Godwin’s law states (paraphrased) that the longer an argument ensues, the probability of one side accusing the other of behaving like Nazis reaches 1. Despite its humorous pretenses, this law has certainly been proven in the recent debate over health care reform. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) accused protestors of carrying swastikas; Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) compared their actions to “Brown Shirt tactics.” Prominent conservative radio host, Rush Limbaugh, in turn made similarities between Obama’s health care logo and Nazi propaganda, and even made comparisons between the Nazi party and the Democratic party.
What makes the argument confusing is when most of us learned about the political spectrum in a publicly funded educational institution, we were taught that Communists are on the far left of the spectrum and Fascists/Nazis are on the far right. This is not accurate by any means if one accepts a more modern definition of the spectrum that puts increased government involvement on the left and less government involvement on the right. In other words, Communists would still be on the far left, but Anarchists would be on the extreme right.
But which party is more like the Nazis? Is it the left-wing Democrats or the right-wing Republicans. Where does fascism really lie? To shed light on this argument, I have listed the 25 point program adopted by Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers’ (Nazi) Party, and compared them with modern-day viewpoints from mainstream political affiliations. Scores are tabulated at the end of each point.
1. We demand the union of all Germans in a Great Germany on the basis of the principle of self-determination of all peoples.
Principles of self-determination is a very right-wing mindset, as is American Exceptionalism. However, the word “demand” (fordern in German) is a very authoritarian verb and would require a large-scale government to enforce, which is typically a left-wing idea. Nevertheless, the principle is right-wing. RW-1, LW-0
2. We demand that the German people have rights equal to those of other nations; and that the Peace Treaties of Versailles and St. Germain shall be abrogated.
This assertion is politically benign, as it is only demanding the basic rights of a state. Its demand that the treaties of Versaille and St.Germain-en-laye be rescinded was an attempt to regain its standing as a legitimate country. Those treaties broke up German Empire—which is important in the next point—and redrew the map of Europe; they forced Germany to accept guilt in starting World War I, a highly debatable attestation at best; they also limited the size of the army Germany was allowed to maintain. Point number two does not reflect any specific view on the political spectrum; it only wished to remove the implication of international subservience that Germany was currently under. RW-1, LW-0
3. We demand land and territory (colonies) for the maintenance of our people and the settlement of our surplus population.
This appears to be a right-wing attitude, as that spectrum recently has been viewed as imperial and expansionist. However, this demand was an extension of the previous point. Germany wanted its land that was hers prior to World War I in order to feed (Ger. Ernährung) its outlying loyalists. Be that as it may, its smack of neo-conservatism forces a score. RW-2, LW-0
4. Only those who are our fellow countrymen can become citizens. Only those who have German blood, regardless of creed, can be our countrymen. Hence no Jew can be a countryman.
Irrelevant in American politics. Some would argue that racism and anti-Semitism is a right-wing characteristic, but they do so on the assumption that Nazism and fascism are right-wing philosophies. Stalin’s Soviet Union killed more Jews than Hitler did, but that does not mean a left-wing Communist philosophy is racist. Despite common portrayals in mainstream media, no American political party can claim they have conquered racism nor accuse the other of harboring it. RW-2, LW-0
5. Those who are not citizens must live in Germany as foreigners and must be subject to the law of aliens.
Allowing non-citizens to live within the political boundaries of a state is generally a left-wing position, as the seemingly popular opinion among the right is to deport all those who are in the country illegally. In regards to aliens with visas, neither spectrum in America holds any prominent posits on a different rule of law to which they must subject themselves. RW-2, LW-1
6. The right to choose the government and determine the laws of the State shall belong only to citizens. We therefore demand that no public office, of whatever nature, whether in the central government, the province, or the municipality, shall be held by anyone who is not a citizen.
This argument is moot on a national scale, as the American Constitution prohibits non-citizens from holding public office in the federal government.
7. We wage war against the corrupt parliamentary administration whereby men are appointed to posts by favor of the party without regard to character and fitness.
Both parties and spectrums accuse the other of this type of corruption, and both with equal credence. This argument is therefore moot, as well. RW-2, LW-1
7. We demand that the State shall above all undertake to ensure that every citizen shall have the possibility of living decently and earning a livelihood. If it should not be possible to feed the whole population, then aliens (non-citizens) must be expelled from the Reich.
At first glance, this appears to be a right-wing philosophy, especially with the expulsion clause at the end. However, the beginning of the first sentence is the most important. It demands that the State bear the burden of ensuring a decent living and earning. The German word is verpflichtet, which is more appropriately translated as “obliged.” This is a very left-wing demand, that a state regulation of outcome is demanded or expected. RW-2, LW-2
8. Any further immigration of non-Germans must be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans who have entered Germany since August 2, 1914, shall be compelled to leave the Reich immediately.
I don’t believe either mainstream political spectrum outright opposes immigration, only illegal immigration; therefore, this argument is moot. RW-2, LW-2
9. All citizens must possess equal rights and duties.
That all citizens must possess equal rights is consistent throughout American politics; however, that everyone has “equal duties” is a purely socialist (left-wing) idea (Ger. Pflichten = Obligations; cf. verpflichtet above). Free-market capitalism (right-wing) emphasizes that, while equal rights are observed, no one is obliged as much another to work for or serve the State. RW-2, LW-3
10. The first duty of every citizen must be to work mentally or physically. No individual shall do any work that offends against the interest of the community to the benefit of all.
The emphasis on “the interest of the community” is an obvious left-wing assertion, as right-wing philosophies tend to focus on individual interest. Also, as stated above, capitalism does not demand that anyone work, just that those who do work receive the rewards thereof. RW-2, LW-4
Therefore we demand:
11. That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished.
“Unearned income,” should be translated “effortless” or “easy income” (Ger. mühelosen). This would apply to investors, lenders, bankers, and could include any other white-collar job (except politicians, of course!). With American labor unions staunchly advocating for left-wing policies and demanding that corporate headquarters divulge all profits to the working-class, this argument is a definitive left-wing policy. RW-2, LW-5
12. Since every war imposes on the people fearful sacrifices in blood and treasure, all personal profit arising from the war must be regarded as treason to the people. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits.
While war trophies and combat contraband is certainly illegal under American law, war profit is not; in fact, thanks to the Federal Government’s willingness to spend top-dollar, it is a lucrative business. Capitalists see this as an extension of the free market, however, and do not object to profits made in the name of defense by any means. It is hard to implicate the American left in this policy, as well, however, because many Democratic and left-wing politicians insert their own “war profiting” amendments into defense bills by allowing local defense contractors to continue production of goods and services. Nevertheless, the idea that profit is evil, even in the name of defense, is undebatably a left-wing Socialist and Communist idea. RW-2, LW-6
13. We demand the nationalization of all trusts.
Even though President George W. Bush began the current wave of nationalization, it is not consistent with true right-wing principles that emphasize laissez faire capitalism with minimal government intervention. The left, however, has consistently favored nationalization of many trusts and holdings. RW-2, LW-7
14. We demand profit-sharing in large industries.
Again, a purely left-wing ideology that emphasizes communal profit-sharing, rather than individual profit-gaining. RW-2, LW-9
15. We demand a generous increase in old-age pensions.
Unions continuously lobby for increased pensions. Medicare and Social Security are government mandated benefits of old-age. All are left-wing ideas, especially at their inception. RW-2, LW-10
16. We demand the creation and maintenance of a sound middle-class, the immediate communalization of large stores which will be rented cheaply to small tradespeople, and the strongest consideration must be given to ensure that small traders shall deliver the supplies needed by the State, the provinces and municipalities.
This implies that the government will create and maintain the middle-class, not to mention the obvious “communalization” clause. A Purely left-wing ideology. Right-wing ideology states that free-market principles will create a middle-class without government intervention. RW-2, LW-11
17. We demand an agrarian reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to expropriate the owners without compensation of any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land.
This demand has nothing to do with farmers or agriculture, but has everything to do with the government’s right to expropriate (take possession of) private property as long as they deem it is for the common purpose. The closest thing we have in America is the question of Eminent Domain, of which supporters are regularly left-wing. To illustrate this, the Private Property Protection Act of 2005 received 38 Nay votes, 36 of which were Democrats (mostly far-left), including Nancy Pelosi, Henry Waxman, Jesse Jackson, and Rahm Emanuel. RW-2, LW-12
18. We demand that ruthless war be waged against those who work to the injury of the common welfare. Traitors, usurers, profiteers, etc., are to be punished with death, regardless of creed or race.
A strong national defense is a stereotypical right-wing policy, as is a widespread death penalty. RW-3, LW-12
19. We demand that Roman law, which serves a materialist ordering of the world, be replaced by German common law.
Roman Law was seen to favor the elite class of citizens (who were to be deemed profiteers). German Common Law would favor the working-class, or at least allow for equal treatment. Advocating for the working-class equality, again, is a left-wing ideology. RW-3, LW-13
20. In order to make it possible for every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education, and thus the opportunity to reach into positions of leadership, the State must assume the responsibility of organizing thoroughly the entire cultural system of the people. The curricula of all educational establishments shall be adapted to practical life. The conception of the State Idea (science of citizenship) must be taught in the schools from the very beginning. We demand that specially talented children of poor parents, whatever their station or occupation, be educated at the expense of the State.
In short, this demand calls for universal education, a traditionally left-wing idea, although it has gained ground among the right as well. Libertarians are vehemently opposed to universal education, however, and strict capitalists tend to view education as a commodity and therefore prefer minimal government regulation. The German curriculum also emphasized and rewarded community involvement, another left-wing ideology. RW-3, LW-14
21. The State has the duty to help raise the standard of national health by providing maternity welfare centers, by prohibiting juvenile labor, by increasing physical fitness through the introduction of compulsory games and gymnastics, and by the greatest possible encouragement of associations concerned with the physical education of the young.
This is so obviously left-wing that one needn’t demonstrate justification. The current health care reform legislation has many of these provisions. President Obama has gone out of his way to emphasize physical fitness, and has even hinted at a mandated increase in Physical Education. (Right-wing politicians want the same provisions, but do not agree that “the state has the duty to raise the standard” of health care. They believe the free enterprise will. RW-3, LW-15
22. We demand the abolition of the regular army and the creation of a national (folk) army.
An argument that is mostly moot. No mainstream argument on either side of the spectrum even hints at abolishing the army. This demand was in place mainly because of the provisions contained in the Treaties of Versailles and St. Germaine-en-Laye. RW-3, LW-15
23. We demand that there be a legal campaign against those who propagate deliberate political lies and disseminate them through the press. In order to make possible the creation of a German press, we demand:
Two weeks ago, this would have been a moot argument; however, with the White House’s request that propagations of ‘fishy’ assertions on health care reform be sent directly to them, one must reconsider. There also seems to be a concerted effort among the left-wing politicians to discourage the dissemination of opposing viewpoints. By attempting to invalidate town hall protests as “Astroturf,” and calling their actions “un-American,” they are stifling the argument in favor of their agenda.
(a) All editors and their assistants on newspapers published in the German language shall be German citizens.
(b) Non-German newspapers shall only be published with the express permission of the State. They must not be published in the German language.
(c) All financial interests in or in any way affecting German newspapers shall be forbidden to non-Germans by law, and we demand that the punishment for transgressing this law be the immediate suppression of the newspaper and the expulsion of the non-Germans from the Reich.
Nothing contained in (a), (b), or (c) is happening or is in danger of happening in America.
Newspapers transgressing against the common welfare shall be suppressed. We demand legal action against those tendencies in art and literature that have a disruptive influence upon the life of our folk, and that any organizations that offend against the foregoing demands shall be dissolved.
It may be argued that, while newspapers and other media outlets are not being stifled by the Federal Government, certain personalities have been by left-wing governments. Michael Savage’s ban from Britain is one example, and the Obama administration’s (and the Democratic Party’s) constant and consistent attacks on Rush Limbaugh is another example of authoritarian-style rhetoric being employed in order to stifle dissent
It’s hard to say that either spectrum favor’s the stifling of free speech, but recent events demonstrate that leftists are attempting just this. RW-3, LW-16 [with a qualifier]
24. We demand freedom for all religious faiths in the state, insofar as they do not endanger its existence or offend the moral and ethical sense of the Germanic race.
Again, it’s hard to characterize either spectrum in the United States as harboring this view. Right-wing ideologues, however, stereotypically emphasize a Judeo-Christian system of morality and sometimes view other religions as threatening to that system. Those on the left are usually more tolerant toward minority religions, but tend to view evangelicals as threatening to their ideologies. Nonetheless, right-wing politicians are much more proselytistic in their morality, and generally decry moral relativism as dangerous to American society. RW-4, LW-16
The party as such represents the point of view of a positive Christianity without binding itself to any one particular confession. It fights against the Jewish materialist spirit within and without, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our folk can only come about from within on the principle:
“Positive Christianity” was an attempt by the Third Reich to bring traditional Christianity in harmony with Nazi beliefs. It stressed Christ as a teacher and community organizer, rather than his birth, death, burial, and resurrection. It also held some very anti-Semitic views on race (even asserting that Jesus was Aryan), and eliminated Old Testament teachings. This doesn’t necessarily apply to today’s American spectrum, but remember when Rep. Steven Cohen (D-TN), campaigning for Obama said, “Barack Obama was a community organizer, like Jesus… Pontius Pilate was a governor.”
COMMON GOOD BEFORE INDIVIDUAL GOOD
25. In order to carry out this program we demand: the creation of a strong central authority in the State, the unconditional authority by the political central parliament of the whole State and all its organizations.
Large-scale government involvement and regulation is the hallmark of modern-day liberals. If there is one characteristic that generally differentiates the two, it is that leftists prefer government involvement, rightists abhor its interference. President Obama is enjoying an executive power never seen before (even though his predecessor, who began the expansion, was “right-wing”). His party’s core does not seem to have any intention of resisting his expansion either. Of course they won’t; their arguably Socialist agenda must have a strong central authority to succeed. RW-4, LW-17.
So, really, who are more like the Nazis?