"Bored yet? Dunked in the alphabet soup?"
May 5, 2015 7:12 PM   Subscribe

 
Oh boy. This nonsense.

Commenter in the second link has a point: As much as I hate to agree even on a trivial point with the first quoted speaker, it is unfortunate that “socialism” as a tag has lost so much of its descriptive content. I used to quip that “socialism” was used by the Russians to mean Marxism-Leninism, by Europeans to mean public schools and minimum wages, and by American conservatives to mean that the second thing was the same as the first.

The first quoted speaker of course being the figurehead of another quite distinct kind of socialism, of course.

Oh, and the answer to "Does this mean the SNP are secretly fascists?" is "no, don't be stupid".
posted by Artw at 7:26 PM on May 5, 2015 [41 favorites]


My understanding is that the SNP, on the spectrum of Scottish politics (not UK-wide spectrum, or even, science forbid, US's spectrum) is fairly center-right. The only party significantly to the right of the SNP is the Tories, though post-Blair Labour has been making a run for the right wing (which is a big part of why Labour's lunch is being eaten by the SNP). They're thriving in Scotland which almost seems more of the Scandinavian Social Democratic bent rather than proper socialism.

It's pretty funny, though, that anyone conflates a "nationalist" and ostensibly "socialist" party with National Socialism as embodied in Nazi Germany. It's almost like someone is trying to make a rhetorical point that relies on the ignorance of their audience. I expect that it will succeed far more than it deserves.
posted by chimaera at 7:30 PM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


the answer to "Does this mean the SNP are secretly fascists?" is "no, don't be stupid"

I believe this is the answer to basically every question raised or implied here — particularly the question "should I ever take seriously the publications of the Manhattan Institute?"
posted by RogerB at 7:36 PM on May 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


B-B-But no true nationalist wait... socialist er... Scotsman?
posted by juv3nal at 7:47 PM on May 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's pretty funny, though, that anyone conflates a "nationalist" and ostensibly "socialist" party with National Socialism as embodied in Nazi Germany.

I don't know, this seems to be a standard argument from right-wing bloggers and conspiracy theorists. It's a false etymology that is so compelling to anyone with a vague dislike of "Socialism" that it automatically attaches itself to their brains.

RogerB, the Manhattan Institute is part of the network of Neoliberal think tanks started by Antony Fisher in the UK (Institute of Economic Affairs and the Atlas Network) to promote Hayek's/Friedman's economic theories and various anti-Socialist ideas. They're ends over means folks, and have no compunction about promoting this kind of nonsense.
posted by sneebler at 7:50 PM on May 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


So the Scottish National Party is "nationalist" and "socialist." Does this mean they are secretly fascists?

Ha, sure, in the same way any anti-colonial, economic parity movement is just like the Nazis. Like that notorious white supremacist Augusto Sandino.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:57 PM on May 5, 2015


They're ends over means folks, and have no compunction about promoting this kind of nonsense.

Right — prior familiarity with their worldview is exactly why I find they're best ignored. But this is actually a more interesting account of their flavor of lunacy than I'd been able to muster; my impression was more that they were unselectively flinging a semi-incoherent bunch of ideological shit at the wall and just waiting to see what stuck. It's interesting to consider that there might be more calculation to the nonsense-mongering than that.
posted by RogerB at 7:58 PM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


We've had a couple of discussions here about Philip Mirowski and his history of the rise of these particular think tanks, but maybe this article will be a start.
posted by sneebler at 8:02 PM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Every once in a while, someone will say "The Nazis were socialists! It's right there in their name!"

I like to respond "No, they said they were socialists, because socialism is a good thing that people should like. But they were lying, because they were fucking Nazis. Why would you believe anything a Nazi says?"
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:07 PM on May 5, 2015 [72 favorites]


It's about ethics in post-war economic slumps!
posted by Artw at 8:12 PM on May 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


If people can bother to put .pdf warnings on links, they can afford to put Manhattan Institute warnings on links.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:49 PM on May 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Every once in a while, someone will say "The Nazis were socialists! It's right there in their name!"

I like to respond "No, they said they were socialists, because socialism is a good thing that people should like. But they were lying, because they were fucking Nazis. Why would you believe anything a Nazi says?"


That's a great distillation of what they actually did, too, as per the last link:
[After 1928,] Romantic nationalism, strong religious beliefs, and anti-Semitism in these rural districts, along with economic problems, made rural populations perfect targets for Nazi propaganda. Playing upon an existing proclivity toward völkisch nationalism, the Nazis emphasized that the peasantry had a special status as the true nobility of Germany, because they were the purest form of the Volk and in essence the racial backbone of the nation. The Nazis claimed that Jewish bankers and capitalists, and the Marxists that controlled the government, were threatening the economic existence of this group. ... Their previous Socialist rhetoric was quickly downplayed, as they portrayed themselves as the defenders of the middle classes and private property, threatened by Marxism, big business, and foreign financial control. Nazi anticapitalism, they explained, was directed only against the large corporations, the Jews, and international finance.
People who think knowing the full name of the Nazi Party is some kind of sick ice burn likely don't abide this same exactness when it comes to countries with the word "Democratic" in their names.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:53 PM on May 5, 2015 [19 favorites]


Weird how the two most anti-socialist political movements of the pre-war period, the Communists and the Fascists, glommed onto the name "Socialism." Almost as if workers entitled to their own fair share of the profits and having a democratic say in how they're re-invested was a really good idea that fringe-crazies needed to conflate their own bad ideas with...
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:05 PM on May 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


Goerings 4 year plan?
posted by clavdivs at 9:46 PM on May 5, 2015


The whole "national socialism" concept is heavily misunderstood by pretty much everyone. It was specifically opposed to both Marxism and social democracy, and it was only anti-capitalist in the sense that it involved a populist rhetoric against financial capital, which was mixed in with antisemitism. Unlike the kind of social democracy of the SNP, all varieties of fascism are violently hostile to the trade union movement, fighting with unionists physically before attaining power and suppressing them afterward.

Fascist corporatism was not what anyone thinks it was. In actuality, it meant that the Italian fascist state foisted a sort of troika on large enterprises, a kind of top-down social harmony where management would negotiate with both fascist-appointed worker "representatives" as well as representatives of the fascist state itself. This was not followed through particularly strongly in Italy, and pretty much never happened in Germany, despite having been a big part of fascism's appeal to workers. In practice it meant that the state to some degree dictated terms to large manufacturing interests. The Nazis wound up purging most of their "left" elements, of course, in the Night of Long Knives.

(Anyone who wants to understand fascism's economic structure should read Daniel Guerin's book Fascism and Big Business. It draws these distinctions very clearly and makes obvious that there is no connection whatsoever between Marxism or social democracy and fascism.)
posted by graymouser at 10:42 PM on May 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


Who Isn't Fascist?
Almost all attempts to apply “fascist” as a dirty word entail comparisons that have little or no historical basis but evoke all too predictable responses. Put most simply, we are made to think “Fascism equals Hitler.” By associating what the speaker doesn’t like with the f-word or by making this association by indirection, one links the hated object of one’s attack to Nazi genocide. In his book Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg does not even rely on this implicit equation of bad guys with Nazis. He just plunges ahead and makes the argumentum ad Hitlerum when he compares Hillary Clinton’s economic planning to the policies of Hitler and the Nazi Minister of Labor Robert Ley. We are thereby made to believe that the Democratic Party has turned Hitlerian, and any fool knows what that means.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:58 PM on May 5, 2015


Arguably the Nazis weren't really nationalists either, given their obvious complete lack of respect for national boundaries (although lots of nationalists are like that when it comes to other people's nations), and also their willingness to incorporate people into the Reich who they deemed "Aryan" in certain conquered Eastern European nations based on their racial classification schemes. You could say that they were nationalists but they just defined their nation in racial terms instead of the usual basis for a nation: shared culture, language, history etc, but that seems like playing word games. You could say they were socialists but with their own definition of socialism too.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 2:26 AM on May 6, 2015


In terms of the real life position of UK political parties relative to each other the Political Compass chart (2015 manifesto version) is a good place to start. Note that parties are graded not only on how left or right wing their views are - but also on how authoritarian they are. The SNP's current manifesto puts it to the left of the Conservative, Lib Dems and Labour parties - and they are slightly less authoritarian than any of these.

On the chart the British Nationalist party probably comes closest to where the German Nazi party would have been. Note that the BNP actually lie to the left of the tories (and that they happen the be the neighbours of the SNP on the left/right axis) - but they are very high up on the authoritarian scale. I guess the Russian Communist party would be high up on that scale too - but, again, probably not extreme on the left wing front. The signature of an authoritarian party is that they take themselves very seriously and tolerate little in the way of dissent.

One other way in which the SNP have been slurred is in terms of their popularity: the projected share of their vote is sufficiently high to eclipse other parties; and they have a charismatic leader. The line of reasoning here would appear to be "Hitler was charismatic and held big political rallies too!" I guess there is a trace of logic here in that once a party becomes sufficiently popular those who don't support it in a family or at work risk not having their voice heard - or even of being bullied. Support can go from being grass roots to being compelled and scripted, the party takes over all media and permits no dissent. That does not seem to be the case at present - by any means - rather the SNP are in a vigorous competition against opponents in Holyrood, Westminster and the media.

Two final points: The assertion "this political party secretly ascribes to X position despite their manifesto saying Y", is facile in the absence of strong evidence. Also - I don't personally believe a proper Nazi leader would confess to a fear of small dogs.
posted by rongorongo at 2:45 AM on May 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


In terms of the real life position of UK political parties relative to each other the Political Compass chart (2015 manifesto version) is a good place to start.

Not convinced. In what possible world does the Labour Party end up further to the right than the BNP?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:08 AM on May 6, 2015


It's a two-dimensional chart in which the left-right axis refers only to economic policy. Labour are to the right of the BNP purely in terms of economic policy, and most of the BNP's nastier positions are captured on the vertical axis, as explained in the link below the chart

Once you accept that left and right are merely measures of economic position, the extreme right refers to extremely liberal economics that may be practised by social authoritarians or social libertarians..it's muddled thinking to simply describe the likes of the British National Party as "extreme right". The truth is that on issues like health, transport, housing, protectionism and globalisation, their economics are left of Labour, let alone the Conservatives. It's in areas like police power, military power, school discipline, law and order, race and nationalism that the BNP's real extremism — as authoritarians — is clear.
posted by Jakey at 3:27 AM on May 6, 2015


Next up: is the DPRK secretly democratic??? We'll have the full details at 11.
posted by indubitable at 4:24 AM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Once you accept that left and right are merely measures of economic position,

Which nobody but smug authors of two-dimensional voting charts ever accept and is therefore useless except for certain gotchas.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:27 AM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Alba, Alba ower aw, ower aw i' the warld!
posted by ennui.bz at 4:32 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


RogerB, the Manhattan Institute is part of the network of Neoliberal think tanks started by Antony Fisher in the UK (Institute of Economic Affairs and the Atlas Network) to promote Hayek's/Friedman's economic theories and various anti-Socialist ideas. They're ends over means folks, and have no compunction about promoting this kind of nonsense.

The thing that really bothers me is that Hayek, if he was philosophically consistent (and still alive of course), would absolutely hate the modern version of neo-liberalism for allowing so much financial power to concentrate in a few thousand individuals and effectively creating a world level politburo command economy of dumb-ass capitalists.
posted by srboisvert at 5:32 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


"...Neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire." --Voltaire
posted by gimonca at 5:37 AM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure the BNP really needs an economic policy - if they're in an position of power where it would matter the UK is already a smoking ruin.

Which, admittedly, seems to come closer with each election.
posted by Artw at 5:40 AM on May 6, 2015




The New Statesman is hardly a Neoliberal think tank.

If you think the SNP are a left-wing force, think again
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:09 AM on May 6, 2015


Echos of the LibDems last time. On the other hand being more rightwing than Labour is really quite a trick, and if there are any steps to outdo them On that front Labour can take I'm sure they will.
posted by Artw at 6:18 AM on May 6, 2015




(Photo showing the devastating effect what BBC Scotland journalist, James Cooke, termed "absolute scenes of chaos" on the streets of Glasgow caused by the above mentioned extremists. Footage, for comparison, showing how the scene was shot and reported.)
posted by rongorongo at 6:49 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh dear. That really is rather desperate.

Between that and the bacon-eating bulllshit the Tory press is pulling there's a real stench of decline over the whole election.

I know AV was never going to win, mainly because the LibDems were the only people pushing it and they had already shown themselves to be wannabe-Tory suck-ups, but looking back on it getting rid of first-past-the-post before the two major parties imploded would have been a really great idea.
posted by Artw at 7:01 AM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


This question truly deserves to be filed alongside other great questions, such as “if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”
posted by acb at 7:18 AM on May 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


"Still think Nazis weren't socialists? Both sure love red flags. CheckMATE."
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:21 AM on May 6, 2015


I don't know, this seems to be a standard argument from right-wing bloggers and conspiracy theorists. It's a false etymology that is so compelling to anyone with a vague dislike of "Socialism" that it automatically attaches itself to their brains.

See also the doofuses who say "America is really a republic not a democracy so the Republicans win CALL THE BURN UNIT" or who insist that white South African immigrants are African-American.

When I'm God-Emperor or Kwisatz Haderach or whatever, these people are going to be followed around by slap-drones that make sure they always rigidly adhere to all possible bullshit definitions and false or irrelevant etymologies. "I'll have a hamburger" **SMACK** THAT AIN'T FROM HAMBURG, MOTHERFUCKER*

*The slap-drones will have Angry Sam Jackson voice, of course.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:10 AM on May 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


"People who think knowing the full name of the Nazi Party is some kind of sick ice burn likely don't abide this same exactness when it comes to countries with the word "Democratic" in their names."

"So, the Islamic Republic of Iran. They even call their elite forces the 'Republican Guard.' Pretty much the same as the G.O.P., right?"
posted by klangklangston at 10:03 AM on May 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Arguably the Nazis weren't really nationalists either...

The quirk of history is that the Nazis weren't even completely fascists, either, at least not "conventional" fascists in the Italian sense. Their anti-Semitism, obsessions with race, and disinterest in implementing corporatist economics (as covered above) was not exactly the same as the clerical/Catholic fascism that came to dominate Italy, Spain, or even nearby Austria. The Nazis were fascist, but there were more orthodox, less weird avant-garde fascists in the world at the time.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:31 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The main thing in common between the Italian fascists and the Nazis, aside from foreign policy, was their intense anti-communism (and anti-trade unionism) and the way both movements rose from street fighting to state power. That's part of the problem with facile comparisons of this or that movement to the Nazis or fascists. This was a period where most men in their 20s or 30s were war veterans and they engaged in politics where parties had wings that beat the shit out of each other. You can't understand fascism without seeing that mode of politics being elevated to running an industrialized nation.
posted by graymouser at 4:13 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The National Socialists as Conservative Revolutionaries
Before we get to the passage, the thing you should know is that ‘Conservative Revolution’ is not a tendentious title – some sinister liberal attempt to slap ‘conservative’ onto a bunch of Nazis (who were radicals, not conservatives!) Or if it is semantically tendentious, it isn’t the author’s fault, just because it seems like an flagrant oxymoron. German nationalists, from 1918 on, used the phrase ‘die Konservative Revolution‘. It was the proper, often self-applied name of a literary/intellectual movement.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:08 AM on May 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


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