Ph.D. Octopus

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Nazism and Fascism were Ideologies of the Right

with 15 comments

by David

Adolf Hitler: Not a Socialist

Three days ago it was Yom HaShoah, the Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a solemn occasion, one that should not be politicized. On this next day, however, I’d like to address a political pet peeve of mine, namely the view that fascism, specifically Nazism, was somehow an ideology of the Left. It was not.

People often make this mistake by lumping Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia together as two sides of the same totalitarian coin. Both regimes were responsible for monstrous crimes, yet the ideological underpinnings behind them should be distinguished and understood, rather than inaccurately melded together. Fundamentally, fascism and its Nazi manifestation were ideologies of the extreme Right, that advanced not only a racist populism but also a socially Darwinistic, hierarchical individualism that celebrated competition and allowed for for some capitalist industry to coexist alongside and in league with a powerful state.

I was spurred to write this post after listening to right-wing talk radio, where the announcer described fascism as an ideology of the left, the result of the expansion of Big Government. These scare tactics are used to form a slippery slope argument, namely that the welfare state leads to the gas chambers. Friedrich Hayek advanced a version of this argument in his famous and erroneous work, The Road to Serfdomparticularly in his chapter “The Socialist Roots of Nazism.” It is certainly true that fascism represents the worship and expansion of state power. Yet it can and did exist alongside capitalism, as was the case in Nazi Germany. Though Adolf Hitler led the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi), Hitler was not a socialist.

The reasons for this are manifold. First is the obvious: socialist and communist parties existed in Weimar Germany alongside the Nazi party and indeed were its bitter enemy (though Communists and Nazis occasionally colluded too). Second, and equally obvious, Nazism divided Germans along racial rather than class lines. Jews and other enemies of the state were enemies regardless of class, and the Aryan ideal could be achieved at any socioeconomic level.

Third, the Nazi regime did not completely take over all large businesses and industries, but rather colluded with them, most famously with chemical company I.G. Farben. This is a crucial mistake people make about fascism: businesses in fascist states like Hitler’s Germany are not necessarily government owned, and can to some degree  function within a market-oriented capitalist framework subject to the laws of supply and demand. Fascism, in this totalitarian form, functioned occasionally with brute force, like on Kristalnacht, but often through more subtle means. Fascism more frequently used coercive force like that at play in Jeremy Bentham and Michel Foucault’s Panopticon, a prison that exerted social control through fear of being watched rather than naked displays of state power. This, along with Hitler’s popularity, rendered capitalist business compatible with Nazism, so long as those involved with it were Aryans who obeyed the regime.

Most important, we know Nazism was an ideology of the far right because of the very logic behind it. Unlike socialism, Nazism was a hierarchical, Socially Darwinistic vision that encouraged competition, and  showed disdain for the masses, who Hitler called “mentally lazy.” Most crucially, it did not denigrate individualism, but in fact celebrated it. This is evident in Hitler’s major work, Mein Kampf. 

I’m not simply referring to Hitler’s attacks on “Jewish” Marxism and Bolshevism, which he argued was a “comrade” to the equally Jewish “greedy finance capital.” Hitler believed that “the stronger must dominate and not blend with the weaker.” Hitler extrapolated from individual achievement, “true genius,” to racial achievement. Indeed, to ignore racial hierarchy led to an “underestimation of the individual. For denial of the difference between the various races with regard to their general culture-creating forces must necessarily extend this greatest of all errors to the judgment of the individual.” Hitler celebrated the “free play of forces” that enabled both individual and racial advancement in Darwinian struggle. He loved sports, especially boxing, as they served “to make the individual strong, agile and bold.”

Hitler’s individualism and elitism emerged most strongly in his chapter on “Personality and the Conception of the Folkish State.” Hitler distorted Nietzschean philosophy to elevate certain individuals, like himself, above all others. He hoped to organize society that placed  “thinking individuals above the masses, thus subordinating the latter to the former.” This would be true of economic life as well. “in all fields preparing the way for that highest measure of productive performance which grants to the individual the highest measure of participation.”

I could go on. My point here is not to politicize, but to de-politicize. Hitler was of course not a pure capitalist, and Nazi Germany not a purely capitalist state. Nazi Germany’s economy relied on considerable amount of state control and even some Keynesian economics. Many socialists showed similar disdain for the masses. But, and this is crucial, Hitler was not really interested in economics, nor was economic policy central to the Third Reich. Expansion of government and state power was less important to the regime than socially Darwinistic racial competition.

To conclude, I’ll simply say this: socialism and the welfare state should not be advanced by criticizing Nazi Germany and invoking the spectre of the Holocaust, but they should not be attacked that way either.


Written by David Weinfeld

April 22, 2012 at 11:01

15 Responses

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  1. […] Nazism and Fascism were Ideologies of the Right […]

    • HI David. In your assessment have you taken A. James Gregor’s work into account (Marxism Fascism and Totalitarianism, and other books)?

      Do you think that Nazism and Italian Fascism are similar enough to suggest that they have a common source, i.e. capitalism?



      April 22, 2012 at 20:32

      • Hi Stan, thanks for the comment. Have not consulted Gregor. I don’t think that capitalism is the source of fascism and certainly not of Nazism. Capitalism in its purest form has an anti-racist logic to it. I think it’s difficult pointing to the sources of these larger phenomena. I think there are enough problems with capitalism on its own that one needn’t say that it necessarily leads to fascism or anywhere else. The same of course can be likely be said of socialism, at least in practice.

        David Weinfeld

        April 23, 2012 at 01:29

      • gregor’s central point (if i’m remembering correctly) is that fascists and even nazis had strong biographical and intellectual connections to different forms of marxist revisionism. the most obvious here is mussolini, but he wants to make a much broader argument: out of the revisionism crisis, you get neokantians like bernstein, who make modern social democracy, you get orthodoxy (kautsky), you get lenin and bolshevism, but *also* italian fascism (understood as a sort of idealist revisionism, i think), and even, gregor argues, people who claim to be marxist materialists writing about the struggle between races, people who give an intellectual foundation to the nazis. this is the argument. even accepting these filiations, we can say, for instance, that gregor gives an intellectual centrality to marxism in the 1900-1920 period that it simply did not have. but also, again even accepting the connections gregor is writing about, this would only mean that it is possible, as of course it is, to enlist the writings of those who believe themselves to be on the left in support of essentially right-wing programs (and, of course, vice versa).


        April 23, 2012 at 04:25

  2. […] Fascism and Nazism are not ideologies of the Left, in case any of you were still confused. […]

    • LOL, of course not, that’s why they seek to imprison and/or impose fines on anyone with the audacity to defy their opinions. That’s not the very definition of fascism, of course not. It’s the very definition of freedom, LOLOLOLOL


      January 1, 2013 at 11:41

  3. Just wanted to point out that it is the German goennrmevt that’s having a problem with YouTube. Turns out Germany has been a bit touchy about Nazis for a while now and have various standing laws that restrict any kind of pro-nazi speech in their country. Accourding to a zdnet quoted by TechCrunch, neo-nazi violence has been on the rise recently.What I think is interesting here is that the German goennrmevt is trying to attack YouTube, which by virtue of being on the intertubes is somewhat international (though the article mentions they are going after Google Germany, it’s all the same in the end). That is what makes the internet so hard to regulate: which country’s standard do you (can you) impose? None or the fewer the better would be my hope.


    May 15, 2012 at 01:11

  4. This book was originally conceived as a study of the generation of 1968 in West Germany. Seeking to understand how Nazism and its legacies were interpreted in the 1960s, especially by the New Left student movement, I was struck by the preponderance of arguments that the Third Reich was a distinctly sexually repressive era and that to liberate sexuality was an antifascist imperative. Numerous New Leftists argued directly that sexuality and politics were causally linked; convinced that sexual repression produced racism and fascism, they proposed that sexual emancipation would further social and political justice.

    mercadeo internet

    May 15, 2012 at 06:32

  5. Nice work here. For clarification, fascism institutionalized in the US with the reconstruction amendments and introduction of it’s SSO counterpart into US political infrastructure [Atramental Lodge 23/Benjamin Harrison], social Darwinism having motivated it’s commemorative Whitechapel and Mary Ann Nichols it’s eugenics product AKA TE Lawrence. May Thomas and John Chapman RIP(per). Sarah Junner-Lawrence never carried: however, she DID raise Nichols’ son renditioned curbside August 31, 1888, also Junner’s birth date. Now what was that you were saying about Nazism? Oh yeah, huh.


    July 10, 2012 at 00:30

  6. ” . . . and allowed for for some capitalist industry to coexist alongside and in league with a powerful state.”

    What do you think Socialism is?!

    Of course there are going to be businesses. True governmental control of all business isn’t even possible. There will be business owners, it’s just that their businesses are controlled by the state, i.e. Marxism, I.e. Nazism, i.e. any kind of Socialism.

    So, yes, there will be levels of Capitalism in all Socialism, but those levels, in a socialist economy, will be determined by government. Hitler believed in measures of Capitalism because he really was a smart man even if he was evil. China only lasts because it allows measures of Capitalism to seep in whereas the Soviet Union did not. Even with all we pay China, they were forced to allow measures of Capitalism or they too would have become too expensive and collapsed, just like the Soviet Union did. They still might, even with the small measures of Capitalism they’ve let in.

    Hitler, for all his speeches against the Soviets also admired Stalin, and his economy, and how well it seemed to work at the time. In fact, Hitler wanted to team up with Stalin for a brief period of time.

    When you don’t think things through, and you regurgitate, yes, I’ll admit that your side sounds more logical. But when you actually think things through, really objectively get in there and look at reality for what it is, then you begin to see that logically, Hitler along with his party was socialist and Hitler was an atheist who believed very deeply that he had found the pinnacle of human evolution.

    Just because someone says something when trying to win support from the populace does not mean that they believe it, and it rarely means they believe it entirely as they say it in front of people. So we look at their actions, what they do. And Nazi’s did take control of the economy, did regulate religion, did dictate how the money of the economy could be used, did frequently oppose ideologies of Capitalism.

    I will love the day when you liberals will stop getting so caught up on words that feed your delusions and start looking at actions that defy them.


    January 1, 2013 at 11:39

    • Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt recently wrote an article about fascism (“Fascism Anyone?,” Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The excerpt is in accordance with the magazine’s policy.
      The 14 characteristics are:
      1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
      Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
      This is a rallying cry since fascist regimes despise religion and replace religion with government.
      2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
      Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
      Totalitarian regimes have no regard for human life or rights. It is communistic to believe the means justify the ends, so fascists will give up liberty and freedom for perceived safety. Fascist regimes also confiscate private firearms in fear of uprising. The right to bear arms comes under assault.
      3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
      The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
      Never let a good crisis go to waste. For fascists, fear mongering is a must, so they use language to initiate fear. Everything is described in terms of war: the war on poverty, the war on women, the war on social security, the war on race, etc…
      4. Supremacy of the Military
      Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
      Not the supremacy of the military, but the use of military tactics such as police, teachers, neighbors, all in the name of safety. However, it is necessary for a totalitarian regime to use military tactics on its own people to keep them under control. For example, the increased militarism of police. Fascists have a greater fear of their own people than outside enemies. Fascist regimes also confiscate private firearms in fear of uprising. The right to bear arms comes under assault.
      5. Rampant Sexism
      The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
      6. Controlled Mass Media
      Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
      Controlling the media and agenda is a must for fascist regimes. For example, Mainstream media has a liberal bias both by presentation and omission. They are used as propaganda for the regime.
      7. Obsession with National Security
      Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
      National security OUTSIDE the country as opposed to inside the country. Fascist regimes use militarized police force to curb violence inside the borders, however, media use propaganda to describe any violence inside the borders to enforce the regime’s agenda. Open borders are used to create new voting blocks for the regime. Any terrorist activity INSIDE the borders are used to foster anger against the opposition (terrorist violence is due to the opposition’s policies and America’s past/present/future policies, in other words, America deserves it.) Fascist regimes also confiscate private firearms in fear of uprising. The right to bear arms comes under assault.
      8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
      Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.
      Fascist governments substitute religion for government. Government becomes a religion. Government policies become the moral guidance. Opposition to fascist government policies is immoral. For example, opposition to global warming is immoral.
      9. Corporate Power is Protected
      The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
      Corporate power is protected only for the use of government. Fascist governments dictate what corporations do. Fascism is totalitarianism, and therefore, mandate business practices and policies. For example, government will mandate minimum wage, paid time off, and override religious beliefs. Even fascist regimes know that corporations create jobs, thereby creating wages and tax revenues.
      10. Labor Power is Suppressed
      Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .
      NAZI stands for National Socialist Worker’s Party. Labor is not suppressed as much as it is directed and lead by government policies and practices.
      11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
      Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
      Free speech, creativity, and other liberties are oppressed because fascism is totalitarian. Limiting speech in the name of political correctness is fostered. Communism mandates the normalization of the abnormal such as sexual activity, sexual orientation, etc…
      12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
      Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
      Again, fascism is totalitarian and anti-human, therefore, oppressing the general public is a must. Fascist regimes, in fear of an uprising, also dictates gun confiscation from private individuals. The right to bear arms comes under assault in fascist regimes.
      13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
      Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
      As we saw when the Clintons left the White House.
      14. Fraudulent Elections
      Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
      Open borders and anti-voter ID laws are needed in fascist regimes to foster voting blocks, thereby fostering fraudulent elections.


      Dave Dykstra

      July 17, 2015 at 18:08

  7. It’s all too apparent this is just more perpetuating of the myth that Fascism is right wing. I won’t bore you with how that is easily discerned as I know you will ignore that as you have ignored all the empirical data to the contrary of your partisan hypothesis.

    When you used flagrant innuendo as evidence, I knew I was not gong to get any factual truths. Why the left insist on always accusing the right what the left is actually guiltiest of, pretty much proves that liberalism, or being left wing is a mental disorder. Psychological projection I believe is the defense mechanism at work here. Assigning to others your own failings that you can not come to grips with, or admit to yourself. Good luck with that 🙂


    September 27, 2013 at 03:02

    • “When you used flagrant innuendo as evidence, […] Why the left insist on always accusing the right what the left is actually guiltiest of,”

      Taosnadh Sporsach

      March 17, 2015 at 19:53

  8. Interesting piece. But with the mental disorder called American Conservatism, they cannot handle the truth.

    Now, most of this is directed at the other commenters.

    Let’s take a simple look

    Accepted worldwide (Left) – Economics: Socialist type policies.

    Accepted everywhere except America (Right) – Absolutism, Strict Social Order, Nationalism, Jew hatred, Autocracy, Anti-immigration, Pro-white, Anti-gay; Pro-War; Mandatory Military Service; etc; etc; etc; etc.

    Both Left/Right – Propaganda, claim they’re bring law and order and the salvation of ….; Revisionism.

    Yes. My dear Americans, Mandatory Military Service is right winged. AMERICAN revising non American history cannot change that simple fact.

    “Why the left insist on always accusing the right what the left is actually guiltiest of, pretty much proves that liberalism, or being left wing is a mental disorder. Psychological projection I believe is the defense mechanism at work here. Assigning to others your own failings that you can not come to grips with, or admit to yourself. Good luck with that”

    Projecting much?

    “Hitler was an atheist who believed very deeply that he had found the pinnacle of human evolution.”

    Incorrect. It has been proven by realists time and time again that Hitler and the Nazi’s were deeply delusional Christians. They believed in the Bible, both the Old and New testaments, Its just not the same belief or understanding you have in the two of them. Different time. Different era. Different age. Different people. Different values. Different up-bringings.

    I know… you’ll play the socialist card here and decry atheist because socialists can only be atheists, yawn. Get a clue.

    Not all Christians live a Christian lifestyle. Not all Christians tell the truth. blah blah. Yet, they are still considered, Christians. So how does that change when it involves the Jews. The fact is NOT all Christians love Jews or support the idea of supporting Jews. The shock, the horror, how can a Christian not like a Jew. I have always loved the delusion that Hitler and the Nazis weren’t Christian because Jesus was a Jew. This is typical of right-wing “deeply” flawed logic.

    For non-right wingers, Its quite simple to know and understand. Christians believe salvation is only through Jesus but the Jews on the other hand don’t. They DO NOT even accept Jesus as the messiah. Anyone with an IQ greater than 5 can see this is a major discrepancy. Even the Russian White Army, believed so. So are you now going to claim these Christians with a conservative reading of the bible out to be lefties or liberals?

    “I will love the day when you liberals will stop getting so caught up on words that feed your delusions and start looking at actions that defy them.”

    Learn and understand history, conservative. Quit with the bubble wrap view and join the REAL world.

    Look beyond the conservative misunderstanding of terms like Socialism and Capitalism and actually look at the ACTIONS of the PEOPLE not just the LEADERS.

    I am the One

    June 2, 2014 at 22:37

  9. This lie, that Hitler was not a socialist is so much b.s. For example, if Hitler was not a socialist, why did he name the party that he led the Nationalist Socialist Party?? Notice the second word; Socialist. If Hitler said he was a socialist, I would tend to believe him. Even if you do no consider Hitler when talking about destructive anti liberty left wing/socialist/communist regimes, there are a lot more of them; Pol Pot, Mao, Lennin/Stalin, Castro, Ho Chi Min, on and on. All socialist killers. All murders that were responsible for more death/war/misery in the 20th century by far than any other political govt. That is why so many of this country hate what Obama and the Social Democratic Party is doing or trying to do to the U.S. A Hitler-like regime can happen to the U.S. We (the U.S.) has already taken a couple of steps down that murderous path.


    December 18, 2014 at 12:34

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