Hitler and the Nazis are
In my wanderings on the internet, I have recently been astounded to see some people claiming Hitler and the Nazis were "leftist." I had no idea that
anyone on planet earth would seriously advance this argument, which struck me as too silly for debate. But I see this meme on the internet more and
more, and I've seen it in some ATS threads, so as a leftist and a Communist (one who ought to know, right?), let me clear a few things up for you.
Hitler and the Nazis were right wing
. This is how they considered themselves, this is how their current neo-nazi successors consider
themselves. Its how everyone considered them in their heyday: The Russian Communists, the US Capitalists, the various European and Asian nations: All
knew the Nazis were the voice of the far right.
This is how history has always considered them, outside of a few isolated lunatics on the
internet, that is. Go to ANY university and ask a professor of history or political science whether the Nazis were "right" or "left" and I guarantee
you will get "right" for an answer 99.999% of the time. And it was never a question when they were in power. Hitler CLEARLY situated ANTI-COMMUNISM as
a core facet of his political vision.
Above: Not exactly a cuddly relationship. Communists lost far more (in both lives and material destruction) battling Nazis than the Western
democracies in WWII.
This is how the political spectrum has traditionally been thought of by academics, journalists, politicians, political scientists, theorists, and
just-plain-normal people who don't inhabit fringe message-boards. Below is a decent example of the standard, garden-variety, traditional political
spectrum. Note that Communism and Nazism are just about as far from each other as is possible:
This above was what your parents and grandparents were taught in highschool (assuming they went) and if you go to a high school or college today where
such things are discussed and pay attention, its what you'd be taught too.
So why do a few isolated weirdoes persist in arguing the Nazis were "leftist?"
A few reasons. One of the crudest arguments is that "the word
"Nazi" is short for "national socialism" which contains the word "socialism," which is left, right?" If this is the fundamental piece of evidence (as
it is so often is presented), then the person pushing this shoddy argument will have to concede that North Korea is a democracy and a republic because
it is the "Democratic People's Republic of North Korea." We both know that's ridiculous. Claiming the Nazis were socialist is even more ridiculous.
Hitler used that word for the resonance it had with the workers he wanted to attract, but make no mistake: His ideology in both fact and theory are as
far from leftism as its possible to get.
Beyond this simple ruse, some people may be arguing based on a skewed understanding of one of the "four-quadrant" political spectra. These models
seek to provide a more realistic or nuanced picture of politics by considering additional factors and adding other"dimensions" to ideological
classifications. Some of these are pretty good and useful, most are not. None are really universally accepted or widespread in academics or political
theory. The most common of these schema usually have the traditional "left-right" scale horizontally and add a vertical axis with "authoritarian" and
"libertarian," or "rigid" and "free", etc. Here is one simple example I consider more or less reasonable:
Note that Hitler (Nazi) and Stalin (Communist) are still extreme opposites in the right-left dimension. What some people are latching onto is the fact
that they are both authoritarian
. There is a slippery and intellectually dishonest attempt by some to make that mean "they are the same" and to
position "libertarian" as equivalent to "right-wing," but as you can see it is a distortion of this schema above that just doesn't work.
There are other "four-quadrant" models like this, some quite complex. I won't bother to deconstruct them here, but I will note in passing that most of
them have agendas and try to paint people they disagree with into a certain corner, so most of the examples floating around on the net seem to my eye
to be dishonest and manipulative.
Above: "Antifa," or the Anti-Fascist Movement, is a vigorous leftist position that particularly targets the neo-Nazis and other far-right today.
Its roots go back to the 1930s, when German Communists risked their lives and freedom to fight the Nazis, often ending their days in concentration
camps. The historical (and present-day) antagonism between the hard-left and far-right is enduring evidence of one of history's deepest ideological
Turning to a deeper question, why are some people now seeking to re-write history and political theory to make it seem that the Nazis were
. This is where it gets interesting (conspiracy? Or something simpler?) If you have any ideas please share. For my own part, I believe
this is a meme that is being spread on the net by many on the right who are simply uncomfortable standing on the same side as Hitler. These folks may
identify as conservatives, neocons, or libertarians, and thus see themselves on the right. They are proud right-wingers, and yet (with very good
reason, of course) are embarrassed to share "the right" with evil as enormous as the Nazis. Neoconservatism, which tends to be very pro-Zionist, may
be particularly shamed by this uncomfortable similarity. Libertarians, too, try to argue that "right really is libertarian and all authoritarians are
leftist". It's like they are trying to roll the four-quadrant model above into some kind of weird cone or something to deny the authoritarian right,
but its a topology fail, boys. But still they try.
And thus, with neocons, libertarians, and garden-variety conservatives all feeling queasy about their Nazi neighbors on the spectrum, a spontaneous
meme-campaign begins: "Push Hitler to the Left. Let our enemies on the Left be stained by the evil of the Nazis, not us.
" Like little boys
trying to push the veggies around on the plate to make it look eaten. Feed the broccoli to the leftist pet dog, mom won't notice.
While I understand and applaud non-far-right rightists for rejecting the Nazis, I'm afraid you can't just click your heels and make Hitler's
right-wing legacy go away. Its too much a part of history and the intellectual geography of political theory. And believe me, we ain't taking him over
here on the left. Millions of dead Communists bear mute witness to the struggle against Hitler and Nazi-ism. Ask any real, dedicated, hard-core actual
card-carrying Communist such as myself, and then (if you can stand the stench) seek out an actual Nazi or Neo-Nazi (they are out there,
unfortunately). We agree on very little, but BOTH of us will tell you that we are left and they are right, and a chasm of eternal mutual struggle
separates us. And at the end of the day, that's the only agreement you are likely to get out of a real leftist and a real Nazi.
Shoo! Get back over there on the right where you belong!
edit on 5/31/2012 by Leftist because: (no reason given)