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Were Nazis lefties?

Discussion in 'World History' started by Socrates99, Aug 16, 2018.

  1. Socrates99

    Socrates99 Bottoms up!

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    I got into this weird argument in the YouTube comments section the other day where this guy asserted that Nazis were extreme leftists. Nothing I said would convince him that fascism is extreme right. I've seen this argument from libertarians a lot lately. It's weird but maybe I don't understand left v right well enough to pin down exactly why they were extreme right. Just thought I'd come here to get a better understanding.
     
  2. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    No.

    Take a look at this thread as we go over basically the exact same argument.
    https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/socialism-capitalism.634696/

    tl;dr: Contemporary German newspapers described the Nazis as right wing, they were openly opposed in the Reichstag by the left wing Social Democrat and the moderate Center Party, and allied with the firmly right-wing militarists, blood and soil nutters, and the (similarly) right wing freikorps thugs.

    PROTIP: If anyone suggests the Nazis were left wing -outside of perhaps Strasser and Rohm- you can safely ignore them.
     
  3. Alvarez

    Alvarez History Master

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    Hello, @Socrates99 !

    Well, I've been seeing a lot of this position lately over the internet. Actually there could be some right ultraliberals organizations funding it's spread. At least I've read an investigative article on Brazil that shows this connection between Brazilian and latin-american ultraliberal organizations and US ultraliberal organizations funding. This has been a key issue on the removal of our last elected president on 2016 (enough of that for now).

    The thing is: from my point of view, as an academic historian, we are seeing a narrative and discourse struggle not about the Nazis (democratic people will always see them as authocratic), but about the left and socialism ideals. Libertarians tend to think that economic liberty is the same thing as civil liberties, and that economic planning and state economic intervention are the same thing as an authocratic interventions. This re-meaning of economic liberalism as the apotheosis of individual freedom and democracy is what makes them argue that any social organization that affirms state intervention on the economy is authocratic and anti-liberal. As they seems to deal only with absolutes (disregarding the different political nuances and strategies opted by the 3rd way of left reformism and social-democracy), they see all these positions of planned economy as a left-socialist ideal, opposed to free market and civil rights. So, in this logic, any planned economy is leftist, and any totalitariam regime implies a planned economy and, thus, is also left in it's ideal.

    From a pragmatical historical point of view, this is highly disconnected from reality, since policital parties, groups, mouvements, leaders and whatsoever will do what seems to them the better for their supportive groups or classes. Political public discourse and debate is rather a different thing from political ideals and political practices. It is common, in politics, for one to do one thing completely different from what it says to pursue a goal that sometimes he/she wouldn't dare to confess.

    So Nazi German was a planned economy. So was Soviet union. So was most governments at the 30s/40s - including Roosevelt government on US. That's nothing to do with left or right agenda, and more to do as economic recovery from the 20s recession. Every political leadership and most prominent economists at that time knew economy couldn't be saved at that point without state intervention and funding. Liberal funding from speculative markets had ceased and industry would need new capital sources to invest in labour, thus generating consuption and revenues, etc. The Nazi did that in their "Reich" just as the US and USSR. That's pragmatical thinking and doesn't mean it should be done by a dictatorship - this part was purely ideological. The Nazis are considered right before they chose to recover German economy by providing state funds to German enterprises - often by infrastructure investments like their new paved roads and buying their military industry, an alliance with German capitalists, not socialists. They also provided a free or lowcost labor workforce to these capitalist investors thorugh segregation of minorities on the guettos - most of them jews as is well know - and by expropriating jewish capital to fund their new industrial elite.

    Does this make sense or I'm drifting away from the point?

    [I'm very sorry for the mispelling - I was trying to get it fast and just got it lousy]
     
  4. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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  5. Yeekim

    Yeekim Deity

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    If I want to build Communism, but only for white people, am I far-left or far-right?

    Trying to place all the possible policies on a single one-dimensional axis is a fool's errand.
     
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  6. red_elk

    red_elk Deity

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    You'd be a right-winger who doesn't understand that Communism for white people is oxymoron.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
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  7. Yeekim

    Yeekim Deity

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    It's not, if white people are all who're left.
    Also, looks like this needs repeating:
     
  8. red_elk

    red_elk Deity

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    Human personality is also a complex thing. But we can ask whether Yeekim is extravert or introvert.
     
  9. Yeekim

    Yeekim Deity

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    It is indeed complex, which is why any meaningful model of personality relies on anywhere from several to two dozen factors, just one of which is typically extroversion/introversion.
     
  10. Socrates99

    Socrates99 Bottoms up!

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    Ajidica thanks for the link. The thread meanders a bit but it does help answer the question.

    Thanks for the awesome response Alvarez. The guy who was arguing with me did link an article from the Mises Institute as support. I had to Google it, it tries to pass off as an Austrian economics institute but is really a Libertarian think tank in Alabama. So I believe you are right when you say you think this message is being intentionally spread.

    We live in weird times.
     
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  11. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    FYI, the "Austrian school" of economics is probably the most libertarian type. Economists in that school tend to have fringe political commitments to extreme forms of libertarianism, e.g. the position that the state itself is a kind of illegitimate monopoly and should be replaced by private corporations fulfilling state functions.

    As to the topic of the thread - there are two basic ways to view the question of right-wing and left-wing politics. One view is that right-wing and left-wing are largely matters of tactics, aesthetic, etc. and therefore contingent and entirely context-dependent. In this view is it obvious that the Nazis were extreme right as they were considered right-wing in the context of 1920s and 30s Germany, they worked in coalition with the other parties of the right and were opposed by the parties of the left and center. As soon as they got into government they acted remarkably quickly to completely destroy the traditional centers of leftist political organizing (the trade unions, the SPD, and the KPD) through the mass incarceration of these groups in concentration camps.

    The other view is that left and right are sort of transhistorical categories with a fixed meaning whose application varies according to context. In this view, also, the Nazis were extreme right. Their political program was meant to place what they believed was racial inequality at the center of social life. The most fundamental distinction between right and left is egalitarianism vs aristocracy, or the belief that people are fundamentally equal against the belief that some people are intrinsically superior to others. With this in mind we can see that Nazi policies were designed systematically to produce and intensify inequality between the inferiors and their superiors, even to the point of exterminating those deemed sufficiently inferior.

    The right-libertarians like to claim the Nazis were left-wing but this is largely due to two reasons, 1) they don't want to be associated with Nazis at all, and prefer to tar their political opponents on the left with that brush and 2) their ontological commitments lead to this conclusion anyway. Alvarez has helpfully explained why this is, the right-libertarians believe that human activity can be divided into 'public/state/government' and 'private/market' spheres. Activity in the state sphere is by definition coercive and not-free, while activity in the private sphere is by definition non-coercive and free.
    With such a cartoonishly simplistic view of human society it is no wonder that they try to argue absurd positions like the Nazis were left-wing.

    I should also note that as Ajidica noted, there were some elements within the Nazi Party that could be considered vaguely left-wing, at least relative to the rest of the Nazi party and to the other far-right parties such as the monarchist DNVP. The Strasserist wing of the party had its main base of support in the Sturmabteilung, the street-fighting organization which had descended from the post-WW1 Freikorps, reactionary militias which were constituted to put down the German Revolution. This wing of the Nazi Party had all the beliefs about racial inferiors and superiors I mentioned above, but believed in a genuine class revolution, most importantly a replacement of the aristocratic officer corps-dominated Army with a "People's Army," basically, a renamed SA.

    Of course, as soon as he got into power Hitler was having none of this and so he had Röhm, Strasser (Gregor, by this time Otto had already been exiled and later managed to escape Europe completely until after the war), and their important supporters murdered in the Night of the Long Knives, as a signal to Germany's traditional elites that there would be no social revolution under the Nazis.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
  12. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Deity

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    I'm just thinkin' out loud here, but I think a part of the answer has to be, "it depends what you mean by 'leftists'." A lot of people think the way we frame political debates today is how political debates have always been framed, and many people think political debates are the same the world over. The 1920s is not the 2010s, and Europe is not the United States; so Germany in the 1920s was a very different place from the United States in 2018.

    American libertarians support individual liberties over group responsibilities, stopping short of total anarchy; they're anti-authoritarian. Nazism was very authoritarian and demanded unswerving fealty to the group ("ein volk, ein reich" - one people, one nation). In an authoritarian government, the people exist to serve the nation/party/government, not the other way around. To a libertarian, a person determines his or her own responsibilities; the free market is one way to accomplish this - if you buy something from someone, you owe them compensation; if you don't, you don't. It's easy to see the appeal in such a simple, transactional method for figuring out who owes what to whom. Private ownership of everything also makes it easy to figure out who's responsible for what. There's no "tragedy of the commons" when there's no commons.

    Nazism, like socialism and communism and republicanism and feudalism, says that we're part of a larger whole and that we owe something to one another, to community - we have an association forced upon us. A libertarian would, I think, be opposed to things like mandatory vaccination, or taxes that pay for anything that you could just purchase for yourself if you want it (libertarians acknowledge the need for, say, an army and navy to defend national borders, but that's only a pragmatic concession to the fact that we cannot yet rely on people around the world to not shoot us).

    The National Socialist Party in the 1920s grew out of a German Workers Party, and the "Night of the Long Knives" in 1934 was the resolution of a dispute between the arm of the party that emphasized "socialist" over "nationalist" and the arm that emphasized "nationalist" over "socialist." It was the latter, the Hitlerists, who won the argument over the former, the Strasserists, and by the time Nazis became Nazis, they were hardly recognizable as having once been a workers' party.
     
  13. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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  14. Socrates99

    Socrates99 Bottoms up!

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    Succinct and to the point. I read your other post about the market with the Chinese restaurant analogy and as a brewer I have to tell you that's exactly how the craft beer industry works. Clusters of breweries are far better for business than being the only game in town. Funny how that works.
     
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  15. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    Thanks to Senator Mccarthy, anything that sounds like Socialism is Communism.(National Socialism) n In fact, if anything contains the same letters as the letters in Communism or Socialism, it's automatically evil. In fact, as a result, this very post is evil and will turn you into a pinko commie by staring at it.

    But it is correct. Just watch this video for proof.

     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
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  16. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

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    If you take the unusual but not completely absurd definition of right wing as "focusing on the individual" and left wing as "focusing on the collective", then you can maybe argue that Nazi's are left wing, in that they forced people to forgo individual reward for the glory of the state. Although their leadership was completely based on an individual rather than anything collectivist.

    But really, it's BS. The terms right or left wing are now days pretty much defined such that fascism is on the far right, and communism (at least idealised communism) on the far left. You can if you want redefine terms such that this is no longer the case, but why bother? We already have the terms Liberal and Autocratic to describe another aspect of political ideology, and in this one fascism and communism fall in the same bucket.
     
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  17. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Deity

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    In the US, it's hard to pin down. Our moralist conservatives are very collectivist. Christians want everybody to honor their traditions and ethics - some of them even get upset when you say "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas" - and there's that flap about players standing for the national anthem at NFL games. Meanwhile, some positions associated with the left are individualist, such as being pro-choice on abortion.

    Hygro mentioned the glorification of war, which I think is useful in separating Right from Left, at least from the end of WWII. It was of course a defining characteristic of Nazism (and maybe fascism generally, I'm not sure about Spanish fascism). The American mythology of "honorable violence" - hard men doing what needs to be done - tends to land well on the conservative ear. Prior to the Vietnam War generation, those stories were almost all you got in popular entertainment.

    During the Vietnam War, support for the war was the defining, cultural characteristic of right and left. Willie Nelson once said, "In the '60s, the difference between country music and folk music was how you felt about the Vietnam War."

    It's true that a lot of Americans simply don't know what socialism is. I know a guy who is a self-described conservative, and he told me that Sen. Bernie Sanders made him nervous, and then in the same breath mentioned that he had grown up in a Soviet country, so he had some experience. Bernie Sanders-to-Soviet Communism was, for him, two dots connected by a single line. I mean... oy vey. And there was that famous woman at the John McCain town hall who angrily demanded that government keeps its hands off her Medicare. Sen. McCain, a Republican, gently reminded her that Medicare is a government program. *facepalm*

    Right, it's in the name, which confuses some people. And North Korea is a people's democratic republic. :lol:
     
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  18. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    Well, that's not specifically American as much as previous bad experiences with Communism. It's not very fair, but I guess I would understand why those words would be a trigger especially when combined with the propaganda of the country as well. Though what is considered socialist here is rather different than elsewhere so that makes it even worse.

    Government out of our lives.... unless I like it

    As it turns out, Dictatorships don't call themselves "Evil Empire of Destruction". They need to grab something that sounds more appealing, and you see that stuff like ethnonationalists or whatnot. Which is why it is foolish to associate a thing with them just because they claim to be. It's just a popular tactic to pile anything one doesn't like with a dictator. Of course, since both Stalin and Hitler had mustaches, it also makes it twice as evil!
     
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  19. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Austrian economics is not libertarian. Neither is Ayn Rand's Objectivism. Both are fundamentally about the unrestricted freedom of action of the elite. So really no different from Confederates.
     
  20. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish triggering far-left sjw snowflakes

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    That's not what they're fundamentally about.
     

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