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The Nazi Card

Everybody hates the Nazis. The Nazis are so useful as a focus for self-righteous anger, that if they did not exist, as the saying goes, they would have been invented. And to a degree, the Nazis, in modern parlance, were invented. If you don't like someone and want an excuse to ignore them without having to address any of their points of debate or argument, well - poof - call them a "Nazi' and they become someone unworthy of your regard. The problem with that, of course, is that after a while folks forget what the Nazis really were, and the historical and moral lesson of the National Socialist Workers Party is lost, to the point that Holocaust deniers and historical revisionists begin to claim support from people who really should know better. Before going further, I would mention that this is not an article meant to compare any American political party to the Nazis, because in truth the Nazis were strongly opposed by both the Democrats and Republicans.

A reader brought up the Nazis recently, though not by name. He posted a comment that said anyone who used "fascist" and "socialist" in the same sentence was not to be taken seriously. The statement, however, proved his own limits. The Nazi party, after all, was both fascist and socialist. What's more, the terms 'Fascist' and 'Socialist' may seem relatively modern, at least 20th Century in their coinage, but the concepts go a long way back. The Roman Empire, for example, used Fascism as its standard foreign policy ever since their war against Carthage - 'don't make us mad, or we'll kill you and everyone who ever knew you'. Rome not only executed criminals for violent crimes, but as examples to curb demonstrations, political statements, and at the whim of procurators. These are the guys who came up with a brand new form of death-by-torture: Crucifixion, from which we derive the word excruciating, which means the most extreme form of pain and suffering. Brutal reprisals and power through force is hardly new. What the Nazis did with Fascism, was to try to develop the most efficient means to punish enemies, whether in combat or in repressing 'undesirables'. It's hardly a coincidence that the Nazi regime called itself a Reich (in Nazi propaganda, the 'First Reich' was the Roman Empire).

As for Socialism, that goes even further back. Consider Plato, for example. In his book "The Republic", when discussing the ideal city, Plato wrote about a city where the "philosopher king" and a class of elites would make decisions for everyone, from protection of the city to wages, to who could marry whom and where everyone would live. That's a pretty fair description of Socialism in theory, folks, and so that idea goes all the way back before the time of Christ who, for the record, was neither a Fascist nor a Socialist. So far as the Nazis were concerned, Socialism meant that the State would take care of everyone, in exchange for complete and eternal loyalty to the State. I would even go so far as to suggest that Adolf Hitler imagined himself a kind of philosopher king. Hitler made great shows of his war decoration from World War I, his love of animals and vegan diet ( I kid you not), and his desire for "reasonable" accommodation in negotiations. In practice, of course, the little Corporal demanded absolute control and his temper was infamous and greatly feared, but that is common to many totalitarians who combine Socialism with Dictatorship (another Roman innovation in leadership). Besides Hitler, other famous Socialist Dictators include Josef Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, and of course Saddam Hussein.

The terms "Fascist" and "Socialist" have not only fallen from favor in the last couple generations, they are taken by most Americans as pejorative in their own sense. Look, for example, at the umbrage taken by Barack Obama and his supporters at being described as 'Socialist'. There is a distinction between the literal meaning of the word and its connotation, although marketing attempts to use tenebrous terms like "Progressive" do not help the matter. But back to the Nazis ...

- continued -

The kind of Nazis one sees in the movies, and even the occasional television show (wherein even 70 and 80-year-old Nazis are supposed to still possess innate evil that is to be feared), are frankly caricatures of the movement. The scary thing about the Nazis, to me at least, is how many millions of ordinary people bought into the party's promises and supported it with money, votes, and enthusiasm. It's chilling to realize that the people of Germany did not react to repression of Jews, Gypsies, and other minorities when public outrage would have mattered. It's discomforting to think that, in spite of conventional wisdom, that Adolf Hitler was very popular in Germany before the Second World War started, even after he began preparing for war and instituted programs for which the Nazis would justly be despised around the world.

It's often said that the Nazis did not come to power legitimately, but that's not really true. The Nazis manipulated the political system in Germany, in a manner which many modern political parties could imitate to their advantage, such as concealing financial support from covert influence groups, such as leveraging a plurality to gain control of the legislature, to playing rivals against one another so their party appears to be the most palatable to ordinary people. In fact, many of the issues and positions taken by the Nazi Party could appear to be quite reasonable, and in line with modern mainstream political views:

The Nazi Party argued for a strong national defense;

The Nazis argued for a national health program;

The Nazis argued for strong punishment as a deterrent to crime;

The Nazis argued for the right to abortion;

The Nazis supported state-sponsored moral values;

The Nazis argued for wage controls and nationalized industry.

And more.

On the face of such positions, the Nazis could appear quite reasonable. But of course the actual practice of the Nazi positions was anything but comparable to American political values. The Nazi's idea of strong national defense included taking over neighboring countries; the Nazis' national health program was based on Eugenics and the grooming of a Master Race; the crime prevention initiative in Germany became a blank check for secret police forces and terror squads; the abortions approved in the Third Reich included coerced abortion of 'undesirable' infants, and so on. The political structure of the Nazi Party was not merely deceitful, but malicious to the spirit of the nation which gave birth to masters of Art, Literature, and Theology. The lesson for us, is to consider that such a catastrophe could happen anywhere, including here.

Continuing on, the hierarchy of the Nazi Party was in many ways unpredictable. The figurehead was a legitimate war hero, whose rhetoric about national pride and public service resonated with a lot of people. The head of the Luftwaffe was the squadron leader of Germany's most famous aces from World War I, the Jagdstaffel of the Baron Manfred von Richtofen (the Red Baron, whose death in April 1918 also changed history). The head of the state media under Hitler was an almost-invisible mandarin with extensive political connections and leverage on almost every print and broadcast company in Germany. But beyond that triumvirate, the Nazi Party expanded in a method later copied by the Crips and Bloods gangs in the United States: Seek out and recruit the disaffected, offer them purpose and power, and set them against your enemies in whatever way they could serve. And like criminal gangs, the Nazis often found violence and threats to be their most effective weapon. Even before gaining significant political power, the Nazis had an organization for violence (the 'brownshirts' of the SA), a paramilitary police organization which spied on opponents and government agencies, and a propaganda arm which coordinated the flow of money into the party and the public access to its leaders. What started as a fringe movement in 1924, by 1930 enjoyed substantial public support and had already begun to gain national prominence through increasing control of media, the courts, and financial centers. While similar tactics have been used in other countries, nowhere has the combination worked so effectively as it did for the Nazis. But this was not so much a 'perfect storm' of conditions, as it was the manipulation of conditions to produce the desired opportunity.

This is not to make the claim that "it can't happen here". It can all too easily happen here, with the freedoms in place that Americans enjoy, because as we have seen the evil ones among us can and do abuse their freedom to deprive others of their own. The warning is that we must understand the essence of the Nazis to prevent their like coming to power here. The threat that the Nazis represented in 1930-38 Germany is not reflected in the marches or screeds of badly-groomed malcontents unable to tolerate diversity or comprehend globalism, but the actions of political leaders to suppress grassroots dissent from the people they claim to represent. The next generation of Nazis will not come from activists walking in protest marches, but from universities which allow only one end of the political spectrum free access to support and their resources. The danger of totalitarianism does not come from people who work for a living and own their own business, but from those who believe they are entitled to tell others how much money they may earn and keep. The Nazis of today are not those who remember their obligations to the people and the nation, but those who collect grudges and dream of punishing their enemies. The defense of America lies, ultimately, not with Democrats or Republicans, nor even with Independents or Tea Partiers, but with Americans across the political spectrum.


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Comments (22)

The Left has discovered tha... (Below threshold)

The Left has discovered that naming something gives them power over it. By always calling the recently-passed medical insurance regulation bill "health care reform" in the media, three feel-good words in a row, they were able to ask the rhetorical question, "Who could possibly be against health care reform?" Those against the bill, both conservative politicians and Fox News, used the same words and railed against something that sounded good on its face.

You know what would be fun? To refer to evil Socialist regimes as Progressive in an offhanded manner. Because the emperor's new clothes are the same birthday suit the radical humanists have had since day one. "Hitler's Progressive policies," etc., etc.

Adolf Hitler, in all actual... (Below threshold)

Adolf Hitler, in all actuality was not a German Citizen. He was born in Austria near the German border. He couldn't make it in the corporate world or even in the cultural world of the time. He moved to Germany to escape the life of a gutter rat. He received his war hero status in the trenches of Flanders. He never advanced beyond the rank of corporal, because he got a dose of gas and was in the hospital recovering when the War ended.

Hitler was disqualified to be elected Chancellor of Germany, because of the law that the Chancellor had to be a native German. He got Paul Hindenburg to change that law after the 1933 elections, so he could be eligible for that position. The rest as they is history.

Liberals have socilist tend... (Below threshold)

Liberals have socilist tendecies and deep down in inside they are all fascists.

Meh, the (P)resident is in ... (Below threshold)

Meh, the (P)resident is in reality a Marxist.

No, Michael, ALL politician... (Below threshold)

No, Michael, ALL politicians deep down want to control the "little people".

It is silly to pretend otherwise. Conservatives desire the same thing with the social side of its platform. Conservatives have their Creationists, Anti-Porn Crusaders (Heck, call them Morals Police), and Protectionist wings. The thing is, right now, we have the Democrats doing their controlling. Ina few years we will have a return of the opposite side of the control.

Neither side seems to really want to let people just live their life and deal with the consequences.

Neither side seems to re... (Below threshold)

Neither side seems to really want to let people just live their life and deal with the consequences.

Nope. One side is claiming that my livelihood doesn't belong to me and the other side believes they own my body. I want them both to mind their own damned business.

Morals Police? You mean li... (Below threshold)

Morals Police? You mean like Tipper Gore and the PMRC? THAT Morals Police?

There IS a fundamental difference between 'bad' conservative politicians and 'bad' liberal ones. The conservatives are excoriated and tossed out - the libs' stories are kept mum.

Compare and contrast the treatment of DeLay, Craig, and Stevens to Edwards, Feinstein and Dodd.

Interesting post. To answer... (Below threshold)

Interesting post. To answer it completely would expend 30 minutes of time I don't have tonight, what with the dialectical terms thrown into the circle of your post; terms which are by their nature hard to pin the tail on (as you suggest).

Ex."Socialism". Hitler was brought to power through the financial backing of the plutocrats of German industry and his Nazi movement was more than tolerated by the Germany army (indeed Hitler infiltrated the Nazi party as an army spy). His treason trial in 1924 against the civilian government was essentially smooth-over by Reichwehr high command (as were earlier lesser Nazi trials of others supposedly fomenting treason within the barracks against civilian control of the armed forces).

The Junker class snobbery (Hindenberg, etc) against "that corporal" was simply that: class prejudice by officers born into a certain station of life. And the Prussian officer corps were basically protestant at that time; Hitler was an Austrian Catholic with an uncouth speech and mannerism.

In Hitler's Teutonic universe, the use of "socialism" meant Anti-Bolshevik. And that is how it was taken. After all "socialism" was used in this conservative context by Prince Bismarck himself in the 1880s. The welfare state concept goes all the way back to the Fuggers of the 15th century, if not before.

Also, you are wrong AND right about your 1st Reich designation. Wrong, because the 1st Reich is the HOLY Roman Empire, the cradle of the modern German state. And RIGHT because there is a lot of evidence that the ANCIENT Roman Empire was but a shadow duplicate grafted upon history of the real Holy Roman Empire.


I think you've missed the p... (Below threshold)

I think you've missed the point by looking at Germany, as Hitler didn't invent Fascism, Mussolini did (hence the definition of fascism as "whatever Mussolini called fascist"). And no, fascism is not a political ideology about how to punish enemies. Where the heck does that come from?

Mussolini was a socialist who became disillusioned with the ineffectiveness of the socialist movement in Italy, so he moved to a "third way," which did not seek to eliminate class, but to bind all classes to work together and serve the interest of the state. Hence the term fascism, which derives from the Latin fascis, meaning bundle.

So yes, there are differences between socialism and fascism, and what is going on in terms of economic policy in this country more closely resembles fascism than socialism. But really, as far as American politics are concerned, those differences are moot.

The way it was explained to... (Below threshold)

The way it was explained to me was Mussolini's Fascism was based around the Italian state, that was the Bundle. Hitler had a broader view which was a race based Fascism, with Germany being the Fatherland.. Both were socialists, who used the state to bring about their particular brand of Fascism. That's how I remember it, I am sure it is much more complicated but that is the bare bones explanation.

So you ask people to not co... (Below threshold)

So you ask people to not compare people to Nazis then immediately compare socialists to Nazis. I guess you forget that the first people he put into the concentration camp where those socialists, communists, and leftest political prisoners. You could identify them with the red triangle they where forced to wear...

Nazis were not called Natio... (Below threshold)

Nazis were not called National Socialists for no reason. What is worth looking into is how the "progressive" (earlier term for liberal,leaders in the US expressed public admiration for Mussolini during the 20s and 30s. I haven't finished Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" yet, but he lays out the links between fascism and modern liberalism. The basic link is the attitude of the state toward the citizen. Fascists and many liberals deny individual liberty when it stands in the way of the elite plans for the public good. "Soup Nazi" should have been "Soup Fascist". The racial purity aspect of Nazism obscures the fact that Fascism in Italy and Germany had far more in common with Russian Communism than not. Another name for the Russian variety could have been International Socialism/Fascism.
Unfortunately, we have been electing fascists from both parties who believe they have the right to micromanage all of our lives. This November may be our last chance to start regaining our messy, inconvenient liberties.

"In Nazi propaganda, the 'F... (Below threshold)
Sean P:

"In Nazi propaganda, the 'First Reich' was the Roman Empire)."

Not quite. The First Reich was actually the HOLY Roman Empire, a confederation of German principalities in the middle ages that included several northern Italian provinces as far south as Rome (although not always). The Second Reich was the German Empire formed in the 19th Century under Von Bismark.

Not to take away from your main point, however, which is spot on. Anyone who says that "anyone who uses fascism and socialism in the same sentence is not to be taken seriously" should not be taken seriously themselves.

Nice, DJ, you pen a clear a... (Below threshold)

Nice, DJ, you pen a clear and incisive connection between today's "progressives" and the fascist Nazis, and the Nazis come crawling out of the woodwork to defend themselves! Oops, er, I mean, the progressives. You do know how to poke 'em with the sharp stick of Truth. I like it.

GeneralChoomin,Sta... (Below threshold)


Stalin killed communists, socialists and leftist by the millions, I guess that means he was not a communist.

As said: Obama, and it see... (Below threshold)

As said: Obama, and it seems most of his followers, are Ideologically Socialist but in practical execution Fascists.

MunDane pull your head out ... (Below threshold)

MunDane pull your head out of your ass. Conservatives believe in freedom and the Constititution...libs are believe in control and destroying the constitution(or altering to suit their warped views)....simple as that.

GeneralChoomin,Sta... (Below threshold)


Stalin killed communists, socialists and leftist by the millions, I guess that means he was not a communist.

He sure wasn't. He was a Stalinist.

While I enjoyed the article... (Below threshold)

While I enjoyed the article and can't argue with the major points, I think the idea is a bit of a waste of time. The difference between fascists and Nazis and every other sort of socialist is barely perceptible to the naked eye, but there's no convincing people of that unless they are willing to accept evidence and examine it logically. And all of the above are intrinsically opposed to evidence and logic, because underlying all the modern totalitarian movements is a fundamental fantasy belief system which is romanticism. There's a reason that Napoleon's title was Consul before it was Empereur. The red flag of socialism/communism has its roots in the red cloak of Sparta and particular Roman legions. Some call them statist but that could cover realists too--and they are not realist in any sense.

Every one of these romanticist belief systems is based on myths; myths of the past which will build a better future, or myths of the present, or myths of the golden future only Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot or Castro can possibly clearly see. Without romanticizing past or present or future they've got nothing to sell. Those myths are the most important part of ALL of these political movements, whether Anarchist or Progressive. And a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. Convincing will never ever work, because the myths make them special.

I hate to simply dump on an argument without proposing an alternative, but the alternative is too big to fit in this little space. In a single phrase: a cultural movement that turns truth into myth-like stories. What's needed is art rather than science. Tell someone that Stalin and Hitler are practically identical and you accomplish nothing. Use a story to illustrate it and you might convince people.

Shaka of the Zulus killed m... (Below threshold)

Shaka of the Zulus killed many Africans, and to cement his power, many Zulus. Did this mean he was not a Zulu?

Jeebus. This general sounds like BryanD after a head injury and a bottle of cheap Bourbon.

From practical experience, ... (Below threshold)

From practical experience, conservatives believe in 'freedom' in the same way that a cat believes in 'freedom', with a side of the Church Lady thrown in.

And be that as it may, I am talking politicians here, which are about as moral and deep, as well, cats. Look, I know we all get warm fuzzies thinking about how cool it would be if 'conservatives' ran things but I do want to point out that Reagan (which we all agree was a Conservative) did several things that my conservative principles rankled at.

Things like the Meese Commission, the 1986 Amnesty, The Iran-Contra trade, selling AWACS to Saudi Arabia, and the paramilitarizing of the police for the 'War on Drugs'.

If it isn't clear, let me say it again. I do not trust a politician. I trust them less when they are saying they are doing things to help me. I trust them not at all when they say they doing something 'for the good of the country'.

Doesn't really matter MunDa... (Below threshold)

Doesn't really matter MunDane...your side(fascists) is going down come November and freedom is going to make a comeback. In 2012 your Il Duce wannabe is going down. So sad to live with ones' head up your ass....what is it like...dark?






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