The socialist promises of the Nazis | The Path to Tyranny Blog

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The socialist promises of the Nazis
Posted on January 10, 2011 | 5 Comments

A “friend” of mine just wrote “Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a conserv ativ e fav orite” in a comment to a facebook post of mine. As a conserv ativ e and a Jew, I am upset and angered by this comment. Furthermore, as somebody who has studied conserv atism and Nazism, I am perplex ed by people’s ignorance and/or stupidity . In a first, I am going to post an entire section from my book, The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny. (The bracketed numbers are the citations which are not included here.) Of course, it helps to read the prev ious sections showing how Germany got to where it was in the late 1 920s and also the prev ious chapters which ex plain some of the terminology , including what is meant by socialism and fascism.

Nazi Promises
Throughout the 1 920s, the Nazis were a non-entity in German politics. In the May 1 928 federal election, the National Socialist German Workers Party receiv ed just 2.6 percent of the v ote.[7 66] Within four y ears, the Nazis would become Germany ’s largest political party . After another y ear, Adolf Hitler would become dictator of Germany and all other political parties would be banned. This remarkable rise to power came about through the skilled use of populist rhetoric, including promises of wealth, equality , and national rebirth. The German people, disillusioned with the failures of the center-left coalitions of the 1 920s, were sway ed by this new party that promised the benefits of both left-wing socialism and right-wing authoritarianism and nationalism. As the name implies, the National Socialist German Workers Party was founded primarily to promote socialism in Germany . National Socialism originally stood for partial collectiv ism aimed primarily at large industrial corporations, leading financial institutions, and wealthy landowners, as detailed in the party ’s Twenty -Fiv e Points of 1 920.[7 67 ] The Twenty -Fiv e Points included the following socialist demands:[7 68] “Ev ery citizen shall hav e the possibility of liv ing decently and earning a liv elihood.” “All unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished.” “Total confiscation of all war profits.” “Nationalization of all trusts.” “Profit-sharing in large industries.” “Increase in old-age pensions.”
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“Communalization of large stores which will be rented cheaply to small tradespeople.” “A law to ex propriate the owners without compensation of any land needed for the common purpose.” “The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land.” “Usurers, profiteers, etc., are to be punished with death, regardless of creed or race.” “The State must assume the responsibility of organizing thoroughly the entire cultural sy stem of the people.” “Specially talented children of poor parents, whatev er their station or occupation, be educated at the ex pense of the State.” “COMMON GOOD BEFORE INDIV IDUAL GOOD.” Many today believ e that the Nazis were capitalists, despite the ev idence of Nazism’s socialist roots and agenda. Jacques Ellul, a leader of the French Resistance in World War II, philosopher, and law professor, writes, “The dogmatic and elementary interpretation of Nazism as hav ing been conceiv ed by capitalists to counter communism, and a bourgeois tool in the class struggle, has gained incredibly broad acceptance as a self-ev ident fact, despite its contradiction of fact. Ev en after his alliance with certain capitalists, Hitler controlled them as much as they did him.”[7 69] In 1 927 , Hitler said, “We are socialists, we are enemies of today ’s capitalistic economic sy stem for the ex ploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly ev aluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this sy stem under all conditions.”[7 7 0] The Nazis failed to draw left-wing support away from the Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party , so they toned down their socialist economic propaganda beginning in 1 927 , though they continued to believ e in gov ernment control of the economy .[7 7 1 ] The Nazis adopted the “third way ” sty le of the Italian Fascists by supporting partial socialism with some gov ernment ownership of business and heav y regulation of large businesses, but limited regulation of small businesses and indiv iduals.[7 7 2] In 1 931 , Hitler said, “I want ev ery one to keep the property he has acquired for himself according to the principle: common good takes precedence ov er self-interest. But the state must retain control and each property owner should consider himself an agent of the state… The Third Reich will alway s retain its right to control the owners of property .”[7 7 3] Hitler claimed that property could be priv ately owned but, in reality , the indiv idual would not retain control ov er it. By controlling “the owners of property ,” the state obv iously controls the property as well. As Stanley Pay ne, the eminent authority on fascism writes, Hitler “boasted that there was no need to nationalize the economy since he had nationalized the entire population.”[7 7 4] As late as 1 941 , Hitler declared, “basically National Socialism and Marx ism are the same.”[7 7 5] Though Hitler and the Nazis remained committed to socialism throughout, in theory and in practice, their new toned-down “third way ” socialism found support among the middle class,[7 7 6] who feared the radical left but were still enchanted by the utopian promises of socialism. The new Nazi economic platform also found support among the land-owning farmers. Whereas the Twenty -Fiv e Points v owed to take land away from its owners without compensation “for the common purpose,”[7 7 7 ] by 1 930 the Nazis had dropped that proposal[7 7 8] and were offering aid to the land owning peasant farmers and praising the peasants as the defenders of German morality and tradition.[7 7 9] The Nazis also promised high prices and ready markets for the farmer’s agricultural products and ex tolled the v irtues of “blood
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and soil” and the “agricultural estate.”[7 80] Considering the working class was already aligned with the Marx ist parties, Hitler and the Nazis focused their campaign on the middle class, who were also suffering under the weak economy .[7 81 ] The new strategy resulted in gains in state elections and increased campaign donations.[7 82] The Nazis also sought the support of the industrialists, a natural ally when they started presenting themselv es as the alternativ e to the communists and other radical left-wing socialists. Many industrialists were wary of the new, unstable, v iolent, and radical Nazis, y et some industrialists still gav e the Nazis much needed financial support in the 1 920s, though they also supported the much larger and less radical conserv ativ e German National People’s Party .[7 83] As the Nazis attracted larger shares of the v ote in elections and especially after Hitler became Chancellor, the industrialists gav e much more money to the Nazis,[7 84] partly to help the Nazis defeat the communists, but also to win their fav or after their inev itable political v ictory . The Nazi agenda went well bey ond promises of economic prosperity . The Nazis also promoted German nationalism and Ary an superiority , which helped lift the spirits of many nativ e Germans after the humiliating defeat in World War I, the disastrous hy perinflation of the early 1 920s, and the economic depression that began in 1 929. Point four of the Twenty -Fiv e Points detailed the Nazis’ German ex clusiv ity : “Only those who are our fellow country men can become citizens. Only those who hav e German blood, regardless of creed, can be our country men. Hence no Jew can be a country man.”[7 85] Although this anti-Semitism became a centerpiece of the Nazi agenda once in power, it was not instrumental in the Nazis’ rise to power because they toned down their anti-Semitic propaganda during their election campaigns.[7 86] Thus, the rising fortune of the Nazis had little to do with any anti-Semitic rhetoric, though ev ery body v oting for the Nazis understood their hatred of the Jews, giv en that it was part of the Twenty -Fiv e Points and was a centerpiece of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Nev ertheless, by promoting Ary an superiority and blaming the Jews, capitalists, republicans, and other liberals for Germany ’s problems, German nationalism became the centerpiece of the Nazi agenda and enabled the Nazis to attract members from all economic and social classes.[7 87 ] Like their fascist cousins in Italy , the Nazis also took a pro-military position. After World War I, the Weimar republic did not support the military , ev en refusing to build a monument to the war dead or issue a commemorativ e medal.[7 88] Of course, this upset many v eterans and families of the war dead, and the Nazis pursued these disaffected Germans by fav oring a strong military , reoccupation of territory lost in the war, and ex pansion of Germany to include all German-speaking people. The Nazis claimed “National Socialism means peace,” arguing that only a strong Germany can defend against an inv asion by France or the Sov iet Union.[7 89] Like the Fascists in Italy , the Nazis were alway s seen in their military uniform. When Hitler met Mussolini for the first time in 1 934, Hitler wore civ ilian clothing at the insistence of his adv isors, whereas Mussolini was dressed in his military uniform. Hitler appeared weak nex t to Mussolini and he v owed nev er to make that mistake again. From then on, Hitler was alway s in uniform when making public appearances.[7 90] The Nazis managed to ex ceed the Italian Fascists in their dev elopment of a my th culture, with their ev er-present swastika and promotion of the old German folk traditions and rituals. The Nazis also ex alted Hitler, well bey ond what the Italians did with Mussolini. Many Nazis saw Hitler as a Christ or a Messiah[7 91 ] who will sav e Germany from Jews, foreigners, capitalists, and communists. For ex ample,
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in 1 941 , the Nazi newspaper V olkischer Beobachter announced, “The Fuhrer is the highest sy nthesis of his race… He embodies the univ ersalism of Goethe, the depth of Kant, the dy namism of Hegel, the patriotism of Fichte, the genius of Frederick II, the realism of Bismarck as well as the tumultuous inspiration of Wagner, the perspicacity of Spengler.”[7 92] Thus, their y outh organization was not called the German Y outh or ev en the Nazi Y outh, but the Hitler Y outh. Hitler became the infallible god of the Nazis and of Germany . By adapting their agenda to meet the desires of the people and courting unaffiliated groups, the Nazis drew support from v arious geographic areas and sev eral economic and social classes.[7 93] Their focus on nationalism, a strong military , authoritarian leadership, and “third way ” socialism, with promises of economic prosperity and equality , enabled the Nazis to win ov er industrialists on the right, peasants on the left, and many in the center, especially World War I v eterans. By organizing this coalition of disparate interests, the National Socialists quickly grew from a political non-entity into Germany ’s dominant political party . * This was an ex cerpt from The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny.

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| January 11, 2011 at 7:50 am | Reply

Reading this, it seems our minds were on a similar track . Well done.

Michael E. Newton | January 11, 2011 at 8:00 am | Reply
Mine’s from my book, so I wrote it first. LOL Atlas Shrugs also wrote on this recently and Ay n Rand talked about it in 1 962: http://atlasshrugs2000.ty pepad.com/atlas_shrugs/201 1 /01 /who-said-that.html Obv iously , this is a well-known secret.

Michael E. Newton | May 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Reply
I should add that Hay ek wrote in the preface to The Road to Serfdom: “Fascism and Communism are merely v ariants of the same totalitarianism which central control of economic activ ity tends to produce.” I include this in my book, just not in this section of it.
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Bob Mack

| February 26, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Reply

The left, for obv ious reasons, would prefer that it remain a secret.

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