Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Was Adolf Hitler Politically Left Or Right?
America's Debate > Archive > Everything Else Archive > [A] History Debate
Google
deerjerkydave
Winner, Best Topic: History Debate 2003-2004


In the thread on neonazis there has been some disagreement about where Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NAZIs) stood in the political spectrum. I had previously come to the self conclusion, for various reasons, that they were on the extreme left side of the political spectrum. Perhaps I am wrong in my assumtion and would like to hear what everyone has to say. After momentarily perusing the Internet for more information I have found that good arguments exist depicting Hitler as either on the extreme left or on the extreme right.

Question for debate:

Was Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NAZIs) on the extreme left, right, or a mixture of both in the political spectrum?
Google
moif
I think he was a mixture of both extremes. He called his political point of view 'socialism' and yet he was fundamentally opposed to the communists...
lee
This is a good question in theory, but I feel that some people cannot truly be placed into an ideological category. There was an aspect of socialism in the party (left), as there was undeniably a fascist component (right). If there were a circular ideological map, the far left and far right would almost come together, making them virtually the same (in my opinion).
Vermillion
Hitler was for the subversion of the individual, the removal of rights and freedoms, the subsuming of the needs of the people and the community for the need of the state, the militarisation of society and the instituionalisation of a regimen of education, indoctrination and politicisation of youth to create a state of people loyal to the Fuhrer, the party and the state.

His party, the National Socialist German Workers Party, started off proposing a necessity to subvert your desires to the state and the leader, and oppose those who sought to devalue the state and culture of Germany, who he identified as communists primarily. By the mid 1920s, mostly due to encounters with Rosenburg, the party had radicalised along racial lines, now equating judaism and communism as one and the same. In Mein Kampf, Hitler almost never mentions the jews. He frequently mentions the jewish bolsheviks however.


How you can equate that to being leftist baffles me, much like the Fascisti in Italy, it all but defined the extreme Right wing, though with the addition of a racial element which does not exclusively belong to either side of the political spectrum.

In a few of his early speeches, Hitler identified his party as the 'Real' german left, yet opposed to communists, this was a ploy to draw potential voters away from what would end up being his main opposition in the Reichstag (apart from the communists) , the SPD and the Christian centre. By the time he achieved power in 1933, you will not find any mention of Hitler being associated with the left again.


Perhaps Italy and Spain were more of the traditional extreme right wing, but despite his racial tendencies, Hitler was as Right as any of them, a fact which was quickly recognised by both Mussolini and Franco, as well as by the other European tyrant, Stalin.
jenreiautter
Communism is an extreme left ideology and fascism is an extreme right ideology. The Nazis most resembled fascism as defined by Dr. Lawrence Britt in his "The 14 Defining Characteristics Of Fascism":

http://www.rense.com/general37/fascism.htm

http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/britt_23_2.htm



QUOTE
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

snip

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

snip

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

snip

4. Supremacy of the Military

snip

5. Rampant Sexism

snip

6. Controlled Mass Media

snip

7. Obsession with National Security

snip

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined

snip

9. Corporate Power is Protected

snip

10. Labor Power is Suppressed

snip

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

snip

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment

snip

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

snip

14. Fraudulent Elections


I've left out the descriptions -- feel free to read them at the link provided.

The communists had a few of these, such as 1,2,3,4,6, 7 & 12 (about half of the defining characteristics) and kind of goes along with what lee wrote:

QUOTE
If there were a circular ideological map, the far left and far right would almost come together, making them virtually the same (in my opinion).


When you take things to extremes, they do tend to come "full circle".
deerjerkydave
QUOTE(jenreiautter @ Mar 30 2004, 08:43 PM)
When you take things to extremes, they do tend to come "full circle".

This is an interesting point. I've kind of felt that extreme right and extreme left were somehow mutually exclusive (owing to the common linear depiction of the political spectrum), but after thinking about it they do seem to comingle. Perhaps the political spectrum should be viewed in a more circular fashion, where extreme right and extreme left come together.
jenreiautter
QUOTE
Perhaps the political spectrum should be viewed in a more circular fashion, where extreme right and extreme left come together.


Circular is one possible way to map political ideology.

I also found this an interesting way to map politics:

http://www.politicalcompass.org/

This maps out politics in a grid fashion. I found it very interesting. It also shows where Hitler would be on the graph.
offwind
QUOTE(deerjerkydave @ Mar 30 2004, 02:17 PM)
In the thread on neonazis there has been some disagreement about where Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NAZIs) stood in the political spectrum.  I had previously come to the self conclusion, for various reasons, that they were on the extreme left side of the political spectrum.  Perhaps I am wrong in my assumtion and would like to hear what everyone has to say.  After momentarily perusing the Internet for more information I have found that good arguments exist depicting Hitler as either on the extreme left or on the extreme right.

Question for debate:

Was Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NAZIs) on the extreme left, right, or a mixture of both in the political spectrum?

Fascism with Socialistic ecomonic ideology!

After World War I a number of extremist political groups arose in Germany, including the minuscule German Workers' party, whose spokesman was Gottfried Feder. Its program combined socialist economic ideas with rabid nationalism and opposition to democracy. The party early attracted a few disoriented war veterans, including Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, and Hitler. After 1920 Hitler led the party; its name was changed, and he reorganized and reoriented it, stamping it with his own personality.

By demagogic appeals to latent hatred and violence, through anti-Semitism, anti-Communist diatribes, and attacks on the Treaty of Versailles, the party gained a considerable following. Its inner councils were swelled by such frustrated intellectuals as P. J. Goebbels, and by the element of riffraff typified by Julius Streicher, while its public adherents were heavily drawn from the depressed lower middle class. Hitler minimized the socialist features of the program. National Socialism made its appeal not to an economic class but rather to the insecure and power-hungry elements of society.
CruisingRam
I think attempting to define either Russians communism and Hitlers Facism as either right or left is not accurate- since they did not follow an economic system at all really- but a totalitarian goverment, and used the economy simply as a means to retain power.

Russia never had communism, simply a totalitarian state that resembled more what the Czars had (in in fact, there was very little if any real change in the law from Czarism to "communism" in Russia. My Mother-in-law was a lawyer in Russia, as well as my wife, and thier studies in Russian case law showed that Russian law was modified only slightly throughout the centuries from Ivan the Terrible's riegn.)

I think all attempts at placing a "right" or "left" on a totalitarian state takes of risk of being completely inaccurate- because dictators simply manipulate the economies to meet thier own ends.

The only true leftist communist community, possibly in history, was the early christian church "each according to his need".
moif
Perhaps it is such that no matter what ideology you start off with, the more extreme it gets the more it starts to resemble any other?

Perhaps there is a threshold beyond which political descriptions no longer apply?

It certainly seems that way given the tendency for dictators to follow the same brutal lines.
Google
CruisingRam
No Moif- I think it is just more accurate to simply call a totalitarian regime a totalitarian regime- and not try to transcribe a symol to it of a particular economic or political system for it- it is simply totalitarian regime, and will act in it's own interests.
smorpheus
QUOTE(moif @ Mar 30 2004, 02:41 PM)
Perhaps it is such that no matter what ideology you start off with, the more extreme it gets the more it starts to resemble any other?

Perhaps there is a threshold beyond which political descriptions no longer apply?

It certainly seems that way given the tendency for dictators to follow the same brutal lines.

I agree that it's extremely difficult to place Hitler into out modern spectrum, basically because his and his party's ideologies are pretty much outside of all of the contemporary political landscape.

There's also this:

Leftists see the oppression of the marginalized members of one's population (Hitler's oppression of the Jews) as being at root a conservative idealogy taken to the extreme. Additionally, his push for militarism and extreme social conservatism in art, architecture, fashion, and daily life as being indicative of a Right slant. The man hated Modern art work, and felt oppressed because his art would not sell, his values ran extremely conservative, and he believed strongly in national pride being built through militarism.

Conservatives I would imagine see the implementation of a socialized system the government ensuring all Germans were taken care of, the rapid and extreme growth of government in a short period of time, and the placement on the importance of art in day-to-day life (even though the art was fundamentally there to increase national spirit), as being at base liberal ideas. The idea that art COULD mean anything of import beyond something to look at is something so divorced from contemporary conservative thought that it IS hard to associate Hitler with the right for this reason alone.

Basically, there are two very clear ways of looking at this both with a sufficent amount of evidence backing both. I think it's up to each individual to examine the facts and decide on his or her own. History, perhaps will be able make a more objective judgement on this topic if it's relevant at all once we have distanced ourself further from the 20th Century.
Paladin Elspeth
Hitler generated and then claimed and manipulated nationalistic fervor. The Germans were hamstrung at the Treaty of Versailles.

Hitler was ostensibly a "patriotic" (to the point of becoming a German citizen), law-and-order candidate (except when it suited his purposes to generate riots and murderous rampages) who made it look unpatriotic to regard Jews as equals or to suggest that Germany's suffering had something to do with folks other than the Jews.

I believe he was right-wing gone incredibly wrong, as Stalin was left-wing continuing to go incredibly wrong. They formed an uneasy, deceptive alliance at first because each saw an advantage to it. I do not think that dictators on either end of the spectrum are incredibly picky when it comes to making an agreement with the enemy for momentary gain.

But Hitler was a fascist, not a socialist in the way we understand the terms, just as the Democratic People's Republic of Whatever is not "democratic" at all.
Wertz
Winner: Best Researched Individual Post


"While Hitler's attitude towards liberalism was one of contempt, towards Marxism he showed an implacable hostility... Ignoring the profound differences between Communism and Social Democracy in practice and the bitter hostility between the rival working class parties, he saw in their common ideology the embodiment of all that he detested - mass democracy and a leveling egalitarianism as opposed to the authoritarian state and the rule of an elite; equality and friendship among peoples as opposed to racial inequality and the domination of the strong; class solidarity versus national unity; internationalism versus nationalism."

-- Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny


One of the most frequent arguments used in favor of the notion that Hitler and the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP) were leftist is the fact that they used "sozialistische" in the party's title. The party's appropriation of the term was a sick lie.

Generally there have been three broad economic variations in terms of ownership of production: aristocracy, in which a ruling elite owns the land and productive wealth; capitalism, in which a broader range of private individuals own the means of production; and socialism, in which everyone owns and controls the means of production.

As traditionally understood, these three variations roughly fall into a right, center, left pattern as well - with authoritarian, dictatorial regimes and absolute monarchs on the extreme right; corporate/capitalist oligarchies right of center; free enterprise with widespread private ownership more or less in the middle; labor republics or social democracies in which the workers partially own and primarily control the means of production left of center; and utopian communist societies where everyone owns everything and there is essentially no private property on the extreme left. In short, the more limited and narrow the ownership and control of production, the further right. The more widespread such ownership and control, the further left.

By calling themselves "National Socialists", the NSDAP was attempting to woo the left-wing citizenry merely by coopting the terminology. The "national" combined with the "sozialistische" implied that the nation as a whole would control the means of production. During his rise, Hitler exploited social unrest by promising workers to back labor unions and increase the standard of living. The reality was quite different: the Nationalsozialistische party only represented nationalists, as defined by the NDSAP and represented by the ruling elite, not the nation as a whole. And it was only a corporate oligarchy which owned much of anything. Under the National Socialists in Germany, the system of government was a combination of aristocracy and capitalism (extreme right and centrist). The workers, "the people", owned and controlled nothing - as they would under socialism or any left-wing government.

Private German businessmen owned and controlled the means of production - and answered to the National Socialist Party. The NDSAP "Charter of Labor" gave employers complete power over their workers and established the employer as the "leader of the enterprise," and dictated that the owner "makes the decisions for the employees and laborers in all matters concerning the enterprise".

Contrary to their promises, the NDSAP outlawed trade unions, collective bargaining, and the right to strike. They formed the "Labor Front" which replaced the old trade unions and which did not represent workers - and workers' wages fell by 20-25%. Industries, trusts, and military production were not nationalized and remained in the hands of private owners under the control of the party. Granted, the NDSAP did nationalize a few utilities - such as the railroads - and created a few public works programs such as the construction of the Autobahn. But these were primarily in order to facilitate the war industry and such "nationalization" did not mean that these were owned by the people, but by the government - and were built with materials which fed back into the capitalist oligarchs. The German National Socialists, like the Italian Fascists, were corporatists.

How much control did "the people" have under the NDSAP in terms of running the government? Virtually none. A central principle of the party was Führerprinzip - "the leadership principle". The National Socialists did not have party congresses in which policy was discussed and determined - there were no dissenting voices heard, no compromises or concessions made. What mattered most was what the leader thought and decreed. Those whose opinions differed from those of der Führer either maintained silence or were purged.

The hierarchical nature of the corporatism espoused by the NDSAP, with der Führer at the pinnacle, supported by a capitalist oligarchy is in direct opposition to the egalitarianism espoused by socialism and other leftist political schools of thought. The National Socialists were anti-egalitarian in every sense and had an elitist view of society in which the superior individual - the übermensch - would emerge on top. So, in terms of social/governmental structure and economics, the National Socialists cannot be considered "socialist" by any stretch of the imagination.

I will grant that the totalitarian extremes of the NDSAP can be compared to the totalitarian extremes of, say, Stalinism - but that does not make Hitler any more left-wing than it does Stalin. Both were variations on the aristocratic (or its extreme, monarchic) systems - systems representing the far right. It can much more easily be argued that Stalin was right-wing than it can that Hitler was left-wing. In fact, I'd say that the latter cannot be argued at all.

But what of the social policies of the NDSAP? In the thread in which this discussion arose, I cited the late Steve Kangas who composed a lengthy essay addressing this whole issue. In it, he identifies a number of principles, opposing rightist ideals and leftist ideals. These include (but are not limited to) the following:

Individualism over collectivism.
Racism or racial segregation over racial tolerance.
Merit over equality.
Competition over cooperation.
Realism over idealism.
Nationalism over internationalism.
Exclusiveness over inclusiveness.
Gun ownership over gun control
Common sense over theory or science.
Pragmatism over principle.

He goes on - and I won't reiterate his arguments here - to demonstrate that Hitler and the NDSAP leaned, often heavily, toward the right, often far right, in every single instance. Many of these leanings are obvious to anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of National Socialist policies and history. Again, for those in doubt, I'd recommend checking out the essay itself.

He also discusses National Socialist foreign policy in terms of militarism vs. pacifism. It should suffice here to quote from Mein Kampf:
QUOTE
If the German people in its historic development had possessed that herd unity which other peoples enjoyed, the German Reich today would doubtless be mistress of the globe. World history would have taken a different course, and no one can distinguish whether in this way we would not have obtained what so many blinded pacifists today hope to gain by begging, whining and whimpering: a peace, supported not by the palm branches of tearful, pacifist female mourners, but based on the victorious sword of a master people, putting the world into the service of a higher culture.

That may sound like a "real man" - but it sure as hell doesn't sound like a liberal.

So: in terms of economics, the NDSAP was right-wing. In terms of government structure, the NDSAP was right-wing. In terms of social policy, the NDSAP was right-wing. In terms of militarism, the NDSAP was right-wing. I fail to see how anyone can possibly argue that the Nazis were leftist. blink.gif
ConservPat
I think we need to break out the Political Compass for this one, as jenreiautter did. Hitler was a hardcore Authoritarian, which is neither left nor right, but...um, north, if you will. Hitler was the anti-libertarian, which, of course can be a rightish ideology, or liberal [liberaltarians]. So in my opinion, Hitler was an authoritarian, neither left nor right, just hardcore anti-freedom.

CP
SirVLCIV
I agree with the political compass, but I also agree that Hitler had a right bent, whereas Stalin had a left bent. Their largest bit in common is being exceptionally authoritarian to the extreme.
QuantumMekanic
jenreiautter,

QUOTE
Circular is one possible way to map political ideology.
I also found this an interesting way to map politics:

http://www.politicalcompass.org/

This maps out politics in a grid fashion. I found it very interesting. It also shows where Hitler would be on the graph.



It is interesting how people tend to circularize something such as political ideology. I have taken the political compass you refer (four years ago) to and I fall somewhat 'north' of center, whatever that means.

Another interesting point on the notion of circularity, on an even more fundamental level: colors (in scientific speak, wavelength of the electromagnetic spectrum called the visible). People tend to circularize colors in a most fundamental way. Combine two colors and you get something in the middle, even at the extremes of the spectrum!. But the electromagnetic spectrum as a whole is a continuum, ranging from low microwave to the gamma rays. Kind of another topic, but illustrative on the circular nature of human epistemology, and metaphorical of the topic of political ideologies.

I would agree with another post that at some point, the far right and the far left come together at some point. In the extremist category, I would put Mussolini in the far left and Hitler in the far right. At some singular point, their ideologies became entangled, thus 'closing the circle' in such ideologies. Our attempt to sum up this phenomenon had led to some of the confusion surrounding this.

This is a great topic. I hope to see many more great posts on it.
Wertz
QUOTE(ConservPat @ Apr 1 2004, 05:56 PM)
I think we need to break out the Political Compass for this one, as jenreiautter did.  Hitler was a hardcore Authoritarian, which is neither left nor right, but...um, north, if you will.  Hitler was the anti-libertarian, which, of course can be a rightish ideology, or liberal [liberaltarians].  So in my opinion, Hitler was an authoritarian, neither left nor right, just hardcore anti-freedom.

Granted, Hitler himself was more of an authoritarian than anything, but it is also worth noting that on that political compass, he is also right of center. I'm not quite sure what their criteria for gauging this was, but I find it a little surprising that they place Hitler to the left of Thatcher, never mind Tony Blair blink.gif . If one were looking at the National Socialists as a whole, though, I don't see how they could be placed that close to the center. What - because of Volkswagon? I'm sorry, but I do not see a collectivist leaning reflected in their economic policies much at all.
Hugo
Let me go over these characteristics

Individualism over collectivism.
Racism or racial segregation over racial tolerance.
Merit over equality.
Competition over cooperation.
Realism over idealism.
Nationalism over internationalism.
Exclusiveness over inclusiveness.
Gun ownership over gun control
Common sense over theory or science.
Pragmatism over principle.

Individualism over collectivism: there were more state run enterprises under NAZI Germany than under the socialist system of the United States today. We are farther right than NAZI Germany was.

Racism or racial segregation over racial tolerance: liberal hogwash there is nothing inherently racist about right-wing philosophy.

Merit over equality: I hardly find a system that is racist as rewarding merit.

Realism over idealism: Both facism and communism were overly idealistic; that is why they both failed.

Nationalism over internationalism: OK one point for Hitler being a facist.

Exclusiveness over inclusiveness: Once again liberal hogwash, nothing inherently exclusive about right-wing politics.

Gun ownership over gun control: Of course the leftists always allow a minority to own guns, excluding the rest.

Common sense over theory or science: Someone needs to explain this one to me.

Pragmatism over principal: Once again I see no difference between the far right and the far left when it comes to pragmatism vs. principle.

Looks like Kangas applies negative connotations to facism and positive connotations to socialism, of course Hitler and Stalin are facists.
Eeyore
Well I think we have demonstrated that it is difficult to pin down exactly what is left and what is right. The best model would probably be three dimensional but that is hard to show on paper.

Adolf Hitler was a right wing idealogue. He emphasized authoritarianism, extreme nationalism. National unity was of extreme importance. Class consciousness was one of his (and the original fascist, Mussolini's) main enemies. Personal property was left in tact and business interests turned to fascists in each country as an alternative to leftist parties that were gathering democratic strength.

Militarism, nationalism (as the state religion), ethnic pride, aggressiveness, unity.

This was an extreme political philosophy and it was on the far right.
Hugo
A bit on Hitler's economic policies, from this link.

QUOTE
In the 1930s, Hitler was widely viewed as just another protectionist central planner who recognized the supposed failure of the free market and the need for nationally guided economic development. Proto-Keynesian socialist economist Joan Robinson wrote that "Hitler found a cure against unemployment before Keynes was finished explaining it."


QUOTE
What were those economic policies? He suspended the gold standard, embarked on huge public works programs like Autobahns, protected industry from foreign competition, expanded credit, instituted jobs programs, bullied the private sector on prices and production decisions, vastly expanded the military, enforced capital controls, instituted family planning, penalized smoking, brought about national health care and unemployment insurance, imposed education standards, and eventually ran huge deficits. The Nazi interventionist program was essential to the regime's rejection of the market economy and its embrace of socialism in one country.


Sounds like left-wing economic policies to me.

A bit more information: From this site.

QUOTE
In 1977, Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote in his book The Age of Uncertainty that Hitler "was the true protagonist of the Keynesian ideas."


QUOTE
Keynes himself even explained that his theories were not incompatible with national socialism. In the forward to the German edition of his book The General Theory (1936), Keynes wrote that "the theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state, than…under conditions of free competition and a large measure of laissez-faire."


Yes, he was to the right of Marx, pretty much in the same spot, on economical issues, as FDR...A Keynesian.

From "Time Magazine" Jan 2, 1939

QUOTE
"Most cruel joke of all, however, has been played by Hitler & Co. on those German capitalists and small businessmen who once backed National Socialism as a means of saving Germany's bourgeois economic structure from radicalism. The Nazi credo that the individual belongs to the state also applies to business. Some businesses have been confiscated outright, on other what amounts to a capital tax has been levied. Profits have been strictly controlled. Some idea of the increasing Governmental control and interference in business could be deduced from the fact that 80% of all building and 50% of all industrial orders in Germany originated last year with the Government. Hard-pressed for food- stuffs as well as funds, the Nazi regime has taken over large estates and in many instances collectivized agriculture, a procedure fundamentally similar to Russian Communism."


Let me correct myself, on economic issues Hitler was to the left of FDR.
Ultimatejoe
To allow for political extremes I've always imagined the spectrum as really being a circle. Since I can't draw the graph for you at the moment let me try and describe it.

Imagine the X axis (horizontal) as representing left/right principles and the Y axis (vertical) as representing the level of democracy.

The topmost point would represent an extreme direct democracy (where left/right politics become irrelevant to the will of the people).

The left point represents a working socialist state which is still a democracy, but a modified one.

The right point represents a working capitalist republic (like the U.S. in it's very early days.)

The bottom would represent a completely authoritarian state.

As you move around the diameter of the circle you find that the farther DOWN you go the further to the political extremes you go until a point, but once you cross that threshold (halfway down the circle) political leanings matter less and less until you get to the bottom and you're right in the middle.
Jaken
Right he was definatly right. Think about it. He fought for the entire race, maybe im getting confused with liberal and conservative.
Eeyore
hugo, your argument makes almost all modern wrtime governments out to be left wing.

It is strong militaristic control of the economy to control society. Police state tactic.
Right wing all the way.
Hugo
QUOTE(Eeyore @ Apr 2 2004, 02:50 PM)
hugo, your argument makes almost all modern wrtime governments out to be left wing.

It is strong militaristic control of the economy to control society.  Police state tactic.
Right wing all the way.

Right-wing...left-wing, our first problem is defining them. Most governments today are definitely left-wing by the standards of the 1930's. If someone advocated reducing the social safety net to where it was at after FDR's New Deal had been implemented he would be defined as a right-winger. I think the Time Magazine quote I supplied accurately portrayed how Hitler's economic policies were viewed. When you see an American politician supporting universal healthcare it is not attributed as a right-wing position. When I view the left-right spectrum, on economic issues, I view it as left meaning more government interference and right meaning less government interference in the economy. Hitler expanded the role of government in the economy well beyond simply an increased military budget.

Police state tactics have been used by left-wing and right-wing governments. Pinochet, right-wing government that used police state tactics, Stalin, left-wing government that used police state tactics.

Let me agree with UJ that as tolitarianism grows the right or left disposition of the government little matters. Under a tolitarian government the individual is always subordinate to the state which is ruled by an elite, in the case of facism the corporations are forced to do the bidding of the state, under communism they are taken over by the state.
ConservPat
QUOTE(Eeyore)
Militarism, nationalism (as the state religion), ethnic pride, aggressiveness, unity.
Sounds like the Soviet Union to me...None of these concepts are strictly right-wing ideals. Authoritarianism, obviously not soley right-wing...Racism, not strictly right-wing...Militarism, Stalin, Lenin, etc., they all glorified the military...And as Hugo said, both the fascists in Italy and Germany, and the Communists in the USSR were idealists.

CP us.gif
Hugo
From Mise's "The Socialist Calumny Against the Jews" (1944), a paper that claims the root of German anti-semitism is anti-capitalism.

QUOTE
The Marxians are not prepared to admit that the Nazis are socialists too. In their eyes Nazism is the worst of all evils of capital­ism. On the other hand, the Nazis describe the Russian system as the meanest of all types of capitalist exploitation and as a devilish machination of World Jewry for the domination of the gentiles. Yet it is clear that both systems, the German and the Russian, must be considered from an economic point of view as socialist. And it is only the economic point of view that matters in debating whether or not a party or system is socialist. Socialism is and has always been considered a system of economic organization of society. It is the system under which the government has full control of production and distribution. As far as socialism existing merely within indi­vidual countries can be called genuine, both Russia and Germany are right in calling their systems socialist.


Hitler was a socialist.
Julian
Reading the posts in this thread, I was struck by how hard those on the modern right have been arguing that Hitler was on the left, in contrast to how easily those on the modern left accept Stalin as a left-winger (despite both being clearly totalitarian, which is accepted by most people).

I've only really noticed this trend since the resurgence of the "hard" right that began in the Reagan/Thatcher era - more traditional conservatives, it seme to me, have always been quick to acknowledge that Hitler was "one of ours gone wrong". In contrast, while modern lefties accept Stalin as a warning against too literal a reading of their ideas, while more "old-school lefties" typically denied that Stalin was responsible for anything bad, or denied that he was "properly" socialist, both positions flying in the face of the facts.

Does anyone else wonder why the tables seem to have turned, and now some on the modern Right either deny Hitler was a right-winger (as here), or (and I'm relieved nobody here has sunk to it) deny that he did anything wrong? Witness: I can't think of a single Holocaust denier that could be thought of as truly left-wing in today's terms.

Personally, I think that not only are "left" and "right" of limited use and flexibility in describing political ideas, but that they also change subtly over time, so that what was left- or right- wing fifty or a hundred years ago is not necessarily in the same place today.
offwind
QUOTE(Julian @ Apr 4 2004, 05:00 AM)

Does anyone else wonder why the tables seem to have turned, and now some on the modern Right either deny Hitler was a right-winger (as here), or (and I'm relieved nobody here has sunk to it) deny that he did anything wrong? Witness: I can't think of a single Holocaust denier that could be thought of as truly left-wing in today's terms. 

Personally, I think that not only are "left" and "right" of limited use and flexibility in describing political ideas, but that they also change subtly over time, so that what was left- or right- wing fifty or a hundred years ago is not necessarily in the same place today.

Generally, when I think left vs. right it is in economic terms. From the comments here I believe many of us see it the same way. I think it's hard to argue that the Nazi party was anything but far to the left economically. See definition:

1 : any of various theories or social and political movements advocating or aiming at collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and control of the distribution of goods: as a : FOURIERISM b : GUILD SOCIALISM c : MARXISM d : OWENISM
2 a : a system or condition of society or group living in which there is no private property <trace the remains of pure socialism that marked the first phase of the Christian community --

Of course, they were also on the extreme right on the libertarian - Authoritarian scale.
2 : one who upholds the principles of liberty ; specifically : one who upholds the principles of individual liberty of thought and action <private judgment and constitutional authority ... authoritarians have left but little scope for the former, libertarians would always cut down the latter to the smallest proportions -- C.H.McIlwain>

Maybe dual axis bi-polarity fits! hmmm.gif
Julian
QUOTE(offwind @ Apr 4 2004, 02:09 PM)
Generally, when I think left vs. right it is in economic terms.  From the comments here I believe many of us see it the same way.  I think it's hard to argue that the Nazi party was anything but far to the left economically. See definition:

If Hitler were "far left" economically, why did he not nationalise large corporate entities such as BASF, Seimens or Volkswagen, Instead, he allowed them to grow and prosper as private corporations on the back of his policies? Surely that would have been the "far left" thing to do, in line with the idea of ownership of the means of production by the people in the form of the state?

In this sense, rather than being "statist" economically, the Nazis were essentially "corporatist". It is hardly a left-wing idea to use corporations to further the interests of the state (and it stands in contrast to modern America, where the state is used to further the interests of corporations biggrin.gif tongue.gif - sorry, I couldn't resist).

Economically, the Nazis understood the need for robust infrastructure investment to enable private enterprise to flourish - witness the autobahnen. The problem with Nazism wasn't their economic policy per se - the trains, famously, ran on time. The problem with Nazi economics was that it was only a means to and end, that end being the cultural, military and political dominance of the Nazi party, German people and the Aryan race - all of which are rather rightist ideas.

In pure economics, the Nazis didn't do much different from Eisenhower during his presidency (except in scale) - that is, spend lots of public money on big civil engineering projects, and on military investment in manpower, infrastructure and research. Does that make Eisenhower a left-winger?

Also, the Nazis did not have any truck with the hallmark of modern leftism - a welfare state. Instead of paying benefits to their poor, sick, mentally ill, homeless, etc., the Nazis either drafted them, sterilised them, or gassed them. Again, not something typical of left wing economic theory. (Or, thankfully, of any other kind outside Nazism.)

But I ask again, why is the modern right so keen to be disassociated from Hitler, when for decades the moderate centre, centre right, and right has been happy to see him as a far-right extremist? He is a warning from history of the dangers of right-wing absolutism, just as Stalin serves as a similar warning to those on the left.

I think the "problem" is that libertarianism has, at least in the USA, been embraced on the right more than the left - so the definititions of "right" and "left" have subtly shifted since WW2. The modern mainstream right is more libertarian than it used to be, so it sees an extreme authoritarian like Hitler and assumes that he must be their polar opposite.

Hitler was a right winger. Get over it.
Hugo
QUOTE(Julian @ Apr 4 2004, 09:02 AM)
But I ask again, why is the modern right so keen to be disassociated from Hitler, when for decades the moderate centre, centre right, and right has been happy to see him as a far-right extremist? He is a warning from history of the dangers of right-wing absolutism, just as Stalin serves as a similar warning to those on the left.


The quote I supplied from Mises, a true right-winger, was written in 1944. The Time article I quoted was in 1939. The debate over if Hitler was left or right is no recent twist by Reaganites and Thatcherites.

From the National [/B]Socialist Workers[B] Party 25 point plan:

10. Erste Pflicht jedes Staatsbürgers muss sein, geistig oder körperlich zu schaffen.
THE FIRST DUTY OF EVERY CITIZEN MUST BE PRODUCTIVITY, PHYSICAL OR INTELLECTUAL.

Die Tätigkeit des einzelnen darf nicht gegen die Interessen der Allgemeinheit verstossen, sondern muß im Rahmen des Gesamten und zum Nutzen aller erfolgen.
THE ACTIVITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MUST NOT CONFLICT WITH THE GOOD OF THE COMMUNITY, BUT MUST PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE.

Daher fordern wir:
THEREFORE WE DEMAND:

11, Abschaffung des arbeits- und mühelosen Einkommens; Brechung der Zinsknechtschaft.
THE ABOLITION OF UNEARNED INCOME AND AN END TO DEBT SLAVERY.

12. Im Hinblick auf die ungeheuren Opfer an Gut und Blut, die jeder Krieg vom Volke fordert, muß die persönliche Bereicherung durch den Krieg als Verbrechen am Volke bezeichnet werden.
IN VIEW OF THE MONSTROUS TOLL OF WEALTH AND BLOOD EXACTED BY WAR, PROFITEERING MUST BE CONSIDERED A CRIME AGAINST THE PEOPLE.
Wir fordern daher restlose Einziehung aller Kriegsgewinne.
THEREFORE WE DEMAND TOTAL CONFISCATION OF ALL WAR PROFITS.

13. Wir fordern die Verstaatlichung aller (bisher) bereits vergesellschafteten (Trusts) Betriebe.
WE DEMAND THE NATIONALIZATION OF ALL HERETOFORE INCORPORATED TRUSTS.

14. Wir fordern Gewinnbeteiligung an Grossbetneben.
WE DEMAND PROFIT SHARING ON THE PART OF MAJOR CORPORATIONS.

15. Wir fordern einen grosszügigen Ausbau der Alters-Versorgung,
WE DEMAND A GENEROUS INCREASE IN OLD AGE BENEFITS.

16. Wir fordern die Schaffung eines gesunden Mittelstandes und seine Erhaltung, sofortige Kommunalisiening der Gross-Warenhäuser und ihre Vemietung zu billigen Preisen an kleine Gewerbetreibende, schärfste Berücksichtigung aller kleinen Gewerbetreibenden bei Lieferung an den Staat, die Länder und die Gemeinden.
WE DEMAND THE CREATION OF A VIABLE MIDDLE CLASS WITH MEANS OF SUBSISTENCE, THE IMMEDIATE NATIONALIZATION OF MAJOR DEPARTMENT STORES, AND REDUCED RENTS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES.
WE DEMAND SPECIAL CONSIDERATION FOR SMALL BUSINESSES WHEN CONTRACTING WITH NATIONAL, STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS.

Copying for personal use is
authorized so long as it includes these words:
"Translated by J.M. Damon, Germanist,
Edited and Copyrighted © MM by Russ Granata. All rights reserved."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yes, instead of nationalizing companies Hitler preferred confiscating the output. The same method liberals prefer today. Hitler was not a Marxist. He was a socialist. His anti-semitism and anti-capitalism fed off each other.
offwind
Just to add some data to the debate. Back with commentary later:

QUOTE
V. Industrial Leadership

The point could be made that private capitalism and bureaucratization of the economy are essentially incompatible. If this is true, then Hitler's regime should have begun the process of destroying capitalism in Germany. But this did not happen, despite the fact that a radical element in the Nazi Party wanted to do exactly that. But that radical element, led by Otto Strasser, was already effectively eliminated before Hitler's seizure of power. What actually developed after 1933 was an interesting demonstration of how well capitalism and bureaucratization complement each other.

National Socialism was not feudalistic in its economic policy, as some scholars have suggested, since that would have meant direct human relations, without the mediation of a market in the economic mechanism. In reality depersonalization promoted by bureaucratization serves to conceal the seat of economic power. The real economic rulers operate behind a plethora of organizations surrounding private property. This fact is responsible for the false interpretation of bureaucratization of the economy as the disappearance of private ownership.
But industrial leadership, under the Nazis, differed from the Weimar model in certain respects. Commercial capital was no longer represented. In other words, free trade did not exist. Commercial capital had lost its predominant position, and heavy industry was restricted to some degree-at least to the extent that it could not interfere with the overall objectives of the regime in foreign and domestic policy. So, industrial leadership, under the Nazi regime, was smaller and much more integrated than it had been in the Weimar period.

In a sense, the whole Nazi economy was under the rule of certain monopoly producers, who made a deal with the political rulers. Although, I hasten to add, that this does not mean that the Marxists are right in saying that the Nazi party represented a capitalist plot to save itself from disintegration. The Nazi movement was much more than a mere salvage operation of monopoly capitalism. Hitler used the capitalists as much as they used him.


VI. Agrarian Leadership

The economic problems of the East-Elbian Junkers was a persistent issue in the late Weimar Republic. The Osthilfe, a kind of welfare system for bankrupt landowners, introduced in 1931, was a device to preserve the social and economic status of the Junkers. There were obvious irregularities in this scheme, which led Schleicher to call for an investigation of the Osthilfe. He lost the support of the Junkers for this reason, as well as for the attempt to get the support of the trade unions. He was vigorously denounced by the Junkers, as an agrarian Bolshevik, and consequently fell from power.

Hitler's appointment, then, was followed by the revival of political power for the Junkers. The National Socialists, therefore, did nothing to check the centralization of agriculture. Instead, the Nazis concentrated on the deliberate creation of a reliable elite of wealthy peasants, at the expense of small farmers. They tried to form a solid corps of some 700,000 hereditary peasants, whose estates could not be encumbered, who could extent their holdings without restriction, and whose products received price protection. The Nazis then repaid the Junkers for going along with this, by applying the Hereditary Estates Act to the feudal lords as well. Thus two anachronism existed side by side: a Junker class and the hereditary peasants, one was the remnant of a dying class and the other an elite among independent peasants.

Thus the political system of the Nazi regime was characterized by profits, power, prestige, and above all, fear. Devoid of the common loyalty, and concerned solely with the preservation of their own interests, the ruling groups were bound to break apart as soon as the miracle-working Führer met a worthy opponent. Since political leadership became more and more a monopoly of the party, constant efforts had to be made to renew the ruling class. Thus every youth was compelled to become a member of the Hitler Youth organization after 1936-1939. Schools became increasingly under party control and more than 90% of college students were organized in the National Socialist Student Association.
Arty
The problem with seeing politics as circular is that left and right only meet at two points - traditionally made out as totalitarianism and moderate democracy. But what about anarchism? That has both ultra-left and ultra-right manifestations. I think that the political compass has everything that the circular model had and more, and though it is by no means perfect it helps to clear up a few issues.


As far as Hitler goes, he was undoubtedly quite leftish, in the style of many depression leaders. However, economics was never the point of Nazism. Whereas communism sees economics and social policy as indivisible, Nazism simply sees economics as a means to an end.

Nazi-style nationalism, essentially its whole raison d'etre, is usually considered right-wing, in opposition to left-wing nationalism in the style of the early French revolutionaries or the Romantics. Whereas left-wing nationalism is concerned with the freedom of people from oppression, right-wing nationalism is concerned with the supremacy of nation-states over one another.

These different manifestations of nationalism get attached to their respective wings for good reason. In the same way that right-wing ideology stresses individualism, right-wing nationalism justifies itself by a philosophy of 'individualism' and competition between nations. Social Darwinism and economic capitalism sit well together in this respect (though not morally, of course). Furthermore, the right-wing version of nationalism leans heavily on history and tradition, as does conservative ideology.

So basically what I'm saying is that, as Nazism was essentially a nationalist movement whose economic policies were essentially populaist and incidental, Nazism is a right-wing movement.
Hugo
No one has disagreed with the point that, economically speaking, the Nazi's were leftists. Once you allow free markets tolitarianism is doomed.
Izdaari
One collectivist totalitarianism is much like another. The goals of the state matter, the goals of the individual are subordinated. Whether the flavor is characterized as Left or Right, that remains true, and so all forms of totalitarianism have much more in common with each other than they do with less authoritarian governments.

But there is one compelling reason to consider Naziism a movement of the Left: It was secular, anti-clerical and utopian, basing everything on a plan to create a Heaven on Earth regardless of the human cost. In those respects, it's identical to the Marxist-Leninist dream though the content of the intended earthly paradise differs. I don't see that as much of a difference, since it can never be attained anyway, and realistically serves only as a marketing tool. What's real is the suffering and death totalitarian utopianisms of any stripe invariably create. What's important is all such regimes are unspeakably evil and limitlessly destructive.

"Don't let THEM immanentize the eschaton!" online2long.gif
nikachu
QUOTE
Once you allow free markets tolitarianism is doomed.

Hugo

Whilst I sincerely hope you are right, and I am aware that this claim has been made before, I don't think it has ever actually been proven.

As for the rest of this debate, 'right' and 'left' are extremely misleading terms, the context needs to be explicit. Right wing economics and right wing politics are 2 very different things (and not always mutually compatible).
SirVLCIV
QUOTE(Julian @ Apr 4 2004, 03:02 PM)
I think the "problem" is that libertarianism has, at least in the USA, been embraced on the right more than the left - so the definititions of "right" and "left" have subtly  shifted since WW2. The modern mainstream right is more libertarian than it used to be, so it sees an extreme authoritarian like Hitler and assumes that he must be their polar opposite.

At risk of changing the subject, I'd like to note that most conservatives seem to be more libertarian, but the neo-conservatives (Bush and co.) are definitely more authoritarian.
Arty
QUOTE(Hugo @ Apr 20 2004, 03:01 AM)
Once you allow free markets tolitarianism is doomed.

You could look at someone like Pinochet for a counter-example. Arguably you could also look at China, where the economy is being liberalised (less of the GDP is spent by the government than it is in France), but where there is no sign of increased political freedom.
Arty
QUOTE(Izdaari @ Apr 20 2004, 09:24 AM)
But there is one compelling reason to consider Naziism a movement of the Left: It was secular, anti-clerical and utopian, basing everything on a plan to create a Heaven on Earth regardless of the human cost.

Nazism wasn't necessarily secular - 'kirke, kinder, kuche' (church, children, cooking) was one of their favourite little slogans, though it could be said that it was used for political ends. But in any case, I don't believe that utopianism or secularism are confined to the left. Ayn Rand's Hegelian novels are both utopian and secular, but you won't find many people claiming her on the left (and you will find many who claim her on the right). She deals with themes of the individual and competition, and human values of heroism and reason.
Hugo
QUOTE(Arty @ Apr 25 2004, 09:58 AM)
QUOTE(Hugo @ Apr 20 2004, 03:01 AM)
Once you allow free markets tolitarianism is doomed.

You could look at someone like Pinochet for a counter-example. Arguably you could also look at China, where the economy is being liberalised (less of the GDP is spent by the government than it is in France), but where there is no sign of increased political freedom.

You could, but you would be pretty foolish. Pinochet was in absolute control a mere 17 years. He was defeated in an election brought about by a constitution he helped write.

The Chinese are trying to avoid the fate of the USSR and maintain political control while loosening the economic binds on the individual, they are doomed to failure. There are signs of political liberalization in China.
Izdaari
Ooh, Arty! Do you realize what Rand would do to you for describing her novels as Hegelian? She HATED Hegel. I'm not saying you're wrong, I can see Hegelian aspects, but Rand would have had a fit.

I assume you're referring to Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead? Yeah, they're kind of utopian, but they're novels. I'd describe them as a capitalist counterpart to Socialist Realism, and that was the style the cover art was done in too. But I'd not describe Rand's politics as utopian; she was a libertarian (though she hated the term) but a fairly pragmatic one -- enough so to support heavy defense spending for the Cold War and to vote for Richard Nixon as the lesser evil. Most importantly Rand would have been horrified at the notion of sacrificing anyone for the sake of realizing her political ideals. John Galt's oath: "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine" was the very core of her philosophy. No question she was right-wing; I certainly am, and my politics and hers are almost identical, though we differ considerably in philosophy.
Julian
QUOTE(Hugo @ Apr 20 2004, 03:01 AM)
No one has disagreed with the point that, economically speaking, the Nazi's were leftists. Once you allow free markets tolitarianism is doomed.

Fair comment, but this thread asks the question "Was Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NAZIs) on the extreme left, right, or a mixture of both in the political spectrum? (my emphasis).

Politics and economics are two different (though admittedly linked) disciplines. Hitler could have been Karl Marx himself, in economic terms, but he was by any measure a far-right winger politically.

Nazism is not the fault of those on the left and we aren't the ones who have anything to apologise for. Hitler does not pose a warning from history to those on the left in this contedxt, except never to allow the Right to have things entirely their own way.
Hugo
There may have been an era where politics and economics were not intertwined. That is not today. What we have in the US today, is the moderate left party more in align with Hitler on economic policies, the moderate right party more align with Hitler on nationalism and military use. One thing we can all agree on is that it takes government power to create a tolitarian society. Lessen the power of government, and by definition, tolitarianism is reduced.
Dingo
QUOTE(Hugo @ Apr 19 2004, 08:01 PM)
No one has disagreed with the point that, economically speaking, the Nazi's were leftists. Once you allow free markets tolitarianism is doomed.

I would say Hitler ran a government that was bureaucratic monopoly capitalist, with enormous power concentrated in his person as one can see from the article excerpted above. He also came to power with the help of large capitalists and used them as they used him. I would say he was a power mad opportunist who was willing to exploit institutions of both the right and the left. I would be inclined to think of him as more right simply because historically racism, anti-Semitism and chauvinistic nationalism have occurred more in that camp.
EGVB
Hitler and his cronies were just idiots. I don't think it matters very much whether they were left, right, up, down.
Jaime
QUOTE(EGVB @ May 15 2004, 04:15 PM)
Hitler and his cronies were just idiots.  I don't think it matters very much whether they were left, right, up, down.

Please avoid posting one-liners. They are not constructive and therefore against the Rules.

TOPIC TO DEBATE:
Was Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NAZIs) on the extreme left, right, or a mixture of both in the political spectrum?
This is a simplified version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Invision Power Board © 2001-2014 Invision Power Services, Inc.