Social Question

Demosthenes's avatar

Were the Nazis socialists because "socialist" is in the name?

Asked by Demosthenes (14470points) 2 months ago

This is a common claim I hear from right-wingers online. Is it true? Why did the Nazis call themselves “socialist”?

Is Antifa anti-fascist because it’s in the name? And all those who oppose them must be fascists then?

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56 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

No they were National Socialist abbreviated Na ZI ! They were extreme fascists. Socialism advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. Did’t happen in Germany.

Antifa (US Armed Forces during WWII) were against right wing Fascists, like Hitler and Mussolini!

Yes people that oppose antifa must be fascists.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

The nazis could have easily been socialists but they were more like capitalists where factory and property owners looked more like small-time oligarchs. The state did not take full control of all that but they certainly expected people to do what the state wanted. Fascism and socialism are not mutually exclusive. For a country to be purely socialist and state controlled, it could take a fascist dictator to make that happen. That does not mean socialism has to necessarily be bad. It’s often quite the opposite as most of you know. Right wingers are just stabbing back at lefties who constantly call them nazis. ANTIFA by definition is anti-fascist. Sometimes people fly that flag, yet act like sensation-seeking street thugs. In that case they can call themselves whatever they want, but they need to be judged by their actions and not what flag they fly those actions under. Real anti-fascists deserve our support and I would wager that this includes most people. Fascism does not exclusively come from the right wing, it can come from the far left too. A lot of proposed social organization touted by the left are prime targets for dictators to step in and take control. If the state controls everything there is not much you can do one that happens. Does not matter how well intentioned those systems are this can happen. Strong state socialism is one of those things under the right conditions.

Demosthenes's avatar

@Blackwater_Park I think a lot of these terms have common usages that don’t necessarily accord with history. “Fascism” seems to be mainly a pejorative that refers to any kind of government action or politician perceived as too controlling, even if it has little to do with the ultranationalist fascism of Italy that coined the term. On another site, I encountered someone arguing that a socialist state and a fascist are essentially synonymous because they both involve state control of the economy (but even that is flawed as there is more than one way to “control” an economy). I would say that what such states have in common is totalitarianism, which can be socialist or fascist, left or right wing. Interestingly, fascists in the middle of the 20th century sometimes claimed to be a “third wing” that was neither left nor right.

It’s clear that Hitler and the Nazis were strongly anti-Marxist, and indeed Hitler regarded communism and Judaism to be the two greatest evils in the world.

HP's avatar

Nazis did indeed adopt the logo of National Socialism. The distinction lies in THEIR definition of socialism, which in short is the subjugation of EVERYTHING (and everyone) to the service of the state. And of course with this, allegiance belongs to the leader alone whose will IS the will of the state and therefore beyond dispute.

filmfann's avatar

A name is just a name.
Christian Falangists are not Christian.
The National Socialist German Workers’ Party was not for workers or socialism.
Are the Dallas Cowboys America’s Team? Not if you’re from Oakland.

Demosthenes's avatar

@HP Right, I think some people think that any kind of communitarianism/interventionism means “left wing”, but that is not the case. Authoritarianism can be left or right, so can communitarianism or individualism. Then you have weird situations like Peronism, which was essentially “right wing socialism”. The key being that all these labels are not as cut and dry as they seem.

eyesoreu's avatar

Whatever label they attached, who cares, they were bat shit crazy.

kritiper's avatar

To add to what @eyesoreu said, remember that there are about 20 different forms of Socialism.

hat's avatar

I know that you’re educated, and this is just a troll-ish kind of question I’m wondering why you ask these sometimes, when I know you’re rather informed on so many topics.

No.

And no.

And yes – anyone who is anti-anti-fascist is fascist.

flutherother's avatar

The closing paragraph of the Snopes article on the subject reads as follows:

“Above all, the Nazis were German white nationalists. What they stood for was the ascendancy of the “Aryan” race and the German nation, by any means necessary. Despite co-opting the name, some of the rhetoric, and even some of the precepts of socialism, Hitler and party did so with utter cynicism, and with vastly different goals. The claim that the Nazis actually were leftists or socialists in any generally accepted sense of those terms flies in the face of historical reality.”

hat's avatar

I’ve been here since 2011, and have had conversations with people (who are still here) that claim that anti-imperialists are the real imperialists, anti-racists are the real racists, etc. It’s exhausting.

Demosthenes's avatar

@hat Sure, but a lot of my questions are to find out what other people think. I know what my answer is, but I want to hear from others. And it was partly just out of exasperation—seeing this argument again and again.

I agree that that kind of “Russian reversal” argument is incredibly tedious and tiresome.

hat's avatar

^ Fair enough.

Kropotkin's avatar

Socialism is fundamentally predicated on egalitarianism. The goal of socialism, regardless of variant, is to create a socially and economically egalitarian society.

Nazism, and other forms of fascism, is explicitly hierarchical and anti-egalitarian.

The Nazis called themselves socialist because socialism was a popular idea in the 20s and 30s, and fascists are opportunists who used the rhetorical and moral appeal of socialism to gain popularity.

The real big clue, and why I find the claim so particularly offensive and pernicious, is because socialists were the first victims of the Nazis and were murdered in large numbers by them.

seawulf575's avatar

Snopes has an interesting take on things. Their point seems to be that yes, the Nazis were officially socialists but were actually right wing radicals in disguise. But they do go on to show a number of things the Nazis did that are lock step with what today’s Democrat party does including many of their goals.

Forever_Free's avatar

The Nazi regime had little to do with socialism.
Just because Nazi” is short for “National Socialist” does not mean that Hitler and his henchmen were all socialists. Bernie Sanders calls himself a socialist, too. That means Bernie Sanders and his supporters are the same as Nazis?
The Nazis hated socialists. It was the governments that rebuilt Europe that embraced social welfare programs.
The Right need to stop this false propaganda.

seawulf575's avatar

@Forever_Free If you look at what I just cited, it wasn’t the right calling the Nazis socialists. It was Hitler doing it. He bragged about it. It also says that you can be a Nazi and a socialist…they are not exclusive from each other.

seawulf575's avatar

There’s the other side of the coin that says they were not Socialists: it means that the socialists were completely dumb. They bought all the scam without any hesitation. They were so gullible they jumped right on board with a guy that was dreadfully hazardous to the country, the people and the world.

Demosthenes's avatar

Yes, Hitler called the party socialist because the term had an appeal in that historical context. The complete opposite of say, contemporary America where socialist has been hammered into the collective mindset as anathema to what America stands for and is even confusingly seen as synonymous with “fascist” (again I think we need to use terms like “authoritarian” here). Hitler believed in a strong state and submission of the economy to the state but never espoused worker ownership of the means of production and once he began to gain real power, true socialists were kicked out of the party or killed. He also paid lip service to Christianity, yet I don’t think there is much evidence that he was sincere in Christian faith.

Didn’t we just have a thread where we declared “nationalist” an innocent term that has not been tainted by history? Hitler was nothing if not a nationalist.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

When you have a dictator running what they call socialism, it’s still a dictatorship.

seawulf575's avatar

@Blackwater_Park Yep. Just like with Lenin and Stalin, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and many more. Kinda like what today’s Democrats are pushing for. The similarities between them and the Nazis in 1938 are astounding.

Demosthenes's avatar

@seawulf575 Yeah, sure. Democrats are socialist dictators. I wish we could have real discussions here sometimes, I really do. That’s literally no different than saying Trump aspires to be the next Hitler. You know what Hitler also did? Ban books. Sounds a lot like today’s Republicans, eh?

Anyway, I’m unfollowing my own question if this becomes more Democrat vs. Republican bullshit. I’m talking about history and why Hitler and the Nazis called themselves “socialist”. This is not about America and the two parties.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

@seawulf575 That’s not exactly what I meant. People don’t generally push for dictatorships. Dictatorships can arise from many directions though. Nazis are an example of when a radical, fringe group with crazy ideas finangle themselves into the majority. Nazis did this partially by force and a lot of propaganda. To be completely fair I don’t believe Trump is a nazi or even a white supremacist but his slogans, and marching cries mirror the Nazi party pretty strongly when it came to their early propaganda. I’m not sure if it’s accidental or intentional. It’s not just radical left wing ideology that blaze a trail to dictatorships. It can just as easily come from the other direction. The common theme is radical change, power vacuum and then pure hell.

HP's avatar

@Demosthenes You should not abandon your own thread simply because someone scouring the internet believes it equivalent to thinking or some substitue for rational processing of the information gathered. The absurd proposition that it is ruthless dictatorship which defines the word leftist is indication enough as to the viability of this approach. Of course you can convince yourself that the FBI and DOJ are in fact the secret police and enforcement arms of the Democratic party. The nonsense flys and piles up faster than you can answer it. But you cannot allow ignorance to run you off you own thread.

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes My apologies. Part of the problem with questions like this is that we are looking at something 90 years old and applying the terms of today to them. In today’s society the Democrats are the left and the Republicans are the right. So you sort of have to compare apples to apples.

There are a number of arguments for the Nazis being left wing socialists:

https://medium.com/@The_LockeSmith/were-hitler-and-the-nazis-politically-left-or-right-wing-e9fcc9d3ab1e

https://thatsworking.com/nazis-left/

https://paulhjossey.medium.com/the-nazis-were-leftists-deal-with-it-b7f12cc53b6f

The arguments of it being a right wing are based on their authoritarian rule. But there have been a number of left wing authoritarian governments before and since.

Forever_Free's avatar

@seawulf575 These are not fact based links but merely a post of some ones opinion. These are very poor examples and just individual opine propaganda.

HP's avatar

@Forever Free you see what I mean? If you can find it somewhere in print, the source is irrelevant.

Demosthenes's avatar

@seawulf575 Then I think we need to define “left” and “right”. The argument seems to be that all state ownership is left wing, therefore the Nazis are left wing, but that would mean all totalitarians are left wing, which is clearly not the case. Totalitarianism is not inherently left or right wing. It can be either. I don’t think there’s going to be any possibility of discussion until we can agree on that fact.

HP's avatar

You see what I mean? Now wait for it.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

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waiting !

HP's avatar

While it is unquestionably true that both the left and the right spawn individuals instituting authoritarian dictatorial regimes under the guise of professed adherence to a certain ideology, the only sensible conclusion regarding their true position on the spectrum of left to right must be obtained solely through the functioning of the dictatorship. It is clearly illegitimate to lump Russia Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba, etc. as leftist entities simply because they might claim to be such. Just as Hitler’s claim to be socialist does not validate the rather asinine conclusion that he is a “leftist”. As it is, every one of those places represents itself as a republic, with probably half of them claiming the title “democratic Republic” when such nonsense clearly cannot be taken seriously.

Kropotkin's avatar

@seawulf575 Democrats aren’t socialists.

seawulf575's avatar

@Forever_Free You are correct, they are opinions. Everything you find will be an opinion. That is why I said there are arguments for the Nazis being leftiest. Arguments, I thought, implied opinion. But once again, instead of dealing with the substance, the source is attacked.

HP's avatar

@Kropotkin Watch how far that one gets you.

seawulf575's avatar

@Kropotkin No, not all Dems are socialists. Nor are all Dems even left leaning. But overall, they are leftists. And ALL socialists are leftists.

HP's avatar

So anyone claiming to be leftist is socialist?

Kropotkin's avatar

@seawulf575 There are no arguments for Nazis being leftist. It’s mere gaslighting.

It’s the political equivalent of telling people the Earth is flat. It’s designed to enrage and offend socialists (Nazis mass murdered socialists and communists).

And no. Democrats aren’t socialists, or even leftists. The entire left-right paradigm comes from the seating arrangement in the National Assembley of Revolutionary France. It is just a positional metaphor.

You can say Democrats are to the left of Republicans, and within the pathetically narrow constraints of US electoral politics, the Democrats are on the “left”. No actual left-winger, someone who professes to be a socialist, a communist, or an anarchist, or even a social-demcorat, would recognise the Democrats as part of the left-wing tradition of politics.

They are liberals. Call them centrists if anything. Liberals sat in the middle in the National Assembley of France. The reactionaries, monarchists and conservatives, and other proto-fascists, sat on the right.

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes Socialism is usually a point where all production and distribution is owned collectively or controlled through one centralized government point. Totalitarianism is where the government has total control of everything i.e. a dictatorship.

Another aspect of socialism is that it looks at having a classless society. This is what Hitler pushed for often.

Socialism is also, in the Marxist-Leninist view, the intermediate point between capitalism and communism. If you remember, Hitler came to power at the end of the Weimar Republic. They had a total collapse of their economy and gross capitalism was one of the excuses for that collapse. Hitler certainly wasn’t looking at sticking with capitalism, which would have been more right wing.

Kropotkin's avatar

Hitler was literally financed and backed by capitalists. He banned independents trade unions.

He wasn’t seeking a classless society. He literally advocated for a hierarchical society.

HP's avatar

He is printing verbatim what he read. He hasn’t the information warehoused in his head to place what he finds on the net in context.

seawulf575's avatar

@Kropotkin Yet I have shown things above that say he did want a classless society (Otto Wagener, Hitler’s close economic adviser gave us this) . That he DID want socialism. That he actually felt Marx and Lenin were after the right goal but were going about it the wrong way. In other words, I have given citations that have done the homework, found many, many cases of those close to Hitler, parts of the inner circle, and even Hitler himself saying all these things and that they were socialists. And in response we have @Kropotkin that gives his opinion. Yeah, you must know more than the people that were there.

seawulf575's avatar

@HP I find it funny that you NEVER give any citations and just bluster inanely and then dare to criticize anyone else.

Demosthenes's avatar

Hitler isn’t considered to be right wing because he was authoritarian, though. It’s because he was an ultranationalist who advocated for hierarchical, ethnic state. I mean, if socialism is a perfectly egalitarian society where workers own the means of production, then none of the socialist dictators were actually socialists. Clearly there are elements of these things to differing degrees in different societies. Hitler’s dislike of capitalism was its international, globalist (and ultimately, Jewish) element.

I agree that some people mistakenly think authoritarian = right wing, but as I said above that is simply untrue.

@seawulf575 Hitler rails against Marxists and communists in Mein Kampf. You can read his own words for yourself.

HP's avatar

@seawulf575 when I say that you print verbatim what you read without interpretation. I meant you print ANYTHING you read and proffer it as evidence.

HP's avatar

@seawulf575 when I say that you print verbatim what you read without interpretation. I meant you print ANYTHING you read and proffer it as evidence without regard as to whether it is credible.

hat's avatar

There’s no talking to someone who believes that the real socialists are the ones who fight against socialism (and kill socialists). You guys know that @seawulf575 doesn’t really believe anything he is typing, right? He is just playing word games. Nurses are caregivers, nurse sharks have “nurse” in the name, nurse sharks are caregivers. This kind of shit. And he doesn’t even stick to his own rules of this bullshit.

HP's avatar

@hat But what is to be deduced on his persistence in posting things he clearly either does not understand or insults us in the belief he can pass them off as legitimate?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Copy and paste from right wing sites come to mind @HP ! ! ! !

hat's avatar

^ This. He is just echoing what he sees on Fox, etc. It’s almost as though he has no politics at all. Try having a discussion about principles with him. It’s useless. He can’t do it

HP's avatar

Exactly, and the reason he must is that he lacks the discernment to distinguish between that which is plausible, and what is patently ridiculous.

Forever_Free's avatar

I must say that reading @seawulf575 is rather comical. SMH painful, but comical at the end of the day.

seawulf575's avatar

@HP “when I say that you print verbatim what you read without interpretation. I meant you print ANYTHING you read and proffer it as evidence.” And still you present NOTHING as a citation for proof of anything you spew. In other words, you are hot air.

JLeslie's avatar

Many good answers already.

Here’s what I think about the US political parties throwing around terms like socialism and fascism, capitalism, democracies, etc etc. The US is a hybrid system with capitalism and social safety nets and we should be constantly tweaking that combination towards a better country. The disaster of Nazi Germany was that Hitler became a dictator and a genocidal maniac. He made it difficult to unseat him, he had enough support that his orders were carried out, and he was protected.

You can get an evil dictator in almost any economic system, it’s the power of the people and maintaining the system of checks and balances and the vote that helps keep dictators from rising to power. Having other people in power who will speak out against giving any one person so much power, and no go along with political manipulation. Also, having a military that takes an oath to the constitution and is expected to defy an order that is against the law.

Hitler warned against Marxism and saw the Jewish people as Marxist and subhuman. At the same time he seemed worried Jews yielded too much power, which is what the alt-right WS preach. The WS want control of the country and they market the idea that the Jews want control or have control and need to be taken down.

ragingloli's avatar

Socialism is the ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution by the workers.
In contrast, the Nazis did not dissolve corporations or nationalise their assets, they allied with them, and made them more powerful.
They abolished unions, and sent union leaders to the camps.
They sent actual socialists and communists to the camps.
They considered Marxism to be a Jewish plot, because Karl Marx was Jewish.

They can call themselves “socialists” all day long, it does not make them so.
East Germany’s official title was the “German Democratic Republic”, and it was neither democratic, nor a republic.

JLeslie's avatar

Typo: wielded not yielded.

Entropy's avatar

My Answer: Sort of. Not Really. But Definitely Sort Of.

As a technical textbook definition, Marx’s definition of socialism is still the most widely known and accepted. Socialism is public ownership of the means of production. The Fascists left property in the hands of it’s owners, so…by definition, NOT socialists.

But wait…after that it gets a little more grey. Because Mussolini (the real inventor of fascism) WAS a committed socialist before WW1 and adopted the idea of a centrally planned economy. But he recognized that the way to get political support was to scare the entrenched aristocracy LESS than the socialists did. So his way to a centrally planned economy was to let the rich continue to own the means of production, but use formal and informal means to direct their activity.

This sometimes meant above board means of Trusts and Industry Boards and the like that directed companies and industries what to make, what to charge, etc. Sometimes it was less formal. When a Nazi representative shows up at your factory and tells you that the party would prefer you making helmets instead of soup bowls, you don’t REALLY have the option to say ‘no’. Everyone knew those trains headed east weren’t taking people to some nice peaceful life in the east. They may not have known the DETAILS, but they got the gist.

So while the Nazi govt didn’t OWN the means of production, it did CONTROL it. So I think the argument could be made, that if this isn’t socialism, it’s certainly RELATED to socialism. A cousin perhaps. Or perhaps the Marxist definition is too narrow. Perhaps it should focus on central planning and govt CONTROL of the economy, rather than OWNERSHIP.

Now, it’s ALSO worth saying that even if we accept that fascism were some kind of cousin to socialism, it’s still not the same. Socialism is a purely ECONOMIC idea. We can debate whether it has political implications towards autoritarianism (I think it does), but it certainly doesn’t explicitly advocate for it. Fascism DOES.

Fascism is a political AND economic policy mix. It advocates a totalitarian govt explicitly. It advocates a nationalistic fervor explicitly. It’s not purely an economic model. So it’s not even trying to be the same thing as socialism. It may be borrowing some ideas, but it’s NOT the same.

Also, I should point out that Hitler himself was asked this question. And while I don’t have the exact text of his response, he said ‘yes’, that fascism IS a kind of socialism. He said something along the lines of ‘what difference does it make who holds the deed to the factory if I am telling them what to make, who to sell to, and what price to charge?’ Again…that’s me paraphrasing from memory…I read the quote a decade-plus ago.

While I certainly don’t consider Hitler a reliable source on… well, anything…. it is interesting to see that he himself viewed his movement as socialist in some degree. Even as his group persecuted socialists because they were a political rival.

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