Leftists Become Incandescent when Reminded of the Socialist Roots of Nazism

 writes:  On 16 June 1941, as Hitler readied his forces for Operation Barbarossa, Josef Goebbels looked forward to the new order that the Nazis would impose on a conquered Russia. There would be no come-back, he wrote, for capitalists nor priests nor Tsars. Rather, in the place of debased, Jewish Bolshevism, the Wehrmacht would deliver “der echte Sozialismus”: real socialism.

Goebbels never doubted that he was a socialist. He understood Nazism to be a better and more plausible form of socialism than that propagated by Lenin. Instead of spreading itself across different nations, it would operate within the unit of the Volk.

[Daniel Hannan is the author of“How We Invented Freedom and Why it Matters”]

So total is the cultural victory of the modern Left that the merely to recount this fact is jarring. But few at the time would have found it especially contentious. As George Watson put it in The Lost Literature of Socialism:

“It is now clear beyond all reasonable doubt that Hitler and his associates believed they were socialists, and that others, including democratic socialists, thought so too.”


The clue is in the name. Subsequent generations of Leftists have tried to explain away the awkward nomenclature of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party as either a cynical PR stunt or an embarrassing coincidence. In fact, the name meant what it said.

[Order Jonah Goldberg’s classic “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning” From Amazon]


You can’t accuse the NSDAP of downplaying the “Socialist” bit

Hitler told Hermann Rauschning, a Prussian who briefly worked for the Nazis before rejecting them and fleeing the country, that he had admired much of the thinking of the revolutionaries he had known as a young man; but he felt that they had been talkers, not doers. “I have put into practice what these peddlers and pen pushers have timidly begun,” he boasted, adding that “the whole of National Socialism” was “based on Marx”.

[Order Daniel Hannan’s book “How We Invented Freedom and Why it Matters” from Amazon]


The Dutch Nazi Party was equally explicit: “With Germany Against Capitalism”

Marx’s error, Hitler believed, had been to foster class war instead of national unity – to set workers against industrialists instead of conscripting both groups into a corporatist order. His aim, he told his economic adviser, Otto Wagener, was to “convert the German Volk to socialism without simply killing off the old individualists” – by which he meant the bankers and factory owners who could, he thought, serve socialism better by generating revenue for the state. “What Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism failed to accomplish,” he told Wagener, “we shall be in a position to achieve.”

Leftist readers may by now be seething. Whenever I touch on this subject, it elicits an almost berserk reaction from people who think of themselves as progressives and see anti-fascism as part of their ideology. Well, chaps, maybe now you know how we conservatives feel when you loosely associate Nazism with “the Right”.

To be absolutely clear, I don’t believe that modern Leftists have subliminal Nazi leanings, or that their loathing of Hitler is in any way feigned. That’s not my argument. What I want to do, by holding up the mirror, is to take on the equally false idea that there is an ideological continuum between free-marketers and fascists.


Another Dutch Nazi image: “Our Socialism Your Future”

The idea that Nazism is a more extreme form of conservatism has insinuated its way into popular culture. You hear it, not only when spotty students yell “fascist” at Tories, but when pundits talk of revolutionary anti-capitalist parties, such as the BNP and Golden Dawn, as “far Right”.

What is it based on, this connection? Little beyond a jejune sense that Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty and fascists are nasty. When written down like that, the notion sounds idiotic, but think of the groups around the world that the BBC, for example, calls “Right-wing”: the Taliban, who want communal ownership of goods; the Iranian revolutionaries, who abolished the monarchy, seized industries and destroyed the middle class; Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who pined for Stalinism. The “Nazis-were-far-Right” shtick is a symptom of the wider notion that “Right-wing” is a synonym for “baddie”.

One of my constituents once complained to the Beeb about a report on the repression of Mexico’s indigenous peoples, in which the government was labelled Right-wing. The governing party, he pointed out, was a member of the Socialist International and, again, the give-away was in its name: Institutional Revolutionary Party. The BBC’s response was priceless. Yes, it accepted that the party was socialist, “but what our correspondent was trying to get across was that it is authoritarian”.


The Dutch Nazi Party was equally explicit: “With Germany Against Capitalism”

In fact, authoritarianism was the common feature of socialists of both National and Leninist varieties, who rushed to stick each other in prison camps or before firing squads. Each faction loathed the other as heretical, but both scorned free-market individualists as beyond redemption. Their battle was all the fiercer, as Hayek pointed out in 1944, because it was a battle between brothers.

Authoritarianism – or, to give it a less loaded name, the belief that state compulsion is justified in pursuit of a higher goal, such as scientific progress or greater equality – was traditionally a characteristic of the social democrats as much as of the revolutionaries.

Jonah Goldberg has chronicled the phenomenon at length in his magnum opus,Liberal Fascism. Lots of people take offence at his title, evidently without reading the book since, in the first few pages, Jonah reveals that the phrase is not his own. He is quoting that impeccable progressive H.G. Wells who, in 1932, told the Young Liberals that they must become “liberal fascists” and “enlightened Nazis”.

In those days, most prominent Leftists intellectuals, including Wells, Jack London, Havelock Ellis and the Webbs, tended to favour eugenics, convinced that only religious hang-ups were holding back the development of a healthier species. The unapologetic way in which they spelt out the consequences have, like Hitler’s actual words, been largely edited from our discourse. Here, for example, is George Bernard Shaw in 1933:

“Extermination must be put on a scientific basis if it is ever to be carried out humanely and apologetically as well as thoroughly… If we desire a certain type of civilisation and culture we must exterminate the sort of people who do not fit into it.”

Eugenics, of course, topples easily into racism. Engels himself wrote of the “racial trash” – the groups who would necessarily be supplanted as scientific socialism came into its own.. .

Read the rest >>

Telegraph Blogs

Daniel Hannan is the author of ‘How we Invented Freedom‘ (published in the US and Canada as ‘“How We Invented Freedom and Why it Matters”). He speaks French and Spanish and loves Europe, but believes the EU is making its peoples poorer, less democratic and less free.

10 Comments on “Leftists Become Incandescent when Reminded of the Socialist Roots of Nazism”

  1. genomega1 says:

    Reblogged this on News You May Have Missed and commented:
    Leftists Become Incandescent when Reminded of the Socialist Roots of Nazism

  2. Gunny G says:

    Reblogged this on BLOGGING BAD ~ DICK.G: AMERICAN ! and commented:

  3. Tim Shey says:

    The left wing are control freaks. If the left think the right is nasty, the wrath of God can be very nasty.

  4. Prole Center says:

    Try actually reading the “Communist Manifesto” and then comparing it to “Mein Kampf” and you will see a world of difference. Don’t be too swayed by names. I could claim to be the King of Siam, but it don’t make it so. Obama promised hope and change, but all we got was more of the same, and war and inequality has even grown and intensified.

    Oh, and your George Bernard Shaw quote was patched together out of context and in any case was meant to be satire.

    • The Butcher says:

      You seem to not be clear about who the author of the article is. I have to assume your comments are meant for the author, you’d need to write to Danniel Hannan at the Telegraph in the U.K. George Bernard Shaw was a rabid, dedicated socialist, that’s one of his milder quotes. And of course there’s a difference between Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto, did you even read Hannan’s article? If you’re a socialist, you’d naturally be in denial about the roots of socialism. If you’re just a leftist with a shallow understanding of history, that’s why writers like Hannan are worth paying attention to.

      • Prole Center says:

        Sorry, I got confused. I thought you were just quoting Hannan. I did finally go and read the full article. I prefer Hannan’s colleague Tim Stanley’s article that I posted on my site that you listed under related articles above. It’s called “Hitler wasn’t a socialist. Stop saying he was.” Mr. Stanley is a libertarian, but I fully agree with his analysis. I just disagree with his last sentence or two about less government and voting libertarian, of course.

        We’ll just have to agree to disagree, but I might suggest that if you want to figure out who’s a capitalist and who’s a socialist, then just follow the money. Obama, for instance, was backed in the last presidential election (just like Romney), by billionaires and large corporations. Here is what Obama had to say to his real constituency, where he actually tells the truth:

        “People call me a socialist sometimes. But, no, you’ve got to meet real socialists. You’ll have a sense of what a socialist is . . . I’m talking about lowering the corporate tax rate. My health-care reform is based on the private marketplace. The stock market is looking pretty good last time I checked . . . In my conversations with Republicans, I actually think the divide is not that wide. So what we just have to do is find a pathway where Republicans, in the House in particular, feel comfortable enough about process that they can go ahead and meet us . . . This, by the way, is a good example of something that’s been striking me about our politics for a while. When you go to other countries, the political divisions are so much more stark and wider. Here in America, the difference between Democrats and Republicans — we’re fighting inside the 40-yard lines.”

        – Barack Obama (Meeting with CEO’s organized by the Wall St. Journal, November 2013)

      • The Butcher says:

        feel free to direct your comments to the author, thanks.

  5. […] chance I get.  To get a fuller picture, flip back to Daniel Hannan‘s provocative essay Leftists Become Incandescent when Reminded of the Socialist Roots of Nazism, and Tim Stanley‘s opposing essay, Hitler wasn’t a socialist. Stop saying he […]

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