Well, if you’re one of those benighted Deniers!™ who still thinks Nazism and socialism are not no way no how related, it is.
On 16 June 1941, as Hitler readied his forces for Operation Barbarossa, Josef Goebbels looked forward to the new order that the Nazis would impose on a conquered Russia. There would be no come-back, he wrote, for capitalists nor priests nor Tsars. Rather, in the place of debased, Jewish Bolshevism, the Wehrmacht would deliver “der echte Sozialismus”: real socialism.
Goebbels never doubted that he was a socialist. He understood Nazism to be a better and more plausible form of socialism than that propagated by Lenin. Instead of spreading itself across different nations, it would operate within the unit of the Volk.
So total is the cultural victory of the modern Left that the merely to recount this fact is jarring. But few at the time would have found it especially contentious.
The clue is in the name. Subsequent generations of Leftists have tried to explain away the awkward nomenclature of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party as either a cynical PR stunt or an embarrassing coincidence. In fact, the name meant what it said.
Hannan spices it up with some particularly damning quotes from Hitler himself. Bottom line: anyone who denies the Nazis were dedicated socialists is either historically illiterate or lying to cover up an incontrovertible fact that they fear could harm them politically. And I’ll also violate what appears to be an emerging consensus among some of my more-polite confreres out there, including Hannan–namely, that we must bend over backwards not to give too much offense to Leftists on this issue–and go ahead and say it: there is little meaningful distinction to be made between Progressivism and fascism. They are in fact closely related, and descended from the same political and ideological impulse. And to say that fascism is somehow “right wing” in either origin, practice, or effect is nothing more than a brazen lie.
To be absolutely clear, I don’t believe that modern Leftists have subliminal Nazi leanings, or that their loathing of Hitler is in any way feigned. That’s not my argument. What I want to do, by holding up the mirror, is to take on the equally false idea that there is an ideological continuum between free-marketers and fascists.
The idea that Nazism is a more extreme form of conservatism has insinuated its way into popular culture. You hear it, not only when spotty students yell “fascist” at Tories, but when pundits talk of revolutionary anti-capitalist parties, such as the BNP and Golden Dawn, as “far Right”.
What is it based on, this connection? Little beyond a jejune sense that Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty and fascists are nasty. When written down like that, the notion sounds idiotic, but think of the groups around the world that the BBC, for example, calls “Right-wing”: the Taliban, who want communal ownership of goods; the Iranian revolutionaries, who abolished the monarchy, seized industries and destroyed the middle class; Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who pined for Stalinism. The “Nazis-were-far-Right” shtick is a symptom of the wider notion that “Right-wing” is a synonym for “baddie”.
One of my constituents once complained to the Beeb about a report on the repression of Mexico’s indigenous peoples, in which the government was labelled Right-wing. The governing party, he pointed out, was a member of the Socialist International and, again, the give-away was in its name: Institutional Revolutionary Party. The BBC’s response was priceless. Yes, it accepted that the party was socialist, “but what our correspondent was trying to get across was that it is authoritarian”.
In fact, authoritarianism was the common feature of socialists of both National and Leninist varieties, who rushed to stick each other in prison camps or before firing squads. Each faction loathed the other as heretical, but both scorned free-market individualists as beyond redemption. Their battle was all the fiercer, as Hayek pointed out in 1944, because it was a battle between brothers.
Lots more–lots–at the link (below, for a change of pace), which well establishes once and for all the unbreakable linkage in the authoritarian Statist chain between Progressivism and fascism. The association between socialist tyranny and some imaginary Right is nothing more than a deception all too successfully ginned up by Progressivists desperate to hide the truth about themselves and (especially) their antecedents.
As I said before, it’s down to either ignorance or dishonesty; neither is worthy of “civility” or respect, as far as I’m concerned, all the more so when you consider that they’ve used this outrageous lie not just to smear and sabotage their opponents, but to advance an agenda that is best understood not as well-meaning or misguided, but as thoroughly evil. It can all be summarized by paraphrasing a line in the hilarious movie Throw Momma From The Train: The Left lies. Always.
Oh, and since I mentioned the quote from TMFTT (which of course is: “A writer writes–always,” in case you haven’t seen it), here’s a list of highly amusing quotes on writing. My favorite of all, though, and the one that has influenced me most over the years (ahem), remains: “I just sit at the typewriter and curse a bit.”
Distinction without a difference update! Jonah weighs in:
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 don’t usually wade into these arguments anymore, but I’ve been writing a lot on related themes over the last few weeks and I couldn’t resist.
Not surprisingly, I come down on Hannan’s side. I could write a whole book about why I agree with Dan, except I already did. So I’ll be more succinct.
Stanley makes some fine points here and there, but I don’t think they add up to anything like corroboration of his thesis. The chief problem with his argument is that he’s taking doctrinaire or otherwise convenient definitions of socialism and applying them selectively to Nazism.
He is at that. And there’s a reason for it. In sum:
Stanley says that politics came before economics in the Nazi state. That’s 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 there’s 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 aren’t 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. It’s 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.”
Bottom line: even if socialists aren’t necessarily Nazis, the Nazis were most certainly socialists; there really isn’t a lot of room for argument. Well, not honest argument, anyway. But expecting Leftists to argue honestly and in good faith is a mug’s game from the git-go.
Sorry, Leftards, but the jig is up.