I have a basic rule of thumb – never try to argue how bad anything is by comparing it to the Holocaust, Hitler, Nazis or 9/11, because nothing really comes close.
Now, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) violated my basic rule when she said, “You know, Nazis were the National Socialist Party. Just like the Democrats are now a national socialist party.” No, the Democrats are not the same as Nazis so, no, just don’t go there.
But, yes, today’s Democrats are far more socialist than American Democrats have been in the past, to an increasingly troubling extent, so much so that I do often refer to that threat of socialism as an existential problem for the freedom of our Republic.
But the Washington Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler really went over the slide in his “fact check” of her statement.
Kessler claims that the Nazis weren’t socialist and gave her four Pinocchios for saying they were. He even called her “ahistorical.”
Now, it seems farcical that anyone would argue that, given it’s in the very name of their party – the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) or NSDAP -but it’s a common argument on the left. Perhaps it’s understandable that they don’t want to get tagged with that as part of leftist history.
Given how common Kessler’s thesis is and how the American left is continually revising the meaning of words (the video in Kessler’s fact-check is titled, “What does socialism even mean anymore?”), I believe the tactic deserves some firm rebutting. Let’s start with dissecting what’s wrong in Kessler’s article and how indeed, it’s Kessler’s piece that is “ahistorical” and frankly, illogical.
Kessler states the Nazis were a “right-wing, ultranationalist party dedicated to racial purity, territorial expansion and anti-Semitism” and acts as though the nationalist and anti-Semitism parts cancel out the socialist part. They do not, and it’s not even a logical argument. Hence, “National Socialist.”
As the U.S. Holocaust Museum explains, describing the 25 points of the Nazi program:
The 25 points combined extreme nationalism, racial antisemitism, and socialist concepts with German outrage over the Versailles peace settlement following their defeat in World War I.
Now, what’s interesting is Kessler cites the first eight points, which tend to emphasize nationalism and racism. But he doesn’t include the remaining points of the program. Why would that be? He had to see all 25 if he saw the first 8 points. Of course, where a lot of the socialism is, is in the points after number 8. I’m sure that those were left out by mistake.
But let’s look at some of those points. Now, there are slightly different translations of the 25 points. I’m referencing the 25 points as set forth by the United States Holocaust Museum website. You can read them all there, but I’ll just highlight the socialism-related ones.
Let’s start with 7, which Kessler did reference, albeit with a slightly different translation.
7. We demand that the State shall make it its primary duty to provide a livelihood for its citizens. If it should prove impossible to feed the entire population, foreign nationals (non-citizens) must be deported from the Reich. [….]
9. All citizens shall have equal rights and duties.
10. It must be the first duty of every citizen to perform physical or mental work. The activities of the individual must not clash with the general interest, but must proceed within the framework of the community and be for the general good.
We demand therefore:
11. The abolition of incomes unearned by work.
The breaking of the slavery of interest. [….]
13. We demand the nationalization of all businesses which have been formed into corporations (trusts).
14. We demand profit-sharing in large industrial enterprises.
15. We demand the extensive development of insurance for old age.
16. We demand the creation and maintenance of a healthy middle class, the immediate communalizing of big department stores, and their lease at a cheap rate to small traders, and that the utmost consideration shall be shown to all small traders in the placing of State and municipal orders.
17. We demand a land reform suitable to our national requirements, the passing of a law for the expropriation of land for communal purposes without compensation; the abolition of ground rent, and the prohibition of all speculation in land. [….]
19. We demand that Roman Law, which serves a materialistic world order, be replaced by a German common law.
20. The State must consider a thorough reconstruction of our national system of education (with the aim of opening up to every able and hard-working German the possibility of higher education and of thus obtaining advancement). The curricula of all educational establishments must be brought into line with the requirements of practical life. The aim of the school must be to give the pupil, beginning with the first sign of intelligence, a grasp of the notion of the State (through the study of civic affairs). We demand the education of gifted children of poor parents, whatever their class or occupation, at the expense of the State.
21. The State must ensure that the nation’s health standards are raised by protecting mothers and infants, by prohibiting child labor, by promoting physical strength through legislation providing for compulsory gymnastics and sports, and by the extensive support of clubs engaged in the physical training of youth.
Everything revolved around this part of number 24: The common interest before self-interest.
Everything was funneled through the lens of what was best for the interests of the State of the “common good” over any self-interest. There were “national programs” for all kinds of things. For example, German citizens had to donate for “Winter relief” – not only did the state provide for social welfare, but the citizens were essentially required to donate to it. They took over all aspects of society including the schools, where they required the teaching of “racial science” and the good of the state. All for the common good.
Kessler cited “Ronald Graniero” (actually, fact check, his name is Ronald Granieri) to say that because they had an “anti-Semitic playbook” that their ideological goal wasn’t a “fundamental challenge to private property.” But that’s not logical. Being anti-semitic doesn’t make it anti-socialist. Indeed we see socialists now who seem to have no problem at all being socialists and spouting anti-Semitic things. Hitler explained racism and socialism this way, “Since we are socialists, we must necessarily also be antisemites because we want to fight against the very opposite: materialism and mammonism… How can you not be an antisemite, being a socialist!” Hitler railed constantly against capitalism, which he associated with Jews.
Kessler argues that Hitler couldn’t have been a socialist because of Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous quote in the Holocaust Museum, which begins, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist.” The “they” being the Nazis. But that again is not a logical argument. Because Hitler went after socialists (and Communists) didn’t mean that he wasn’t a socialist. What it meant was he wanted to own the territory and he didn’t think the other socialists were getting it right. If Progressive Democrats want to primary liberal Democrats, it isn’t because they aren’t also Democrats or on the left; it’s because they want to control and knock out their closest competition. Hitler thought Marxists didn’t get it right, but that his socialism was the correct socialism, the national socialism.
Here’s Hitler in 1931:
“To put it quite clearly: we have an economic programme. Point number 13 in that programme demands the nationalisation of all public companies, in other words socialisation, or what is known here as socialism… The basic principle of my Party’s economic programme should be made perfectly clear and that is the principle of authority… The good of the community takes priority over that of the individual. But the State should retain control; every owner should feel himself to be an agent of the State; it is his duty not to misuse his possessions to the detriment of the State or the interests of his fellow countrymen. That is the overriding point. The Third Reich will always retain the right to control property owners.”
I could go on at great length, but you get the point. I suggest for Glenn just a little perusal of what Hitler actually said if he doesn’t want to be “ahistorical.”