Wednesday 6 May 2015

Nazis, Marxists, and Socialists?

Right-click for a larger image in a separate tab: it's worth it. [A]
Sam Holbo, from Crooked Timber, asks "in what sense were the Nazis Socialists?"

I'm sure Marxists and Socialists of all kinds have frequently found that Nazi = Marxist (or Nazi = Socialist) alleged equality. After all, the proponents of that thesis ask with "unimpeachable logic": didn't the Nazis call themselves National-Socialists?

So, the elucidation of that conundrum should be a topical one, for us.

Holbo has a theory:
"It was an attempt to appropriate the word [i.e. Socialist/Socialism], to wrest a positive symbol out of the enemy's grasp. It's worth thinking about … but not too hard, of course. Most political party names are kind of nonsensical, or at least not accurately descriptive."
I think that's pretty close to the mark, but let's not put the cart before the horse.

Holbo and those commenting argue their opinions in different ways.

What I find strange is that nobody thought the obvious answer: would it not make sense to see if the man who christened the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei ever explained why he adopted the symbols of another party?

And, as it turns out, he pretty much did. So, from the horse's mouth:
"The fact that we had chosen red as the colour for our posters sufficed to attract them [i.e. social democrats and communists] to our meetings. The ordinary bourgeoisie were very shocked to see that, we had also chosen the symbolic red of Bolshevism and they regarded this as something ambiguously significant. The suspicion was whispered in German Nationalist circles that we also were merely another variety of Marxism, perhaps even Marxists suitably disguised, or better still, Socialists. The actual difference between Socialism and Marxism still remains a mystery to these people up to this day. The charge of Marxism was conclusively proved when it was discovered that at our meetings we deliberately substituted the words 'Fellow-countrymen and Women' for 'Ladies and Gentlemen' and addressed each other as 'Party Comrade'. We used to roar with laughter at these silly faint-hearted bourgeoisie (sic) and their efforts to puzzle out our origin, our intentions and our aims.
"We chose red for our posters after particular and careful deliberation, our intention being to irritate the Left, so as to arouse their attention and tempt them to come to our meetings-if only in order to break them up-so that in this way we got a chance of talking to the people."
(p. 395)
The choice was made not because the beliefs of National Socialists and Socialists were similar -- they weren't -- but to catch the public's attention, either by shocking the "silly faint-hearted bourgeois", or by angering the Socialists/Communists. It was a propaganda gimmick. The use of the word "Socialist", the colour red in their flags, the way of addressing each other are not signs of ideological alignment, but of opposition: it's a theft, not a gift.

Let me spell that out for the bourgeois, who cannot reason properly by excessive fear. Adolf Hitler, the author of that passage, is saying there is no equality Nazi = Marxist, whatever their symbols. Get it now?

It couldn't be otherwise. Hitler believed Marxism an international Jewish conspiracy for world domination. The photograph above (from a creation of the French collaborationist Comité d'action antibolchévique) speaks for itself.

It wasn't gratuitous Hitler insisted on calling the father of Marxism "the Jew, Karl Marx". It wasn't a display of admiration or affection, either.

Mind you, Hitler wasn't the only one believing that Marxist = Jew:
"International Jews.
"In violent opposition to all this sphere of
[respectable bourgeois English] Jewish effort rise the schemes of the International Jews. The adherents of this sinister confederacy are mostly men reared up among the unhappy populations of countries where Jews are persecuted on account of their race. … From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. …
"Terrorist Jews.
"There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution by these international and for the most part atheistical Jews. It is certainly a very great one; it probably outweighs all others.
With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from the Jewish leaders."
Those words, if we are to believe Wikisources, were penned by Sir Winston Churchill and published on February 8, 1920. Illustrated Sunday Herald (London).


So, we have two equations:

Marxist = Nazi.


Marxist = Jew.

It will be evident, I hope, they can't both be true at the same time.

A Marxist/Socialist would say that both are false. But -- hey! -- we are wrong on everything.

Anti-Semites, like Hitler, believe the second and know the first to be ridiculous.

And the "silly faint-hearted bourgeois", then and now, certainly claims to believe the first (and possibly the second!), and no logical argument, no concentration camps or mockery are enough to persuade them to the contrary:
"We [i.e. Hitler and the Nazis] used to roar with laughter at these silly faint-hearted bourgeoisie (sic) and their efforts to puzzle out our origin, our intentions and our aims."
Hopefully -- again -- the irony will not be lost on the readers.


Incidentally, Batya Ungar-Sargon (Tablet Magazine: A new read on Jewish life) has an interesting article "On John Maynard Keynes' 130th Birthday", published on June 5, 2013. Its summary line: "A look at the economist's troubling relationship with the Jews".

Image Credits:
[A] "Image de l'exposition Le Bolchevisme contre l'Europe" (1942). File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license. Not suggestion his author's approval of me or my usage of his work. Author: Unknown. Source : Wikipedia.

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