With All the Nazi Talk in This Election, Who Were the Nazis?

By Emery Jones

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Nazi Banner – “With Germany – No Capitalism”

“He’s sort of like [Joseph] Goebbels,” Joe Biden told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle“You say the lie long enough, keep repeating it, repeating it, repeating it, it becomes common knowledge.”

Biden finally pulled the Nazi card when describing President Trump.

Sadly, this has become common throughout both the mainstream and social media. With both sides calling the other Nazis, it might be a good time to ask some fundamental questions:  Who were the Nazis, and what do they stand for?  Few people can answer that correctly, despite their strong emotional attachment painting their political foes as such.

To understand the Nazis accurately, you have to read their own quotes and propaganda. The story told by the Nazis themselves depicts a very different party than what modern journalists would like us to believe. The Nazi (National Socialist German Workers Party) or National Socialists as they called themselves, had the following five key characteristics:

  1. The Nazis were a self-proclaimed socialist movement that called for the end of capitalism, abolishment of non-labor income (interest and finance), and proposed an all-powerful central authority to regulate the market
  2. Racial identity politics was used to identify an oppressor class (Jews), that embodied both the evil nature of capitalism and the anti-German nature of communism
  3. Strong nationalistic pride was a core pitch to the people to justify a stronger central authority
  4. The party used militant radical socialist activists to harass businesses and political enemies with acts of violence 
  5. Limitations on free speech and removing access to dissenting views

I’ll describe each point in detail using the words of Biden’s favorite cited Nazi, Joseph Goebbels.  As the Nazi propaganda minister, it was his job to clearly articulate the core philosophy of the party to the masses, and he was ruthlessly brilliant at it.

Point 1:  The Nazis were a self-proclaimed socialist movement that called for the end of capitalism, abolishment of non-labor income (interest and finance), and proposed an all-powerful central authority to regulate the market.

Joseph Goebbels could not have been more clear on this topic:

  • We are not a charitable institution but a Party of revolutionary socialists. [1]
  • We are a workers’ party because we see in the coming battle between finance and labor the beginning and the end of the structure of the twentieth century. We are on the side of labor and against finance. . . The value of labor under socialism will be determined by its value to the state, to the whole community. Labor means creating value, not haggling over things.[2]
  • The money pigs of capitalist democracy… Money has made slaves of us… Money is the curse of mankind. It smothers the seed of everything great and good. Every penny is sticky with sweat and blood. [3]

It would not be surprising to see any of those quotes on placards at an Occupy Wall Street or Bernie Sanders rally.   I could fill the next ten pages with Goebbels quotes on the virtues of socialism, so how do liberals justify grouping fascists/Nazis with the free market capitalists?

There are two primary arguments made by the academic community.  First, they state that the definition and practice of fascism does not include government directly controlling the means of production, and this is an administrative detail at best.  But fascism and socialism both pitch that all decisions and authority reside with the state. If you were to create a scale of authoritarianism, fascism and socialism would be holding hands on the extreme side of it. The majority of modern “socialist” platforms, from our Democrats to the Chinese communist party, actually practice the fascism brand of socialism by regulating private industry.  Second, academics claim the communists were the mortal enemies of the Nazis party.  This part was true, but not for any anti-socialism reasons cited by academics.In 1939, there was a break between Hitler and Stalin when Hitler abrogated the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and invaded Poland in 1939, and from there on out, Stalin’s communists claimed their onetime allies the Nazis were suddenly of the ultra right. The Nazis and communists were pitching very similar socialist visions to win over the same hearts and minds. In Goebbels’s words:

  • Lenin is the greatest man, second only to Hitler, and that the difference between Communism and the Hitler faith is very slight.[4]

So why the bad blood between two self-proclaimed socialists?  The philosophical problem the Nazis had with some of the communists, in the Marxist belief that the state would fade away after the socialist utopia was achieved. This contradicted the strong statist pitch of the Nazi party that was resonating with Germans who were being “oppressed” by anti-German sanctions.  The Nazis had glommed onto the Soviet apostate Trotskyites, who were fomenting revolution in Germany under the rubric of withering away of the state, and claimed that their brand of communism made their zeal for the state insufficient. Never mind the small detail about iron ruler Stalin and runaway Trotsky, two of the late Lenin’s battling lieutenants, being out to kill each other.  Again, Goebbels explains:

  • Lenin sacrificed Marx and instead gave Russia freedom. You want to sacrifice German freedom for Marx. Even the Bolshevik Jew has clearly recognized the compelling necessity of the Russian national state and has early and wisely adjusted himself to it.[5]

Lenin, as it happens, had to sacrifice Marx, at least temporarily, when his socialist expropriations triggered a famine in 1921, threatening to topple his regime. It was one of many that communism triggered in Russia and the U.S.S.R. But any philosophy that minimized the importance of the state was the enemy of the Nazi party, whether it be free market capitalism or Lenin’s temporarily suspended communism.  National Socialism was the same sort of socialist movement we see the left wing of the Democratic party pitching today.

Point 2:   Racial identity politics was used to identify an oppressor class (Jews), that embodied both the evil nature of capitalism and the anti-German aspects of communism

Every socialist movement’s primary foundation is class struggle.  The working class is made to believe, right or wrong, that it is oppressed by a small group of wealthy individuals that rig the economic system in their favor.  The Nazis used the economic success of some of the Jewish people to foment hatred from the working class.   As Goebbels put it:

  • What does anti-Semitism have to do with socialism? I would put the question this way: What does the Jew have to do with socialism? Socialism has to do with labor. When did one ever see him working instead of plundering, stealing and living from the sweat of others? As socialists we are opponents of the Jews because we see in the Hebrews the incarnation of capitalism.[6]

The Nazi regime was able to marry the class hatred inherent in socialism with the identity politics of anti-Semitism to create a common enemy for the German people to rally against.  Any political party that tries to gain political power by blaming a particular race for the suffering of other races, especially in the context of a capitalist system, can thank the Nazi party for the playbook

.Point 3:  Strong nationalistic pride was a core pitch to the people to justify a stronger central authority

Following World War I, Germany was not only in heavy war debt, but was responsible for paying reparations as per the Treaty of Versailles.  Humiliated by the defeat, and afflicted by a crumbling economy unable to afford the reparation payments, the German people were suffering.  The Hitler message of national pride resonated among a group of people whom the world hated at the time.  Again, Goebbels explains their position:

  • We are nationalists because we see the nation as the only way to bring all the forces of the nation together to preserve and improve our existence and the conditions under which we live.[7]

Nazis equated nationalistic pride to a need for a stronger central authority.  Today, liberals try to equate the nationalism being pitched by Trump and Republicans as fascist.  There is a simple litmus test for the fascism brand of nationalism: if the politician is using nationalism to pitch stronger central authority, it is fascism.  If nationalism is being used to pitch smaller government, then it is anti-fascism.

Point 4:  Militant radical socialist activists that were aligned with the party were used to harass businesses and political enemies with acts of violence 

Nazi Germany’s S.A., a.k.a., Storm Troopers or Brownshirts, were a paramilitary group led by revolutionary socialist Ernst Rohm with the mandate to intimidate political rivals.  I’ll let Ernst Rohm explain how he saw his mandate:

  • Since I am an immature and wicked man, war and unrest appeal to me more than good bourgeois order. Brutality is respected, the people need wholesome fear. They want to fear someone. They want someone to frighten them and make them shudderingly submissive.[8]

The SA was engaged in illegal activities to harass and intimidate any political enemies, but faced no legal consequences from sympathetic (or perhaps intimidated) authorities.  They were a key tool for suppressing dissenting views and intimidating political opponents.

Today Antifa and BLM have assumed the Brownshirt mantle in both philosophy and tactic. Antifa and Black Lives Matter paramilitaries have burned down our cities, harassed political opponents, and attack anyone who they disagree with.  In cities controlled by Democrats, they are able to practice violence with little worry of consequence.  Those who are arrested are bailed out by funds supported by Democratic party leadership.

Point 5:  Limitations on free speech and removing access to dissenting views

A key characteristic of any socialist government is the control of information.  Exposure to ideas that

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conflict with the government’s perception of the world are not tolerated.   In Germany, this led to book burning ceremonies to rid the country of opposing viewpoints.  The Nazis required even scientific literature to be approved by the party.  Scientific discoveries from famous Jews such as Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud were included in the book burning ceremonies.  Today, we are seeing the modern version of book burning: the limitation of digital dissemination of any data that aren’t approved by the Democrat party.  Whether it is unapproved science like studies questioning the effectiveness of lockdowns and masks, or if it is information that may hurt the party, large monopolistic companies aligned with the Democrat party are engaged in the 2020 version of book burning.

Goebbels was very clear about what the Nazis believed. The tactics and pitches of the Nazi party should be required reading worldwide so that societies don’t fall for the same playbook. As election day draws nigh, it is important to put this moment in the context of what we have learned from history.  It is easy to reject a declaration of war or Holocaust, but those things didn’t happen for six and eight years after the Nazis were voted into power by democratic means through a split opposition in 1933, never winning a majority.  In 1932, they looked a lot more like the party trying to regain power today…

[1] “Einbeitsfront,” Der Angriff editorial, May 27, 1929. David Schoenbaum, Hitler’s Social Revolution: Class and Status in Nazi Germany, 1933-1939, W.W. Norton & Company (1997) p. 25

[2] “Those Damn Nazis: Why Are We a Workers’ Party?” written by Joseph Goebbels and Mjölnir, Die verfluchten Hakenkreuzler. Etwas zum Nachdenken, Nazi propaganda pamphlet (Munich: Verlag Frz. Eher, 1932)

[3] Quoted in The Nazi Party 1919-1945: A Complete History, Dietrich Orlow, New York: NY, Enigma Books, 2012, p 61. Goebbels’ article, “Nationalsozialisten aus Berlin und aus dem Reich”, Voelkischer Beobachter, February 4, 1927

[4] Speech (November 27, 1925), quoted in “Hitlerite Riot in Berlin: Beer Glasses Fly When Speaker Compares Hitler to Lenin”, New York Times (November 28, 1925)

[5] Rebuke to German communists. National Socialism or Bolshevism? (Nationalsozialismus oder Bolschewismus?NS-Briefe (October 25, 1925)

[6]Joseph Goebbels and Mjölnir, Die verfluchten Hakenkreuzler. Etwas zum Nachdenken (Munich: Verlag Frz. Eher, 1932)

[7] “Those Damn Nazis: Why Are We Nationalists?” written by Joseph Goebbels and Mjölnir, Die verfluchten Hakenkreuzler. Etwas zum Nachdenken, Nazi propaganda pamphlet (Munich: Verlag Frz. Eher, 1932)

[8] Cited in “The Nazis: A Warning from History”, Disc 1, 10:48. Also quoted in “The Face of the Third Reich: Portraits of the Nazi Leadership” – Page 139 by Joachim C. Fest – History – 1999


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