Thursday, February 27, 2014
Leftists become incandescent when reminded of the socialist roots of the Nazis
People who have read much of my writings will be familiar with most of the points made by Daniel Hannan below. We differ in one important respect, however: Hannan says that most Leftists mean well and that their motives are different from the motives of the totalitarians. I don't think that. I see the same authoritarian mentality in all Leftists. They all want to rule us
You can't accuse the NSDAP of downplaying the "Socialist" bit. On 16 June 1941, as Hitler readied his forces for Operation Barbarossa, Josef Goebbels looked forward to the new order that the Nazis would impose on a conquered Russia. There would be no come-back, he wrote, for capitalists nor priests nor Tsars.
Rather, in the place of debased, Jewish Bolshevism, the Wehrmacht would deliver “der echte Sozialismus”: real socialism.
Goebbels never doubted that he was a socialist. He understood Nazism to be a better and more plausible form of socialism than that propagated by Lenin. Instead of spreading itself across different nations, it would operate within the unit of the Volk.
So total is the cultural victory of the modern Left that the merely to recount this fact is jarring. But few at the time would have found it especially contentious. As George Watson put it in The Lost Literature of Socialism:
"It is now clear beyond all reasonable doubt that Hitler and his associates believed they were socialists, and that others, including democratic socialists, thought so too."
The clue is in the name. Subsequent generations of Leftists have tried to explain away the awkward nomenclature of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party as either a cynical PR stunt or an embarrassing coincidence. In fact, the name meant what it said.
Hitler told Hermann Rauschning, a Prussian who briefly worked for the Nazis before rejecting them and fleeing the country, that he had admired much of the thinking of the revolutionaries he had known as a young man; but he felt that they had been talkers, not doers. “I have put into practice what these peddlers and pen pushers have timidly begun,” he boasted, adding that “the whole of National Socialism” was “based on Marx”.
Marx’s error, Hitler believed, had been to foster class war instead of national unity – to set workers against industrialists instead of conscripting both groups into a corporatist order. His aim, he told his economic adviser, Otto Wagener, was to “convert the German Volk to socialism without simply killing off the old individualists” – by which he meant the bankers and factory owners who could, he thought, serve socialism better by generating revenue for the state. “What Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism failed to accomplish,” he told Wagener, “we shall be in a position to achieve.”
Leftist readers may by now be seething. Whenever I touch on this subject, it elicits an almost berserk reaction from people who think of themselves as progressives and see anti-fascism as part of their ideology. Well, chaps, maybe now you know how we conservatives feel when you loosely associate Nazism with “the Right”.
To be absolutely clear, I don’t believe that modern Leftists have subliminal Nazi leanings, or that their loathing of Hitler is in any way feigned. That’s not my argument. What I want to do, by holding up the mirror, is to take on the equally false idea that there is an ideological continuum between free-marketers and fascists.
The idea that Nazism is a more extreme form of conservatism has insinuated its way into popular culture. You hear it, not only when spotty students yell “fascist” at Tories, but when pundits talk of revolutionary anti-capitalist parties, such as the BNP and Golden Dawn, as “far Right”.
What is it based on, this connection? Little beyond a jejune sense that Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty and fascists are nasty. When written down like that, the notion sounds idiotic, but think of the groups around the world that the BBC, for example, calls “Right-wing”: the Taliban, who want communal ownership of goods; the Iranian revolutionaries, who abolished the monarchy, seized industries and destroyed the middle class; Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who pined for Stalinism.
The “Nazis-were-far-Right” shtick is a symptom of the wider notion that “Right-wing” is a synonym for “baddie”.
One of my constituents once complained to the Beeb about a report on the repression of Mexico's indigenous peoples, in which the government was labelled Right-wing. The governing party, he pointed out, was a member of the Socialist International and, again, the give-away was in its name: Institutional Revolutionary Party. The BBC’s response was priceless. Yes, it accepted that the party was socialist, “but what our correspondent was trying to get across was that it is authoritarian”.
In fact, authoritarianism was the common feature of socialists of both National and Leninist varieties, who rushed to stick each other in prison camps or before firing squads. Each faction loathed the other as heretical, but both scorned free-market individualists as beyond redemption. Their battle was all the fiercer, as Hayek pointed out in 1944, because it was a battle between brothers.
Authoritarianism – or, to give it a less loaded name, the belief that state compulsion is justified in pursuit of a higher goal, such as scientific progress or greater equality – was traditionally a characteristic of the social democrats as much as of the revolutionaries.
Jonah Goldberg has chronicled the phenomenon at length in his magnum opus, Liberal Fascism. Lots of people take offence at his title, evidently without reading the book since, in the first few pages, Jonah reveals that the phrase is not his own. He is quoting that impeccable progressive H.G. Wells who, in 1932, told the Young Liberals that they must become “liberal fascists” and “enlightened Nazis”.
In those days, most prominent Leftists intellectuals, including Wells, Jack London, Havelock Ellis and the Webbs, tended to favour eugenics, convinced that only religious hang-ups were holding back the development of a healthier species. The unapologetic way in which they spelt out the consequences have, like Hitler’s actual words, been largely edited from our discourse. Here, for example, is George Bernard Shaw in 1933:
"Extermination must be put on a scientific basis if it is ever to be carried out humanely and apologetically as well as thoroughly… If we desire a certain type of civilisation and culture we must exterminate the sort of people who do not fit into it."
Eugenics, of course, topples easily into racism. Engels himself wrote of the “racial trash” – the groups who would necessarily be supplanted as scientific socialism came into its own. Season this outlook with a sprinkling of anti-capitalism and you often got Leftist anti-Semitism – something else we have edited from our memory, but which once went without saying. “How, as a socialist, can you not be an anti-Semite?” Hitler had asked his party members in 1920.
Are contemporary Leftist critics of Israel secretly anti-Semitic? No, not in the vast majority of cases. Are modern socialists inwardly yearning to put global warming sceptics in prison camps? Nope. Do Keynesians want the whole apparatus of corporatism, expressed by Mussolini as “everything in the state, nothing outside the state”? Again, no. There are idiots who discredit every cause, of course, but most people on the Left are sincere in their stated commitment to human rights, personal dignity and pluralism.
My beef with many (not all) Leftists is a simpler one. By refusing to return the compliment, by assuming a moral superiority, they make political dialogue almost impossible. Using the soubriquet “Right-wing” to mean “something undesirable” is a small but important example.
Next time you hear Leftists use the word fascist as a general insult, gently point out the difference between what they like to imagine the NSDAP stood for and what it actually proclaimed.
Hannan has a number of interesting Nazi posters with his article but not all are translated or translated well. I therefore reproduce them with translations:
Workers of the mind and the fist choose the frontline soldier, Hitler. Against hunger and desperation, choose Hitler
This poster is a bit hard to read but its text is all rendered clearly here. The body of the poster reads: "Wir Arbeiter sind erwacht – wir wählen Liste 2 Nationalsozialisten" -- which translates as: "We workers are awoken. We choose List 2, National Socialists"
Same Prosecutor Who Let David Gregory Go Is Destroying the Life of a DC Businessman Over an Empty Shotgun Shell
Remember this? When NBC's David Gregory brandished and waved around a 30-round magazine on Meet the Press during an interview with the NRA's Wayne LaPierre about gun control? The incident occurred inside the District of Columbia where magazines with a capacity of more than 10-rounds, and even fake magazines, are illegal. Not only did he violate D.C. gun laws, but according to D.C. police, he knowingly violated the law after being denied the use of the illegal magazine on the show. A review of the law:
"No person in the District shall possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm. For the purposes of this subsection, the term large capacity ammunition feeding device means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition."
Regardless a well connected, pro-gun control Gregory escaped without charges for illegal possession of the magazine, which would land a regular person in jail for up to a year with a $1000 fine. After D.C. police completed their investigation into the incident, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier turned the case over to the D.C. Office of the Attorney General [OAG], headed by Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan, to determine whether prosecution would be appropriate. The ruling from the OAG on Gregory's prosecution? No charges, no trial, no jail time and no fines.
"Having carefully reviewed all of the facts and circumstances of this matter, as it does in every case involving firearms-related offenses or any other potential violation of D.C. law within our criminal jurisdiction, OAG has determined to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who has no criminal record, or any other NBC employee based on the events associated with the December 23, 2012 broadcast."
Now the same Attorney General, Irvin B. Nathan, who failed to bring charges against Gregory, is doing everything he can to make the life of D.C. business and family man Mark Witaschek (who, like Gregory, doesn't have a criminal record) a living hell. Why? Cops in full SWAT gear raided Witaschek's Georgetown home on July 7, 2012 looking for "firearms and ammunition … gun cleaning equipment, holsters, bullet holders and ammunition receipts."
Police found a single empty shotgun shell and muzzleloader sabots (lead balls), no guns. Witaschek is facing jail time as a result of those finds and prosecutors are arguing Witaschek was in illegal possession of "ammunition" even though neither the empty shotgun shell casing or the sabots can be fired without other components. Emily Miller explains:
"The District of Columbia has finished presenting its case on why Mark Witaschek is a danger to society for possessing a single shotgun shell and muzzleloader sabots in his home. This outrageous legal battle shows how far unelected, anti-gun liberals will go to attempt to destroy a man’s life."
When Attorney General Irvin Nathan’s prosecutors rested on Tuesday, they established simply that Mr. Witaschek did not have a registered gun in the city, so he violated the firearms laws by having ammunition.
Mr. Witaschek has never denied these charges, but has said that he didn’t know that inoperable ammunition was illegal. He also insists that his constitutional rights have been violated.
“The police and attorney general obviously have infringed upon my Second Amendment right to keep arms, or ammunition, or even the muzzleloaders borne by our Founding Fathers,” the father of three told me. “And they trampled on almost every other amendment to the Bill of Rights not only for me, but my entire family.”
Right before the trial began, Mr. Nathan’s office dropped the charge from possession of unregistered ammunition to attempted possession.
It’s unclear how Mr. Witaschek could attempt to possess something that was in his home, but the facts aren’t the reason for the shift. The lesser charge carries a penalty of six months in jail, which means Mr. Witaschek was not eligible for the jury trial he wanted.
Judge Robert Morin has listened almost impassively as the government put police officers on the stand to explain how they raided the business man’s house twice looking for guns. Mr. Witaschek is a gun owner and hunter, but has always kept his firearms at his sister’s home in Virginia.
Miller pressed OAG spokesman Ted Gest about the clear double standard and difference in prosecution for Gregory and Witaschek. Gest told her, "Mr. Nathan and our prosecutors believe this is in the interest of public safety" while attempting to smear Witaschek with an allegation of domestic violence that has never been investigated or proven by police. “Accusations that are unproven in court factor into prosecution decisions," Gest told her.
Equal treatment under the law? Not in Washington D.C. Witaschek's trial resumes in March when the defense will make its case.
Fox's Varney to CNN's Piers Morgan: 'Bugger Off'
Fox News business talk show host and native Brit Stuart Varney bid CNN host Piers Morgan adieu, unceremoniously telling him to "bugger off," after the announcement that the "Piers Morgan Live" show would end in March.
"Piers, go away. Don't come back. And there are two g's in bugger off," Varney said Monday on Fox Business Channel's "Varney & Co."
Morgan, a fellow Brit, announced Sunday that his show would end after a three-year run and disappointing ratings. CNN said his future with the network was undetermined. Varney said Morgan had misjudged his audience by regularly talking down to them.
"He has this upper-class accent and uses it to talk down to his audience. That's one of the dumbest things you can do in television news. You think you will win with an audience with your oh-so-superior attitude?" Varney asked.
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.
List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)
Posted by JR at 1:38 AM