National Socialism

“The Nazis were socialist.”

It’s a line that rightwing conservative centrists roll out time and time again in internet flame wars, TV interviews, and talk radio tirades. The argument is supposed to undermine the idea of wealth redistribution and social welfare programs by associating it with Hitler and the Third Reich. Because Nazis were “socialist,” we should be avoiding any form of socialism like the plague.

For anyone who has even a basic grasp of the Nazi worldview and social system, this is a preposterous supposition.

To begin with, let’s look at the words that compose the full name of the Nazi Party: the National Socialist Workers Party.

If you just see these words with no context, it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that National Socialism is somehow related to leftism. After all, the words “Socialist” and “Workers” are sitting there right next to each other.

It’s very important to understand that “socialism” and “socialist” are extremely vague words which, by themselves, carry almost no real definitive meaning. They can have wildly divergent definitions in different contexts. Essentially “socialist” just means “having to do with the organization of society.”

Furthermore, the Nazis never used the word “socialist” by itself. It was always “National Socialist.” In this context, “National” refers to “Nationalism.” So for the Nazis, “National Socialism” meant organizing society along Nationalist lines.

Hitler and the Nazis constructed the name of the Nazi party very carefully. Take this passage from an interview with Adolf Hitler himself conducted in 1923:

“Why,” I asked Hitler, “do you call yourself a National Socialist, since your party programme is the very antithesis of that commonly accredited to socialism?”

“Socialism,” he retorted, putting down his cup of tea, pugnaciously, “is the science of dealing with the common weal. Communism is not Socialism. Marxism is not Socialism. The Marxians have stolen the term and confused its meaning. I shall take Socialism away from the Socialists.

“Socialism is an ancient Aryan, Germanic institution. Our German ancestors held certain lands in common. They cultivated the idea of the common weal. Marxism has no right to disguise itself as socialism. Socialism, unlike Marxism, does not repudiate private property. Unlike Marxism, it involves no negation of personality, and unlike Marxism, it is patriotic.

“We might have called ourselves the Liberal Party. We chose to call ourselves the National Socialists. We are not internationalists. Our socialism is national. We demand the fulfilment of the just claims of the productive classes by the state on the basis of race solidarity. To us state and race are one.”

The key statement here is “our socialism is national.” Hitler clearly outlines that his vision for German society includes private ownership of the means of production alongside certain state-run social programs, and Hitler believed that the issues and needs of the working class should be handled and dealt with by the state.

If you’d like to understand just how fascists seek to build “class harmony” through authoritarian state intervention and propaganda check out my explanation of Fascist Socio-Economics.

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  • Fascist Socio-Economics – Non-Compete :

    […] I explain in my article on National Socialism, Hitler and the Nazis believed that the issues and needs of the working class should be handled and […]

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