Yeah, he was a socialist.

cropped-libertyI give up trying to convince people that most of the various -isms are divisive bunk, and that, really, the spectrum of -isms from authoritarianism to libertarianism boil down to a very simple principle: primacy of the state, versus primacy of the individual.

But let us at the very least put to rest the idea that Nazis weren’t socialists.

Here is a ten-year-old article, which is, I think, just about the correct distance from the present to be more clearly separated from today’s tribal hysteria and concomitant “Democratic Socialism” blindness.

The core argument is that Hitler called himself a socialist of a sort derived from Marx, and that his deviation from the USSR’s variety of socialism (“Jewish Marxism” in Hitler’s words) was in two key forks that made it, in Hitler’s opinion (as well as that of Mussolini, who wrote much on the subject) more workable.

  1. National Socialism relied on geography and race to avoid the needlessly divisive self-destructive civil war as the Russians had suffered. Hitler felt that Germans shouldn’t fight Germans, so he elevated race above pure socialist dogma in an effort to unite more to his general cause. In Hitler’s words, “…find and travel the road from individualism to socialism without revolution.
  2. Recognizing private property rights is necessary to economic success and social unity. In Hitler’s own words (not from the article), “Socialism is the science of dealing with the common weal. Communism is not Socialism. Marxism is not Socialism. …Socialism, unlike Marxism, does not repudiate private property. Unlike Marxism, it involves no negation of personality, and unlike Marxism, it is patriotic.

I can understand some confusion, as Hitler had over the years said many things that could, in isolation, fuel the notion that he was anti-Marx; certainly he was anti- “Jewish Marxism.”

But I believe that’s only when viewing Hitler through a partisan lens. Because he made it abundantly clear in his own words that he was a socialist.

In a critique of Mussolini’s newly-coined “fascism,” Hitler wrote of his own economic plan, “Point No. 13 in that program demands the nationalization of all public companies, in other words socialization, or what is known here as socialism.”

To more or less summarize my argument, as well as that in the article and referenced book, I’ll end with Hitler’s own words, and let you think on where we are today, and why so many Americans admired the man back in the day:

The Germany of today is a National Socialist State.  The ideology that dominates us is in diametrical contradiction to that of Soviet Russia.  National Socialism is a doctrine that has reference exclusively to the German people.  Bolshevism lays stress on international mission.  We National Socialists believe a man can, in the long run, be happy only among his own people.  We are convinced the happiness and achievements of Europe are indissolubly tied up with the continuation of the system of independent and free national States. Bolshevism preaches the establishment of a world empire…

 

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By any name, it kills

First, here are the classical definitions of socialism:

  1. Government (not “communal”) control of property, and ownership of the means of production.
  2. Some definitions include the elimination of private property, but this overlaps with communism, and somewhat contradicts Marx’s definitions.
  3. In Marxist theory, an intermediary/transitional form of government between capitalism and communism distinguished by unequal distribution of property and income. “Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.” – Karl Marx

Socialism

Now, the use and meaning of the word “socialism” has changed a LOT recently.  So I’ll contrast it to communism, as defined by Marx:

  1. The state is eliminated (true anarchy) and all property and means of production is owned equally by the people as a collective.
  2. No private property. “The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property.” – Karl Marx
  3. Distribution of goods and services by: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” – Karl Marx

People can of course believe whatever they want.

If they want to call themselves socialist and then redefine socialism to be something they like better than the old definition…well, who am I to argue?

Words change all the time. The English language hardly resembles what it did before the Vikings and French and Shakespeare started messing with it.

But let’s not fool ourselves with our words, either.

Words are extremely powerful.  It’s by words, and the actions we apply to words, that we turn corporate abstractions like “tribe,” “gang,” “army” and “nation” into deadly forces of oppression, slavery, genocide and war.

I know a lot of decent, well-meaning, well-educated and very intelligent socialists. They all perform the same, subtle linguistic/mental alchemy:

They trans-substantiate politicians into “The People,” and are, really, advocating communism.Atheists

In other words, today’s socialists dismiss the inevitably violent and impoverishing despotism of an almighty government, and transmogrify the realities of authoritarianism into the dreams of a Marxian Kumbaya.

Now, to a degree and in a way, we all do that, and it’s not all bad.

All government is by consent of the governed. Politicians, elites and even the legions of bureaucrats all put-together, are vastly outnumbered by the people who in one way or another consent to be ruled. So even the most oppressive tyrants reflect The People’s willingness to submit, if nothing else.

We’re tribal, pack animals, and we tend to Follow The Alpha. But even the most well-armed and entrenched ruler can be thrown down when the actual human populace (and not an abstraction like “The People”) get mad enough to finally act.

So it’s true, though we act like it’s not: ALL government is by consent of the governed.  ALL government is a reflection of the people.  It is the collective’s avatar.

But socialists aren’t thinking of We The People as a republic with representative politicians. Even more strangely, when they’re asking politicians to take over every aspect of life, they’re imagining this will lead to freedom, not being subjugated by an authoritarian despot.

I really do understand this. It sounds great. In fact I used to do this mental trick on myself, and I fell for a good bit of Marx and Engel’s rhetoric:

If you’re unhappy with the way things are in general, or the way your life is working in specific, doesn’t this sound appealing? “We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. …Both for the production on a mass scale of this communist consciousness, and … the alteration of men on a mass scale is, necessary, … a revolution; this revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew.” – Karl Marx

And how about this one: “Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries, unite!” – Karl Marx

And this one from Marx is absolutely true: “A nation cannot become free and at the same time continue to oppress other nations.

I’m not sure why “socialists” don’t just come out and say it; again, here’s Karl Marx: “It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Specter of Communism with a Manifesto of the party itself.

But let’s consider the label “Democratic Socialist” (which is itself very Marxian: “Democracy is the road to socialism”).

A few hours ago I read a rose-colored “Democratic Socialism” article that said “Socialism can be defined as ‘a system of social organization in which private property and the distribution of income are subject to social control.’

OK, fine. But what the heck is “social control” if we don’t have it already?

What doesn’t our government control right now, today? Are socialists somehow saying that our government is not the social organization of our society?

You can argue all you want about the benefits of income redistribution and that mysterious ether “social justice.”

But if you’re using “social control” of property and income as the definition of socialism, then we’ve already got it, and socialists should be delighted.NoGun

But they’re not, are they?

So, what do they really want?

Well, actually, I think most want, in a broad sense, what I want.

  1. They may be angry at people, and even violent toward their political foes; but all the “socialists” I know say they want peace. World peace. As in, quit bombing people. That’s a fine wish. I’d be happy to work with them on this.
  2. They want prosperity, however they define it. I may strongly disagree with their ideas on economics, but our goals are the same. People should prosper.
  3. They know our current social order is corrupt, and want that to go away. Me too! Oh man do I agree with them on that.
  4. They want something like “fair.” OK, they do tend to categorize people and have special classes of rights and privileges for special people, and I hate that. But they still have a sense that things aren’t fair now, and that something has to be done. I’m cool with that.
  5. While I think they’re calling oppression down on their own heads, they think they’re working toward freedom…personal freedom. I’m totally for that goal.

So, my problem with socialists isn’t their goals; it’s their chosen plan to attain their goals. I don’t think they’re thinking straight about their “social control” versus authoritarian corruption, poverty and violence. I think they’re grabbing onto the same, ancient snake-oil political promises and imagining that they’re the newest Get Rich Quick scheme.

lucy-charlie-brown-footballWe’ve done this before. We’ve done it to death. We keep believing the promises of dreams and ending up with the nightmares of yet another despot.

I know the arguments about western intervention in socialist nations like North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and other descendants of the Russian revolutions of 1917. They have some merit. Our Presidents T. Roosevelt and W. Wilson did tremendous damage to the world in making war into a grand adventure of Empire instead of self-defense only.

But the arguments that socialism quickly tears itself to bits are much stronger, in my opinion.

Strong enough, I think, that the real peace, freedom and prosperity lovers among us should keep offering a much, much better way for a better life, and try to convince our fellows that what didn’t ever work as advertised before…still won’t work.