RS Book Notes, Week #3 - Adolf Hitler: Man of the Left

Reading the Second Chapter of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism then posting our thoughts about it is our 3rd week’s assignment in Red State’s Book Notes project.

Liberal Fascism

Chapter 2:

Titled Adolf Hitler: Man of the Left, this chapter does offer a brief biographical sketch of the man but focuses much more on just exactly what National Socialism (Nazism) was (and is), how it is so closely related to both Fascism and Socialism, and how Hitler used it to achieve power.

Goldberg stresses Hitler’s use of “German identity politics,” as a core principal of his Nazism: the favoring of one race as substantially superior to all others, and the identification of another race as the enemy. It was impossible to read through the section where that was discussed without thinking of the obvious use of “identity politics” by American politicians on the Left today, and how they insist that certain minority groups must be given preferential treatment over others.

I was most struck, however by a point introduced early in the chapter, developed in more detail, then summarized somewhat differently near it’s end.

Early in the chapter:

The popular conception that Hitler was a man of the right is grounded in a rich complex of assumptions and misconceptions about what constitutes left and right, terms that get increasingly slippery the more you try to nail them down.

And just two paragraphs later:

For decades the left has cherry-picked the facts to form a caricature of what the Third Reich was about. …the desired effect was to cast Nazism as the polar opposite of Communism.

Late in the chapter:

The notion that communism and Nazism are polar opposites stems from the deeper truth that they are in fact kindred spirits. … Both ideologies are reactionary in the sense that they try to re-create tribal impulses. Communists champion class, Nazis race, fascists the nation. All such ideologies — we can call them totalitarian for now — attract the same types of people.

Or, put another way, another thing the ideologies of the Nazis, communists. and fascists all share is the end result of implementation of their polices. They all lead to a larger, more expansive government: one which seeks to exert control over every aspect of society and proceeds to snuff out individual liberty and freedom.

The Nazis and communists are not polar opposites of each other, but they sure as hell are opposites of me!