In what sense was Hitler socialist ?

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Jan 2 2012 13:08
In what sense was Hitler socialist ?

So Hitler and his Nazi party were supposedly the "national socialists". The national part of the name can not be challenged, however I have trouble getting my head round how his ideas could ever be socialist in any sense of the word (statist left or egalitarian classless stateless) ? Ive studied Hitlers rise to power as part of GCSE history but this did not really cover any in depth ideological analysis of course except how it was obviously horrible (understatement) and racist etc

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Jan 2 2012 13:31

In as much as he was trying co-opt the language of the left. In the first decades of the 20th century the Social Democrats, who were ostensibly Marxist, were the biggest political party in Germany. So I guess he was a socialist as much as he called himself a socialist, know what I mean.

The other thing was that the party was corporatist and advocated a command capitalism combined with full employment and a welfare state for it's "citizens". So in that sense it does share characteristics in common with social democracy.

The best book on this, in my opinion, is The Anatomy of Fascism. Well worth a read of you're interested in this sort of thing.

Harrison
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Jan 2 2012 15:36

I think basically 'socialism' was popular with workers at the time. The full name of the nazi party (NSDAP) - National Socialist German Worker's Party, just illustrates the populism which they were after.

Kind of statist left (whilst promoting class collaboration as opposed to classlessness) combined with extreme nationalism.

They also constructed a meritocracy (Hitler's final words to the social democrats at the convening of the reichstag where the NSDAP won a majority was: 'Do not mistake us for a bourgeois world!') which had more social mobility than Germany had previously had, and this kind of broke with Germany's previously very defined class system.

So yeah i guess as Chilli says, this was 'socialist' in the social democrat sense.

Another interesting point is what Mussolini (a former socialist) had to say

Wikipedia wrote:
On economic issues, Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini claimed in 1933 that fascism's "path would lead inexorably into state capitalism, which is nothing more nor less than state socialism turned on its head. In either event, [whether the outcome be state capitalism or state socialism] the result is the bureaucratization of the economic activities of the nation."

it's worth reading the rest of this entry as well. Confirms (through the reading of Mussolini's turgid "theory") the anarchist/socialist theory of fascism as being an attempt by capitalism to save itself.

If you come across this (Hitler supposedly being involved in the Bavarian Soviet Republic) just remember it is very very poorly researched history desputed by pretty much all historians of the Nazi period (which includes historians of left and right).

zenkka
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Jan 2 2012 15:53
Chilli Sauce wrote:
The other thing was that the party was corporatist and advocated a command capitalism combined with full employment and a welfare state for it's "citizens". So in that sense it does share characteristics in common with social democracy.

it should probably be noted that nobody considered inferior by the Nazis was accounted for in unemployment statistics. also that the way unemployment was made to drop so much was to make enormous amounts of weapons (similar to the United States economy during the second world war).

Nazi Germany's economic model was basically "military keynesianism". deficit spending and state intervention in the economy in order to massively militarize the country. then couple that with eliminating basically all workers rights while actual wages are shooting downwards.

Harrison
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Jan 2 2012 15:56

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Jan 2 2012 16:18

So, is it too simplistic to call the BNP,EDL etc National Socialist in their appeal to the white working class and incitement to racial hatred?

zenkka
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Jan 2 2012 16:50
GBF23 wrote:
So, is it too simplistic to call the BNP,EDL etc National Socialist in their appeal to the white working class and incitement to racial hatred?

National socialist specifically means Nazi, so yeah. Neither of those are Nazi organizations.

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Jan 2 2012 17:02
Quote:
Mussolini (a former socialist)

Not just that, but a former syndicalist who'd identified as an anarchist angry

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Jan 2 2012 17:57

A reason the Nazis were identified with socialism was due to the influence of Ernst Rohm who became the leader of the Nazi street fighters, the SA. Until his murder, he walked abreast of Hitler at their rallies.

Wikipedia:

Quote:
Under Röhm, the SA also often took the side of workers in strikes and other labour disputes, attacking strikebreakers and supporting picket lines. SA intimidation contributed to the rise of the Nazis, breaking down the electoral activity of the left-wing parties. However, the SA's reputation for street violence and heavy drinking was a hindrance.

Another hindrance was the more or less open homosexuality of Röhm and other SA leaders such as his deputy Edmund Heines (both of whom would later be sentenced to death on Hitler's orders)…

…Röhm and the SA regarded themselves as the vanguard of the "National Socialist revolution." After Hitler's takeover, they expected radical changes in Germany, with power and rewards for them. However, Hitler's use of the SA as storm troopers was a political weapon he no longer needed…

… Röhm spoke of a "second revolution" against "reactionaries" (the National Socialist label for old-line conservatives), as the National Socialists had previously dealt with the Communists and Socialists.

All this was threatening to the business community. So Hitler swiftly reassured businessmen that there would be no "second revolution." Many "storm troopers" were of working-class origins and had expected a socialist programme. In fact, it was often said at the time that members of the SA were like a beefsteak — "brown on the outside and red on the inside".

They were now disappointed by the new regime's lack of socialist direction and also failure to provide the lavish patronage expected. Röhm even publicly criticized Hitler for his failure to carry through the National Socialist revolution…

I think too much notice of Hitler’s a charisma is used by bourgeois historians as the reason for the appeal of Nazism (the great man theory of history). In contrast, I’ve read (somewhere) that many members of the German Communist Party went over to the Nazis because of its national socialist rhetoric, after all Stalin was supposed to be building socialism in one country, why could not Germany? Hitler was an opportunist (like say Napoleon or Lenin) who grasped his chance when the conditions presented.

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Jan 2 2012 18:13

Anyone ever read Ordinary Men? Fucking amazing book.

wojtek
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Jan 2 2012 19:55

Quite a few of the points in their 25-point Program were compatible with state socialism... Ian Kershaw, whose work you may have been studying Croyd, is a really good historian with regards Nazi Germany. I recommend the documentary series 'The Nazis: A Warning from History' if you haven't already watched it. It's available to watch on youtube.

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Jan 2 2012 20:21

They were socialist in methodology and in the terms of what socialist meant then. Basically their populism was the socialist part as others have said.

Nazis, all fascists really, viewed society in a totalitarian way (in the philosophical rather than political meaning of the word). All of the nation is united as one through the power of the state, everyone has a role, and as long as everyone plays their part the whole of the nation benefits. That's basic fascism right there.

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Jan 2 2012 20:22
wojtek wrote:
Quite a few of the points in their 25-point Program were compatible with state socialism... Ian Kershaw, whose work you may have been studying Croyd, is a really good historian with regards Nazi Germany. I recommend the documentary series 'The Nazis: A Warning from History' if you haven't already watched it. It's available to watch on youtube.

the 25-point program never played an important role for the NSDAP, Hitler clarified in 1928 that the party defends private property (of Aryans)

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Jan 2 2012 20:29
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All of the nation is united as one through the power of the state, everyone has a role, and as long as everyone plays their part the whole of the nation benefits. That's basic fascism right there.

I'd disagree and say it's more complicated than that. Here's what I wrote on another thread earlier today:

Fascism was a very specific social system that only exists when series of specific criteria are met. Just because an particular ideology shares on or more particular fascist characteristic (aggressive nationalism, militarism, or anti-communism, for example) doesn't make it fascism.

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Jan 2 2012 21:29

Chilli wrote -

Quote:
Fascism was a very specific social system that only exists when series of specific criteria are met. Just because an particular ideology shares on or more particular fascist characteristic (aggressive nationalism, militarism, or anti-communism, for example) doesn't make it fascism.

Fully agree, but I always find it frustrating with some of the horrible examples history throws up for us to label fascist or not. Take the Colonels, Generals et al - many say they weren't fascists, and indeed there's argument over Franco meeting the criteria.

zenkka
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Jan 2 2012 21:37

fascism is a capitalist form of government that is formed as a heavy handed and desperate reaction to preserve the ruling class in the face of instability and intense class struggle.

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Jan 2 2012 21:38

zenkka wrote -

Quote:
fascism is a capitalist form of government that is formed as a heavy handed and desperate reaction to preserve the ruling class in the face of instability and intense class struggle.

Perfect!

lurching to the left
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Jan 2 2012 21:53

The Nazis were influenced by some socialist ideas and you could even say that some members of the Nazi party, like the Strasser brothers, believed in a bastardised form of socialism but Hitler was never one of them.

He always distanced himself from the 25 point program, he voted against calling the party the national socialist party, he defended private property, at one point he even claimed that true socialists believed in private property and was openly critical the members of his party who called for worker control of industry. As a result many on the Nazi parties left wing openly opposed Hitlers leadership, most were killed during the night of the long knives.

Most of the people who claim Hitler was socialist are the same kind of people who think that anything less than anarcho-capitalism is socialism, or just right wingers who can't come up with a real argument so just Godwin it up instead.

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Jan 2 2012 22:07
zenkka wrote:
fascism is a capitalist form of government that is formed as a heavy handed and desperate reaction to preserve the ruling class in the face of instability and intense class struggle.

I'd say that's definitely a characteristic of fascism, but the ruling class can react "heavy handed and desperate reaction to preserve the ruling class in the face of instability and intense class struggle" without resorting to fascism. There's other necessary characteristics required for full-fledged fascism.

The Franco example someone mentions actually backs this up. Franco no doubt employed fascists--the Falange--in his seizure of power. However, what he wanted was a return to authoritarian conservatism dominated by a military-church alliance. Once he was in power, he quickly disposed of the Spanish fascists. And no doubt Franco's rebellion was a ruling class response to intense class struggle.

no1
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Jan 2 2012 22:07
Auld-bod wrote:
A reason the Nazis were identified with socialism was due to the influence of Ernst Rohm who became the leader of the Nazi street fighters, the SA. Until his murder, he walked abreast of Hitler at their rallies.

The Strasserite left wing of the Nazi party was also radical in their 'anti-capitalism' in that they were very hostile to "Jewish" finance capitalism and more in favour of 'productive' capitalism, calling for the removal of the old elite, nationalisation of banks, support by the working class, breaking up of large estates etc. In 1930 Otto Strasser attacked Hitler for betraying the socialism of national-socialism and was kicked out of the Nazi Party. National Bolshevism is somewhat similar to Strasserism and kind of popular in Russia I think.

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Jan 2 2012 22:13

That's actually a very important point No1. The Nazis were against bourgeois "Jewish" finance capital, but were never opposed to private property or private profit.

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Jan 2 2012 23:26

According to William Shirer, the NSDAP did run social programmes that were an extension of early Bismarckian welfarism, and probably reflect not something disimilar to a proto form of the welfare state. If I remember rightly, in the UK the Boer war was responsible for major health reforms, because unhealthy recruits were a cause of major concern - so its not exactly philathropy.
Of course with expropriations domestic and abroad, the arms industry going into overdrive, and women being forced back into the home the economy was expanding to support these kind of demands.

Rudolf Rocker wrote:
It is a fact that every political concept from theocracy to Caesarism and dictatorship have affected certain factions of the socialist movement.

Needs pointing out, frankly.

zenkka
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Jan 2 2012 23:42
Chilli Sauce wrote:
zenkka wrote:
fascism is a capitalist form of government that is formed as a heavy handed and desperate reaction to preserve the ruling class in the face of instability and intense class struggle.

I'd say that's definitely a characteristic of fascism, but the ruling class can react "heavy handed and desperate reaction to preserve the ruling class in the face of instability and intense class struggle" without resorting to fascism. There's other necessary characteristics required for full-fledged fascism.

No, the ruling class cannot form a new government based on brutality to the workers movement and of which the primary goal of the newly formed government is to protect the ruling class against political instability and class struggle without it being fascism. What else do you think it needs?

For all his faults, one thing that Trotsky was right about was that "fascism is capitalism in decay"

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Jan 2 2012 23:57

Franco's Spain, for one practical example.

You are right tho, Trotsky's quote on fascism is true. However, fascism also needs corporatism, virulent racism, ultranationalism, and militarism. You could have a government based on "protect[ing] the ruling class against political instability and class struggle" that lacked any and all of those qualities. That government wouldn't then be fascist.

EDITED for clarity.

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Jan 3 2012 00:33
Chilli Sauce wrote:
fascism also needs ... virulent racism

I'm not so sure it does. Certainly the two go together very comfortably but Italian fascism, for example, was not unusually racist by the standards of the day. To put it in personified terms, Churchill was probably a bigger anti-semite than Mussolini. I agree with your general point though.

zenkka
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Jan 3 2012 00:55
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Franco's Spain, for one practical example.

You are right tho, Trotsky's quote on fascism is true. However, fascism also needs corporatism, virulent racism, ultranationalism, and militarism. You could have a government based on "protect[ing] the ruling class against political instability and class struggle" that lacked any and all of those qualities. That government wouldn't then be fascist.

Nazi Germany and fascist Italy had different ways of running the economy, the Nazis just had normal keynesian economics with an emphasis on military buildup. fascist countries don't need to model themselves after Italy.

and yeah, Italy was no more institutionally racist than Britain or America.

what you're talking about with racism, nationalism, and militarism is just the outer ideological crap of fascists. the reason for each of those things is to justify fulfilling the actual function of fascism. nationalism (which is tied to the racism) is meant to unify the nation because national unity is cross class and is a justification for suppression of class movements. really, that's what the nationalism is about, it's a tool to fulfill the function of fascism. but it's not what fascism actually is. fascism is any state that is set up as the ultimate reaction to try to destroy class politics.

petey
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Jan 3 2012 02:48
RedEd wrote:
Italian fascism, for example, was not unusually racist by the standards of the day. To put it in personified terms, Churchill was probably a bigger anti-semite than Mussolini.

prominent roman historian mario levi (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/it/wiki/Mario_Attilio_Levi; note the name) was an enthusiastic fascist co-operator: http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2003/2003-06-39.html 6th para (full disclosure: i've given papers on the material in the 4th para). he wasn't the only one.

Alexander Roxwell
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Jan 3 2012 03:43

One cannot view the German National Socialist Party the same way one might analyze the German Social Democratic Party. Ideas meant something to Social Democrats.

There was this little dinky party called simply the German Workers Party which Hitler joined as a spy for the German Army right after World War I was over. He made it into the German National Socialist Party. Positions were grafted on to attract followers. Capitalism was not a very popular idea. Dick Cheney says he opposes abortions. My guess is that Dick Cheney doesn't give a wooden nickel about abortions but that this is a "throw away" issue that he uses to suck in idiots to support his real cause. I believe that a similar thing could be said for the "socialism" of the Nazi Party.

The "socialism" of the Nazi Party was like the "socialism" of Army life. All the privates are in the trenches regardless of their status in civilian life. The sort of "macho" camaraderie that one often calls "male bonding." Since the Nazis were organizing amoung the lumpen proletariat they needed to be able to "take care of their own" and to some extent they did.

In what sense was Hitler a "socialist"? Ha Ha.

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Jan 3 2012 10:17
zenkka wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:
and yeah, Italy was no more institutionally racist than Britain or America.
Quote:

they implemented anti-semitic laws in 1938 which were never fully implemented up to the German takeover of Northern and Central Italy in 1943 ... but the politics of assimilation against national minorities (German-speakers in Southern Tyrolia and especially Slovenes and Croats in Istria) were very repressive ... and Italian repression in Libya and Ethiopia was exceptionally brutal (use of chemical weapons, mass executions, concentration camps)

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Jan 3 2012 10:18
no1 wrote:
Auld-bod wrote:
A reason the Nazis were identified with socialism was due to the influence of Ernst Rohm who became the leader of the Nazi street fighters, the SA. Until his murder, he walked abreast of Hitler at their rallies.

The Strasserite left wing of the Nazi party was also radical in their 'anti-capitalism' in that they were very hostile to "Jewish" finance capitalism and more in favour of 'productive' capitalism, calling for the removal of the old elite, nationalisation of banks, support by the working class, breaking up of large estates etc. In 1930 Otto Strasser attacked Hitler for betraying the socialism of national-socialism and was kicked out of the Nazi Party. National Bolshevism is somewhat similar to Strasserism and kind of popular in Russia I think.

Otto Strasser advocated a partial expropriation where workers, local councils, the state, etc. held part of the shares, as far as I can remember, 51% still belonged in his model to the capitalist owner and only 10% to the workers ... his group (~ 1000 members) was one of the few non-workers movement orgs which tried to organize resistance to the Nazi regime but most of its cells where crushed after short time by the Gestapo because of the high numbers of of members who returned to the NSDAP and became grasses, some more leftwing members of Strasser's Black Front joined SPD and KPD. Gregor Strasser who was murdered in 1934 was more a kind of Keynesian

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Jan 3 2012 10:49
zenkka wrote:
Nazi Germany and fascist Italy had different ways of running the economy, the Nazis just had normal keynesian economics with an emphasis on military buildup. fascist countries don't need to model themselves after Italy.

what you're talking about with racism, nationalism, and militarism is just the outer ideological crap of fascists. the reason for each of those things is to justify fulfilling the actual function of fascism. nationalism (which is tied to the racism) is meant to unify the nation because national unity is cross class and is a justification for suppression of class movements. really, that's what the nationalism is about, it's a tool to fulfill the function of fascism. but it's not what fascism actually is. fascism is any state that is set up as the ultimate reaction to try to destroy class politics.

I didn't say they couldn't have different ways of running the economy, what I said is that militarism--a war time economy and and foreign policy grounded in military aggression--was a necessity, which Germany and Italy both had. (Arguably the US has this today, but this only further proves my point: fascism is defined by convergence of number of characteristic, many of which are shared--but not in total--by many other states around the world.)

But more importantly, this definition:

Quote:
any state that is set up as the ultimate reaction to try to destroy class politics

is way too flabby. What is the "ultimate reaction". Does it include Peron's Aregentina? Pinochet's Chile? Franco's Spain?

I should say that I think the point you're making--that fascism is a ruling class reaction to high class struggle--is an incredibly important one and one that's glossed over by most bourgeois interpretations of the period. However, I think we have to make sure that we don't swing too far and view that as fascism's only definitive characteristic. There's more to it than taht.