Understanding nazis, Fascism and Socialism

Some readers aren’t on the same page when it comes to nazis. Not even the same book.

Its an irritating trick of the right to claim someone like Hillary Clinton is a socialist, or claim the nazis were socialists because they had the word socialist in their name. These claims are all demonstrably false, and I’d like to take a moment and explain why.

I’ll be referring to David Neiwert’s appendix on fascism. Folks who already understand these matters may want to bookmark it anyway for reference. Its excellent.

Let’s start with some words from George Orwell:

Fascism, at any rate the German version, is a form of capitalism that borrows from Socialism just such features as will make it efficient for war purposes.

But the idea underlying Fascism is irreconcilably different from that which underlies Socialism. Socialism aims, ultimately, at a world-state of free and equal human beings. It takes the equality of human rights for granted. Nazism assumes just the opposite. The driving force behind the Nazi movement is the belief in human inequality, the superiority of Germans to all other races, the right of Germany to rule the world. Outside the German Reich it does not recognise any obligations.

From just that section, we can show why each wingnut claim is decidedly false.  Let’s start with the nazis were socialists.  Socialism is about equality.  It is a complete equality, that recognizes that economic inequality is still (shocker!) inequality.  However every other form of equality is also at play.  So a violent and racist regime like the nazis cannot possibly be socialist.

Next, the claim that Hillary is a socialist.  No, she isn’t.  Hillary Clinton supported the war in Iraq.  She doesn’t support universal health care.  She doesn’t support state ownership and the abolition of private property.  Calling anyone to the left of Mitt Romney a socialist is simply idiotic, and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of socialism.

Let’s take a look at some other definitions of fascism:

Paxton’s nine “mobilizing passions” of fascism:

— a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of any traditional solutions;

— the primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether universal or individual, and the subordination of the individual to it;

— the belief that one’s group is a victim, a sentiment which justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against the group’s enemies, both internal and external;

— dread of the group’s decline under the corrosive effect of individualistic liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences;

— the need for closer integration of a purer community, by consent if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary;

— the need for authority by natural leaders (always male), culminating in a national chief who alone is capable of incarnating the group’s destiny;

— the superiority of the leader’s instincts over abstract and universal reason;

— the beauty of violence and the efficacy of will, when they are devoted to the group’s success;

— the right of the chosen people to dominate others without restraint from any kind of human or divine law, right being decided by the sole criterion of the group’s prowess in a Darwinian struggle.

As you read that list, are you thinking George Bush as much as I am?

Roger Griffin:

Fascism: modern political ideology that seeks to regenerate the social, economic, and cultural life of a country by basing it on a heightened sense of national belonging or ethnic identity. Fascism rejects liberal ideas such as freedom and individual rights, and often presses for the destruction of elections, legislatures, and other elements of democracy. Despite the idealistic goals of fascism, attempts to build fascist societies have led to wars and persecutions that caused millions of deaths. As a result, fascism is strongly associated with right-wing fanaticism, racism, totalitarianism, and violence.

This is why I make such a big deal about the immigration debate.  Every politician and pundit who screams about the impact of immigration on culture, who whines about “having to dial 1 for english” or the presence of ESL classes in the schools, who talks about any number of white supremacist conspiracy theories, is feeding into one of the core components of fascism.

Fascism is something to fight tooth and nail until it is stripped from the world.  The first step in doing so is understanding what fascism is, and how to recognize it.  A good next step is taking the time to counteract false and misleading statements that dilute the truth about fascism and leave us unable to recognize it when it tries to sneak up on us.  Keep a special eye turned on the discourse surrounding the debates.  Fascists are being sold as freedom fighters and serious politicians, while the label fascist is being slung around carelessly in the most inappropriate places.

If you want a good example of modern politicians heading towards fascism, look no further than the Republican primary field.  You’ll find plenty of examples.

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