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Hitler was a Leftist
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This article is published on the internet only. This is the version of February, 2012. This version is largely a remedial lesson in pre-war history for those who know only what they have learnt via school textbooks, popular encyclopaedias, movies etc. The article therefore does to a considerable extent go back to original sources and has to provide a lot of information that is not generally known. This does make the article rather long. For those who already know the history of the period well, however, I have kept available the June 2001 version of the article -- which is MUCH shorter. You can find it here. To make this longer version more navigable there is a clickable index at the end

HITLER WAS A SOCIALIST



John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.)



EPITOME:

Hitler was a fairly mainstream Leftist of his day. It must be remembered that he gained power by way of a democratic election, not by way of a revolution or a military coup. If any of that seems wrong to you, you need to keep reading




The Demand for Explanation


Now that more than 60 years have passed since the military defeat of Nazi Germany, one might have thought that the name of its leader would be all but forgotten. This is far from the case, however. Even in the popular press, references to Hitler are incessant and the trickle of TV documentaries on the Germany of his era would seem to be unceasing. Hitler even featured on the cover of a 1995 Time magazine.

This finds its counterpart in the academic literature too. Scholarly works on Hitler's deeds continue to emerge many years after his death (e.g. Feuchtwanger, 1995) and in a survey of the history of Western civilization, Lipson (1993) named Hitlerism and the nuclear bomb as the two great evils of the 20th century. Stalin's tyranny lasted longer, Pol Pot killed a higher proportion of his country's population and Hitler was not the first Fascist but the name of Hitler nonetheless hangs over the entire 20th century as something inescapably and inexplicably malign. It seems doubtful that even the whole of the 21st century will erase from the minds of thinking people the still largely unfulfilled need to understand how and why Hitler became so influential and wrought so much evil.

The fact that so many young Germans (particular from the formerly Communist East) today still salute his name and perpetuate much of his politics is also an amazement and a deep concern to many and what can only be called the resurgence of Nazism among many young Germans at the close of the 20th century and onwards would seem to generate a continuing and pressing need to understand the Hitler phenomenon.

So what was it that made Hitler so influential? What was it that made him (as pre-war histories such as Roberts, 1938, attest) the most popular man in the Germany of his day? Why does he still have many admirers now in the Germany on which he inflicted such disasters? What was (is?) his appeal? And why, of all things, are the young products of an East German Communist upbringing still so susceptible to his message?



The context of Nazism
"True, it is a fixed idea with the French that the Rhine is their property, but to this arrogant demand the only reply worthy of the German nation is Arndt's: "Give back Alsace and Lorraine". For I am of the opinion, perhaps in contrast to many whose standpoint I share in other respects, that the reconquest of the German-speaking left bank of the Rhine is a matter of national honour, and that the Germanisation of a disloyal Holland and of Belgium is a political necessity for us. Shall we let the German nationality be completely suppressed in these countries, while the Slavs are rising ever more powerfully in the East?"
Have a look at the quote immediately above and say who wrote it. It is a typical Hitler rant, is it not? Give it to 100 people who know Hitler's speeches and 100 would identify it as something said by Adolf. The fierce German nationalism and territorial ambition is unmistakeable. And if there is any doubt, have a look at another quote from the same author:
This is our calling, that we shall become the templars of this Grail, gird the sword round our loins for its sake and stake our lives joyfully in the last, holy war which will be followed by the thousand-year reign of freedom.
That settles it, doesn't it? Who does not know of Hitler's glorification of military sacrifice and his aim to establish a "thousand-year Reich"?

But neither quote is in fact from Hitler. Both quotes were written by Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx's co-author (See here and here). So let that be an introduction to the idea that Hitler not only called himself a socialist but that he WAS in fact a socialist by the standards of his day. Ideas that are now condemned as Rightist were in Hitler's day perfectly normal ideas among Leftists. And if Friedrich Engels was not a Leftist, I do not know who would be.

But the most spectacular aspect of Nazism was surely its antisemitism. And that had a grounding in Marx himself. The following passage is from Marx but it could just as well have been from Hitler:
"Let us consider the actual, worldly Jew -- not the Sabbath Jew, as Bauer does, but the everyday Jew. Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew. What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money. Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Jewry, would be the self-emancipation of our time.... We recognize in Jewry, therefore, a general present-time-oriented anti-social element, an element which through historical development -- to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed -- has been brought to its present high level, at which it must necessarily dissolve itself. In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Jewry".
Note that Marx wanted to "emancipate" (free) mankind from Jewry ("Judentum" in Marx's original German), just as Hitler did and that the title of Marx's essay in German was "Zur Judenfrage", which -- while not necessarily derogatory in itself -- is nonetheless exactly the same expression ("Jewish question") that Hitler used in his famous phrase "Endloesung der Judenfrage" ("Final solution of the Jewish question"). And when Marx speaks of the end of Jewry by saying that Jewish identity must necessarily "dissolve" itself, the word he uses in German is "aufloesen", which is a close relative of Hitler's word "Endloesung" ("final solution"). So all the most condemned features of Nazism can be traced back to Marx and Engels, right down to the language used. The thinking of Hitler, Marx and Engels differed mainly in emphasis rather than in content. All three were second-rate German intellectuals of their times. Anybody who doubts that practically all Hitler's ideas were also to be found in Marx & Engels should spend a little time reading the quotations from Marx & Engels archived here.

Another point:
"Everything must be different!" or "Alles muss anders sein!" was a slogan of the Nazi Party. It is also the heart's desire of every Leftist since Karl Marx. Nazism was a deeply revolutionary creed, a fact that is always denied by the Left; but it's true. Hitler and his criminal gang hated the rich, the capitalists, the Jews, the Christian Churches, and "the System".



Brown Bolsheviks

It is very easy to miss complexities in the the politics of the past and thus draw wrong conclusions about them. To understand the politics of the past we need to set aside for a time our own way of looking at things and try to see how the people involved at the time saw it all. Doing so is an almost essential step if we wish to understand the similarities and differences between Nazism and Marxism/Leninism. The following excerpt from James P. O'Donnell's THE BUNKER (1978, Boston, Houghton Mifflin, pp. 261-262) is instructive. O'Donnell is quoting Artur Axmann, the Nazi youth leader, recalling a conversation with Goebbels in the Hitler bunker on Tuesday, May 1, 1945, the same day Goebbels and his wife would kill themselves after she killed their children.
"Goebbels stood up to greet me. He soon launched into lively memories of our old street-fighting days in Berlin-Wedding, from nineteen twenty-eight to thirty-three. He recalled how we had clobbered the Berlin Communists and the Socialists into submission, to the tune of the "Horst Wessel" marching song, on their old home ground.

He said one of the great accomplishments of the Hitler regime had been to win the German workers over almost totally to the national cause. We had made patriots of the workers, he said, as the Kaiser had dismally failed to do. This, he kept repeating, had been one of the real triumphs of the movement. We Nazis were a non-Marxist yet revolutionary party, anticapitalist, antibourgeois, antireactionary....

Starch-collared men like Chancellor Heinrich Bruening had called us the "Brown Bolsheviks," and their bourgeois instincts were not wrong.
It seems inconceivable to modern minds that just a few differences between two similar ideologies -- Marxism and Nazism -- could have been sufficient cause for great enmity between those two ideologies. But the differences concerned were important to the people involved at the time. Marxism was class-based and Nazism was nationally based but otherwise they were very similar. That's what people said and thought at the time and that explains what they did and how they did it.



Iconography

And now for something that is very rarely mentioned indeed: Have a guess about where the iconography below comes from:



As you may be able to guess from the Cyrillic writing accompanying it, it was a Soviet Swastika -- used by the Red Army in its early days. It was worn as a shoulder patch by some Soviet troops. The Swastika too was a socialist symbol long before Hitler became influential. Prewar socialists (including some American socialists) used it on the grounds that it has two arms representing two entwined letters "S" (for "Socialist"). So even Hitler's symbolism was Leftist.
{There is an interesting comment on the graphic above by a Russian speaker. He points out that the shoulder patch above was specifically designed for Kalmyk troops. My understanding that the Swastika was more widely used in the Red Army than among the Kalmyk troops alone but I have yet to find a graphic illustrating that. As Stalin would undoubtedly have done his best to erase all references to Soviet swastikas after the Nazi invasion, such a graphic may not be easily found.}
Hitler did however give the symbol his own twist when he said: "Als nationale Sozialisten sehen wir in unserer Flagge unser Programm. Im Rot sehen wir den sozialen Gedanken der Bewegung, im Weiss den nationalistischen, im Hakenkreuz die Mission des Kampfes fuer den Sieg des arischen Menschen und zugleich mit ihm auch den Sieg des Gedankens der schaffenden Arbeit" ("As National socialists we see our programme in our flag. In red we see the social thoughts of the movement, in white the nationalist thoughts, in the hooked-cross the mission of fighting for the victory of Aryan man and at the same time the victory of the concept of creative work").

In German, not only the word "Socialism" (Sozialismus) but also the word "Victory" (Sieg) begins with an "S". So he said that the two letters "S" in the hooked-cross (swastika) also stood for the victory of Aryan man and the victory of the idea that the "worker" was a creative force: Nationalism plus socialism again, in other words.

{Technical note: Translating Hitler into English often runs up against the fact that he uses lots of German words that have no exact English equivalent (I comment, for instance, on Volk and Reich here). I have translated "schaffen" above as "create" (as does Ralph Manheim in his widely-used translation of Mein Kampf -- p. 452) but it has the larger meaning of providing and accomplishing things in general. So Hitler was clearly using the word to stress the central importance of the working man. In English, "creative" is often used to refer to artistic activities. That is NOT the meaning of "schaffen"}
And by Hitler's time, antisemitism in particular, as well as racism in general, already had a long history on the Left. August Bebel was the founder of Germany's Social Democratic party (mainstream Leftists) and his best-known saying is that antisemitism is der Sozialismus des bloeden Mannes (usually translated as "the socialism of fools") -- which implicitly recognized the antisemitism then prevalent on the Left. And Lenin himself alluded to the same phenomenon in saying that "it is not the Jews who are the enemies of the working people" but "the capitalists of all countries." For more on the socialist roots of antisemitism see Tyler Cowen's detailed survey here

It should be borne in mind, however, that antisemitism was pervasive in Europe of the 19th and early 20th century. Many conservatives were antisemitic too. Leftists were merely the most enthusistic practitioners of it. We have seen how virulent it was in Marx. Antisemitism among conservatives, by contrast, was usually not seen by them as a major concern. British Conservatives made the outspokenly Jewish Benjamin Disraeli their Prime Minister in the 19th century and the man who actually declared war on Hitler -- Neville Chamberlain -- himself had antisemitic views.

And Leftism is notoriously prone to "splits" so there were no doubt some Leftists who disavowed antisemitism on principled grounds. Lenin clearly criticized antisemitism on strategic grounds: It distracted from his class-war objectives. So were there also disinterested objections from Leftists? Such objectors are rather hard to find. The opposition to the persecution of the unfortunate Captain Alfred Dreyfus (who was Jewish) by Emile Zola in France is sometimes quoted but Zola was primarily an advocate of French naturalism, which was a form of physical determinism -- rather at odds with the usual Leftist view of man as a "blank slate". And the man who published Zola's famous challenge to the persecution of Dreyfus was Georges Clemenceau, who is these days most famous for his remark: "If a man is not a socialist in his youth, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 30 he has no head"

But, however you cut it, Hitler's antisemitism was of a piece with his Leftism, not a sign of "Rightism".

One more bit of iconography that may serve to reinforce that point:



The "Roman" salute is generally said to have been invented by Mussolini but Musso was a Marxist who knew Lenin well so it is not surprising that Stalin was influenced by Musso's ideas for a while.

The posters above come via a documentary film called Soviet Story. See here. The film has had a lot of praise from people who should know and it reinforces much that I say above and below here.



Labor unions

Who said this? A representative of the 21st century U.S. Democratic party, maybe?
"As things stand today, the trade unions in my opinion cannot be dispensed with. On the contrary, they are among the most important institutions of the nation's economic life. Their significance lies not only in the social and political field, but even more in the general field of national politics. A people whose broad masses, through a sound trade-union movement, obtain the satisfaction of their living requirements and at the same time an education, will be tremendously strengthened in its power of resistance in the struggle for existence".
It could well be any Leftist speaker of the present time but it is in fact a small excerpt from chapter 12 of Mein Kampf, wherein Hitler goes to great lengths to stress the importance of unions. The association between unions and Leftism is of course historic and, as a Leftist, Hitler made great efforts to enlist unions as supporters of his party.



A modern Leftist

Let us look at what the Left and Right in politics consist of at present. Consider this description by Edward Feser of someone who would have been a pretty good Presidential candidate for the modern-day U.S. Democratic party:
He had been something of a bohemian in his youth, and always regarded young people and their idealism as the key to progress and the overcoming of outmoded prejudices. And he was widely admired by the young people of his country, many of whom belonged to organizations devoted to practicing and propagating his teachings. He had a lifelong passion for music, art, and architecture, and was even something of a painter. He rejected what he regarded as petty bourgeois moral hang-ups, and he and his girlfriend "lived together" for years. He counted a number of homosexuals as friends and collaborators, and took the view that a man's personal morals were none of his business; some scholars of his life believe that he himself may have been homosexual or bisexual. He was ahead of his time where a number of contemporary progressive causes are concerned: he disliked smoking, regarding it as a serious danger to public health, and took steps to combat it; he was a vegetarian and animal lover; he enacted tough gun control laws; and he advocated euthanasia for the incurably ill.

He championed the rights of workers, regarded capitalist society as brutal and unjust, and sought a third way between communism and the free market. In this regard, he and his associates greatly admired the strong steps taken by President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to take large-scale economic decision-making out of private hands and put it into those of government planning agencies. His aim was to institute a brand of socialism that avoided the inefficiencies that plagued the Soviet variety, and many former communists found his program highly congenial. He deplored the selfish individualism he took to be endemic to modern Western society, and wanted to replace it with an ethic of self-sacrifice: "As Christ proclaimed 'love one another'," he said, "so our call -- 'people's community,' 'public need before private greed,' 'communally-minded social consciousness' -- rings out.! This call will echo throughout the world!"

The reference to Christ notwithstanding, he was not personally a Christian, regarding the Catholicism he was baptized into as an irrational superstition. In fact he admired Islam more than Christianity, and he and his policies were highly respected by many of the Muslims of his day. He and his associates had a special distaste for the Catholic Church and, given a choice, preferred modern liberalized Protestantism, taking the view that the best form of Christianity would be one that forsook the traditional other-worldly focus on personal salvation and accommodated itself to the requirements of a program for social justice to be implemented by the state. They also considered the possibility that Christianity might eventually have to be abandoned altogether in favor of a return to paganism, a worldview many of them saw as more humane and truer to the heritage of their people. For he and his associates believed strongly that a people's ethnic and racial heritage was what mattered most. Some endorsed a kind of cultural relativism according to which what is true or false and right or wrong in some sense depends on one's ethnic worldview, and especially on what best promotes the well-being of one's ethnic group

There is surely no doubt that the man Feser describes sounds very much like a mainstream Leftist by current standards. But who is the man concerned? It is a historically accurate description of Adolf Hitler. Hitler was not only a socialist in his own day but he would even be a mainstream socialist in MOST ways today. Feser does not mention Hitler's antisemitism above, of course, but that too seems once again to have become mainstream among the Western-world Left in the early years of the 21st century. See here for more on that.

But there is no claim that Hitler was WHOLLY like modern democratic Leftists. In ways other than those so far mentioned, Hitler was, as has already been detailed to some extent, more like his Communist predecessors. Ludwig von Mises speaks of those similarities. Writing in 1944 he said:
"The Nazis have not only imitated the Bolshevist tactics of seizing power. They have copied much more. They have imported from Russia the one-party system and the privileged role of this party and its members in public life; the paramount position of the secret police; the organization of affiliated parties abroad which are employed in fighting their domestic governments and in sabotage and espionage, assisted by public funds and the protection of the diplomatic and consular service; the administrative execution and imprisonment of political adversaries; concentration camps; the punishment inflicted on the families of exiles; the methods of propaganda. They have borrowed from the Marxians even such absurdities as the mode of address, party comrade (Parteigenosse), derived from the Marxian comrade (Genosse), and the use of a military terminology for all items of civil and economic life. The question is not in which respects both systems are alike but in which they differ..."

(For those who are unaware of it, Von Mises was an Austrian Jewish intellectual and a remarkably prescient economist. He got out of Vienna just hours ahead of the Gestapo. He did therefore have both every reason and every opportunity to be a close observer of Nazism. So let us also read a bit of what he said about the Nazi economy:)

The Nazis did not, as their foreign admirers contend, enforce price control within a market economy. With them price control was only one device within the frame of an all-around system of central planning. In the Nazi economy there was no question of private initiative and free enterprise. All production activities were directed by the Reichswirtschaftsministerium. No enterprise was free to deviate in the conduct of its operations from the orders issued by the government. Price control was only a device in the complex of innumerable decrees and orders regulating the minutest details of every business activity and precisely fixing every individual's tasks on the one hand and his income and standard of living on the other.

What made it difficult for many people to grasp the very nature of the Nazi economic system was the fact that the Nazis did not expropriate the entrepreneurs and capitalists openly and that they did not adopt the principle of income equality which the Bolshevists espoused in the first years of Soviet rule and discarded only later. Yet the Nazis removed the bourgeois completely from control. Those entrepreneurs who were neither Jewish nor suspect of liberal and pacifist leanings retained their positions in the economic structure. But they were virtually merely salaried civil servants bound to comply unconditionally with the orders of their superiors, the bureaucrats of the Reich and the Nazi party.
And let us look at the words of someone who was actually in Germany in the 1930s and who thus saw Nazism close up. He said:
"If I'd been German and not a Jew, I could see I might have become a Nazi, a German nationalist. I could see how they'd become passionate about saving the nation. It was a time when you didn't believe there was a future unless the world was fundamentally transformed."
So who said that? It was the famous historian, Eric Hobsbawm (original surname: Obstbaum), who became a Communist instead and who later became known as perhaps Britain's most resolute Communist. Hobsbawn clearly saw only slight differences between Communism and Nazism at that time. And as this summary of a book (by Richard Overy) comparing Hitler and Stalin says:
"But the resemblances are inescapable. Both tyrannies relied on a desperate ideology of do-or-die confrontation. Both were obsessed by battle imagery: 'The dictatorships were military metaphors, founded to fight political war.' And despite the rhetoric about a fate-struggle between socialism and capitalism, the two economic systems converged strongly. Stalin's Russia permitted a substantial private sector, while Nazi Germany became rapidly dominated by state direction and state-owned industries.

In a brilliant passage, Overy compares the experience of two economic defectors. Steel magnate Fritz Thyssen fled to Switzerland because he believed that Nazi planning was 'Bolshevising' Germany. Factory manager Victor Kravchenko defected in 1943 because he found that class privilege and the exploitation of labour in Stalinist society were no better than the worst excesses of capitalism.

As Overy says, much that the two men did was pointless. Why camps? Prisons would have held all their dangerous opponents Who really needed slave labour, until the war? What did that colossal surplus of cruelty and terror achieve for the regimes? 'Violence was... regarded as redemptive, saving society from imaginary enemies.'"
And let us listen to Hitler himself on the matter:
"There is more that binds us to Bolshevism than separates us from it. There is, above all, genuine, revolutionary feeling, which is alive everywhere in Russia except where there are Jewish Marxists. I have always made allowance for this circumstance, and given orders that former Communists are to be admitted to the party at once. The petit bourgeois Social-Democrat and the trade-union boss will never make a National Socialist, but the Communists always will."

Another quote:

"Of what importance is all that, if I range men firmly within a discipline they cannot escape? Let them own land or factories as much as they please. The decisive factor is that the State, through the Party, is supreme over them regardless of whether they are owners or workers. All that is unessential; our socialism goes far deeper. It establishes a relationship of the individual to the State, the national community. Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings."

(Both quotes above are from Hermann Rauschning in Hitler Speaks, London, T. Butterworth, 1940, also called The Voice of Destruction. See e.g. here.

Because what he records is so inconvenient, many contemporary historians dismiss Rauschning's 1940 book as inaccurate, even though it is perfectly in accord with everything else we now know about Hitler. But no-one disputes that Rauschning was a prominent Nazi for a time. He was however basically a conservative so eventually became disillusioned with the brutalities of Nazism and went into opposition to it. Rauschning's book was in fact prophetic, which certainly tends to indicate that he knew what he was talking about.)



Party programmes


Let us start by considering political party programmes or "platforms" of Hitler's day:

Take this description of a political programme:

A declaration of war against the order of things which exist, against the state of things which exist, in a word, against the structure of the world which presently exists".

And this description of a political movement as having a 'revolutionary creative will' which had 'no fixed aim, no permanency, only eternal change'

And this policy manifesto:
9. All citizens of the State shall be equal as regards rights and duties.

10. The first duty of every citizen must be to work mentally or physically. The activities of the individual may not clash with the interests of the whole, but must proceed within the frame of the community and be for the general good.

Therefore we demand:

11. That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished.

12. Since every war imposes on the people fearful sacrifices in life and property, all personal profit arising from the war must be regarded as a crime against the people. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits whether in assets or material.

13. We demand the nationalization of businesses which have been organized into cartels.

14. We demand that all the profits from wholesale trade shall be shared out.

15. We demand extensive development of provision for old age.

16. We demand the creation and maintenance of a healthy middle-class, the immediate communalization of department stores which will be rented cheaply to small businessmen, and that preference shall be given to small businessmen for provision of supplies needed by the State, the provinces and municipalities.

17. We demand a land reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to confiscate from the owners without compensation any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land.


So who put that manifesto forward and who was responsible for the summary quotes given before that? Was it the US Democrats, the British Labour Party, the Canadian Liberals, some European Social Democratic party? No. The manifesto is an extract from the (February 25th., 1920) 25 point plan of the National Socialist German Workers Party and was written by the leader of that party: Adolf Hitler. And the preceding summary quotes were also from him (See Vol. 2 Chap. 5 of Mein Kampf and O'Sullivan, 1983. p. 138).

The rest of Hitler's manifesto was aimed mainly at the Jews but in Hitler's day it was very common for Leftists to be antisemitic. And the increasingly pervasive anti-Israel sentiment among the modern-day Left -- including at times the Canadian government -- shows that modern-day Leftists are not even very different from Hitler in that regard. Modern-day anti-Israel protesters still seem to think that dead Jews are a good thing.

The Nazi election poster below is headed: "We workers are awoken" ("Wir Arbeiter sind erwacht")



There is a fuller decipherment and translation of the poster above here



Other examples of Hitler's Leftism


Further, as a good socialist does, Hitler justified everything he did in the name of "the people" (Das Volk). The Nazi State was, like the Soviet State, all-powerful, and the Nazi party, in good socialist fashion, instituted pervasive supervision of German industry. And of course Hitler and Stalin were initially allies. It was only the Nazi-Soviet pact that enabled Hitler's conquest of Western Europe. The fuel in the tanks of Hitler's Panzern as they stormed through France was Soviet fuel.

And a book that was very fashionable worldwide in the '60s was the 1958 book "The Affluent Society" by influential "liberal" Canadian economist J.K. Galbraith -- in which he fulminated about what he saw as our "Private affluence and public squalor". But Hitler preceded him. Hitler shared with the German Left of his day the slogan: "Gemeinnutz vor Eigennutz" (Common use before private use). And who preceded Hitler in that? Friedrich Engels at one stage ran a publication called Gemeinnuetziges Wochenblatt ("Common-use Weekly").

And we all know how evil Nazi eugenics were, don't we? How crazy were their efforts to build up the "master race" through selective breeding of SS men with the best of German women -- the "Lebensborn" project? Good Leftists today recoil in horror from all that of course. But who were the great supporters of eugenics in Hitler's day? They were in fact American Leftists -- and eugenics was only one of the ideas that Hitler got from that source. What later came to be known as Fascism was in fact essentially the same as what was known in the USA of the late 19th and early 20th century as "Progressivism", so Fascism is in fact as much an American invention as a European one. The Europeans carried out fully the ideas that American Leftists invented but could only partially implement. America itself resisted the worst of the Fascist virus but much of Europe did not. The American Left have a lot to answer for. I have outlined the largely Leftist roots of eugenics here and the largely American roots of Fascism here.

So even Hitler's eugenics were yet another part of Hitler's LEFTISM! He got his eugenic theories from the Leftists of his day. He was simply being a good Leftist intellectual in subscribing to such theories.



Hitler the Greenie


And Hitler also of course foreshadowed the Red/Green alliance of today. The Nazis were in fact probably the first major political party in the Western world to have a thoroughgoing "Green" agenda. I take the following brief summary from Andrew Bolt:

Hitler's preaching about German strength and destiny was water in the desert to the millions of Germans who'd been stripped of pride, security and hope by their humiliating defeat in World War I, and the terrible unemployment that followed.

The world was also mad then with the idea that a dictatorial government should run the economy itself and make it "efficient", rather than let people make their own decisions.

The Nazis -- National Socialists -- promised some of that, and their sibling rivals in the Communist Party more.

The theory of eugenics -- breeding only healthy people -- was also in fashion, along with a cult of health.

The Nazis, with their youth camps and praise of strong bodies and a strong people, endorsed all that, and soon were killing the retarded, the gay and the different.

Tribalism was popular, too. People weren't individuals, but members of a class, as the communists argued, or of a race, as the Nazis said. Free from freedom -- what a relief for the scared!

You'd think we'd have learned. But too much of such thinking is back and changing us so fast that we can't say how our society will look by the time we die.

A KIND of eugenics is with us again, along with an obsession for perfect bodies.

Children in the womb are being killed just weeks before birth for the sin of being a dwarf, for instance, and famed animal rights philosopher Peter Singer wants parents free to kill deformed children in their first month of life. Meanwhile support for euthanasia for the sick, tired or incompetent grows.

As for tribalism, that's also back -- and as official policy. We now pay people to bury their individuality in tribes, giving them multicultural grants or even an Aboriginal "parliament".

But most dangerous is that we strip our children of pride, security and even hope. They are taught that God is dead, our institutions corrupt, our people racist, our land ruined, our past evil and our future doomed by global warming.

Many have also watched one of their parents leave the family home, which to some must seem a betrayal.

They are then fed a culture which romanticises violence and worships sex -- telling them there is nothing more to life than the cravings of their bodies.

No one can live like this and be fulfilled. People need to feel part of something bigger and better than ourselves -- a family, or a church, or a tradition or a country. Or, as a devil may whisper, the greens.

The greens. Here's a quote which may sound very familiar -- at least in part. "We recognise that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind's own destruction and to the death of nations. "Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger . .

"This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought."

That was Ernst Lehmann, a leading biologist under the Nazi regime, in 1934, and he wasn't alone. Hitler, for one, was an avid vegetarian and green, addicted to homoepathic cures. His regime sponsored the creation of organic farming, and SS leader Heinrich Himmler even grew herbs on his own organic farm with which to treat his beloved troops.

HITLER also banned medical experiments on animals, but not, as we know to our grief, on Jewish children. And he created many national parks, particularly for Germany's "sacred" forests.

This isn't a coincidence. The Nazis drew heavily on a romantic, anti-science, nature worshipping, communal and anti-capitalist movement that tied German identity to German forests. In fact, Professor Raymond Dominick notes in his book, The Environmental Movement in Germany, two-thirds of the members of Germany's main nature clubs had joined the Nazi Party by 1939, compared with just 10 per cent of all men.

The Nazis also absorbed the German Youth Movement, the Wandervogel, which talked of our mystical relationship with the earth. Peter Staudenmaier, co-author of Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience, says it was for the Wandervogel that the philosopher Ludwig Klages wrote his influential essay Man and Earth in 1913.

In it, Klages warned of the growing extinction of species, the destruction of forests, the genocide of aboriginal peoples, the disruption of the ecosystem and the killing of whales. People were losing their relationship with nature, he warned.

Heard all that recently? I'm not surprised. This essay by this notorious anti-Semite was republished in 1980 to mark the birth of the German Greens -- the party that inspired the creation of our own Greens party.

Its message is much as Hitler's own in Mein Kampf: "When people attempt to rebel against the iron logic of nature, they come into conflict with the very same principles to which they owe their existence as human beings. Their actions against nature must lead to their own downfall."

Why does this matter now? Because we must learn that people who want animals to be treated like humans really want humans to be treated like animals.

We must realise a movement that stresses "natural order" and the low place of man in a fragile world, is more likely to think man is too insignificant to stand in the way of Mother Earth, or the Fatherland, or some other man-hating god.

We see it already. A Greenpeace co-founder, Paul Watson, called humans the "AIDS of the earth", and one of the three key founders of the German Greens, Herbert Gruhl, said the environmental crisis was so acute the state needed perhaps "dictatorial powers".

And our growing church of nature worshippers insist that science make way for their fundamentalist religion, bringing us closer to a society in which muscle, not minds, must rule.

It's as a former head of Greenpeace International, Patrick Moore, says: "In the name of speaking for the trees and other species, we are faced with a movement that would usher in an era of eco-fascism."

This threat is still small. But if we don't resist it today, who knows where it will sweep us tomorrow?


Lebensraum and the population "problem"


Reading Mein Kampf can be a perverse sort of fun. You can open almost any page of it at random and hear echoes of the modern-day Left and Greens. The points I mention in this present article are just a sampling. I could fill a book with examples showing that Hitler was not only a Leftist in his day but that he was also a pretty good Leftist by modern standards. His antisemitism would certainly pass unremarked by much of the Left today.

Among students of the Nazi period it is well-known that Hitler's most central concern after getting rid of the Jews was Lebensraum for Germany -- i.e. taking over the lands of Eastern Europe for Germans. But WHY did Hitler want Lebensraum (literally, "life-space") for Germans? It was because, like the Greenies of today, he was concerned about overpopulation and scarcity of natural resources.

Greenie Paul Ehrlich wrote in his 1968 book The population bomb:

"The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate..."

Hitler shared Ehrlich's pessimism:
"Germany has an annual increase in population of nearly nine hundred thousand souls. The difficulty of feeding this army of new citizens must grow greater from year to year and ultimately end in catastrophe, unless ways and means are found to forestall the danger of starvation and misery in time... Without doubt the productivity of the soil can be increased up to a certain limit. But only up to a certain limit, and not continuously without end..... But even with the greatest limitation on the one hand and the utmost industry on other, here again a limit will one day be reached, created by the soil itself. With the utmost toil it will not be possible to obtain any more from it, and then, though postponed for a certain time, catastrophe again manifests itself". (Mein Kampf pp. 121 & 122).

Both Prof. Ehrlich and Hitler were intelligent but overconfident Green/Left ignoramuses who knew nothing of the economics concerned -- as is shown by the almost hilarious wrongness of Ehrlich's predictions -- but Hitler unfortunately had the means to do something about his ill-informed theories. He concluded that rather than let Germans starve, he would grab more land off other people to feed them -- and the rest is indeed history.

It may be noted that Greenie theories (such as "global warming") have strong support in academic circles these days. And so it was in Hitler's day. While he was in Landsberg prison after the "Beer-hall Putsch", Hitler received weekly tutorials from Karl Haushofer, a University of Munich professor of politics and a proponent of Lebensraum. Interesting to see where academic fears of resources "running out" can lead!



"Gun-nut"?

But surely Hitler was at least like US conservatives in being a "gun nut"? Far from it. Weimar (pre-Hitler) Germany already had strict limits on private ownership of firearms (limits enacted by a Left-leaning government) and the Nazis continued these for the first five years of their rule. It was not until March 18, 1938 that the Reichstag ("State Assembly" -- i.e. the German Federal Parliament) passed a new Weapons Law (or Waffengesetz). The new law contained a lessening of some restrictions but an increase in others. Essentially, from that point on, only politically reliable people would be issued with permits to own guns. For some details of the very large number of controls in the new law, see here



Wal-Mart hatred

One of the more notable insanities of the U.S. Left in the early 21st centrury was Wal-Mart hatred. Anyone who took Leftist advocacy of "the poor" at face-value might have expected that anything which raises the living standards of the poor (which Wal-Mart undoubtedly did) would be warmly welcomed by the Left. But the converse was the case: Seething hate was what Wal-Mart got from the Left. In the run-up to the 2006 mid-term Federal election, one sometimes got the impression that the Democrats were campaigning against Wal-mart rather than against the Republicans.

Why such extreme fuming? Because Leftists hate anything big and successfuil and Wal-Mart was very big and very successful. And British supermarket chains such as Tesco were also despised by British Leftists -- albeit in a somewhat more restrained way. Confronted with either Wal-Mart or Tesco, Leftists suddenly discovered a love of small business -- the quintessential bourgeoisie whom Leftists had been loudly decrying ever since Marx!

There was of course no Wal-Mart in Hitler's day. But there was something very similar -- large Department stores. And Hitler hated them. Item 16 of the (February 25th., 1920) 25 point plan of the National Socialist German Workers Party (written by Hitler) sought the abolition of big stores and their replacement by small businesses.

One of the British ex-Marxists at "Spiked" has a comprehensive article on the similarities between the Nazis and the British supermarket-haters of the modern era. A useful excerpt:

"As the Nazi Party attracted considerable numbers of the Mittelstand to its programme, physical attacks, boycotts and discrimination against department and chain stores started to increase. Such street-level chainstore-bashing initiatives "were quickly backed by a Law for the Protection of Individual Trade passed on 12 May 1933", writes Evans. In a similar way to the current recommendations put forward by the [U.K.] Competition Commission, in Nazi Germany "chain stores were forbidden to expand or open new branches". Towards the end of 1933, the Nazi Party introduced further moves along the lines currently outlined by the Competition Commission: "Department and chain stores were prohibited from offering a discount of more than three per cent on prices, a measure also extended to consumer co-operatives."



More Leftist than racist?


Hitler was in fact even more clearly a Leftist than he was a nationalist or a racist. Although in his speeches he undoubtedly appealed to the nationalism of the German people, Locke (2001) makes a strong case that Hitler was not in fact a very good nationalist in that he always emphasized that his primary loyalty was to what he called the Aryan race -- and Germany was only one part of that race. Locke then goes on to point out that Hitler was not even a very consistent racist in that the Dutch, the Danes etc. were clearly Aryan even by Hitler's own eccentric definition yet he attacked them whilst at the same time allying himself with the very non-Aryan Japanese. And the Russians and the Poles (whom Hitler also attacked) are rather more frequently blonde and blue-eyed (Hitler's ideal) than the Germans themselves are! So what DID Hitler believe in?

In his book Der Fuehrer, prewar Leftist writer Konrad Heiden corrects the now almost universal assumption that Hitler's idea of race was biologically-based. The Nazi conception of race traces, as is well-known, to the work of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. But what did Chamberlain say about race? It should not by now be surprising that he said something that sounds thoroughly Leftist. Anthropologist Robert Gayre summarizes Chamberlain's ideas as follows:

"On the contrary he taught (like many "progressives" today) that racial mixture was desirable, for, according to him, it was only out of racial mixture that the gifted could be created. He considered that the evidence of this was provided by the Prussian, whom he saw as the superman, resulting from a cross between the German (or Anglo-Saxon "German") and the Slav. From this Chamberlain went on to argue that the sum of all these talented people would then form a "race," not of blood but of "affinity."


So the Nazi idea of race rejected biology just as thoroughly as modern Leftist ideas about race do! If that seems all too jarring to believe, Gayre goes on to discuss the matter at length.

So although Hitler made powerful USE of German nationalism, we see from both the considerations put forward by Locke and the intellectual history discussed by Gayre, that Hitler was not in fact much motivated by racial loyalty as we would normally conceive it. So what was he motivated by?

Locke suggests that Hitler's actions are best explained by saying that he simply had a love of war but offers no explanation of WHY Hitler would love war. Hitler's extreme Leftism does explain this however. As the quotations already given show, Hitler shared with other Leftists a love of constant change and excitement --- and what could offer more of that than war (or, in the case of other Leftists, the civil war of "revolution")?

See here for a more extensive treatment of what motivates Leftists generally.

The idea that Nazism was motivated primarily by a typically Leftist hunger for change and excitement and hatred of the status quo is reinforced by the now famous account of life in Nazi Germany given by a young "Aryan" who lived through it. Originally written before World War II, Haffner's (2002) account of why Hitler rose to power stresses the boring nature of ordinary German life and observes that the appeal of the Nazis lay in their offering of relief from that:


"The great danger of life in Germany has always been emptiness and boredom ... The menace of monotony hangs, as it has always hung, over the great plains of northern and eastern Germany, with their colorless towns and their all too industrious, efficient, and conscientious business and organizations. With it comes a horror vacui and the yearning for 'salvation': through alcohol, through superstition, or, best of all, through a vast, overpowering, cheap mass intoxication."

So he too saw the primary appeal of Nazism as its offering of change, novelty and excitement.

And how about another direct quote from Hitler himself?


"We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions"

(Speech of May 1, 1927. Quoted by Toland, 1976, p. 306)


Clearly, the idea that Hitler was a Rightist is probably the most successful BIG LIE of the 20th Century. He was to the Right of the Communists but that is all. Nazism was nothing more nor less than a racist form of Leftism (rather extreme Leftism at that) and to label it as "Rightist" or anything else is to deny reality.

The word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation of the name of Hitler's political party -- the nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei. In English this translates to "The National Socialist German Worker's Party". So Hitler was a socialist and a champion of the workers -- or at least he identified himself as such and campaigned as such.

There is a great deal of further reading available that extends the points made here about the nature of Nazism and Fascism. There is, for instance, an interesting review by Prof. Antony Flew here of The Lost Literature of Socialism by historian George Watson. Excerpt:

Many of his findings are astonishing. Perhaps for readers today the most astonishing of all is that "In the European century that began in the 1840s, from Engels' article of 1849 down to the death of Hitler, everyone who advocated genocide called himself a socialist and no conservative, liberal, anarchist or independent did anything of the kind." (The term "genocide" in Watson's usage is not confined to the extermination only of races or of ethnic groups, but embraces also the liquidation of such other complete human categories as "enemies of the people" and "the Kulaks as a class.")

The book seems well worth reading but is not of course available online. An excellent earlier essay by Prof. Watson covering some of the same ground is however available here. He shows in it that even such revered figures in the history of socialism as G.B. Shaw and Beatrice Webb were vocally in favour of genocide.

We do however need to keep in mind that there is no such thing as PURE Leftism. Leftists are notoriously fractious, sectarian and multi-branched. And even the Fascist branch of Leftism was far from united. The modern-day Left always talk as if Italy's Mussolini and Hitler were two peas in a pod but that is far from the truth. Mussolini got pretty unprintable about Hitler at times and did NOT support Hitler's genocide against the Jews (Steinberg, 1990; Herzer, 1989). As it says here:

"Just as none of the victorious powers went to war with Germany to save the Jews neither did Mussolini go to war with them to exterminate the Jews. Indeed, once the Holocaust was under way he and his fascists refused to deport Jews to the Nazi death camps thus saving thousands of Jewish lives - far more than Oskar Schindler."

"Far more than Oskar Schindler"!. And as late as 1938, Mussolini even asked the Pope to excommunicate Hitler!. Leftists are very good at "fraternal" rivalry.

So unity is not of the Left in any of its forms. They only ever have SOME things in common -- such as claiming to represent "the worker" and seeking a State that controls as much of people's lives as it feasibly can.

Tom Wolfe's biting essay on American intellectuals also summarizes the origins of Fascism and Nazism rather well. Here is one excerpt from it:

"Fascism" was, in fact, a Marxist coinage. Marxists borrowed the name of Mussolini's Italian party, the Fascisti, and applied it to Hitler's Nazis, adroitly papering over the fact that the Nazis, like Marxism's standard-bearers, the Soviet Communists, were revolutionary socialists. In fact, "Nazi" was (most annoyingly) shorthand for the National Socialist German Workers' Party. European Marxists successfully put over the idea that Nazism was the brutal, decadent last gasp of "capitalism."

{From the essay "In the Land of the Rococo Marxists" originally appearing in the June 2000 Harper's Monthly and reprinted in Wolfe's book Hooking Up}

Other sources on the basic facts about Hitler that history tells us are Roberts (1938), Heiden (1939), Shirer (1964), Bullock (1964), Taylor (1963), Hagan (1966), Feuchtwanger (1995).

The above are however secondary sources and, as every historian will tell you, there is nothing like going back to the original -- which is why much original text is quoted above. For further reading in the original sources, the first stop is of course Mein Kampf. It seems customary to portray Mein Kampf as the ravings of a madman but it is far from that. It is the attempt of an intelligent mind to comprehend the world about it and makes its points in such a personal and passionate way that it might well persuade many people today but for a knowledge of where it led. The best collection of original Nazi documents on the web is however probably here. Perhaps deserving of particular mention among the documents available there is a widely circulated pamphlet by Goebbels here. One excerpt from it:

The bourgeois is about to leave the historical stage. In its place will come the class of productive workers, the working class, that has been up until today oppressed. It is beginning to fulfill its political mission. It is involved in a hard and bitter struggle for political power as it seeks to become part of the national organism. The battle began in the economic realm; it will finish in the political. It is not merely a matter of pay, not only a matter of the number of hours worked in a day-though we may never forget that these are an essential, perhaps even the most significant part of the socialist platform-but it is much more a matter of incorporating a powerful and responsible class in the state, perhaps even to make it the dominant force in the future politics of the Fatherland


So Hitler was both a fairly typical pre-war Leftist in most respects and would also make a pretty good modern Leftist in most respects. Aside from his nationalism, it is amazing how much he sounds like modern Leftists in fact. And his nationalism was in fact one way in which he was smarter than modern Leftists. Have a look at the 1939 Nazi propaganda placard below (a Wochenspruch for the Gau Weser/Ems). The placard promotes one of Hitler's sayings. The saying is, "Es gibt keinen Sozialismus, der nicht aufgeht im eigenen Volk" -- which I translate as "There is no socialism except what arises within its own people". Hitler spoke a very colloquial German so translating that one was not easy but I think that is about as close to it as you can get.



As some modern context for that saying, note that there have now been various psychological studies by Putnam and others (e.g. here) showing that people are more willing to share and get involved with others whom they see as like themselves. That leads to the view that socialism will find its strongest support among an ethnically homogeneous population -- which the Scandinavian countries notably were until recently. And ethnic diversity therefore will undermine support for socialism (as in the U.S.A.). And from my studies of them, I have noted that the Scots are a very brotherly lot. There is even a line in a famous Harry Lauder song that says: "Where brother Scots foregather ...". And of course the Scots are enormously socialistic. When Margaret Thatcher came to power on a huge swing towards the Conservatives in England, Scotland actually swung away from the conservatives.

So the "diversity at all costs" orientation and open borders policies of the modern Left are actually very inimical to the socialistic aims of the Left. The modern day Left do not see that their promoting of infinite diversity will undermine support for socialism. Hitler did.

Perhaps the most amazing parallel between Hitler and the postwar Left, however, is that for much of the 30s Hitler was actually something of a peacenik. I am putting up below a picture of a Nazi propaganda poster of the 1930s that you won't believe unless you are aware of how readily all Leftists preach one thing and do another. It reads ""Mit Hitler gegen den Ruestungswahnsinn der Welt".



And what does that mean? It means "With Hitler against the armaments madness of the world". "Ruestung" could more precisely be translated as "military preparations" but "armaments" is a bit more idiomatic in English.

And how about the poster below? It would be from the March 5, 1933 election when Hitler had become Chancellor but Marshall Hindenburg was still President:



Translated, the poster reads: "The Marshall and the corporal fight alongside us for peace and equal rights"

Can you get a more Leftist slogan than that? "Peace and equal rights"? Modern-day Leftists sometimes try to dismiss Hitler's socialism as something from his early days that he later outgrew. But when this poster was promulgated he was already Reichskanzler (Prime Minister) so it was far from early days. Once again we see what a barefaced lie it is when Leftists misrepresent Hitler as a Rightist. We can all have our own views about what Hitler actually believed but he campaigned and gained power as a democratic Leftist. The March 5, 1933 election was the last really democratic election prewar Germany had and, in it, Hitler's appeal was Leftist.

There is here (or here) a collection of some of the "peace" talk that Hitler used even after war had begun. Hitler might even be regarded as the original "peacenik", so vocal was he about his wish for peace. So the preaching of both "peace" and "equality" by the bloodthirsty Soviet regime of the cold war period had its parallel with the Nazis too.

It may be worth noting in passing what a clever piece of propaganda the above poster was. Allied spokesmen such as Winston Churchill seemed to deem it a great insult to refer to CORPORAL Hitler. They seemed to think it demeaned him. Yet Hitler himself obviously did not think so. He seems in fact to have used his lowly military status in the first war to identify himself as a man of the people. He used it to his advantage, not to his disadvantage. It was part of his claim to represent the ordinary working man rather than the German establishment.

But Hitler had his cake and ate it too. By drawing a great Prussian Junker like President Hindenburg into his campaign, he also showed that he had the establishment on his side. It helped to portray him as a SAFE choice. Hindenburg was no doubt disgusted by such use of his name but since he had appointed Hitler, he could hardly complain.

For more Nazi "Peace" and other revealing posters see here



Objections

At this stage I think I need to consider some objections to the account of Hitler that I have given so far:


The Left/Right division is at fault

Faced with the challenge to their preconceptions constituted by the material I have so far presented, some people take refuge in the well-known fact that political attitudes are complex and are seldom fully represented by a simple division of politics into Left and Right. They deny that Hitler was Leftist by denying that ANYBODY is simply Leftist.

I don't think this gets anybody very far, however. What I have shown (and will proceed to show at even greater length) is that Hitler fell squarely within that stream of political thought that is usually called Leftist. That is a fact. That is information. And that is something that is not now generally known. And no matter how you rejig your conception of politics generally, that affinity will not go away. It is commonly said that Nazism and Communism were both "authoritarian" or "totalitarian" -- which is undoubtedly true -- but what I show here is that there were far greater affinities than that. Basic doctrines, ideas and preachments of Nazis and Communists were similar as well as their method of government.

But, as it happens, the Left/Right division of politics is not just some silly scheme put out by people who are too simple to think of anything better. There is a long history of attempts to devise better schemes but they all founder on how people in general actually vote and think. Most people DO organize their views in a recognizably Left/Right way. For a brief introduction to the research and thinking on the dimensionality of political attitudes, see here



Leftist denials of Hitler's Leftism: Kangas


Modern day Leftists of course hate it when you point out to them that Hitler was one of them. They deny it furiously -- even though in Hitler's own day both the orthodox Leftists who represented the German labor unions (the SPD) and the Communists (KPD) voted WITH the Nazis in the Reichstag (German Parliament) on various important occasions -- though not on all occasions. They were after all political rivals. It was only at the last gasp -- the passage of the "Enabling Act" that gave Hitler absolute power -- that the SPD opposed the Nazis resolutely. They knew from introspection where that would lead, even if others were deceived.

As part of that denial, an essay by the late Steve Kangas is much reproduced on the internet. Entering the search phrase "Hitler was a Leftist" will bring up multiple copies of it. Kangas however reveals where he is coming from in his very first sentence: "Many conservatives accuse Hitler of being a leftist, on the grounds that his party was named "National Socialist." But socialism requires worker ownership and control of the means of production". It does? Only to Marxists. So Kangas is saying only that Hitler was less Leftist than the Communists -- and that would not be hard. Surely a "democratic" Leftist should see that as faintly to Hitler's credit, in fact.

At any event, Leonard Peikoff makes clear the triviality of the difference:

Contrary to the Marxists, the Nazis did not advocate public ownership of the means of production. They did demand that the government oversee and run the nation's economy. The issue of legal ownership, they explained, is secondary; what counts is the issue of CONTROL. Private citizens, therefore, may continue to hold titles to property -- so long as the state reserves to itself the unqualified right to regulate the use of their property.

Which sounds just like the Leftists of today.

Some other points made by Kangas are highly misleading. He says for instance that Hitler favoured "competition over co-operation". Hitler in fact rejected Marxist notions of class struggle and had as his great slogan: "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer" (One People, One State, one leader). He ultimately wanted Germans to be a single, unified, co-operating whole under him, with all notions of social class or other divisions forgotten. Other claims made by Kangas are simply laughable: He says that Hitler cannot have been a Leftist because he favoured: "politics and militarism over pacifism, dictatorship over democracy". Phew! So Stalin was not political, not a militarist and not a dictator? Enough said.

In summary, then, Kangas starts out by defining socialism in such a way that only Communists can be socialists and he then defines socialism in a way that would exclude Stalin from being one! So is ANYBODY a socialist according to Kangas? Only Mr Brain-dead Kangas himself, I guess. And Kangas fancied himself as an authority on Leftism! Perhaps he was. He certainly got the self-contradictory part down pat.



Other denials of Nazism as Leftist


So the challenge by Kangas is really just too silly to take seriously. More serious is the strong reaction I get from many who know something of history who say that Hitler cannot have been a Leftist because of the great hatred that existed at the time between the Nazis and the "Reds". And it is true that Hitler's contempt for "Bolshevism" was probably exceeded only by his contempt for the Jews.

My reply is that there is no hatred like fraternal hatred and that hatreds between different Leftist groupings have existed from the French revolution onwards. That does not make any of the rival groups less Leftist however. And the ice-pick in the head that Trotsky got courtesy of Stalin shows vividly that even among the Russian revolutionaries themselves there were great rivalries and hatreds. Did that make any of them less Marxist, less Communist? No doubt the protagonists concerned would argue that it did but from anyone else's point of view they were all Leftists at least.

Nonetheless there still seems to persist in some minds the view that two groups as antagonistic as the Nazis and the Communists just cannot have been ideological blood-brothers. Let me therefore try this little quiz: Who was it who at one stage dismissed Hitler as a "barbarian, a criminal and a pederast"? Was it Stalin? Was it some other Communist? Was it Winston Churchill? Was it some other conservative? Was it one of the Social Democrats? No. It was none other than Benito Mussolini, the Fascist leader who later became Hitler's ally in World War II. And if any two leaders were ideological blood-brothers those two were. So I am afraid that antagonism between Hitler and others proves nothing. If anything, the antagonism between Hitler and other socialists is proof of what a typical socialist Hitler was.

Another difficulty that those who know their history raise is the great and undoubted prominence of nationalist themes in Hitler's propaganda. It is rightly noted that in this Hitler diverged widely from the various Marxist movements of Europe. So can he therefore really have been a Leftist?

My reply is of course that Hitler was BOTH a nationalist AND a socialist -- as the full name of his political party (The National Socialist German Worker's Party) implies. And he was not alone in that:



Other Leftist nationalists


In the post-WW2 era, internationalism and a scorn for patriotism has become very dominant among far-Leftists, but that was not always so. From Napoleon to Hitler there were also plenty of nationalist and patriotic versions of Leftism.

That was part of what was behind the various diatribes of Marx and Lenin against "Bonapartism". "Bonapartism" was what we would now call Fascism and it was a rival reformist doctrine to Marxism long before the era of Hitler and Mussolini. It was more democratic (about as much as Hitler was), more romantic, more nationalist and less class-obsessed. The Bonapartist that Marx particularly objected to was in fact Napoleon III, i.e. Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew of the original Napoleon. One of Louis's campaign slogans was: "There is one name which is the symbol of order, of glory, of patriotism; and it is borne today by one who has won the confidence and affection of the people." So, like the original Napoleon himself, the Bonapartists were both very nationalist and saw themselves as heirs to the French revolution. So it was very grievous for most communists when, in his later writings, the ultra-Marxist Trotsky identified not only Fascism but also the Soviet State as "Bonapartist". That was one judgment in which Trotsky was undoubtedly correct, however!

There have always been innumerable "splits" in the extreme Leftist movement -- and from the earliest days nationalism has often been an issue in those. Two of the most significant such splits occurred around the time of the Bolshevik revolution --- when in Russia the Bolsheviks themselves split into Leninists and Trotskyites and when in Italy Mussolini left Italy's major Marxist party to found the "Fascists". So the far Left split at that time between the Internationalists (e.g. Trotskyists) and the nationalists (e.g. Fascists) with Lenin having a foot in both camps. And both Marx and Engels themselves did in their lifetimes lend their support to a number of wars between nations. So any idea that a nationalist cannot be a Leftist is pure fiction.

And, in fact, the very title of Lenin's famous essay, "Left-wing Communism, an infantile disorder" shows that Lenin himself shared the judgement that he was a Right-wing sort of Marxist. Mussolini was somewhat further Right again, of course, but both were to the Right only WITHIN the overall far-Left camp of the day.

It should further be noted in this connection that the various European Socialist parties in World War I did not generally oppose the war in the name of international worker brotherhood but rather threw their support behind the various national governments of the countries in which they lived. Just as Mussolini did, they too nearly all became nationalists. Nationalist socialism is a very old phenomenon.

And it still exists today. Although many modern-day US Democrats often seem to be anti-American, the situation is rather different in Australia and Britain. Both the major Leftist parties there (the Australian Labor Party and the British Labour Party) are perfectly patriotic parties which express pride in their national traditions and achievements. Nobody seems to have convinced them that you cannot be both Leftist and nationalist. That is of course not remotely to claim that either of the parties concerned is a Nazi or an explicitly Fascist party. What Hitler and Mussolini advocated and practiced was clearly more extremely nationalist than any major Anglo-Saxon political party would now advocate.

And socialist parties such as the British Labour Party were patriotic parties in World War II as well. And in World War II even Stalin moved in that direction. If Hitler learnt from Mussolini the persuasive power of nationalism, Stalin was not long in learning the same lesson from Hitler. When the Wehrmacht invaded Russia, the Soviet defences did, as Hitler expected, collapse like a house of cards. The size of Russia did, however, give Stalin time to think and what he came up with was basically to emulate Hitler and Mussolini. Stalin reopened the churches, revived the old ranks and orders of the Russian Imperial army to make the Red Army simply the Russian Army and stressed patriotic appeals in his internal propaganda. He portrayed his war against Hitler not as a second "Red" war but as 'Vtoraya Otechestvennaya Vojna' -- The Second Patriotic War -- the first such war being the Tsarist defence against Napoleon. He deliberately put himself in the shoes of Russia's Tsars!

Russian patriotism proved as strong as its German equivalent and the war was turned around. And to this day, Russians still refer to the Second World War as simply "The Great Patriotic War". Stalin may have started out as an international socialist but he soon became a national socialist when he saw how effective that was in getting popular support. Again, however, it was Mussolini who realized it first. And it is perhaps to Mussolini's credit as a human being that his nationalism was clearly heartfelt where Stalin's was undoubtedly a mere convenience.

I think, however, that the perception of Hitler as a Leftist is more difficult for those with a European perspective than for those with an Anglo-Saxon one. To many Europeans you have to be some sort of Marxist to be a Leftist and Hitler heartily detested Marxism so cannot have been a Leftist. I write for the Anglosphere, however, and in my experience the vast majority of the Left (i.e. the US Democrats, The Australian Labor Party, the British Labour Party) have always rejected Marxism too so it seems crystal clear to me that you can be a Leftist without accepting Marxist doctrines. So Hitler's contempt for Marxism, far from convincing me that he was a non-Leftist, actually convinces me that he was a perfectly conventional Leftist! The Nazi Party was what would in many parts of the world be called a "Labor" party (not a Communist party).

And, as already mentioned, the moderate Leftists of Germany in Hitler's own day saw that too. The Sozialistische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) who, like the US Democrats, the Australian Labor Party and the British Labour Party, had always been the principal political representatives of the Labor unions, on several important occasions voted WITH the Nazis in the Reichstag (German Federal Parliament).



Non-Marxist objections

Objections to my account of Hitler as a Leftist can however be framed in more Anglocentric terms than the ones I have covered so far. In particular, my pointing to Hitler's subjugation of the individual to the State as an indication of his Leftism could be challenged on the grounds that conservatives too do on some occasions use government to impose restrictions on individuals -- particularly on moral issues. The simple answer to that, of course, is that conservatism is not anarchism. Conservatives do believe in SOME rules. As with so much in life, it is all a matter of degree and in the centrist politics that characterize the Anglo-Saxon democracies, the degree of difference between the major parties can be small. But to compare things like opposition to homosexual "marriage" with the bloodthirsty tyranny exercised by Hitler, Stalin and all the other extreme Leftists is laughable indeed.

And it is the extremists who show the real nature of the beast as far as Leftism is concerned. Once Leftists throw off the shackles of democracy and are free to do as they please we see where their values really lie. Extreme conservatism (i.e. libertarianism), by contrast, exists only in theory (i.e. it has never gained political power anywhere in its own right). Conservatives are not by nature extremists. The issue of allegedly conservative Latin American dictators and the evidence that the core focus of conservatism has historically been on individual liberties versus the State is considered at some length here.

Another more contentious point is that many of the conservative attempts at regulating people's lives are Christian rather than conservative in origin and that Christianity and conservatism are in fact separable. So conservatism should not be blamed for the multifarious deeds of Christians. But to discuss an issue as large and as contentious as that would be far too great a digression here. A discussion of it can however be found elsewhere.



But Neo-Nazis are Rightist!

A remaining important objection to the account I have given so far is that Hitler's few remaining admirers in at least the Anglo-Saxon countries all seem to be on the political far-Right. In discussing that, however, I must immediately insist that I am not discussing antisemitism generally. Antisemitism and respect for Hitler are far from the same thing. Although vocal support for antisemitism was in Hitler's day widespread across the American political spectrum -- from Henry Ford on the Right to "Progressives" on the Left -- such support is these days mostly to be found on the extreme Left and for such people Hitler is anathema. And the antisemitism of the former Soviet leadership also shows that antisemitism and respect for Hitler are not at all one and the same.

But in the Anglosphere countries Hitler DOES still have his admirers among a tiny band of neo-Nazis and it is true that these are usually called the extreme Right. They normally refer to themselves as "The Right", in fact. How do I know that? I know that because I in fact happen to be one of the very few people to have studied neo-Nazis intensively. And I have reported my findings about them in the academic journals -- see here and here. But if Hitler was a socialist, how come that these "far-Rightists" still admire him?

Before I answer that, however, I must point out that the description "Far-Right" is a great misnomer for the successors of Hitler in modern-day Germany. As we will see below, modern-day German neo-Nazis are demonstrably just as Leftist as Hitler was. So are American, British and Australian neo-Nazis also Leftist in any sense?

The answer to that is a simple one: They are pre-war Leftists, just as Hitler was. They are a relic in the modern world of thinking that was once common on the Left but no longer is. They are a hangover from the past in every sense. They are antisemitic just as Hitler was. They are racial supremacists just as Hitler was. They are advocates of discipline just as Hitler was. They are advocates of national unity just as Hitler was. They glorify war just as Hitler did etc. And all those things that Hitler advocated were also advocated among the prewar American Left.

That does however raise the question of WHY such thinking is seen as "Rightist" today. And the answer to THAT goes back to the nature of Leftism! The political content of Leftism varies greatly from time to time. The sudden about-turn of the Left on antisemitism in recent times is vivid proof of that. And what the political content of Leftism is depends on the Zeitgeist -- the conventional wisdom of the day. Leftists take whatever is commonly believed and push it to extremes in order to draw attention to themselves as being the good guys -- the courageous champions of popular causes. So when the superiority of certain races was commonly accepted, Leftists were champions of racism. So when eugenics was commonly accepted as wise, Leftists were champions of eugenics -- etc. In recent times they have come to see more righteousness to be had from championing the Palestinian Arabs than from championing the Jews so we have seen their rapid transition from excoriating antisemitism to becoming "Antizionist".

But the thinking of the man in the street does not change nearly as radically as Leftists do. Although it may no longer be fashionable, belief in the superiority of whites over blacks is still widespread, for instance. Such beliefs have become less common but they have not gone away. They are however distinctly non-Leftist in today's climate of opinion so are usually defined as "Rightist" by default. So the beliefs of the neo-Nazis are Rightist only in the default sense of not being currently Leftist. They are part of the general stream of popular thinking but that part of it which is currently out of fashion. I say a little more on that elsewhere.

And so it is because the old-fashioned thinking of the neo-Nazis is these days thoroughly excoriated by the Left that they see themselves as of the Right and reject any idea that they are socialists. I can attest from my own extensive interviews with Australian neo-Nazis (see here and here) that they mostly blot out any mention of Hitler's socialism from their consciousness. The most I ever heard any of them make out of it was that, by "socialism", Hitler was simply referring to national solidarity and everybody pulling together -- which was indeed a major part of Hitler's message and which has been a major aim of socialism from Hegel on. And things like autarky and government control of the whole of society were attractive to them too so they were in fact far more socialist than they would ever have acknowledged. They don't realize that they are simply old-fashioned Leftists. Since most of the world seems to have forgotten what pre-war Leftism consisted of, however, that is hardly surprising.

And the neo-Nazis are assisted in their view of themselves as Rightist by Hitler's anticommunism. The falling-out among the Nazis and the Communists was in Hitler's day largely a falling-out among thieves but the latter half of the second world war made the opposition between the two very vivid in the public consciousness so that opposition has become a major part of the definition of what Nazism is. And Marxism/Leninism was avowedly internationalist rather than racist. Lenin and the Bolsheviks despised nationalism and wished to supplant national solidarity with class solidarity. Given the contempt for Slavs often expressed by Marx & Engels, one can perhaps understand that Lenin and his Russian (Slavic) Bolsheviks concentrated so heavily on Marx & Engels's vision of international worker solidarity and ignored the thoroughly German nationalism also often expressed by Engels in particular.

That class-war was the best way to better the economic position of the worker was, however, never completely obvious. The Fascists did not think so nor did most Leftists in democratic countries. Nonetheless, the internationalist and class-based (rather than race-based) nature of Communism did have the effect in the postwar era of identifying Leftism with skepticism about patriotism, nationalism and any feeling that the traditions of one's own country were of great value. The result of this was that people with strong patriotic, nationalist and traditionalist feelings in the Anglo-Saxon countries felt rather despised and oppressed by the mostly Leftist intelligentsia and sought allies and inspiration wherever they could. And Hitler was certainly a great exponent of national pride, community traditions and patriotism. So those who felt marginalized by their appreciation of their own traditional values and their own community must have been tempted in some extreme cases to feel some sympathy for Hitler.




Insane?

But what about Hitler's insanity? There have been many proposed explanations of Hitler's influence and deeds but nearly all of the social scientific explanations very rapidly come up with the word "insanity" or one of its synonyms (e.g. Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson & Sanford, 1950). Attributing mental illness or mental disturbance to Hitler seems to be the only way that many people can deal with his malign legacy.

Proving a negative is of course notoriously difficult so proving that Hitler was NOT insane is something we can only do probabilistically. As perhaps some initial context however, consider this description of a German country gentleman of Hitler's day:

"There is nothing pretentious about his little estate. It is one that any merchant might possess in these lovely hills. All visitors are shown their host's model kennels, where he keeps magnificent Alsatians. Some of his pedigree pets are allowed the run of the house, especially on days when he gives a "Fun Fair" for the local children. He delights in the society of brilliant foreigners, especially painters, singers and musicians. As host he is a droll raconteur. Every morning at nine he goes out for a talk with his gardeners about their day's work. These men, like the chauffeur and air-pilot, are not so much servants as loyal friends. A life-long vegetarian at table, his kitchen plots are both varied and heavy with produce. Even in his meatless diet, he is something of a gourmet. He is his own decorator, designer and furnisher, as well as architect."

This apparently pleasant, artistic country gentleman was described in the 1938 edition of the British "Homes & Gardens" magazine -- which is now on the net here. It sounds about as good an opposite to the insane Hitler as one could get, does it not? In reality, of course, it is a description of Hitler himself. The story of how the article concerned came to be posted on the internet is here or here.



So we surely do need to look at the plausibility of the "insanity" claim. Do madmen achieve popular acclaim among their own people? Do madmen inspire their countrymen to epics of self-sacrifice? Do madmen leave a mark on history unlike any other? Until Hitler came along, the answers to all these questions would surely have been "no". And to claim that one of the 20th. century's greatest diplomatic tacticians was insane is implausible, to say the least. Had he stuck to diplomacy (he had already taken over two countries "without a shot being fired"), he would undoubtedly have died of old age amid near-universal acclaim from a much-enlarged Reich -- exactly as Bismarck did before him. But Bismarck was a conservative and Hitler was a Leftist -- and therein lay a crucial and tragic difference. See here.

And there have of course been many attempts to make serious psychiatric assessments of the mental health of the Nazi party leadership (e.g. Ritzler, 1978; Zillmer et al., 1989). There were several made immediately after the war. They all conclude that the Nazi leadership was overwhelmingly sane so perhaps it will suffice to excerpt a few comments about just one such study:


"Now the book the Florida State University professor fine-tuned - "The Nuremberg Interviews" - is being heralded for giving the world new insights into the chilling thoughts of Nazi leaders responsible for the Holocaust, the systematic extermination of more than 6 million Jews during World War II.... "There is this kind of inner logic behind the outer madness," Gellately said of the book's 33 interviews. "That's the horror of the thing." That's because, Gellately said, for the most part, these Nazi rulers were as normal as next-door neighbors. "I think we all have an idea about what makes the Nazis tick. Some of us think they were demonic or crazy ... Really, two people in the book are like that, but they are not the interesting ones," Gellately said. "Most of the other ones are like you and me. They are well-educated, rational, sensible." They pour out their thoughts to Dr. Leon Goldensohn, a U.S. Army psychiatrist, who kept detailed notes of his interviews with the war criminals and witnesses awaiting trial in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1946..... "They had a sense of duty, perverted, but they were rational, kind of cold, calculating killers," he said, "not this emotional, go-out-and-shoot-their-friend-in-the-woods kind of thing. You can't prove these were guys that actually hated the Jews or actually ever hit anyone".

(Source)
So is there an alternative explanation? Is there something other than mental illness that can explain Hitler's success? If there is we surely owe it to ourselves and to our children to find out. If by dismissing Hitlerism as madness we miss what really went on in Hitler's rise to power we surely run dreadful risks of allowing some sort of Nazi revival. The often extreme expressions of nationalism to be heard from Russia today surely warn us that a Fascist upsurge in a major European State is no mere bogeyman. What we fail to understand we may be unable to prevent. All possible explanations for the Nazi phenomenon do surely therefore demand our attention. It is the purpose of the present paper, therefore, to explain the rise and power of Hitler's Nazism in a way that does not take the seductive route of invoking insanity.



So how did Hitler gain so much influence?


I will submit the radically simple thesis that Hitler's appeal to Germans was much as the name of his political party would suggest -- a heady brew of rather extreme Leftism (socialism) combined with equally extreme nationalism -- with Hitler's obsession with the Jews being a relatively minor aspect of Nazism's popular appeal, as Dietrich (1988) shows. There were nationalist Leftists long before Hitler (Napoleon Bonaparte for one) -- as Karlheinz Weissmann shows at length here (PDF) but the usual "all men are equal" dogma of the Left and their Marxist belief in the all-important role of social class usually inhibited 20th century Leftists from being really keen nationalists. Hitler felt no such inhibitions.

And in that he had available the very influential model of the American "Progressives". They much preceded Hitler -- beginning in the late 19th century -- but their influence was evident in the thinking and policies of three very notable Presidents -- the two Roosevelts and Woodrow Wilson. They too were on the nationalist and racialist side of Leftist thinking (see here) and the almost complete dominance of "Progressive" thinking in American political life of the prewar era cannot have been lost on Hitler. What Hitler added was not so much new thinking or new policies as his characteristic passion. He added passion and an ability to communicate with the average man to what had up until then been a largely intellectual doctrine. So his "Ein Volk" dogma in effect very cleverly substituted the usual leftist dogma with "All GERMANS are equal" -- and also, of course, superior to non-Germans.

And Hitler's nationalism did have the very great appeal of being at least apparently heartfelt. Right from the earliest chapters of Mein Kampf Hitler's love of his German nation (Volk) stands out. And that his constantly expressed love of his people and belief in their greatness should have earned him their love and belief in return is supremely unsurprising. A book recently released in Germany does make some allusion to that. Excerpt from a review of it:

"A well-respected German historian has a radical new theory to explain a nagging question: Why did average Germans so heartily support the Nazis and Third Reich? Hitler, says Goetz Aly, was a "feel good dictator," a leader who not only made Germans feel important, but also made sure they were well cared-for by the state. To do so, he gave them huge tax breaks and introduced social benefits that even today anchor the society. He also ensured that even in the last days of the war not a single German went hungry. Despite near-constant warfare, never once during his 12 years in power did Hitler raise taxes for working class people. He also -- in great contrast to World War I -- particularly pampered soldiers and their families, offering them more than double the salaries and benefits that American and British families received. As such, most Germans saw Nazism as a "warm-hearted" protector, says Aly, author of the new book "Hitler's People's State: Robbery, Racial War and National Socialism" and currently a guest lecturer at the University of Frankfurt"
There is a useful review of the English-language version of the book here (or here) -- a review which correctly makes the point that the loyalty of Germans to Hitler cannot have been primarily economic. Hitler's socialist provisions for ordinary Germans were important but primarily functioned as evidence to them of how much Hitler cared for his Volk. It was primarily emotional satisfaction that Hitler gave to Germans.

I will say more about Hitler's love of his people in connection with my discussion of his antisemitism below but the excitement and involvement that he generated among large numbers of Germans can only really be appreciated by listening to his speeches at rallies. See an example below:



(Notes: The translation given generally translates "Volk" as "nation" but that of course loses much of the emotional impact. Note also how the "Horst Wessel Lied" provided a joyous recessional at the end of the rally)

I imagine that even listeners who understand no German would get some idea of the tremendous feeling of excitement that he generated among his hearers. The language of music is universal however so some feel for the era might perhaps also be gained by listening to this. It is a recording of Hitler's personal "Badenweiler" march and appears to be taken from the soundtrack of a 1930s film of a party rally. The Badenweiler would normally be played as Hitler made one of his grand entrances to a rally. Note particularly the crowd sounds in the background. Hitler may not have been much of an artist with paints but he was certainly one of the greatest political artists of all time -- dubious accolade as that is. He is already the most remembered personality of the 20th century and seems destined to remain so. What that says about humanity, I will leave to readers to fill out.


{Parenthetically: It is odd in fact how little the "love" feature of Hitler's appeal is noted. There seems almost to be a universal embarrassment about discussing such a thing. And the embarrassment (or is it fear?) is not confined to discussions of Hitler. Napoleon too created the impression that he had a love-affair with the French (though in his early life he despised them!) and that love was returned in full measure too -- and in fact still is! And two other socialistic and dictatorial glorifiers of their own people who managed NOT to come out on the wrong side of World War II -- Pilsudski in Poland and Peron in Argentina -- remain much beloved in their respective countries to this day too.

And a similar message in more recent times from the ex-communist dictator Slobodan Milosevic to the Serbian people secured him great popularity with them too -- a popularity that was only partly damaged by the rain of American bombs that he brought upon his country.

And who can forget the power of the love affair that Ronald Reagan had with the American people (a small example of Reagan's attitude is here) -- a love affair that enabled him to jolt not only the entire American political scene sharply rightwards but in fact jolted the entire world rightwards!

And, going back further in time, the rather extraordinary influence of Disraeli may be noted. He may fairly be said to have transformed English Conservatism and his death was greeted with great expressions of loss nationwide. He too was unstinting in his expressions of admiration for England and Englishness and was famous for the trust he reposed in ordinary English people. And he did so while not for a moment backing down from his pride in his own Hebrew origins! Love between the leader and the led seems to be the great unmentionable of politics generally. Perhaps its power is too frightening for most people even to think about.}


To return to Hitler: Note also that, horrible and massive though the Nazi crimes were, they were anything but unique. For a start, government by tyranny is, if anything, normal in human history. And both antisemitism and eugenic theories were normal in prewar Europe. Further back in history, even Martin Luther wrote a most vicious and well-known attack on the Jews. And Nazi theories of German racial superiority differed from then-customary British beliefs in British racial superiority mainly in that the British views were implemented with typical conservative moderation whereas the Nazi views were implemented with typical Leftist fanaticism and brutality (cf. Stalin and Pol Pot). And the Nazi and Russian pogroms differed mainly in typically greater German thoroughness and efficiency. And waging vicious wars and slaughtering people "en masse" because of their supposed group identity have been regrettably common phenomena both before and after Hitler (e.g. Stalin's massacres of Kulaks and Ukrainians, the unspeakable Pol Pot's massacres of all educated Cambodians, Peru's "Shining Path", the Nepalese Marxists, the Tamil Tigers and the universal Communist mass executions of "class-enemies"). Both Stalin and Mao Tse Tung are usually "credited" with murdering far more "class enemies" than Hitler executed Jews.

And another aspect of Hitler's "normality" is that, as he came closer to power, he did reject the outright nationalization of industry as too Marxist. As long as the State could enforce its policies on industry, Hitler considered it wisest to leave the nominal ownership and day to day running of industry in the hands of those who had already shown themselves as capable of running and controlling it. This policy is broadly similar to the once much acclaimed Swedish model of socialism in more recent times so it is amusing that it has often been this policy which has underpinned the common claim that Hitler was Rightist. What is Leftist in Sweden was apparently Rightist in Hitler! There are of course many differences between postwar Sweden and Hitler's Germany but the point remains that Hitler's perfectly reasonable skepticism about the virtues of nationalizing all industry is far from sufficient to disqualify him as a Leftist.

Hitler also did not frighten off Christians the way Communists always have. The aggressive atheism of Communism is very foolish if you have a large Christian element in your population -- and Hitler was not that foolish. There are a number of notable statements generally quoted in which he paid lip-service to Christianity and his concordat with the Pope is of course well-known. Like Communism, Nazism was really a rival religion to Christianity so any real reconciliation between the two was not ultimately possible but much interim advantage could be gained by temporizing and compromise. And the influence of Hegel was useful in that regard too -- as Hegel believed in a guiding spirit behind history. Marx and Engels largely subtracted this spiritual element from Hegel but Hitler did not and the following statement by Hitler is in fact pure Hegelianism while at the same time sounding enough like orthodox Christianity to be thoroughly comforting to Christians:

"In five years we have transformed a people who were humiliated and powerless because of their internal disruption and uncertainty, into a national body, politically united, and imbued with the strongest self-confidence and proud assurance. If Providence had not guided us I would often have never found these dizzy paths. Thus it is that we National Socialists have in the depths of our hearts our faith. No man can fashion world history or the history of peoples unless upon his purpose and his powers there rests the blessing of this Providence."

For more on the Hegelian background to Hitler's thinking, see here. It seems clear that Hitler did believe in God but any claim that he was himself in any significant sense a Christian is of course absurd -- as anybody who has read Shirer in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (chapter headed "Triumph and Consolidation", subsection "The Persecution of the Christian Churches") will be well aware. For those who do want to explore that issue further, however, I have put together a short document here.



A democratic Leftist!


But Hitler was not a revolutionary Leftist. He fought many elections and finally came to power via basically democratic means.

It is true that both Hitler and Mussolini received financial and other support from big businessmen and other "establishment" figures but this is simply a reflection of how radicalized Germany and Italy were at that time. Hitler and Mussolini were correctly perceived as a less hostile alternative (a sort of vaccine) to the Communists.

And what was that about election campaigns? Yes, Hitler did start out as a half-hearted revolutionary (the Munich Putsch) but after his resultant incarceration was able enough and flexible enough to turn to basically democratic methods of gaining power. He was thenceforth the major force in his party insisting on legality for its actions and did eventually gain power via the ballot box rather than by way of violent revolution. It is true that the last election (as distinct from referenda) he faced (on May 3rd, 1933) gave him a plurality (44% of the popular vote) rather than a majority but that is normal in any electoral contest where there are more than two candidates. Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher never gained a majority of the popular vote either. After the May 1933 elections, Hitler was joined in a coalition government by Hugenburg's Nationalist party (who had won 8% of the vote) to give a better majority (52%) than many modern democratic governments enjoy. On March 24th, 1933 the Reichstag passed an "Enabling Act" giving full power to Hitler for four years (later extended by referendum). The Centre Party voted with the Nazi-led coalition government. Thus Hitler's accession to absolute power was quite democratically achieved. Even Hitler's subsequent banning of the Communist party and his control of the media at election time have precedents in democratic politics.

Even the torturous backroom negotiations that led to Hitler's initial appointment as Kanzler (Chancellor, Prime Minister) by President Hindenburg on January 30th, 1933 hardly delegitimize that appointment or make it less democratic. Shirer (1964) and others describe this appointment as being the outcome of a "shabby political deal" but that would seem disingenuous. The fact is that Hitler was the leader of the largest party in the Reichstag and torturous backroom negotiations about alliances and deals generally are surely well-known to most practitioners of democratic politics. One might in fact say that success at such backroom negotiations is almost a prerequisite for power in a democratic system -- particularly, perhaps, under the normal European electoral system of proportional representation. It might in fact not be too cynical to venture the comment that "shabby political deals" have been rife in democracy at least since the time of Thucydides. Some practitioners of them might even claim that they are what allows democracy to work at all.

The fact that Hitler appealed to the German voter as basically a rather extreme social democrat is also shown by the fact that the German Social Democrats (orthodox democratic Leftists who controlled the unions as well as a large Reichstag deputation) at all times refused appeals from the German Communist party for co-operation against the Nazis. They evidently felt more affinity with Hitler than with the Communists. Hitler's eventual setting up of a one-party State and his adoption of a "four year plan", however, showed who had most affinity with the Communists. Hitler was more extreme than the Social Democrats foresaw.

The only heartfelt belief that Hitler himself ever had would appear to have been his antisemitism but his primary public appeal was nonetheless always directed to "the masses" and their interests and his methods were only less Bolshevik than those of the Bolsheviks themselves.



Hitler's Post-election Manoeuvres


It is true that Hitler proceeded to entrench himself in power in all sorts of ways once he came to rule but reluctance to relinquish power once it is gained is not uncharacteristic of the far Left in a democracy. In the early '70's, for instance, Australia had a government of a very Leftist character (the Whitlam government) that tried to continue governing against all constitutional precedent when refused money by Parliament. Because Australia is a monarchy with important powers vested in the vice-regal office, however, the government could be and was dismissed and a constitutional crisis thus avoided. It may also be noted that the Whitlam government presided over a considerable upsurge of Australian nationalism. It was literally a national socialist government. Unlike Hitler, however, it was very anti-militaristic (particularly in the light of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam fiasco) and did not persecute its political opponents. Australia has, after all, inherited from its largely British forebears very strong traditions of civil liberty.

Among other far-Left democratic governments that have been known to cling to power with dubious public support the government of Malta by Mintoff and Mifsud-Bonnici springs to mind. On a broader scale, the use of gerrymanders by democratic governments of all sorts also tends to entrench power. Democratically-elected governments are not always great respecters of democracy. The post-war Liberal Democratic (conservative) government of Japan never had a majority of the popular vote and ruled for over 30 years only by virtue of a gerrymander. Yet it has generally been regarded as democratic. None of this is said with any intention of excusing Hitler or drawing exact parallels with him. The aim is rather to show roughly in what sort of company he belongs as far as his attitude to democracy is concerned. In other words, like many democratic politicians he was a reluctant democrat (surely more reluctant than most) but his coming to power by democratic means still cannot be ignored. It meant that he had to be fairly popular and this affected the sort of person he could be and the policies he could advocate. As sincerity in a politician is hard to feign successfully, for maximum effectiveness (and Hitler was a very effective leader) he more or less had to be the sort of person who had a genuine feeling for his own people and who thus would not want to make war on large sections of them (unlike Stalin, Pol Pot and Li Peng of Tien Anmen Square fame). This meant that the great hostility which seems to be characteristic of the extreme Leftist had to have another outlet. Hitler was simply being an ordinary European of his times in finding the outlet he did: The Jews.



Hitler's Socialist Deeds


When in power Hitler also implemented a quite socialist programme. Like F.D. Roosevelt, he provided employment by a much expanded programme of public works (including roadworks) and his Kraft durch Freude ("power through joy") movement was notable for such benefits as providing workers with subsidized holidays at a standard that only the rich could formerly afford. And while Hitler did not nationalize all industry, there was extensive compulsory reorganization of it and tight party control over it. It might be noted that even in the post-war Communist bloc there was never total nationalization of industry. In fact, in Poland, most agriculture always remained in private hands.

For more details of how socialist the German economy was under the Nazis, see Reisman. Excerpt:

"What Mises identified was that private ownership of the means of production existed in name only under the Nazis and that the actual substance of ownership of the means of production resided in the German government. For it was the German government and not the nominal private owners that exercised all of the substantive powers of ownership: it, not the nominal private owners, decided what was to be produced, in what quantity, by what methods, and to whom it was to be distributed, as well as what prices would be charged and what wages would be paid, and what dividends or other income the nominal private owners would be permitted to receive. The position of the alleged private owners, Mises showed, was reduced essentially to that of government pensioners.



The Conservatives and Hitler


And what about the conservatives of Hitler's day? Both in Germany and Britain he despised them and they despised him. Far from being an ally of Hitler or in any way sympathetic to him, Hitler's most unrelenting foe was the arch-Conservative British politician, Winston Churchill and it was a British Conservative Prime Minister (Neville Chamberlain) who eventually declared war on Hitler's Germany. Hitler found a willing ally in the Communist Stalin as long as he wanted it but at no point could he wring even neutrality out of Churchill. Not that Churchill was a saint. In 1939 Churchill exulted over the Finns "tearing the guts out of the Red Army" but, despite that, he later allied himself with Stalin. Like Mussolini, he was something of a pragmatist and saw Hitler as the biggest threat. Churchill therefore, despite his opposition to all socialist dictators, retreated eventually to the old wisdom that, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". His basic loathing for both Hitler's and Stalin's forms of socialism is, however very much a matter of record.

Parenthetically, it should perhaps be noted that the lessons of history are seldom simple. The fact that the British Prime Minister who actually declared war on Hitler was a (mildly) anti-Semitic English jingoist -- Neville Chamberlain -- is something of an irony. Churchill was soon called upon to replace Chamberlain at least in part because Churchill's opposition to Hitler was seen as more heartfelt and consistent.

In keeping with the fundamental opposition between Churchill's English conservatism (Rightism) and any form of socialism, it might also be noted that German monarchists were among Hitler's victims on "the night of the long knives".

Nor is Hitler's going to war uncharacteristic of a social democrat (democratic Leftist). Who got the U.S.A. involved in Vietnam? J.F. Kennedy and L.B. Johnson. And who got the troops out? Richard Nixon. I am not, of course, comparing the Vietnam involvement with Hitler's Blitzkrieg. Kennedy and Johnson were, after all, only mildly Leftist whereas Hitler was extremely Leftist. All I am pointing out is that there is nothing in social democratic politics that automatically precludes military adventurism.



Nationalism


Perhaps the only thing that does at first sight support the characterization of Hitler as a Rightist is his nationalism. As already noted at considerable length above, there were plenty of Leftist nationalists before Hitler (including Friedrich Engels) but there generally does seem to be a psychological association between political Conservatism and nationalism/patriotism (Ray & Furnham, 1984). This presumably flows from the fact that Leftists generally seem attached to their well-known doctrine that, in some unfathomable way, "all men are equal". They seem to need this philosophically dubious doctrine to give some intellectual justification for socialist (levelling) policies. If all men are equal, however, then it surely follows that all groups of men/women are equal too. Leftism and nationalism have therefore some philosophical inconsistency and a wholly consistent Leftist would -- like Trotsky -- have to deny nationalism. Thus only the conservatives are normally left to promote and defend nationalism with any vigour. Since nationalism is just another form of group loyalty, however, and group-loyalty seems to be a major and virtually universal wellspring of human motivation (Brown, 1986; Ardrey, 1961), this normally leaves conservatives in principal charge of some very powerful emotional ammunition. In wartime, as we have seen, even Leftists can become patriotic but mostly they are at least half-hearted about it (though Hitler's predecessors on the American Left were far from half-hearted about it).

The great difference between Hitler's nationalism and Anglo-Saxon nationalism was, of course, that Hitler was much more aggressive. The American Progressives were satisfied with the conquest of Cuba, the Philippines and central Panama while the British empire was a slow accretion over several centuries. Hitler, by contrast, wanted it all and he wanted it fast. Why?

There are many answers to that but a major one is the fact that Hitler's Germany was in a very different geopolitical position to that of the Anglo-Saxon countries -- who were all nicely insulated by their sea barriers from invasion. Germany had both the vast and brooding menace of Soviet Russia on one doorstep and the old hostility of a militarily powerful France on another. That Hitler tried to break out of that situation in one fell swoop was simply another instance of his passionate character and his habit of taking big gambles -- gambles which had in the past usually paid off. And one hardly needs to mention the desire for vengeance generated by the World War I defeat and its aftermath. And Hitler's proto-Greenie ideas about Germany's need for Lebensraum have already been alluded to.



Hitler's Magic Mix


Nationalism can be a powerfully motivating force but Shoeck (1966) has shown at some length that envy is also a very basic, powerful and pervasive human emotion -- and levelling policies such socialism will always therefore have great appeal too -- regardless of any spurious intellectual gloss that may or may not be put on them (such as the gloss provided by the "all men are equal" doctrine). Hitler was one of those who felt no need for any great intellectual gloss. The raw emotional appeal of socialism was the principal thing for him.

This emotional rather than intellectual orientation also meant that he felt no need to deny nationalism. He could be as nationalist as he liked. And he did like! He in fact had the brilliant idea of using nationalism to justify socialism: Germans deserved to be looked after, not because of their innate equality with everybody else but because of their glorious Germanness. This was extremely clever and hard to resist. As noted above, nationalism is a heady and universally appealing brew. Thus Hitler's socialism had a double dose (socialism plus nationalism) of emotional appeal that enabled him, despite his extremity, to come to power by way of a popular vote whereas Communism normally has to rely on bloody revolution and forcible seizure of power. Hitler's brand of socialism was, then, a cleverer one than most: It had something for everybody. He stole the emotional clothes of both the Left and the Right. With the Nazis you could be both a socialist and a full-blooded nationalist. Hitler was thus simply the most effective figure in showing that socialism and nationalism, far from being intrinsically opposed, could be very successfully integrated into an electorally appealing whole. With the additional aid of Goebbels' brilliant showmanship, the Nazis simply had it all when it came to popular appeals to the emotions. So Nazism was emotional rather than insane.

In summary, Hitler saw from the outset (Bullock, 1964) that a combination of socialist and whole-hearted nationalist appeals could be emotionally successful among the masses, no matter what he personally believed. If the basic message of the Left was "We will look after you" and the message of the Right was "We are the greatest", then Hitler saw no reason why he could not offer both nostrums for sale. He did not trouble either himself or the masses with details of how such offers could be delivered.



Nationalism as an Exciting Novelty


Something that seems generally to be overlooked is that the three countries with the most notable "Fascist" (national socialist) movements in the early 20th century (Germany, Italy and Spain) were all countries with fragile national unity. Germany and Italy had become unified countries only in the late 19th century and Spain, of course, is only nominally unified to this day -- with semi-autonomous governments in Catalonia and the Basque country. Right up until the end of the Prussian hegemony in 1918, Germans saw themselves primarily as Saxons, Bavarians, Prussians etc rather than as Germans and the contempt for Southern Italians among Northern Italians is of course legendary.

So the fierce nationalism of the Fascists (though Franco held himself above the Spanish Falange to some extent) appears to have been at least in part the zeal of the convert. Nationalism was something new and exciting and was a gratification to be explored vigorously. And the Fascists/Nazis undoubtedly exploited it to the hilt. The romance of the new nation was an important asset for them.

So if we regard the creation of large nation states as a good thing (a fairly dubious proposition) the small silver lining that we can see in the dark cloud of Fascism is that they do seem to have had some success in creating a sense of nationhood. A German identity, in particular, would seem to be the creation of Hitler. There was certainly not much of the sort before him.

There are of course differences between the three countries but, in all three, an acceptance of their nation-state now seems to be well-entrenched. This acceptance seems to be strongest in Germany -- probably in part because modern Germany is a Federal Republic with substantial power devolved to the old regions (Laender) so that local loyalties are also acknowledged. Spain has moved only partly in the direction of federalism and there is of course a strong political movement in Northern Italy for reform in that direction also.

It is perhaps worth noting that it took a ferocious war (the civil war) to create an American sense of nationhood too.



Nazi Music


This is a difficult subject to broach because musical tastes differ so much from person to person. While there is some music that has near-universal appeal (some of the arias from "Carmen", for instance), it also seems to be true that no two persons have exactly the same musical preferences and that must obviously influence how Nazi music is perceived and evaluated.

It is also a field that is bound up with emotion so it is both difficult and dangerous to attempt the sort of objective comments that should characterize any discussion of history. I think however that we need to take a stab at it. And I submit that it is a grave omission to neglect music as an element in the historical appeal of Nazism to Germans. Wherever they marched, Nazi formations sang -- be they Hitler Youth, brownshirts or the armed forces. And being German, their music was very good. Germany is the home of good music. German-speaking people are responsible for something like two thirds of the classical repertoire -- from Bach and Handel to Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Wagner, Schumann etc.

As a libertarian, any form of Fascism is anathema to me but I think it was William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army) who noted that the Devil had all the good songs. And the Nazis, just because they were German DID have many good songs. There were many Fascist movements worldwide in the first half of the 20th century but none of them were remotely as musical as the Nazis.

So good music had great power to move a musical people and it seems clear to me that music was one of the things that made Germans march for Hitler. Music is however a form of communication that transcends time and space so it seems to me that there is one way that I can support my contention about the importance of music to the appeal of Nazism: I can actually play you some of the music and you can judge it for yourself. I start with the Badenweiler march. This is actually a First World War march but Hitler made it his own. It was normally played only in his presence. It announced his arrival at rallies etc.



The famous song of the S.A. (Brownshirts) was of course the Horst Wessel Lied. It refers to prewar street fighting with the "Reds". There is no rivalry like sibling rivalry, though after Hitler came to power, many of the Reds simply joined the Nazis.



The English translation is a poor thing but I give it below for those who understand no German.

The flag high! The ranks tightly closed!
SA march with calm, firm steps.
Comrades shot by the Red Front and reactionaries
March in spirit in our ranks.
Clear the streets for the brown battalions,
Clear the streets for the stormtroopers!
Already millions look with hope to the swastika
The day of freedom and bread is dawning!
Roll call has sounded for the last time
We are all already prepared for the fight!
Soon Hitler's flag will fly over all streets.
Our servitude will soon end!
The flag high! The ranks tightly closed!
SA marches with a calm, firm pace.
Comrades shot by the Red Front and reactionaries
March in spirit in our ranks.

The original is much more moving:

Die Fahne hoch! Die Reihen fest geschlossen!
SA marschiert mit ruhig, festem Schritt.
Kam'raden, die Rotfront und Reaktion erschossen,
Marschier'n im Geist in unser'n Reihen mit.
Die Strasse frei den braunen Batallionen.
Die Strasse frei dem Sturmabteilungsmann!
Es schau'n aufs Hakenkreuz voll Hoffnung schon Millionen.
Der Tag fuer Freiheit und fuer Brot bricht an!
Zum letzten Mal wird schon Appell geblasen!
Zum Kampfe steh'n wir alle schon bereit!
Bald flattern Hitlerfahnen ueber alle Strassen.
Die Knechtschaft dauert nur mehr kurze Zeit!
Die Fahne hoch! Die Reihen fest geschlossen!
SA marschiert mit ruhig-festem Schritt.
Kameraden, die Rotfront und Reaktion erschossen,
Marschieren im Geist in unseren Reihen mit.

Then there is Vorwaerts, Vorwaerts -- the terminally inspirational song of the Hitler Youth. It absolutely EXUDES dedication and heroism. The power of it may perhaps be judged from the fact that it is still illegal to play or sing it in Germany today. The words are actually quite simple and that may be the reason why some commenters describe them as banal -- but those who sang it certainly did not see it that way. They lived it during the closing stages of the war -- displaying great heroism in defending their country. The idealism is probably one of the reasons why those survivors of the Hitler Youth who are still alive today often have warm memories of their time in the Hitler Youth.



I could not find a translation online so I have done a fairly literal translation along with the original words followed by a "singable" (sort of) translation. I have been translating German poetry into English poetry since I was 15 so it was an interesting challenge. I cannot imagine that anybody these days would want to sing it but putting words to the music gives the best idea of the original impact. Refrain and first verse only in the video above.

Refrain:

Uns're Fahne flattert uns voran. Our flag flutters before us
In die Zukunft ziehen wir Mann fuer Mann We trek into the future as man for man
Wir marschieren fuer Hitler We march for Hitler
Durch Nacht und durch Not Through night and hardship
Mit der Fahne der Jugend With the flag of youth
Fuer Freiheit und Brot. For freedom and bread
Uns're Fahne flattert uns voran, Our flag flutters before us
Uns're Fahne ist die neue Zeit. Our flag is the new time
Und die Fahne fuehrt uns in die Ewigkeit! And the flag leads us into eternity
Ja die Fahne ist mehr als der Tod! Yes the flag is more to us than death

1).
Vorwaerts! Vorwaerts! Forwards, forwards
Schmettern die hellen Fanfaren, Blare the bright fanfares
Vorwaerts! Vorwaerts! Forwards, forwards
Jugend kennt keine Gefahren. Youth knows no danger
Deutschland, du wirst leuchtend stehn Germany, you will brightly stand
Moegen wir auch untergehn. We also wish to go with you
Vorwaerts! Vorwaerts! Forwards, forwards
Schmettern die hellen Fanfaren, Blare the bright fanfares
Vorwaerts! Vorwaerts! Forwards, forwards
Jugend kennt keine Gefahren. Youth knows no danger
Ist das Ziel auch noch so hoch, No matter how high the goal
Jugend zwingt es doch. Youth will force it through

2.) Jugend! Jugend! Youth, Youth
Wir sind der Zukunft Soldaten. We are the soldiers of the future
Jugend! Jugend! Youth, Youth
Traeger der kommenden Taten. Bearers of coming deeds
Ja, durch unsre Faeuste faellt Yes, through our fists fall
Wer sich uns entgegenstellt Anyone who opposes us
Jugend! Jugend! Youth, Youth
Wir sind der Zukunft Soldaten. We are the soldiers of the future
Jugend! Jugend! Youth, Youth
Traeger der kommenden Taten. Bearers of coming deeds
Fuehrer, wir gehoeren dir, Leader, we belong to you
Wir Kameraden, dir! We are your comrades



"Singable" version

Our flag flutters up above
In the future we will be men too
We march just for Hitler
Through night and through woe
With the flag of youth
For freedom and for bread
Our flag flutters up above
Our flag is the newest time
And the flag leads us to eternity
Yes the flag is more to us than death

Forwards, forwards
Blare the trumpet fanfares
Forwards, forwards
Youth knows not any danger
Germ'ny, you will brightly stand
We will also go with you
Forwards, forwards
Blare the trumpet fanfares
Forwards, forwards
Youth knows not any danger
No matter if the goal is high
Youth will force it through

Young ones, young ones
We are the future soldiers
Young ones, young ones
You will get to know us
Yes, by our hard fists will fall
All those who oppose us all
Young ones, young ones
We are the future soldiers
Young ones, young ones
You will get to know us
Leader, we belong to you
We are all your loyal ones



There is of course much more but the above will hopefully give you the idea. My apologies to any Jewish readers who may be offended by this subsection but Wagner is performed in Israel these days so I think the time has come when music can be judged as music, regardless of its appalling associations.

And Hitler himself loved his music. The photo below shows him in white tie and tails attending the Wagner opera festival at Bayreuth in 1939. There is no doubt of his real devotion to opera -- and indeed to classical music generally.





Nazism "Bourgeois"?

Perhaps I should at this stage comment very briefly about the usual Marxist claim that Nazism and Fascism were overwhelmingly "bourgeois" (middle-class) and lacked appeal to the working-class. This is a major stratagem that Leftists use to deny that Nazism and Fascism were in fact "socialist".

I have always found this claim amusing. As Heiden (1939) and others point out at length, Hitler was a hobo until 1914 so how does a hobo get to lead a middle-class movement? And both Roberts (1938) and Heiden (1939) -- prewar anti-Nazi writers -- portray Hitler as widely revered and popular among the Germans of their day. As Heiden (1939, p. 98) put it: "The great masses of the people did not merely put up with National Socialism. They welcomed it".

And few people would know more about the Nazi era than Elie Wiesel. He has noted:
"The fact is that Hitler was beloved by his people - not the military, at least not in the beginning, but by the average Germans who pledged to him an affection, a tenderness and a fidelity that bordered on the irrational. It was idolatry on a national scale. One had to see the crowds who acclaimed him. And the women who were attracted to him. And the young who in his presence went into ecstasy.
And Madden (1987) presents modern-day scholarly evidence derived from archival research to show that Nazis came from all social classes in large numbers. Perhaps most useful is the work of Fischer (1978), who looked at the class composition of the most active and committed Nazi group -- the members of the Sturm Abteilung (S.A., Stormtroopers, Brownshirts). He found that "the workers are over-represented in the S.A." (p. 140). In fact, in the 1933-1934 period, 69.9% of the S.A. were working class compared to 53.2% in the overall German population of that time. The Marxist claim is, then, utter nonsense and, as usual, the opposite of the truth. Mussolini, too, found supporters and adversaries in all social classes (De Felice, 1977, p. 176). And particularly in the early years of Fascism, Mussolini often attacked the bourgeoisie in his speeches!

It is in fact Communist movements that always have bourgeois leaders and mostly bourgeois supporters. The workers usually vote for more moderate Leftists. So once again we see Leftists projecting onto others things that are really true of themselves.

I look at the "class" origins of both German Nazism and Italian Fascism more fully here



Stalin as a National Socialist


As has been mentioned already, Hitler's strategy for popularity was not lost on Stalin. Quite soon after Hitler invaded Russia, Stalin reopened the Russian Orthodox churches and restored the old ranks and orders of the Russian Imperial army to the Red Army so that it became simply the Russian Army and stressed nationalist themes (e.g. defence of "Mother Russia") in his internal propaganda. As one result of this, to this day Russians refer to the Second World War as "the great patriotic war". Stalin may have started out as an international socialist but he ended up a national socialist. So Hitler was a Rightist only in the sense that Stalin was. If Stalin was Right-wing, however, black might as well be white.

It has already been mentioned that in Australia too, socialism and a degree of nationalism have been found to be quite compatible.



Ho Chi Minh as a National Socialist


Stalin showed that National Socialism could be used effectively against another National Socialist but it took Ho Chi Minh's regime and its Southern extension to demonstrate that National Socialism could even defeat the Great Republic (the United States). That Ho Chi Minh was a socialist is hardly now disputable and it is also clear that he had Vietnamese nationalism working for him in his fight against the American interventionists. Their foreignness made this easy to do. Note that the Viet Cong were formally known as the National Liberation Front. Their primary ostensible appeal was in fact national, though their socialism was of course never seriously in doubt. So the nationalism of Ho Chi Minh's regime gave it widespread support or at least co-operation in the South as well as in the North. Ho thus stole the emotional clothes of the conservatives as effectively as Hitler did and the magic mix of nationalism and socialism was once again shown to be capable of generating enormous military effectiveness against apparently forbidding odds. So the simple explanation that works to explain Hitler's amazing challenge to the world also works to explain the equally amazing defeat of the world's mightiest military power by an relatively insignificant Third World nation. A National Socialist regime has such a strong emotional appeal that it galvanizes its subject population to Herculean efforts in a way that few other (if any) regimes can. It sounds about as crazy as you get to claim that it was Nazism that defeated the U.S. in Vietnam but this once again shows how Nazism has been misunderstood and consequently underrated.



Is Racism Rightist?


If nationalism is no proof of Rightism, what about racism? At least initially, racism and nationalism seem essentially undistinguishable so does not Hitler's racism make him Rightist? Hardly. The post-war exodus of Jews from the Soviet Union and the tales of persecution that they brought with them are surely proof enough of that. Or was the Soviet Union Rightist too? There is an association between conservatism and racism in modern-day America but Sniderman, Brody & Kuklinski (1984) have shown that this is confined to the well-educated. Among Americans with only a basic education, the association is not to be found. Similarly, general population surveys in Australia and England find no association between the two variables (Ray & Furnham, 1984; Ray, 1984). Any association between racism and Rightism is, then, clearly contingent on circumstances and is not therefore of definitional significance.

Finally, it is clear that anti-Semitism was not a defining feature of Fascism. It was more a defining feature of Northern European culture. Both Mussolini in Italy and Mosley in Britain were Fascist leaders but neither was initially anti-Semitic. It is true that Mussolini was eventually pushed into largely unenforced antisemitic decrees by Hitler and it is true that Mosley was eventually pushed into doubts about Jews because of attacks on his meetings by Jewish Communists (Skidelsky, 1975 Ch. 20) but in the early 1930s Mosley actually expelled from his party Fascist speakers who made anti-Semitic remarks and one of the few places in Europe during the second world war where Jews were largely protected from persecution was in fact Fascist Italy (Herzer, 1989; Steinberg, 1990). Many Jews to this day owe their lives to Fascist Italians.



Distinguishing Hitler from Stalin


Hitler was, however, more Rightist than Stalin in the sense that, as a popular leader, he did not need to resort to extreme forms of oppressive control over his people (Unger, 1965). German primary and secondary industry did not need to be nationalized because they largely did Hitler's bidding willingly. State control was indeed exercised over German industry but it was done without formally altering its ownership and without substantially alienating or killing its professional managers.

The contempt that Hitler had for Stalin and for "Bolshevism" generally should also not mislead us in assessing the similarity between Nazism and Communism. Leftist sects are very prone to rivalry, dissension, schism and hatred of one-another. One has only to think of the Bolsheviks versus the Mensheviks, Stalin versus Trotsky, China versus the Soviet Union, China "teaching Vietnam a lesson", the Vietnamese suppression of the Khmer Rouge etc. Similarity does not preclude rivalry and in the end it was mainly competition for power that set Hitler and Stalin on a collision course.

Under Stalin's wartime innovations, the difference between Nazism and Communism became largely a difference of emphasis. Both Nazism and Communism were nationalistic and socialist but with Communism, socialism was the ideological focus and justification for State power whereas with Nazism, nationalism was the ideological focus and justification for State power.



There always remained, however, one essential difference between Nazi and Communist ideology: Their responses to social class. Stalin preached class war and glorified class consciousness whereas Hitler wanted to abolish social classes and root out class-consciousness. Both leaders, as socialists, saw class inequality as a problem but their solutions to it differed radically. The great Nazi slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer ("One People, one State, one leader") summed this up. Hitler wanted unity among Germans, not class antagonisms. He wanted loyalty to himself and to Germany as a whole, not loyalty to any class. Stalin wanted to unite the workers. Hitler wanted to unite ALL Germans. Stalin openly voiced his hatred of a large part of his own population; Hitler professed to love all Germans regardless of class (except for the Jews, of course). This was indeed a fundamental difference and substantially accounts both for Hitler's unwavering contempt for Bolshevism and his popularity among all classes of Germans.









Hitler's antisemitism and the Holocaust


But what about Hitler's policies towards the Jews? How do we explain those? Towards the beginning of this paper, I quoted Dietrich's (1988) conclusion that Hitler's antisemitism was only a minor part of his popular appeal to Germans. One reason for this view is the important but seldom stressed fact that there was nothing at all odd or unusual about a dislike of Jews almost anywhere in the world of the 1930s. Hitler was to a considerable degree simply voicing the conventional wisdom of his times and he was far from alone in doing so. The plain fact is that it was not just the Nazis who brought about the holocaust. To its shame, the whole world did. That part of the world under Hitler's control in general willingly assisted in rounding up Jews while the rest of the world refused to take Jewish refugees who tried to escape -- just as the world would later refuse many Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees and will in due course refuse to take other would-be refugees from other places. Racial affect is now recognized as universal in psychology textbooks (Brown, 1986) and Anti-Semitism is, sad to say, an old and widely popular European tradition. There seems to be considerable truth in the view that the Nazis just applied German thoroughness to it.

Nonetheless, Hitler was undoubtedly more than usually obsessed by the Jews. What made him so obsessed? What in particular made him BECOME antisemitic? Mein Kampf is unreliable as objective history but there can be little doubt that it is good psychological history -- i.e. it records Hitler's own history as he saw it. And what he says there is that in Linz -- where he grew up -- there were few Jews and he saw them at that time as no different from other Germans. So when he moved to Vienna he was horrified at the antisemitism of much of the Viennese press. As he says in Mein Kampf:

"For the Jew was still characterized for me by nothing but his religion, and therefore, on grounds of human tolerance, I maintained my rejection of religious attacks in this case as in others. Consequently, the tone, particularly that of the Viennese anti-Semitic press, seemed to me unworthy of the cultural tradition of a great nation".

That's a pretty odd beginning for the man who became history's biggest antisemite, is it not? So there must have been a powerful force to bring about such a radical change. And the force concerned was nothing other than the "love" relationship that I have noted above as existing between Hitler and most of the Germans under his rule. As any reader of Mein Kampf should be aware, the book is largely a love-song to the German people. And that most Germans eventually returned that love is rather vividly borne out by the way they stuck with Hitler to the bitter end -- long after it was at all reasonable to do so. Compare Germany 1945 with the unrest in Germany prior to the 1918 surrender, the collapse in resistance in Western Russia and Ukraine in the first year of the German invasion, the collapse of Dutch, Belgian, Danish, Norwegian, Czech and French resistance under German invasion or the collapse of Italian resistance under Allied invasion.

As already mentioned, both Roberts (1938) and Heiden (1939) -- prewar anti-Nazi writers -- portray Hitler as widely revered and popular among the Germans of their day. As Heiden (1939, p. 98) put it: "The great masses of the people did not merely put up with National Socialism. They welcomed it". And Madden (1987) presents modern-day scholarly evidence derived from archival research to show that Nazis came from all social classes in large numbers.

I am inclined to the view that Hitler's love for his fellow Germans was sincere but, whether or not that was so, there was one huge problem with it -- Germans at the start of Hitler's political career in pre-war Vienna and also immediately after World War I were at one-another's throats. The considerable discontent with the Habsburgs among the workers of pre-war Vienna was heavily influenced by revolutionary Marxist ideas and a civil war between the "Reds" and other Germans was a very lively possibility immediately after the war. How could you love a people who hated one-another? How could you love a people who were NOT one people in important senses? That was a major dilemma that Hitler had to solve. And we see from Mein Kampf how he solved it:

Although he was, like most German second-rate thinkers of his time, much influenced by the ideas of Marx and Engels, Hitler despised the destructive and divisive "class war" aspect of Marx's thinking and when he found that practically every preacher of Marxist class-war that he encountered in Vienna was a Jew, he began to see Jews as bent on the destruction of the German people he loved. So the great divisions that he saw among Germans both before and after the war could now be explained satisfactorily: They were the work of non-Germans -- Jews. It was Jews who were creating divisions among Germans by their preaching of class war. Germans were only divided because they were being deceived by outsiders. Jews were the scapegoat for German disunity just as they have been the scapegoat for many other problems throughout history. And it may be noted that Hitler describes his conversion to antisemitism as "a great spiritual upheaval" -- i.e. he abandoned his previous "cosmopolitan" (tolerant) views only with great reluctance. It was only his romantic love of his semi-imaginary German people (Volk) that brought about the big shift in his views.

But let Hitler speak for himself about his years in prewar Vienna (From Chap. 2 of Mein Kampf). First we read of his horror at the nihilism of the Austrian Social Democrats, at that time a heavily Marxist party but with some rather startling parallels to modern-day mainstream Leftism. Then we read what he found about the leading lights in that party. Key excerpts :
My first encounter with the Social Democrats occurred during my employment as a building worker. These men rejected everything: the nation as an invention of the 'capitalistic ' (how often was I forced to hear this single word!) classes; the fatherland as an instrument of the bourgeoisie for the exploitation of the working class; the authority of law as a means for oppressing the proletariat; the school as an institution for breeding slaves and slaveholders; religion as a means for stultifying the people and making them easier to exploit; morality as a symptom of stupid, sheeplike patience, etc. There was absolutely nothing which was not drawn through the mud of a terrifying depths

More than any theoretical literature, my daily reading of the Social Democratic press enabled me to study the inner nature of these thought-processes.

For what a difference between the glittering phrases about freedom, beauty, and dignity in the theoretical literature, the delusive welter of words seemingly expressing the most profound and laborious wisdom, the loathsome humanitarian morality- all this written with the incredible gall that comes with prophetic certainty-and the brutal daily press, shunning no villainy, employing every means of slander, lying with a virtuosity that would bend iron beams, all in the name of this gospel of a new humanity. The one is addressed to the simpletons of the middle, not to mention the upper, educated, 'classes,' the other to the masses.

The greater insight I gathered into the external character of Social Democracy, the greater became my longing to comprehend the inner core of this doctrine.

The official party literature was not much use for this purpose. In so far as it deals with economic questions, its assertions and proofs are false; in so far as it treats of political aims, it lies. Moreover, I was inwardly repelled by the newfangled pettifogging phraseology and the style in which it was written. With an enormous expenditure of words, unclear in content or incomprehensible as to meaning, they stammer an endless hodgepodge of phrases purportedly as witty as in reality they are meaningless. Only our decadent metropolitan bohemians can feel at home in this maze of reasoning and cull an 'inner experience' from this dung-heap of literary dadaism, supported by the proverbial modesty of a section of our people who always detect profound wisdom in what is most incomprehensible to them personally. However, by balancing the theoretical untruth and nonsense of this doctrine with the reality of the phenomenon, I gradually obtained a clear picture of its intrinsic will.

At such times I was overcome by gloomy foreboding and malignant fear. Then I saw before me a doctrine, comprised of egotism and hate, which can lead to victory pursuant to mathematical laws, but in so doing must put an end to humanity.

I gradually became aware that the Social Democratic press was directed predominantly by Jews; yet I did not attribute any special significance to this circumstance, since conditions were exactly the same in the other papers. Yet one fact seemed conspicuous: there was not one paper with Jews working on it which could have been regarded as truly national according to my education and way of thinking.

I swallowed my disgust and tried to read this type of Marxist press production, but my revulsion became so unlimited in so doing that I endeavored to become more closely acquainted with the men who manufactured these compendiums of knavery. From the publisher down, they were all Jews.

I took all the Social Democratic pamphlets I could lay hands on and sought the names of their authors: Jews. I noted the names of the leaders; by far the greatest part were likewise members of the 'chosen people,' whether they were representatives in the Reichsrat or trade-union secretaries, the heads of organizations or street agitators. It was always the same gruesome picture. The names of the Austerlitzes, Davids, Adlers, Ellenbogens, etc., will remain forever graven in my memory. One thing had grown dear to me: the party with whose petty representatives I had been carrying on the most violent struggle for months was, as to leadership, almost exclusively in the hands of a foreign people
And once the Marxist Jews of prewar Vienna had fired him up, Hitler began to see a malign influence of Jews everywhere, as later chapters of Mein Kampf reveal and as at least some historians document and as was common in Germany anyway. So it is no surprise that the following document (the Gemlich letter) was written by Hitler as early as 1919. It advocates the removal of Jews from Germany.



In a speech delivered at the Berlin Sportpalast shortly after being appointed Chancellor on February, 1st, 1933, Hitler summed up his thinking about his German Volk with his characteristic passion as follows:

"During fourteen years the German nation has been at the mercy of decadent elements which have abused its confidence. During fourteen years those elements have done nothing but destroy, disintegrate and dissolve. Hence it is neither temerity nor presumption if, appearing before the nation today, I ask: German nation, give us four years time, after which you can arraign us before your tribunal and you can judge me! ....

"I cannot rid myself of my faith in my people, nor lose the conviction that this people will resuscitate again one day. I cannot be severed from the love of a people that I know to be my own. And I nourish the conviction that the hour will come when millions of men who now curse us will take their stand behind us to welcome the new Reich, our common creation born of a painful and laborious struggle and an arduous triumph -- a Reich which is the symbol of greatness, honour, strength, honesty and justice."
His love of his German people and his belief that they had been misled are certainly eloquently proclaimed there -- and by that stage no-one doubted whom he saw as the "decadent elements".

Sadly, however, Hitler's anti-Jewish views actually made him unremarkable in the Germany of his day The general acquiescence in them needs no great explanation beyond a reference to the general attitudes of the times. As far as the average German knew, Hitler was just running (yawn) a Pogrom. The Russians did it all the time, didn't they? It was Hitler's national glorification and socialist policies that were really interesting and attractive.

The conventional account of the origins of Hitler's animosity towards Jews is that his rejection from the Vienna Art Academy (in which Jews were prominent) embittered him. But that is not remotely what he says in Mein Kampf. He does not even mention the word "Jew" in connection with the Academy. He says that the Rector rejected him from the painting school because his main talent and interest was in architecture -- a judgement with which Hitler emphatically agreed!

Finally, it might be noted that much of Hitler's rhetoric about the Jews was based on exactly the same assumption that Leftists to this day use in talking about racial matters. The affirmative action warriors of today are fanatical about proportional representation. They constantly claim that the proportion of (say) blacks in the general population should be reflected everywhere -- in every occupation and in every institution. If there is a smaller proportion of (say) blacks in banking than there is in the general population, this is taken as proof that there is discrimination against blacks in banking. Hitler used exactly the same argument about Jews. As they are in America today, Jews in prewar Germany were very much overrepresented in the top echelons of German society. So, in good Leftist fashion, Hitler took that as proof that good, ordinary Germans were being systematically excluded from such positions in society by malign Jewish machinations. If Hitler was illogical in such thinking, so are most Leftists today. And in fact complaints about Jewish over-representation in (say) top U.S. universities do rumble on at a low level among Leftists today. "The more things change, the more they stay the same".



Fascism & Mussolini


Hitler was not however original in being both a socialist and a nationalist. The first police State that was both Leftist and intensely nationalist was of course the French regime of Napoleon Bonaparte. (Even the personality cult surrounding Napoleon prefigured similar cults in the later Leftist tyrannies of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Kim Il Sung etc.) Bonaparte's regime was as short-lived (1802-1814 vs. 1933 - 1945) and as salutary a warning as Hitler's however, and it was not until the 20th century that such a concept again came prominently to the fore in the hands of the Italian dictator Mussolini. Mussolini came to power much before Hitler but was in fact even more Leftist than Hitler. Although generally regarded as the founder of Fascism, in his early years Mussolini was one of Italy's leading Marxist theoreticians. He was even an intimate of Lenin. He first received his well-known appellation of Il Duce ("the leader") while he was still a member of Italy's "Socialist" (Marxist) party and, although he had long been involved in democratic politics, he gained power by essentially revolutionary means (the march on Rome). Even after he had gained power, railing against "plutocrats" remained one of his favourite rhetorical ploys. He was, however, an instinctive Italian patriot and very early on added a nationalistic appeal to his message, thus being the first major far-Left figure to deliberately add the attraction of nationalism to the attraction of socialism. He was the first 20th century far-Leftist to learn the lesson that Hitler and Stalin after him used to such "good" effect.

It is true that, like Hitler, Mussolini allowed a continuation of capitalism in his country (though the addition of strict party controls over it in both Italy and Germany should be noted) but Mussolini justified this on Marxist grounds! He was, in fact, it could be argued, more of an orthodox Marxist than was Lenin. As with the Russian Mensheviks, it seemed clear to Mussolini that, on Marxist theory, a society had to go through a capitalist stage before the higher forms of socialism and communism could be aspired to. He believed that capitalism was needed to develop a country industrially and, as Italy was very underdeveloped in that regard, capitalism had to be tolerated. What some see as Rightism, therefore, was in fact to Mussolini orthodox Marxism. Mussolini held this view from the early years of this century and he therefore greeted with some glee the economic catastrophe that befell Russia when the Bolsheviks took over. He regarded the economic failure of Bolshevism as evidence for the correctness of orthodox Marxism.

Nor was Mussolini a socialist in name only. He also put socialist policies into action. Thanks to him, Fascist Italy had in the thirties what was arguably the most comprehensive welfare State in the world at that time (Gregor, 1979).

It could be said, in fact, that Italian Fascism was noticeably closer to Communism than Nazism was. This is not only because of the influence of Marxism on Mussolini's ideology but because Mussolini's nationalism was sentimental and nostalgic rather than the intellectual and ideological nationalism of Hitler. Thus it is primarily the degree of ideological focus on nationalism that distinguishes the three forms of authoritarian socialism: Nazism, Fascism and Communism.

For more on Mussolini and Italian Fascism see here

That Nazism and Fascism are commonly called Right-wing when in fact they were Right-wing only in relation to Bolshevik "Communism" does, then, tell us much about the dominant perspective of intellectuals in most of the 20th century.

As an historical summary, then, Nazism and Fascism had great appeal simply because they stole the emotional clothes of both the Left and the Right.



Nazism in Germany Today


Although there are neo-Nazi movements throughout the world today, the phenomenon would appear to be of greatest concern in the former East Germany. Almost as soon as Germany was re-unified we found there that apparently large numbers of young racist thugs were actively attacking immigrants in the name of "Germany for the Germans" and the Swastika became once more an insignia of terror for minorities. Yet were not these same young East Germans the product of a diligent Communist education? Surely they should have been the least likely to become Fascists? Why have they in fact become Hitler's most obvious heirs?

The facts pointed out in this paper make the phenomenon no mystery at all, however. A Communist education is an extreme socialist education and Nazism was extreme socialism too. All you need to do is to add the nationalist element and you have Nazism. And nationalist feeling seems to be virtually innate anyway so, rather than actively "add" it, all you have to do is permit it -- and modern Germany is a very permissive state.

In fact, even the old East German State was quite nationalist. In its always precarious struggle for legitimacy, it did much to present itself as the spiritual heir of old Prussia (which it largely was in a territorial sense). So socialist East Germany was also nationalist, though not aggressively so. It was low-key Nazi! So it turns out that the deeds of the young East German thugs we are considering are indeed traceable to their education. German National Socialism has the same outcome in the 1980s and 90s as in did in the 30s and 40s.

Even before the collapse of Communism, however, Fascism still existed in Germany -- in the form of the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD). In Germany, the NPD (National Democratic Party) is widely regarded as the barely-legal successor-party to Hitler's National Socialist party. A recent interview with the chairman of that party is therefore instructive. A few excerpts follow:
"This [young Leftist] subculture possesses an anti-capitalist view of the world, and views the NPD as an instrument of Capitalism. Such a view of the NPD is fundamentally wrong, and disregards the fact that the Movement will eliminate Capitalism which is so contemptuous of humanity....

The NPD is a Movement of the People which will implement its programme of building a Third Power beyond Capitalism and Communism, thereby giving self-determination to the people.

At the centre of our struggle is mankind and Nature. Thanks to our life-giving view of the world, we stand against foreign rule and domination, against foreign penetration, exploitation and oppression. We stand for German freedom, for the freedom of peoples, for a New Social Order in both Germany and Europe.

During this phase, we must use capable intellectuals from all levels in society so as to build our ideology of a New Order beyond Capitalism and Communism.... The global threat to our nations by multi-national banks and companies working in harness with the ruling class is having a destructive effect on our peoples.

The outstanding achievements of the German social system are being more and more replaced by minimal standards."

Note the five leftist elements of NPD thinking mentioned above. He rejects the Leftist claim that the NPD is capitalist and says it is anti-capitalist [1]. He says the NPD will build a "Third Power" (Third Way [2]) between capitalism and Communism. He puts "nature" (environmentalism [3]) at the centre of his thinking. He is against "multinational banks and companies" (globalization [4]). And he regards the German social system (welfare state [5]) as an outstanding achievement. Clearly, this party does indeed reflect all of Hitler's themes and clearly it is of the Left in modern terms. And its championship of a "Third Way" makes it in fact a completely modern Leftist party, akin in that respect to the present-day British Labour party. Hitler was a modern Leftist by the standards of his day too, as his championship of eugenics showed. Awkward stuff, that history. So the NPD shows that the nationalist version of Leftism still lives.



Fascism in Contemporary Russia


Russia in the immediate post-Soviet era was kept on a largely democratic course by the erratic ex-Soviet apparatchik Boris Yeltsin, and now seems to be in cautious hands under President Putin but what can we expect of the future? Before the ascension of Putin, there was a powerful Fascist movement under the principal influence of Zhirinovsky and a powerful Communist bloc under Zyuganov but Putin would now seem to have subsumed both. And nationalism generally seems to be as popular as ever in Russia. Will a socialist background combined with strong nationalist traditions again produce a Nazi-type regime if economic conditions deteriorate from their already backward level? Will there be a Russian Hitler? Is Putin a Russian Mussolini? Russia's nationalist traditions were, as we have seen, encouraged to a degree even under Communism (by Stalin and his successors) so it seems not unlikely. It just needs nationalism to become an ideological focus in lieu of socialism, and we will have Communism reborn as Fascism. And since socialism as an ideological focus does seem to be in extremis in the post-Soviet world, we might well expect a people accustomed to a strong ideological focus in their politics to be looking for a replacement focus. Only a small step would be required to make the transition to Fascism and Putin's grip on power (including reasserted control of Russia's major industries) suggests that a hopefully moderate form of Fascism is in fact already with us in Russia. Like Hitler and Mussolini, Putin is popular for being seen as having "restored order". His quite remarkable popularity in Russia by the year 2007 is in fact a strong reminder that, unlike Communism, Fascism is a POPULAR form of Leftism.

And just as Hitler could harp on the past glories of the zweite Reich (the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation) and refuse to accept the internal collapse of the Kaiserreich (the German empire of World War I) so Putin could stress the scientific glories and territorial reach of the former Soviet empire and refuse to accept that its collapse was due to internal causes. There is little doubt that a Russian Goebbels could find a workable basis for overweening Russian national pride and that such pride could be used as an antidote to present woes -- just as similar pride was once used in Weimar Germany.



Did Hitler save Western Europe?

Any article that covers both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia can hardly be complete without considering, at least briefly, the "big picture" of WWII, well-known though that picture is generally taken to be.

A great deal of what has so far been presented above will have been a great surprise to many readers but I think there is one more bit of little-known history that I should present.

As preamble, however, I think I have made clear in this essay that my aim has been to understand Hitler, not to condemn him. Merely condemning him is at least lazy, if not infantile, in my view. The old adage that to understand is to forgive does not apply in this case, however. As a libertarian I could hardly be more opposed to Nazism. Like all libertarians, I even consider ALL modern day governments to be unacceptably Fascist -- even that holy of holies, Sweden. So if what follows seems like an apology for Hitler, that perception is in the mind of the reader rather than in anything I have proposed. All that I am proposing is that enmity between thieves can sometimes be inadvertently beneficial to the rest of us.

The collapse of the Soviet Union did for a time open up the archives of that regime to considerable scutiny by independent scholars -- and Russian scholars were of course very interested. What they discovered confirmed something that had long been considered in some Western scholarly circles: That Hitler's strike on Russia was a pre-emptive one. Hitler's strike on Russia was only a little ahead of a planned Russian strike on Germany.

Stalin's military preparations in the '30s had in fact been vast and had his plans come to fruition, not only Germany but the whole of Westerm Europe would have been overrun. Hitler's unexpected strike, however, was immensely destructive of Russian military capacity so that, in the end, Russia managed to overrun Eastern Europe only. The story of the Russian plans and preparations concerned is told as briefly as possible here.



In conclusion:

Because this article contradicts what most people think they know about Hitler, it has necessarily been a long one. There have been many potential questions to answer. I would therefore like to close with a useful brief summary of what happened and why it is so little known. It is excerpted from a comment by Peter Hitchens on what is being taught in British schools and purveyed by the British media today:

"A schools video produced last year on the Forties barely gives a walk-on part to Winston Churchill, a man who is being steadily written out of modern history because he does not fit the fashionable myth that the Tories sympathised with the Nazis and the Left were the only people who opposed Hitler....

LABOUR'S role in the rise of Hitler was to consistently vote against the rearmament measures which narrowly saved this country from slavery in 1940. Stalin's insane orders to the German Communist Party, to refuse to co-operate with the Social Democrats, virtually ensured the Nazis would come to power in 1933.

This would be mirrored, six years later, in the joint victory parade staged by Nazi and Red Army troops in the then-Polish city of Brest, and the efficient supply of Soviet oil to Germany which fuelled the Nazi Blitzkrieg and the bombers which tore the heart out of London.

But millions of supposedly educated people know nothing of this, and are unaware that the one country which behaved with honour and courage when the fate of the world was being decided was Britain."

It was the Left who were on Hitler's side, not the conservatives. And the Left were on his side because he was one of them.



REFERENCES



Adorno,T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. & Sanford, R.N. (1950). The authoritarian personality New York: Harper.
Ardrey, R. (1961) African genesis London: Collins
Brown, R.(1986) Social psychology (2nd. Ed.) N.Y.: Free Press. Harper
Bullock, A. (1964) Hitler: A study in tyranny N.Y.: Harper
De Corte, T.L. (1978) "Menace of Undesirables: The Eugenics Movement During the Progressive Era", University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
De Felice, R. (1977) Interpretations of Fascism Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U.P.
Dietrich, D.J. (1988) National renewal, anti-Semitism, and political continuity: A psychological assessment. Political Psychology 9, 385-411.
Feuchtwanger, E.J. (1995) From Weimar to Hitler: Germany 1918-33. N.Y.: St Martin's Press.
Fischer, C.J. (1978) The occupational background of the S.A.'s rank and file membership during the depression years , 1929 to mid-1934. In: Stachura, P. The shaping of the Nazi state. London: Croom Helm.
Galbraith, J.K. (1969) The affluent society 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Gregor, A.J. (1979) Italian Fascism and developmental dictatorship Princeton, N.J.: Univ. Press.
Hagan, J. (1966) Modern History and its Themes Croydon, Victoria, Australia: Longmans.
Heiden, K. (1939) One man against Europe Harmondsworth, Mddx.: Penguin
Herzer, I. (1989) The Italian refuge: Rescue of Jews during the holocaust Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press
Lipson, L. (1993) The ethical crises of civilization Newbury Park: Sage.
Locke, R. (2001) Rethinking History: Were the Nazis Really Nationalists? FrontPageMagazine.com. August 28
Madden, P. (1987) The social class origins of Nazi party members as determined by occupations, 1919-1933. Social Science Quarterly 68, 263-280.
O'Sullivan, N. (1983) Fascism. London: Dent.
Pickens, D. (1968) Eugenics and the Progressives. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press
Ray, J.J. (1984). Half of all racists are Left-wing. Political Psychology, 5, 227-236.
Ray, J.J. & Furnham, A. (1984) Authoritarianism, conservatism and racism. Ethnic & Racial Studies 7, 406-412.
Richmond, M. (1998) Margaret Sanger's eugenics. See here or here.
Ritzler, B.A. (1978) The Nuremberg mind revisited: A quantitative approach. J. Personality Assessment 42, 344-353.
Roberts, S.H. (1938) The house that Hitler built N.Y.: Harper.
Schoeck, H. (1969) Envy: A theory of social behaviour London: Martin Secker & Warburg.
Shirer, W.L. (1964) The rise and fall of the Third Reich London: Pan
Skidelsky, R. (1975) Oswald Mosley London: Macmillan.
Sniderman, P.M., Brody, R.A. & Kuklinski, J.H. (1984) Policy reasoning and political values: The problem of racial equality. American Journal of Political Science 28, 75-94.
Steinberg, J. (1990) All or nothing: The Axis and the holocaust London: Routledge.
Taylor, A.J.P. (1963) The origins of the second world war. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Toland, J. (1976) Adolf Hitler Garden City, N.Y. : Doubleday.
Unger, A.L. (1965) Party and state in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. Political Quarterly 36, 441-459.
Zillmer, E.A., Archer, R.P. & Castino, R. (1989) Rorschach records of Nazi war criminals: A reanalysis using current scoring and interpretation practices. J. Personality Assessment 53, 85-99.


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Clickable Index:


A modern Leftist
Mises on Nazim and Bolshevism
Insane?
The country gentleman with majolica pots
Party programme
A Galbraithian Leftist
Eugenics
Feminism
Nazis were Greens
A population theorist
More Leftist than racist
Genocide is socialist
Mussolini and the fractious Left
Tom Wolfe on Nazism
Quote from Goebbels
Leftist election posters
Left/Right categorization inadequate?
Denials of Hitler's Leftism: Kangas
Peikoff on Nazi Leftism
Why the enmity between Nazis and the "Reds"?
But he was a nationalist!
There have always been Leftist nationalists
Stalin the nationalist
Non-Marxist objections
Neo-Nazis are different
Why was Hitler so powerful?
Love between the leader and the led
A democrat rather than a revolutionary
Post election manoeuvres
Hitler's socialist deeds
Conservatives and Hitler
Why Hitler's nationalism is confusing
Hitler's magic mix
Nationalism as a novelty
Nazism bourgeois?
Hitler was popular
Stalin as a national socialist
Ho Chi Minh as a national socialist
Is racism Rightist?
Other Fascists were not antisemitic
Distinguishing Hitler and Stalin
The holocaust
Fascism and Mussolini
Nazism in Germany today
Fascism in contemporary Russia
A final summary


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