The Nazis were not lefty socialists...
October 6, 2017 4:00 AM   Subscribe

The Nazis were not lefty socialists...(Extreme language warning. Probably appalling to Americans. You've been warned about the language.

"Did the alt right have a fucking alt education? It appears that being racist not only means that you have atrocious spelling and shit grammar, but that you also failed fucking GCSE history, and yes, I’m ultra aware that I’m treading on very thin ice with this post, and that some clever cunt will no doubt list all of my typos and fuck ups immediately in the comments. It’s a a gamble I’m willing to take...."
posted by taff (75 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
The alt right know exactly who the Nazis were and what they did. That's why they like them. It's the mainstream conservatives who have spent the last several decades insisting that there is no daylight between the Democrats and Hitler.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:07 AM on October 6 [45 favorites]


MT = Malcolm Tucker, I presume?
posted by chavenet at 4:08 AM on October 6 [1 favorite]


They key thing about Malcolm Tucker is that his swearing is inventive. This is just a lot of standard top-drawer swears assembled to make a point that most people don't need making.
posted by mushhushshu at 4:13 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


'C' bomb early and often in case any US compadres are wondering.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 4:20 AM on October 6 [1 favorite]


If there's anyone with more than an 8th grade education who actually claims this genuinely and not as a contrived, tired internet argument gotcha ("Yeah, well, Hitler was a socialist, bet ya didn't know that, libtard!" *looks around for approval and admiration from associated idiots for this withering repartee*), I will eat my boots in cake form.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:21 AM on October 6 [11 favorites]


I let my predictive text take over after typing "Hitler" and this is what it offered after "was" and "a".
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:29 AM on October 6 [17 favorites]


It's the mainstream conservatives who have spent the last several decades insisting that there is no daylight between the Democrats and Hitler.

Only because they think that it's the ultimate sick-burn comeback against the leftists they run into ("yeah, well, the Nazis were socialists, it's right there in the name, so I don't know why you don't like them, you pinko").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:30 AM on October 6 [10 favorites]


Can't remember when I first saw someone make that ridiculous claim, but it was on Usenet so it was at least 20 years ago. It was just as exasperating then.
posted by rory at 4:30 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


The claim's been a staple of Fox News punditry and talking points for as long as there's been a Rush Limbaugh. I recommend slow-cooking those boots for tenderness before baking.
posted by at by at 4:31 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


There... isn't an argument here? Just a lot of swearing and assertions that aren't backed up by anything? Is the best retort to "but the nazis are socialists!" really "well this sweary fella says in no certain terms that that's wrong!" Maybe instead show how their economic policy was about individual freedom rather than any kind of redistributive justice and economic equality? Or does the right/left thing not refer to economics anymore?

(Have I ever mentioned how tired I am of" far right" being a euphemism for "racist or nationalist"? That's how people get taken in by a nationalist Labour or a unionist workers' UKIP in the north - they can't be problematic like that, they're leftists not rightist! Or, y'know, we can acknowledge nationalism/antiracism as another dimension of politics, separate to left/right and libertarian/authoritarian, etc.)
posted by Dysk at 4:38 AM on October 6 [12 favorites]


Like, if anything, apart from the racism, the nazis were dirty centrists, decrying both the left and the right.
posted by Dysk at 4:40 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


lol this is pointless, nobody who argues that Nazis are socialists really believes that, it's just another useful lie. Or rather, not a lie, because that would acknowledge the existence of a truth -- it is a spell. The alt-right are logical sorcerers. You can't Well Actually them away (or even Well Fucking Actually). You can only defeat them with positive moral action and/or wizard punches.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:57 AM on October 6 [21 favorites]


If there's anyone with more than an 8th grade education who actually claims this genuinely and not as a contrived, tired internet argument gotcha

I kinda do, with reservations. Or at least, I think the left/right model breaks down when talking about these movements. I see the Nazis as lifting Communist techniques and rhetoric, but aiming them at a different Other. While Communists point at the non-proletariat as The Other, Nazis point at races and nations (and back then the relationship between race and nation was a lot simpler). So yeah, I do think Nationalist and Communist movements, from say 1850 to 1950, are two sides of the same coin, and there's a lot of cross-pollination between them. (Cue an actual historian to come along and tell me I'm totally, utterly wrong, which is fine).
posted by Leon at 5:03 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


If you want a decent "well actually", there are many quotes in this Wikipedia article that do a much better job. A select few:

Hitler also said that "I absolutely insist on protecting private property... we must encourage private initiative"...

The top personal income tax rate in 1941 was 13.7% in Germany...

When Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, he introduced policies aimed at improving the economy. The changes included privatization of state industries.
..

posted by Dysk at 5:05 AM on October 6 [15 favorites]


I've gotten into arguments recently over this with conservatives who gleefully claim "the Nazis were socialists!"
Your first reaction will be, why am I having this conversation? Or you may feel anger rushing through your veins as you stare at the person who has just made the claim and appears to actually believe it.
If you pause for a moment they will most likely state, "It's in the Nazi name.... So there you go."
You can then state historic facts : Nazis murdered actual socialists, Nazis were fascists and nationalists, Nazis formed capitalist cartels.
And then they will say, "It's in the name, right there..... Socialist."
At which point you might think, this is strange, I am talking to another human being, adult, in my country who seems to be stubborn enough to believe in something that simply is not true only because it serves their agenda.
posted by PHINC at 5:07 AM on October 6 [42 favorites]


This article has a bit more meat.

But it doesn't really discuss in detail any of the social welfare programs if there were any instigated?

Having been to Rügen Island and seen the huge uncompleted workers resort that Hitler started to build there, it seems there must have been at least a slightly communitarian enactment of policies (for those who were deemed actually part of the community). Prora Resort on Rügen

The obvious issue with the Snopes article is that a number of the supposedly "non-socialist" policies cited (emphasis on production increases, banning trade unions, etc) were actually also adopted the actual "Marx-reading" communists in USSR in the early 20thC.

Were there actual social welfare programs? Or was the Nazi Regime actually capitalist?
posted by mary8nne at 5:08 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


Like, there was a lot of lip service to leftist economics, not least in the twenty five point programme early on, but they never actually implemented any of it, instead lurching rightward economically (with the exception of seizing a lot of production and profit for the war effort, which is, y'know, a factor of war and necessity more than anything).
posted by Dysk at 5:09 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


I just realized the best response is probably, "The Nazis were socialists? Guess they weren't all bad then."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:10 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


While I am not above using several of those epithets when I encounter some fucking moron making this comment on Facebook, I do wish there had been some actual substance to this piece.
posted by briank at 5:11 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


A lot of territory exists between "pure laissez faire capitalism" and "full luxury gay space communism". Nationalism often promotes limited social welfare for the right kind of people. That doesn't make it socialist.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:13 AM on October 6 [22 favorites]


Germany already had a socialist party, one that had done the heavy lifting of fighting for economic reforms since before Hitler was born.

There’s no denying there was some socialist messaging in the early Nazi party, but as it edged into power it moved right. The political prisoners the Nazis threw into the first concentration camps when they took power in ‘33 were to the left of them, not the right.

We in the USA are so ignorant, like children. So much entertainment, so little education.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 5:13 AM on October 6 [10 favorites]


Dysk linked to this above - but I think it really needs to be seen:

Wikipedia:

Hitler also spent large amounts of state revenues for a comprehensive social welfare system to combat the ill effects of the Great Depression, promising repeatedly throughout his regime the “creation of a socially just state.”....the NSV instituted expansive programs to address the socio-economic inequalities among those deemed to be German citizens. Joseph Goebbels remarked about the merits of Hitler’s welfare state in a 1944 editorial “Our Socialism,” where he professed: “We and we alone [the Nazis] have the best social welfare measures. Everything is done for the nation.”


That is, that in a certain perverse sense the Nazi's were attempting to produce something like a socialist state.

The other thing is that at least on a Hegelian-Lukácsian reading of Marx: Eugenics I think lurcks in the background as a kind of logical corollary of the proposed unity of the subject and object of history that would be realised in the aufhebung of Capitalism and the realization of "species-being".
posted by mary8nne at 5:18 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


Extreme = Bad.

This is a stupid and ignorant position.
posted by biffa at 5:22 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


And then they will say, "It's in the name, right there..... Socialist."
At which point you might think, this is strange, I am talking to another human being, adult, in my country who seems to be stubborn enough to believe in something that simply is not true only because it serves their agenda.


Pffft. Next you'll be trying to convince me that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea isn't run by Democrats.
posted by flabdablet at 5:24 AM on October 6 [39 favorites]


No, it's run by republicans, just like the People's Republic of China.
posted by LionIndex at 5:33 AM on October 6 [21 favorites]


OK, so this guy gets Ten Metafilters for using 'what it says on the [optional adjective] tin'
posted by drowsy at 5:38 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


All the knee-jerking over this from both sides is tedious, and constitutes a refusal to deal with the nuances of Nazi economic policy. They were not simply left wing. They were not simply right wing. Their words and deeds did not always align, either. But broadly, they were anti business in some ways, ruthless capitalists in others. They created an (exclusionary) welfare state, but were practically married to property rights (for some, under some circumstances). Inconsistent as it was, their economic policy is not the basis for dismissing them, for their abhorrence. Call a spade a fucking spade: they were racists. Far right in some ways, far left in others, none of which matters, because they were racist. That is enough to condemn their legacy on its own.
posted by Dysk at 5:39 AM on October 6 [14 favorites]


"So much for the tolerant left!" sneers the pepe who appears to earnestly believe the Nazis were on the left…
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 5:55 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


A lot of territory exists between "pure laissez faire capitalism" and "full luxury gay space communism". Nationalism often promotes limited social welfare for the right kind of people. That doesn't make it socialist.

From having engaged these people a couple times online, because I am, as my wife puts it, a prize winning idiot, part of the problem is that people who earnestly believe this don't see that territory. They see a "government power high-government power low" continuum that is labelled "socialism" at one end. They're wrong and misinformed, but that's part of what's going on.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:59 AM on October 6 [7 favorites]


See also “the Republicans can’t be racists because Lincoln was a Republican and he freed the slaves!”
posted by TedW at 6:28 AM on October 6 [9 favorites]


Extreme = Bad.

This is a stupid and ignorant position.


U = wrong.

(Sorry, sorry.

What I mean to say, seriously, is that one thing I've learned from history is that human society is intrinsically messy. All of the clever ideas humans have invented for how society should work (e.g. Libertarianism, Communism, etc.) invariably fail mountain-of-skull catastrophically when applied to actual, real humans. The stuff that works tends to be "The Grand Idea (with exceptions)"--e.g. Pure Capitalism (but with socialized education and health care) or Pure Socialism (but with a free market for consumer goods).

You only get these if the architects of the Grand Plan are willing to compromise their vision on things that actually affect humans. And extremists generally won't do that.

So, Extreme = Bad.)
posted by suetanvil at 6:31 AM on October 6 [8 favorites]


Huh? Has there been a deletion? Was the language warning badly worded? I didn't mean to imply extreme is bad. Did I? Or has there been a deletion?
posted by taff at 6:36 AM on October 6


TedW: "See also “the Republicans can’t be racists because Lincoln was a Republican and he freed the slaves!”"

Also "Did you know that the democrats founded the KKK?"
posted by octothorpe at 6:48 AM on October 6 [9 favorites]


They were not simply left wing. They were not simply right wing. Their words and deeds did not always align, either. But broadly, they were anti business in some ways, ruthless capitalists in others. They created an (exclusionary) welfare state, but were practically married to property rights (for some, under some circumstances).

I think this can be explained in the language of means and ends.(Sadly, given the current world situation, I feel inclined to drop the past tense on this one and go back into the present tense.) Nazis are prepared to adopt certain policies that would be condemned by economic libertarians--e.g. protectionism in trade, paying (white) women to have babies--to promote their ends. Socialists are also prepared to adopt some policies that would be condemned by economic libertarians--e.g. strict regulation of labour markets, subsidising/paying for education & healthcare--to promote their ends. These policies share the characteristic of being rejected as means to any end by economic libertarians. But they are otherwise pretty different, because of differences in the ends they aim to produce. The Nazi policy is intended to create a rigidly hierarchical racially homogenous society, under authoritarian/totalitarian control. The socialist policy is intended to produce an equal society, in which class-based economic privilege and disadvantage are absent. That's why socialists tend to be keen to regulate the exercise of property rights, and less interested in regulating fertility, and the Nazis take the reverse view. Libertarians would hate both policies, but that doesn't mean both policies are the same.
posted by Aravis76 at 6:48 AM on October 6 [8 favorites]


Socialists are also prepared to adopt some policies that would be condemned by economic libertarians--e.g. strict regulation of labour markets, subsidising/paying for education & healthcare--to promote their ends.

Is say this is closer to the actual end itself, rather than a means thereto.
posted by Dysk at 6:53 AM on October 6


If there's anyone with more than an 8th grade education who actually claims this genuinely

Yeah, I do genuinely believe that the Nazis adopted what I guess you could call herrenvolk socialism - socialism for the racially pure, ideologically aligned citizens they were aiming for, and they mouthed socialist platitudes in some cases in the service of their ultimate ends - cries against the Jews were often framed in economic exploiter terminology, for example. I think they did it cynically, because that was the way they could unite elements tempted by the left into their coalition, but I definitely do believe it was real.
posted by corb at 6:59 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


If there's anyone with more than an 8th grade education who actually claims this genuinely

National Review editor Jonah Goldberg wrote an entire book around the premise.

And he still writes a nationally syndicated column and is allowed frequent guest appearances on NPR.
posted by Gelatin at 7:12 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


The whole assertion is idiotic. Just because the Nazi's had socialist in their name and had some elements of socialism doesn't mean they were socialist. The party also adopted the Swastika, but that doesn't mean they were Hindu or Buddhist.
posted by FJT at 7:27 AM on October 6 [5 favorites]


Writing a book about it and actually believing it are not really related in any meaningful way.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:27 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


>>>Extreme = Bad.

>>This is a stupid and ignorant position.

>You only get these if the architects of the Grand Plan are willing to compromise their vision on things that actually affect humans. And extremists generally won't do that.

I don't think "Extreme = Bad" is ignorant as much as it's not really a meaningful statement. The set of positions that count as "extreme" is determined entirely by the current state of society's political discourse. Positions near and dear to the heart of today's moderate left, like marriage equality, would have been radically extreme a century ago.

Evaluating political positions by their relative "extremity" is sort of nonsensical and not likely to be productive.

But based on suetanvil's reply about Grand Plans and so forth, it sounds more like what they're talking about isn't actually "extremity" but a kind of anti-pragmatism or deep intellectualization of policy that prioritizes concept over implementation. I think there's an interesting conversation to be had there but it's very different than one about the mainstream vs the extreme.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 7:30 AM on October 6 [6 favorites]


And I'd argue that giving things out only to people who meet a set of inborn criteria as well as loyalty tests is not really socialism as much as kickbacks and/or bribery. Fascists really really hate the idea of a unified, global proletariat. I think that most socialists would argue that not being on board with international worker solidarity is not socialism. Or I guess we could say that it might be socialism sort of but it's not Marxism.

But giving out shinies to your peeps in return for their loyalty is not a modern idea by any stretch. The Saxons were big fans of the concept.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:31 AM on October 6 [7 favorites]


>Yeah, I do genuinely believe that the Nazis adopted what I guess you could call herrenvolk socialism - socialism for the racially pure, ideologically aligned citizens they were aiming for, and they mouthed socialist platitudes in some cases in the service of their ultimate ends - cries against the Jews were often framed in economic exploiter terminology, for example. I think they did it cynically, because that was the way they could unite elements tempted by the left into their coalition, but I definitely do believe it was real.

Speaking as a proponent of the radical left, I can't really disagree. People forget that the Nazi party didn't begin with Hitler, and there were some more left-leaning (but still nationalist) elements in the party before Hitler purged them.

I say this not to defend the Nazis, who are indefensible, nor to denigrate socialism, which I support as an ideology, nor to excuse the idiotic nah nah, Hitler was a socialist, take that liberals rhetoric that we've all been sick of for a decade or two. But it's always worth remembering that modern political coalitions don't always neatly map onto historical ones, that historical actors often had sets of priorities that no longer exist because the conditions for their existence no longer obtain, and that, as they say, the past is a different country.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 7:37 AM on October 6 [10 favorites]


I think biffa's point was entirely on using 'extreme' as a synonym for 'bad', but only in the context of bad language.

[Insert anecdote here on how the gentlefolk of Glasgow and Salford are known for using the C-word as a term of endearment and use 'fuck' as verbal padding for pretty much any and all sentences.]
posted by mushhushshu at 7:37 AM on October 6


> I think biffa's point was entirely on using 'extreme' as a synonym for 'bad', but only in the context of bad language.

Seems like I managed to completely overlook that biffa's comment and suetanvil's reply were posted by different people. My b.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 7:40 AM on October 6


I think that most socialists would argue that not being on board with international worker solidarity is not socialism.

Hence the "national" qualifier on the front. If you redefine what - and who - counts as a person, it's perfectly cromulent socialism. Abhorrent, but not at odds with socialism.

I'd argue that giving things out only to people who meet a set of inborn criteria as well as loyalty tests is not really socialism as much as kickbacks and/or bribery

This almost describes modern Labour Party policy at the moment. I guess they're crypto right wingers too, then?

Some socialists are nationalist and/or racist. Some libertarians are nationalist and/or racist. Whether or not you're a racist doesn't strongly correlate with your wider politics in the way a lot of people seem to desperately want it to.
posted by Dysk at 7:41 AM on October 6 [8 favorites]


I think this is the one time ever I'd hoped for a video link and not gotten it. All the swearing would be better if done extemporaneously.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:42 AM on October 6 [1 favorite]


> Hence the "national" qualifier on the front. If you redefine what - and who - counts as a person, it's perfectly cromulent socialism. Abhorrent, but not at odds with socialism.

And this is part of the reason that people and groups in the neo-Marxist, left communist, anarchist, and libertarian socialist regions of the political, uh, hypersphere so frequently speak in terms of international socialism.

Consider what happened under Stalin's "socialism in one country" philosophy.

Come to think of it, if these trolls wanted to make a deeper rhetorical cut than they can achieve with this "Nazis-were-leftist" lie, they could start making the argument that the Soviet Union was pretty fucking racist. I don't think most of them are that smart, though. Also they like racism.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 7:51 AM on October 6 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure on why I need to write this on a website that is usually smart and self regulating, but to be clear, the Nazi government wasn't some Harry Potteresque bastion of evil.
They delivered substantial and genuine economic gains to the people of Germany. They were quite competent economic managers, streets ahead of the budgets in the USA today, for example.
Their human rights record is unspeakably evil and dreadful, I hate their human rights approach. But I would urge people not to open the door a crack to say they were *unequivocally* wrong because that is not true, economically they were usually pretty effective, and they gave massive help to a country in dire straits (war reparations and depression) because making questionable claims gives your evil opponents ground to show you aren't judging the nazis in a balanced way, giving them license to question claims I think are undeniable, like their war crimes.
Join me in hating Nazis, but not in rewriting history to make them cartoonish.
posted by bystander at 8:04 AM on October 6 [6 favorites]


The Nazis were right-wing. The term "privatisation" (in the compound form "reprivatisation") originates in their policy of selling off industries nationalised under the SPD government before becoming used more widely in the Western world. They engaged in a massive fire-sale of the German state to its bourgeoisie, while instituting a basic social democratic safety net to neutralise and isolate Germans who might have otherwise engaged in revolutionary activity.

The Nazi use of the word "socialism" comes from a broader use on the German right that derives from Oswald Spengler's pamphlet "Prussianism and Socialism" (1919) which argues that the right should refer to themselves as the true "socialists" against Marxism.

The attempt to conflate Nazism and Marxist governments along some nonsense basis of "government interference" was developed by German liberal intellectuals who met at some Walter Lippmann conferences in the 1920s, and then went on to form the journal "Ordos" to spread their beliefs. Arendt was pressured by a number of post-war German liberals to add a chapter in Origins of Totalitarianism that relied on the work of these liberals.

Putting it like this makes for a shorter and less click-baity article, I guess.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:14 AM on October 6 [27 favorites]


In addition to Goldberg’s book, “Nazis were liberal socialists” is the latest thing ex-con Dinesh D’Souza is pushing.

Tweet
Book

Writing a book about it and actually believing it are not really related in any meaningful way.

If you’ll tell us what standard you use to assess actual belief, I’ll see what I can dig up.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:15 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


Here's Wikipedia on Spengler's pamphlet.

Here's the pamphlet itself.

Here's "Against the Mainstream: Nazi Privatization in 1930s Germany" by Germa Bel of the University of Barcelona

Here's a Jacobin article treading the same ground in less technical language.

Wikipedia on the "Birth of Biopolitics" by Michel Foucault, which goes over the development of the equation between Nazism and Marxist Socialism.

Here's a pdf of Domenico Losurdo's "Towards a Critique of the Category of Totalitarianism" which criticises Arendt's text and its concepts in the course of going over its development.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:24 AM on October 6 [14 favorites]


They delivered substantial and genuine economic gains to the people of Germany. They were quite competent economic managers, streets ahead of the budgets in the USA today, for example.
Their human rights record is unspeakably evil and dreadful, I hate their human rights approach. But I would urge people not to open the door a crack to say they were *unequivocally* wrong because that is not true, economically they were usually pretty effective, and they gave massive help to a country in dire straits


This is just not right.
First: they delivered economic gain to some people in Germany: their supporters. And they criminally exploited the other people in Germany in order to provide that gain. They used slave laborers to build infrastructure and they stole fortunes from Jews and other "enemies of the state" who included plenty of people who were neither Jewish, gay, Roma or socialist but just didn't agree with their ideology. After 1938, they stole from their opponents in annexed and occupied countries as well as from German nationals.

Also, the definition of socialism today is totally absurd, and more so in the US than in other places (though we are all catching up because the US media are defining the discourse in much of the West). The welfare state was invented by a conservative German, Otto von Bismarck, and the fact that the Nazis offered some welfare benefits to some people in Germany one generation after Bismarck is in no way at all an indication that they were in any way socialist.
posted by mumimor at 8:27 AM on October 6 [14 favorites]


I just realized the best response is probably, "The Nazis were socialists? Guess they weren't all bad then."

Exactly. "I don't hate them because they did socialist things, I hate them because they did racist, fascist things."

They're just trying to make the "Hitler wore khakis" argument. "Socialism is good, khakis are fine, and racism and fascism are bad. Which of these do you like?"

Conservatives of this stripe only care about labels, not actions. They don't actually care about black people, they care about not being labeled "racist."
posted by straight at 8:34 AM on October 6 [7 favorites]


Extreme = Bad.

Tell me you wouldn't order a Taco Extreme if you saw it on the menu
posted by beerperson at 8:43 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


Cats are actually fish.

It's obvious, everybody. The hint is in the name: catfish, which is a portmanteau of "cat" and "fish", and proves that all cats are fish.

Why the marineist ideologues refuse to accept this is a mystery.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 9:15 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


Do people not remember the poem they make us study in school literally starts with First they came for the socialists?
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 AM on October 6 [14 favorites]


The Nazis were right-wing. The term "privatisation" (in the compound form "reprivatisation") originates in their policy of selling off industries nationalised under the SPD government before becoming used more widely in the Western world.

They also nationalised a whole bunch of industries, and plank 13 of your early 25 point plan was the nationalisation of all private businesses. They never really moved to implement much of the plan, of course, but they did nationalise whole industries of strategic resources, and many larger companies following the Great Depression. Their economic policy was nothing if not inconsistent.
posted by Dysk at 9:40 AM on October 6


1) Let's not take this article at its word where to hate the Nazis we also have to accept the Robert Conquest narrative of the USSR.

2) This is one of those things where if you say "All (wealthy Anglosphere-judged) extremism is bad" you destroy your ability to defend anti-fascist positions. Socialist criticism of fascist social programs is quite clear. They exist to mitigate the crisis of capitalism that brings about fascism in the first place by supporting the reserve army of labour so it will not be collectivized and can continue to be purchased cheaply. These social programs originate from bourgeois interests and are neither controlled by nor designed to serve workers, but bourgeois interests.

3) It is worth remembering that these programs were totally integrated with genocide upon the disabled, aged, and people of various Nazi-despised ancestries, using the same institutions. Simply equating them to any other set of policies is obscene. (They *can* be compared to eugenics-driven murder and sterilization programs in other countries, including the US and Canada, however.)
posted by mobunited at 10:06 AM on October 6 [11 favorites]


I just realized the best response is probably, "The Nazis were socialists? Guess they weren't all bad then."

It really isn't, because Nazi social programs existed to maintain cheap labour and destroy people who were undesireable, and because emphasizing Nazi social programs as a good feeds Strasserism.
posted by mobunited at 10:09 AM on October 6 [6 favorites]


I'm starting to think the best response may be, "My god you're stupid."

They can invite me into these dumb argument games, but that doesn't mean I have to play.
posted by kyrademon at 10:52 AM on October 6 [12 favorites]


They also nationalised a whole bunch of industries, and plank 13 of your early 25 point plan was the nationalisation of all private businesses. They never really moved to implement much of the plan, of course, but they did nationalise whole industries of strategic resources, and many larger companies following the Great Depression. Their economic policy was nothing if not inconsistent.

It wasn't "my" 25 point plan, I assure you.

The Nazis, much like the Italian fascists, didn't really nationalise many businesses, though it's often inaccurately described that way. They inherited an economy that had many state-owned enterprises, and they reprivatised some while stepping up investment in others.

What they specifically did with the rest of the German economy outside of the state-owned enterprises (outside of peasant agriculture) was amend the German Cartel Act and then force cartelisation on businesses, while investing public money into those enterprises that toed the line and did what they want. They also forced the amalgamation of enterprises that didn't fall in line with ones that did. This once again isn't really "nationalisation" in the Marxist sense, though it's often confused with it.

More information on the pre-war German economy can be found in this report from 1940.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 11:36 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


Phone typo - that should obviously been "their 25 point plan". Apologies.
posted by Dysk at 11:38 AM on October 6


Nationalization is not socialism anyway. Many socialists favor it, of course, but there is an entire tradition of actual socialism that rejects centralized state control of the economy.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 11:40 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


A lot of Nazi activity that tends to gets described as "nationalisation" reveals itself as something else when you dig into the details of what they were actually doing.

For example, they took all the regional rail companies and formed them into a cartel, pumped a bunch of cash into the cartel to make sure everyone had good trains with compatible gauges and cars, and then made them agree to provide low cost service to the German military. This is described as "nationalisation" quite frequently even though neither the NSDAP or the German state (which weirdly had no straightforward legal existence under Nazi jurisprudence) owned the railroads or exerted direct control over them via legal means or direct administration. They did occasionally do things like launch Volkswagen as a publicly owned corporation which they (the NSDAP itself IIRC) maintained a controlling stake in, but even this isn't really nationalisation under most senses of the word.

Pre-war Nazi economic policy is a grab-bag of stuff, but they're mostly copying the Italian fascists while reaping the benefits of SPD Keynesian stimuli that were initiated before they were in power. They let the latter "come to fruition" over time then quickly reorganised the results using Italian models they adopted and adapted. The situation is very different during the war when they're conducting the colonial exploitation of Eastern Europe.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 11:58 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


I'm starting to think the best response may be, "My god you're stupid."

A couple times on this site, I've told someone "Don't be obtuse", which is actually the polite form of "God you're stupid".

Now y'all know.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:56 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]


My education taught me (although not by the intent of most of the teachers) that the Soviet Russians moved from Mostly Sincere Socialists to, under Stalin, As Fascist As The Nazis but In Socialist Sheep's Clothing. The Chinese Communists were more complicated (and more influenced by centuries of past dynasties than they'd ever admit), but by the time we got to Pol Pot and Cambodia's Self-Genocide, it's clear that Das Kapital was never translated well. Right now the relationship between Nazism and American Libertarianism has definitely reached "kissing cousin" status, but then, it feels like nobody noticed that the "Southern Strategy" of welcoming former Democratic Racists into the Republican Party truly made it this country's dominant party and there remains a chance that Trump, as the happy beneficiary of all of America's Fascist and Racist tendencies will be remembered as the one who accidentally revealed just how prevalent and powerful those tendencies are in the U.S.. Seriously, if we were still fighting the German Nazis when we got our Nuclear Bomb capabilities, the first two still would've been dropped on those "slanty-eyed Japs".
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:37 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]


making questionable claims gives your evil opponents ground to show you aren't judging the nazis in a balanced way

I don't want to judge nazis in a balanced way because that's gross. They murdered millions of people, I could give a flying fuck about being balanced while judging them. The evil that they did was so evil that the good they did shouldn't even get mentioned.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:22 PM on October 6 [4 favorites]


As an Actually British here seems as good a place as any to register how thoroughly sick I am of Tuckeresque Twee Compound Swearing. Truly the new Overquoting Monty Python.
posted by ominous_paws at 3:49 PM on October 6 [5 favorites]


When dealing with "both sides", there are never two equally-valid sides; there's either the BAD side and the GOOD side, or much more often, the BAD side and the SOMEWHAT LESS BAD side.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:15 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]


Repeating my comment from the Charlottesville thread:
I've heard this too, from the ignorant; and it wasn't recently. The statement made was "Hitler was a socialist" and my rebuttal was "Hitler was a National Socialist, not the same" and maybe bringing up the Night of the Long Knives but I get a more satisfying reaction now in this situation by pointing out instead that Hitler was a Catholic.
posted by Rash at 5:03 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


Rash: that's not bad, but the last alt.right nutbar I ran across was Jewish.
posted by Leon at 5:32 PM on October 6


I've gotten into arguments recently over this with conservatives who gleefully claim "the Nazis were socialists!"

'The Nazis were socialists precisely in the sense that you are conservative: as a cloak for authoritarian fascism.'
posted by jamjam at 6:54 PM on October 6 [12 favorites]


Policies change too much. Looking back even 50 years and trying to assign left/right based on policies ("government spending! civil liberties!") is hopelessly anachronistic. Free markets and nationalism tended to be "left" causes when they were ways to break the grip of anti-democratic elites, then became "right" when they served to entrench the new elites. People get confused by Bismarck and the Junkers for no good reason: they were right wingers even if they introduced social security. Just in my lifetime being anti-deficit in the US has switched between left and right at least 4 times.

You can ignore left/right completely in historical contexts. If you don't want to do that, the other thing to do is look at constituencies. What are the right and left wing voters in favor of? The blocks are apparently amazingly consistent over time. By that standard the Nazis were clearly right wing. They didn't draw on mass support from the people who'd been voting SPD. They grabbed the kleinburger types.

Having said that I do assert one enduring policy difference, though: tolerance for hierarchies. Even when the left is evil and dictatorial, they have to pretend they are anti-hierarchy. The right accepts hierarchies even when they are being reasonable and humane. Again, Nazis are unequivocally right-wingers.
posted by mark k at 7:56 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


The easy way to tell that the Nazis were right-wing: they were put in power by conservatives. Papen and Hindenberg thought they could control them, and of course approved of their anti-communism.
posted by zompist at 8:37 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]


> See also “the Republicans can’t be racists because Lincoln was a Republican and he freed the slaves!”

For the party of Lincoln there sure are a lot of Confederate flags...
posted by AlSweigart at 8:55 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


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