Thursday, February 28, 2013

Were Nazis from the Left or Right?

(Note to readers: there are some issues with the formatting in this post.  The font changes size and weather or not it is superscript.  I have removed some of the many problems by looking through the html code.  I don't want to continue to look to fix the rest of the problems; if I wanted to be a computer programmer, then I would be.  My apologies if the poor formatting makes the text harder to read than it should be.  My suggestion for prospective bloggers here.)

Many people who talk to people on the left get compared to Nazis and to Hitler.  They are told repeatedly that Nazis and fascists are far-right ideologies.

In an attempt to read about Nazis I read much of the Wikipedia page on Nazism.  I wanted to see if the actual policies of the Nazis would compare more to the left or right.  One point I found was that Nazism is called "far-right" repeatedly throughout the page.
A majority of scholars identify Nazism in practice as a form of far-right politics.[22]
There isn't really a listing of specific policies, the page more describes the sorts of things favored, and opposed, by Nazis.

An interesting paragraph that describes the ideology's politics:
The German Nazi Führer Adolf Hitler had objected to the party's previous leader's decision to use the word "Socialist" in its name, as Hitler at the time preferred to use "Social Revolutionary".[15] Upon taking over the leadership, Hitler kept the term but defined socialism as being based upon a commitment of an individual to a community.[15] Hitler did not want the ideology's socialism to be conflated with Marxian socialism. He claimed that true socialism does not repudiate private property unlike the claims of Marxism, and stated that the "Marxians have stolen the term and confused its meaning" and "Communism is not socialism. Marxism is not socialism."[16] Nazism denounced both capitalism and communism for being associated with Jewish materialism.[17] Nazism favoured private property, freedom of contract, and promoted the creation of a national solidarity that would transcend class differences.[18][19] Like other fascist movements, Nazism supported the outlawing of strikes by employees and lockouts by employers, because these were regarded as a threat to national unity.[20] Instead, the state controlled and approved wage and salary levels.[20]
There are sections of the page describing the Nazis' dislike of communists and sections on their dislike of capitalists.

Part of the "anti-communist" section:
In 1930, Hitler said: "Our adopted term ‘Socialist' has nothing to do with Marxian Socialism. Marxism is anti-property; true Socialism is not."[146] In 1942, Hitler privately said: "I absolutely insist on protecting private property ... we must encourage private initiative".[147]
Part of the "anti-capitalist" section: 
Adolf Hitler, both in public and in private, expressed disdain for capitalism, arguing that it holds nations ransom in the interests of a parasitic cosmopolitan rentier class.[150] He opposed free market capitalism's profit-seeking impulses and desired an economy in which community interests would be upheld.[136]

Hitler distrusted capitalism for being unreliable due to its egotism, and he preferred a state-directed economy that is subordinated to the interests of the Volk.[150] Hitler said in 1927, "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 determined to destroy this system under all conditions."[151]
One interesting thing I discovered was calling Heinrich Himmler "conservative" and later saying that he opposed too much conservatism and capitalism.

Quote one:
Other prominent conservative Nazis included Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich.[34]
Quote two:
Other Nazis — especially more radical ones such as Gregor Strasser, Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler — rejected Italian Fascism, accusing it of being too conservative or capitalist.[93]
So, were Nazis far -right or far-left?

The authors of this Wikepedia page want to claim that the Nazis drew their ideology from both sides.  Hitler claimed that he got his ideology from both sides and that both sides are wrong.
Adolf Hitler and other proponents officially portrayed Nazism as being neither left- nor right-wing, but syncretic.[23][24] Hitler in Mein Kampf directly attacked both left-wing and right-wing politics in Germany, saying:
Today our left-wing politicians in particular are constantly insisting that their craven-hearted and obsequious foreign policy necessarily results from the disarmament of Germany, whereas the truth is that this is the policy of traitors [...] But the politicians of the Right deserve exactly the same reproach. It was through their miserable cowardice that those ruffians of Jews who came into power in 1918 were able to rob the nation of its arms.[25]
Note that Hitler did not like the right because they were too nice to the Jews.

Hitler thought that Nazism was from the left and the right, moderate?  Maybe we should conclude that it is the moderates in America that have ideologies most similar to the Nazis.

My conclusion is that despite repeated claims of Nazis being far right, that wasn't really the case.  Here's a quote that is a fine example for showing that while Hitler favored private ownership of things, he wanted to control what the people did with the things that they privately owned.
Hitler believed that private ownership was useful in that it encouraged creative competition and technical innovation, but insisted that it had to conform to national interests and be "productive" rather than "parasitical".[136] Private property rights were conditional upon the economic mode of use; if it did not advance Nazi economic goals then the state could nationalize it.[137] Although the Nazis privatised public properties and public services, they also increased economic state control.[138] Under Nazi economics, free competition and self-regulating markets diminished; nevertheless, Hitler's social Darwinist beliefs made him reluctant to entirely disregard business competition and private property as economic engines.[139][140]

To tie farmers to their land, selling agricultural land was prohibited.[141] Farm ownership was nominally private, but discretion over operations and residual income were proscribed.[citation needed] That was achieved by granting business monopoly rights to marketing boards, to control production and prices with a quota system.[142]
If Nazis were "far-right" because they supported private ownership and then controlled what was done with the privately owned things, then who needs socialism?


  1. Have you read Jonah Goldberg's most excellent book, "Liberal Facism"?
    The Amazon page summarizes it far better than I can:
    "Contrary to what most people think, the Nazis were ardent socialists (hence the term “National socialism”). They believed in free health care and guaranteed jobs. They confiscated inherited wealth and spent vast sums on public education. They purged the church from public policy, promoted a new form of pagan spirituality, and inserted the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life. The Nazis declared war on smoking, supported abortion, euthanasia, and gun control. They loathed the free market, provided generous pensions for the elderly, and maintained a strict racial quota system in their universities—where campus speech codes were all the rage."

    1. I've already heard too much already from the usual pundits on the right. After a while even listening to Rush gets repetitive and predictable.

      Book recommendations are always appreciated though.

  2. The Nazis were overwhelmingly leftist, as Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn clearly showed in "Leftism Revisited."

    1. My thanks for the book recommendation.

  3. right and left in europe were descriptive of 2 forms of statism/collectivism. in the US, the right vs left axis describes the classical liberal, low interventionalist founder's vision of the state vs european/progressive statism. thats why its so confusing. nazism was a nationalist collectivist movement vs communism's internationalist collectivism.

    1. If Nazis were righties, then who needs socialism?

  4. In Europe, socialism became mainstream by the twentieth century. Everyone was competing to be socialist, including right-wing conservative nationalists like Oswald Spengler, who influenced the Nazis. Spengler was part of the Conservative Revolutionary movement that advocated a national socialism free of Marxist and other left-wing aspects and focusing on promoting German national unity.

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