, stealing and living from the sweat of others? As socialists we are opponents of the Jews because we see in the Hebrews the incarnation of capitalism, of the misuse of the nation’s goods.
Combine that with
I can love Germany and hate capitalism. Not only can I, I must. Only the annihilation of a system of exploitation carries with it the core of the rebirth of our people.
It's pretty hard to see how anyone could read what the Nazis actually wrote in their own propaganda and still insist that Nazism was some sort of free market cult. If someone wants to write off this pamphlet as some sort of fluke, then watch the major propaganda film Triumph of the Will and fast forward to the scene 31 minutes in where workers march like soldiers with shovels in the place of rifles.

It's unfortunate that the popular mindset overemphasizes racism as the selling point of Nazism and fascism. Hicks does a great job of tapping into that mindset and revealing how a philosophy that rejects traditional morality was able to inspire people yearning for progress. This brings about an uncomfortable idea about the future.

If younger generations fundamentally misunderstand the driving force behind evil mindsets like Nazism, then they will be completely vulnerable if it comes back again, striking not with mere hate but with false promises of prosperity.

35 comments:

  1. How dare people use cheap political tricks to associate capitalism with Nazism! Oh, and by the way, if people aren't careful, the driving force of the Nazi mindset - socialism - will come back with hate and poverty.

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  2. Cheap political tricks are fine, liberal Michael, but consider this:

    Much of the hatred of Jews, as it manifested in 20th century Europe, harkened back to the longtime ban on usery for Christians. Jews, being just as smart as anyone else, saw and filled this economic gap, and didn't make any friends because of it. Many a ruler would toss the jews out of their territory, or worse, once they had fallen deeply into debt.

    Please, tell me more about how anti-capitalist feelings had nothing to do with Nazi policies.

    There were other, far stupider reasons, but socialist tendencies didn't help.

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  3. I look back to when the Jews were the only real money lenders and wish I could go give them high fives.

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  4. You know, Hitler was also an old Earth creationist Catholic who banished atheist groups.

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  5. And also killed and interred catholic priests, your point is what, that he was an evil bastard? Yes, I've heard.

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  6. Attributions in parentheses:

    The claim that capitalism is closely related to Nazism ("leftists" as idiot hunted by Michael Hartwell) is as valid as the claim that socialism is closely related to Nazism (Michael Hartwell) is as valid as the claim that Catholicism is closely related to Nazism (few and far between).

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  7. Neither capitalism nor socialism is closely related to Nazism. It embraced one and not the other, that has no bearing on the validity or morality of either economic idea.

    What it does mean is that Nazism shared as much if not more with the left than it does the right, which is one of a list of reasons that no one should make the comparisons that have long been common from both sides of the spectrum, but in recent years seems to have become the bread and butter of crazy liberals.

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  8. Fascism was indeed a form of socialism on a national scale instead of as an international movement.

    Its name comes from a "fasces" which is a bundle of small sticks that when joined, make the handle of an ax.

    Fascism economic policies that were put into place include the strict control of all businesses, such as telling them what to produce, and setting of prices. Those that violated these rules were nationalized. The execution of German invalids was defended as saving resources for the fit Germans. The amount of control over individuals daily lives was staggering.

    If you've got some evidence that contradict any of these points, please share it.

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  9. I agree with that, Nate. Now you should redirect your efforts towards other Michael and tell him to stop (hypocritically) claiming that Nazi hate and socialism are intimately tied together. Or, for something more fresh, perhaps instruct him to stop strongly implying that socialism will lead to the execution of mentally retarded individuals.

    Other Michael, have you no shame? You admonish others for trying to associate Hitler with capitalism, thereby linking those on the right with Nazism, but in practically the next breath you do exactly the same thing where socialism is concerned.

    You have now even gone so far as to needlessly insert a line about the execution of the retarded. I find this especially slimy. That sentence doesn't even relate to the topic of the rest of your paragraph; it's clear that you just wanted to throw in a cheap political and emotional trick of your own to discredit socialism. You damn well know you are implying that socialism leads to the state-sanctioned murder of citizens deemed not useful. If you have the gall to deny this, then I'll never need to justify my dismissal of your blog from my site with anything more than a simple link here.

    But just to be clear: You have said that fascism is a form of socialism. You have also said that this leads to the murder of the mentally retarded. But what you've ignored in your blatant hypocrisy is that social democracy is obviously a form of socialism, yet Norway and Sweden aren't off murdering their mentally disabled citizens.

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  10. National Socialism as an ideology was syncretic. It included both left and right-wing political elements. In practice, it was decidedly far-right. Traditional socialism advocates worker's control of the means of production (i.e. economic democracy). The underhanded policies Hitler implemented are certainly not representative of any genuine articulation of socialism.

    Nationalization of industries can be a step towards democratizing economic relations between laborers and capitalists, but it's not in of itself a socialist policy. The state owning a business is no different in having a private citizen operate it in terms of bureaucracy.

    The German state, though implementing certain policies that were progressive within their historical context, was not socialist since it clearly retained a capitalist mode of production (i.e. wage-labor and commodity markets).

    That you equate fascism and socialism meanwhile decrying association of capitalism with fascism is misinformed at best and dishonest at worst. Certain aspects of German economic policy were leftist, but on the whole it was capitalist, and in implementation, right-wing.

    That the Nazis supposedly called themselves socialists is not proof that they were socialist. Many people identify with positions they don't understand. Social democrats see themselves as anti-capitalist when in fact they're merely reformist liberals that wish to expand the liberatory power of capitalism. They are anti-laissez faire capitalism, but are much in favor of the capitalist mode of production.

    Labels are also used insincerely for political reasons. Obama identifies as a 'leftist' democrat on paper to appeal to naive self-identified Liberal voters, but in practice his policies favor elite business interests in the most underhanded manner. Thus, he is conservative. Contemporary Western political conservatism has grown more in favor of business within the last four decades. You can see this in the Reagan administration's tax-cuts and the increased control the capitalist elite had in shaping labor and trade policy. If you wish to trace the genesis of the modern Conservative ethos' incarnation, I recommend you start there. The Democratic Party, naturally, has shifted to the right within the last thirty or forty years as well.

    This is all to say that National Socialism is about as socialist as Francois Hollande is (he's an intense social democrat. Even his party, the French "Socialist" Party, acknowledges as much).
    Though it's worth noting that the etymology of socialism in the West is entirely different from the one in Europe, and for good reason.

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    1. Why does 'socialism' in the West possess a different meaning from the one in Europe? Modern socialism developed in Europe in the 1840s, and movements related to its ideals were the inspiration for part of and derived from the theory. American radicals imported socialist ideas into the United States. You could find many associating with labor unions and other pro-labor movements.

      In the Cold War, the United States demonized socialism as an affront to liberty whilst promoting capitalism as 'true liberty'. The Soviets agreed with the Americans that 'socialism' entailed state control of labor.

      This was exacerbated by authoritarian tendencies within Marxist-Leninism (not to say the former supported state control of anything -- it was very much against it), as well as the need to extinguish competing political opponents (i.e. genuine socialist radicals) who opposed both the Soviet Union and American empire as oppressive monoliths of state-capitalism. They were so then and continue to act as oppressive monoliths, though in different incarnations with continuous strains of anti-labor, pro-business policies.

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  11. Pardon me if my replies sounded a bit harsh. I'm passionate about this sort of topic. ^_^

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  12. I'm seeing several different definitions of socialism in the comments section. I see some people trying to define it as having a heavy welfare state, something I wrote about in 2010: http://www.younghipandconservative.com/2010/05/scandanvian-countries-are-not-socialist.html

    State ownership of the means of production is the only version of socialism that has been implemented, and the party members believe the government is the people.

    Fascist economic policies were overwhelmingly socialist using a form of controlled capitalism. People technically owned their own businesses, but they lacked the right to run them as they see fit. Thus, the state told them what to do. We had central planning in effect, which is a far cry from any meaningful version of capitalism.

    I don't understand why one commentator is so defensive about stating that the fascists in Germany killed people they deemed unfit to live. It happened, and it was a product of their belief in racial hygene and contempt for people who they don't think can be productive. That doesn't mean all socialist nations will kill invalids, and it certainly doesn't suggest a modern progressive political movement in a democratic society will.

    Fascists had to compete with the socialists and communists for new recruits, and we saw a lot of people switch sides, Benito Mussolini being the greatest example.

    Socialism is the idea of workers controlling the means of production, and when you use that definition, as opposed to the modern bastardization of the term, you will see major overlaps with fascism.

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  13. Socialism is the idea of workers controlling the means of production, and when you use that definition, as opposed to the modern bastardization of the term, you will see major overlaps with fascism.

    I agree with that. In your defense, historically in the development of socialism, there have been two competing strains. Every socialist wishes to radically change the relations of power between labor and capital in favor of the worker. To do this, they advocate control of production. One strain believes in the using the state to achieve a stateless, classless society, called state-socialism, which Marxism is an example of. Marxists see the state as a neutral entity which is only hostile to workers because capitalists lord over it. Thus, they advocate control of political power in 'dictatorship of the proletariat', where the laborers will be prepared to transition to stateless socialism.

    Libertarian socialists advocate building socialism from egalitarian solutions, from the "bottom-up". They oppose using the state because they believe it leads to illegitimate hierarchy.

    The party members believe the government is the people.

    This is actually a prominent criticism leveled against Marxist-Leninism by anarchists (a libertarian-socialist school of thought). MLs believe that the laboring class is not able to organize itself to represent its interests sufficiently.

    In its place, they advocate the 'party vanguard', which defines the needs and interests of the laboring class. This is one type of socialism from the top-down, which libertarian socialists believe in anti-ethical to the achievement of true socialism.

    That's one of the "authoritarian tendencies" I was referencing when discussing the Soviet Union's state-capitalism and their motivation to identify as socialist. One other reason they identified as such was to exploit true socialism's appeal. In reality, though, they stifled and suppressed radical dissent.

    If you like, it's similar to how Obama trades as a Democrat to appeal to naive Liberal voters. Or how Newt Gingrinch masquerade as a 'limited government conservative' but is actually a corporatist crony.

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  14. David, I'd like to keep the conversation going, but I agree with everything you just said.

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  15. [b]I don't understand why one commentator is so defensive about stating that the fascists in Germany killed people they deemed unfit to live. It happened, and it was a product of their belief in racial hygene and contempt for people who they don't think can be productive. That doesn't mean all socialist nations will kill invalids, and it certainly doesn't suggest a modern progressive political movement in a democratic society will.[/b]

    When you say "one commentator", to whom are you speaking? You don't seem to be addressing anyone here, yet you're responding to specific points (for a change). It's like you think you have this phantom audience.

    Anyway, you're lying. You did imply - and shamelessly so - that there is an intimate link between socialism and the murder of mentally retarded people. I can't even allow that maybe this is all just part of your inept writing; your topic here is that socialism and fascism are connected, so the only reason you would bring up one fascist state's murder of a group of people is because you want to connect that to socialism. You know exactly what you did. (Incidentally, that's why David said this: [i]That you equate fascism and socialism meanwhile decrying association of capitalism with fascism is misinformed at best and dishonest at worst.[/i])

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  16. No. I was demonstrating fascisms belief in central planning. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200.

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  17. Grow up, Hartwell. You've been called out by two people *and* you know what you did. You said fascism is a form of socialism and fascist polices led to the murder of retarded people.

    I guess you don't have to worry about your choppy writing. I'm sure FOX News will be hiring you any day now.

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    1. Even though I think Michael's comparison is a bit distasteful, it's not out of malice. He certainly did not imply that socialism entails murder. He brought up the examples of the Nordic countries; fairly progressive nations. Though they're not socialist, I understood that he was attempting to narrow the scope of fascism to avoid this sort of confusion.

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  18. Here is what he said:

    1) Fascism is a form of socialism.

    2) Fascism led to the murder of invalids.

    You can't tell me there's an honest thing about that.

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  19. Here's what's wrong with your logic:

    All dogs have four legs

    All dogs are allergic to chocolate

    That does not mean all things with four legs are allergic to chocolate. For example, the desk in logic 101 that you neglected to sit behind.

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  20. I'm fully aware that you gave yourself a way to deny what you did, but that doesn't change the fact that you're a liar. You're the kid who holds his hand in front of the other kid's face and says, "I'm not touching you! I'm not touching!" True enough, but that doesn't mean you've been absolved from being annoying.

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  21. Well, this is what I get for feeding a troll.

    You've responded to a post that presenting evidence that socialism was a fundamental part of nazism by saying "not true" over and over. Do you have any evidence?

    I really don't understand why you feel the need to defend the mantle of socialism. I've never thought your understanding of economics was above or below average before, but I've never heard you advocating socialism - a system that has resulted in major losses of life and human rights.

    I've written before on here about Julius Nyerere, the Tanzanian socialist leader who was a failure in office, but didn't have people killed. Do you have some kind of straw quota to fill?

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  22. Every time you want to call me a troll, I'm going to refer to the 8 substantial points I made to an argument *you* opened, to which you called me an Obama basher (false and irrelevant) and told me to summarize my points (because you can't take the fact that someone writes paragraphs using more than one or two sentences every single time. See here: http://forthesakeofscience.com/2012/05/12/responding-to-michael-hartwell-bad-journalist-bad-writer/

    "You've responded to a post that presenting evidence that socialism was a fundamental part of nazism by saying "not true" over and over. Do you have any evidence?"

    You really have no shame. It is clear for everyone to see that I have been admonishing you for your childish games. You decried people trying to tarnish capitalism by associating it with Hitler yet that is exactly what you have done here with socialism. Another user has already called you out on this.

    "I really don't understand why you feel the need to defend the mantle of socialism."

    Where have you been, Hartwell? I've been admonishing you for trying to tarnish socialism by tying it to the murder of retarded people. You're being extra scummy today.

    "I've never thought your understanding of economics was above or below average before, but I've never heard you advocating socialism - a system that has resulted in major losses of life and human rights."

    You've heard be advocate for Democratic socialism, but you're right. Socialists kill retards. Good point.

    "I've written before on here about Julius Nyerere, the Tanzanian socialist leader who was a failure in office, but didn't have people killed."

    Well, then. That must absolve you of your lie here.

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  23. For anyone interested, here are the 8 points I raised in a debate with you (where you goaded me, both here and on Facebook). The specific context is not relevant. What is important is the fact that it is clear that my points are substantial. Each one references you and are as follows:


    1. He made an inept analogy to between the President and George Wallace – whereas Wallace actively sought to deny rights to people, the President took a meaningless position on something.

    2. I think it is naive of Hartwell to assume that there is any politician out there who hasn’t been dishonest in an effort to get votes.

    3. I criticized his laziness to fact-check.

    4. I criticized his FOX Noise-like analysis that said the President would gain votes in important electoral states this November as a result of his position.

    5.I criticized Hartwell for insulting the President just as harshly as he claimed I did.

    6. I summarized that the President’s position changed as he considered running for higher office, thereby telling me that he changed so dramatically on such a big issue for the sake of appealing to the center.

    7. I compared the President to the Christians out there who think homosexuality is wrong yet still vote for gay rights; the President’s former position did not result in any actual bigotry.
    8. I then made a case for why President Obama’s positions have been good for gays anyway.

    To this you said, "Cut your summary down to two chapters and I’ll read it, Obama basher". You ought to apologize.

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  24. Another commenter, David, is free to speak for himself instead of you trying to claim he agrees with you.

    I'm not interested in having some kind of ongoing blog-off with you, Mr. Hawkins. It is shooting fish in a barrel to tie socialism to mass murder. I have no problem saying socialism has often lead to massive violations of human rights, including mass executions. That is a fact of history.

    What I did not say is that it must always, which is why Nyerere is such a good example. He was honorable enough to admit his policies had failed before his death, and I can't stress enough how much I respect him for that.

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  25. Declaring that I'm talking for David doesn't change the fact that he said this: "That you equate fascism and socialism meanwhile decrying association of capitalism with fascism is misinformed at best and dishonest at worst." You've been called out on the same thing by two people.

    "It is shooting fish in a barrel to tie socialism to mass murder."

    I earlier said you were clearly implying a link between socialism and the murder of retarded people. You denied you did this. Are you now admitting you, in fact, were making this link? You're all over the place, Hartwell.

    "What I did not say is that it must always..."

    You have terrible reading skills. The problem here has consistently been that you want to associate socialism and Hitler in an effort to play cheap political tricks. You're a liar (who now seems to be fixing his overt mistakes) and a hypocrite.

    Are you going to apologize for your trolling?

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  26. I don't really care about most of this anymore. If you just sincerely apologize for your trolling, I'll be happy to never post about you (or your employer) again.

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  27. This was a post about the socialist elements of the Nazi party and how much contempt existed for capitalism. It's also true for fascism in general, but I didn't want want to make it too long and write a history of Mussolini's political positions.

    You've concluded that my real intention was to tarnish the reputation of socialism, which is kind of like smearing Osama Bin Laden's good name, and told me why I brought up various things and tried to attribute statements to me I did not voice, but honestly don't find implausible.

    I don't support censorship and am not going to tell you what to write about on your own blog, but threatening to publish personal information about me, such as where I work, will not get me to offer a fake apology for.

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  28. Whats really amusing is that Michael Hawkins thinks to embarass your employer, while the content on his blog would send any HR department shuffling immediately to the next resume. Unless, of course, they're looking for a guy to stand around and scream "IM SMART! YOU'RE STUPID!"

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  29. Okay, this is pretty ridiculous. Yes, Michael Hartwell, you did attempt to link socialism with the murder of invalids. That's the only reason you would first say fascism was a form of socialism and then immediately thereafter say that fascism led to the murder of retarded people. The very thing you admonished others for doing - trying to discredit an economic system by crying "Hitler!" - is exactly what you did.

    For the point that Michael Hawkins is raising, it isn't even relevant if so-called Germany socialism led to the death of retarded people. What you were clearly implying was that there is an inherent link between socialism and the murder of the vulnerable and innocent. As Hawkins said, you aren't using a very good definition of socialism. The Swedes seem to be doing just fine with their version of it.

    To the back and forth accusations of trolling, I don't know the history here, but I don't really see any trolling in this thread. Though, if the excerpt from Hawkins is true regarding all those points about Obama and (I'm guessing) gay marriage, you were trolling him by not answering.

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  30. Hitler wrote that the twin evils of the world were Jews and Communism. The American business press was fond of Hitler and Mussolini, and praised them for their business-friendly policies. This was the inspiration for an attempt to install a Fascist dictator in the White House -- General Smedley Butler.

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  31. nationalization of industry by the state is not an inherently socialist act. restrictions on buisiness are not inherently socialist. Hitler purged all the socialistic elements from the Nazi party party much to the relief of German Capital. And of course those elements were anti-communist. Not to sympathize with the SA of course! Fascism is the product of the non-Marxist, or rather, the anti-Marxist workers movement. This is why Marxism and his internationalism were and remain important. As for Marx's attitude regarding the state and how it evolved, I recommend this article:http://www.marxisthumanistinitiative.org/alternatives-to-capital/karl-marx-the-state.html

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