Monday, March 14, 2005


I have already pointed out at length elsewhere that Hitler was a Leftist in terms of the Leftism of his day and that practically all of his thinking was prefigured in the thinking of Marx & Engels.

If he was so Leftist, however, how come that Hitler's few remaining admirers in at least the Anglosphere countries all seem to be on the political far-Right? This tiny band even refer to themselves as "The Right", in fact. How do I know that? I know that because I in fact happen to be one of the very few people to have studied neo-Nazis intensively. And I have reported my findings about them in the academic journals -- see here and here.

Initially, however, I must point out that the description "Far-Right" is a great misnomer for the successors of Hitler in modern-day Germany. As I have pointed out elsewhere, modern-day German neo-Nazis are demonstrably just as Leftist as Hitler was. So are American, British and Australian neo-Nazis also Leftist in any sense?

The answer to that is a simple one: They are pre-war Leftists, just as Hitler was. They are a relic in the modern world of thinking that was once common on the Left but no longer is. They are a hangover from the past in every sense. They are antisemitic just as Hitler was. They are racial supremacists just as Hitler was. They are advocates of discipline just as Hitler was. They are advocates of national unity just as Hitler was. They glorify war just as Hitler did etc. And all those things that Hitler advocated were also advocated among the prewar American Left.

That does however raise the question of WHY such thinking is seen as "Rightist" today. And the answer to THAT goes back to the nature of Leftism! The political content of Leftism varies greatly from time to time. The sudden about-turn of the Left on antisemitism in recent times is vivid proof of that. And what the political content of Leftism is depends on the Zeitgeist -- the conventional wisdom of the day. Leftists take whatever is commonly believed and push it to extremes in order to draw attention to themselves as being the good guys -- the courageous champions of popular causes. So when the superiority of certain races was commonly accepted, Leftists were champions of racism. So when eugenics was commonly accepted as wise, Leftists were champions of eugenics -- etc. In recent times they have come to see more righteousness to be had from championing the Palestinian Arabs than from championing the Jews so we have seen their rapid transition from excoriating antisemitism to becoming "Antizionist".

But the thinking of the man in the street does not change nearly as radically as Leftists do. Although it may no longer be fashionable, belief in the superiority of whites over blacks is still widespread, for instance. Such beliefs have become less common but they have not gone away. They are however distinctly non-Leftist in today's climate of opinion so are usually defined as "Rightist" by default. So the beliefs of the neo-Nazis are Rightist only in the default sense of not being currently Leftist. They are part of the general stream of popular thinking but that part of it which is currently out of fashion. I say a little more on that elsewhere.

And so it is because the old-fashioned thinking of the neo-Nazis is these days thoroughly excoriated by the Left that they see themselves as of the Right and reject any idea that they are socialists. I can attest from my own extensive interviews with Australian neo-Nazis (see here and here) that they mostly blot out any mention of Hitler's socialism from their consciousness. The most I ever heard any of them make out of it was that, by "socialism", Hitler was simply referring to national solidarity and everybody pulling together -- which was indeed a major part of Hitler's message and which has been a major aim of socialism from Hegel on. And things like autarky (national self-sufficiency) and government control of the whole of society were attractive to them too so they were in fact far more socialist than they would ever have acknowledged. They don't realize that they are simply old-fashioned Leftists. Since most of the world seems to have forgotten what pre-war Leftism consisted of, however, that is hardly surprising.

And the neo-Nazis are assisted in their view of themselves as Rightist by Hitler's anticommunism. The falling-out among the Nazis and the Communists was in Hitler's day largely a falling-out among thieves but the latter half of the second world war made the opposition between the two very vivid in the public consciousness so that opposition has become a major part of the definition of what Nazism is. And Marxism/Leninism was avowedly internationalist rather than racist. Lenin and the Bolsheviks despised nationalism and wished to supplant national solidarity with class solidarity. Given the contempt for Slavs often expressed by Marx & Engels, one can perhaps understand that Lenin and his Russian (Slavic) Bolsheviks concentrated so heavily on Marx & Engels's vision of international worker solidarity and ignored the thoroughly German nationalism also often expressed by Engels in particular.

That class-war was the best way to better the economic position of the worker was, however, never completely obvious. The Fascists did not think so nor did most Leftists in democratic countries. Nonetheless, the internationalist and class-based (rather than race-based) nature of Communism did have the effect in the postwar era of identifying Leftism with skepticism about patriotism, nationalism and any feeling that the traditions of one's own country were of great value. The result of this was that people with strong patriotic, nationalist and traditionalist feelings in the Anglo-Saxon countries felt rather despised and oppressed by the mostly Leftist intelligentsia and sought allies and inspiration wherever they could. And Hitler was certainly a great exponent of national pride, community traditions and patriotism. So those who felt marginalized by their appreciation of their own traditional values and their own community must have been tempted in some extreme cases to feel some sympathy for Hitler.

And if anybody thinks that all this talk about Hitler is harking back to a past that is now so distant as to be irrelevant, just look at what the book of the month is in Turkey! Islamic thinking is lost in the past too.

(An earlier version of this post appeared on Blogger News)


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