Friday, October 16, 2009

Hitler: Right Wing Dictator?

I get a little tired of people categorizing Adolf Hitler as a "right-wing dictator". This is because, for the most part, this often seems to come from those who refuse to believe that there is such a thing as a really bad left-wing dictator. Where does this classification come from? Is it simply a monopoly on racism? Because I cannot, for the life of me, see why Adolf Hitler is considered more right-wing than left-wing. Think about it; the man was an irreligious, environmentalist, vegetarian who banned smoking and founded a party called the "National Socialist German Workers Party". Does that sound like a conservative, right-wing guy to you? Hitler was born into the Austrian Empire but had nothing but contempt for the Hapsburg domain which was far too cosmopolitan for his racial purist views and was far too accepting of Jews for his anti-Semitic taste. So much was he against his own homeland that when World War I came he went to fight for Germany rather than Austria.

Furthermore, I would say simply look to Hitler's background and his own words if any doubt remains. He scorned the German princes, insulting them in his political testament Mein Kampf and was inordinately proud of his "common" background and dismissive of the aristocratic class and the old royals. He at times made friendly gestures toward the princely class to win over conservatives but never followed through on his real or implied promises. He purposely copied the methods of the socialists and communists such as in his design of the Nazi flag, chosen, he wrote, because he had seen the hypnotic effect of massed red flags at communist rallies. When the last German Kaiser died he forbid high officials to attend the funeral and when Prince Wilhelm of Prussia was killed in World War II he so feared the monarchist sentiment that arose at his funeral that he forbid German royals from serving at the front after that. Look at his political record.

After World War I he joined the German Workers Party, not the conservatives who wanted a restoration of the old monarchy. He then molded this party into the National Socialist German Workers Party and he made it clear that his vision was an aristocracy of racial blood rather than royal blood and which adhered to a religion of blood and soil rather than Christ and the Apostles. His goal, he openly stated, was to have all class distinctions abolished, something very liberal by the standards of any country. Even when German princes embraced Nazism he was loathe to accept them and did so only for the propaganda value of their conversions. He tried to tread somewhat lightly on the subject of religion because he wanted to appeal to a very broad audience though he did find some of the writings of Martin Luther quite useful when they condemned and ridiculed the Jews. On the whole though, Hitler wanted a new version of Nazi paganism rather than Christianity as can be seen in his insistence that his elite guard, the SS, not have any firm religious convictions. The extent to which Hitler was an occultist is debatable and in all probability he did not have any religion in the common sense of the term. Oddly enough his spiritual beliefs seem most compliant with the liberal elites of today who usually state that they do not believe in organized religion but prefer a vague sort of naturalistic spiritualism. In fact, it was specifically the paganism of Nazi Germany and to a lesser extent fascist Italy that the Pope (Pius XI) condemned and which gave the most pause to more conservative but fervently Christian nationalists like Salazar in Portugal, Franco in Spain and Dollfuss in Austria.

There were right-wing elements to Hitler and some fairly conservative sorts of people among his followers, but on the whole, I cannot see how anyone can call Hitler a right-wing guy. From his background, political testament and the state he created I do not see how the man can be considered, on the whole, to be of anything other than the political left. He was no friend of monarchy, wanted all class differences abolished, legalized abortion (for non-Aryans), banned smoking, instituted gun control, was a fervent environmentalist, a vegetarian and hated organized religion in favor of a nature-based spiritualism. I ask again, does any of that sound conservative or right-wing to you?


  1. Good points. The Fuehrer's contempt for the old-style (and often Prussian) German aristocrats is illustrated by the fact that he referred to them in bulk, sneeringly, as "Vons".

    One thing, though, I'm not sure about. I recall reading somewhere - but perhaps the source was unreliable - that President Hindenburg, when dying, urged Hitler to reinstate the Hohenzollerns in some capacity. Did President H really do this? No two books on German history seem to agree about just how senile, or non-senile, Hindenburg was in his last year.

  2. I think part of the problem is the vagueness of terms like "right-wing." It can cover a wide spectrum of ideologies.

  3. To RJ, not sure about that last wish of Hindenburg, though it would not surprise me too much. I know whenever Hindenburg came into the parliament chamber he would salute the empty throne with his marshal's baton and always maintained that he was a monarchist holding things together until the Kaiser could return. That being said, the Kaiser never forgave him for 1918 and I think always thought he could have done more to effect a restoration. As for the senility, I have seen myself that this often comes and goes. I've never heard that story though.

    To Matterhorn, that is certainly a factor but I'm thinking of left & right in my own country who refer to Hitler as a right-wing guy even though on a multitude of issues he was saying the same things the left-wingers are saying now. You could event extend that to attitudes toward Islam which Hitler, though an irreligious guy, certainly showed more friendliness with Muslims than with other groups, though probably more out of simple convenience; 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' routine.

  4. Perhaps the best (and simplest) way to classify Hitler as left-wing is to simply compare him to the definitive conservative tract - Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France.

    Burke states that accumulated wisdom is a far better guide than some vague theory that has never been tested (Hitler subscribed to social Darwinism, and despised the old order of accumulated wisdom). He also states that the ideal government is a small government (Hitler was totalitarian - everything within the state, nothing outside the state).

    Those two points are the hallmarks of a proper conservative, and Hitler fails at both tests.

    Strangely enough, the neoconservatives of America also seem to fail as well (they forgot about accumulated wisdom, it seems).

    Still, it's the simplest way of correcting people (and if it fails, you can challenge them to read Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg).

  5. That sounds like a good, simple way of going about it; fits my definition anyway, particularly on the whole 'artificial society' front. If memory serves it was Mussolini who said that phrase about totalitarianism, but though he talked a good game he was never anywhere near as totalitarian as Hitler was. I often agreed with Jonah Goldberg's book but I do have some major issues with him, largely about what constitutes a "fascist" as that's become more of an accusation or an insult that something most can actually define. As for the neocons, they are largely, in my view, "values-progressives" meaning basically big government liberals who uphold traditional values. The problem is the big government part only helps the libs destroy those same values when their turn in power comes.

  6. What do you have agaisnrt vegitarians? I happen to be one, and am no liberal. That said, Hitlers own Vegitarianism sprang from Health Concerns, and he vbecame a Vegitarian at his Doctors beheist, not because of some deep seared need to protect Animal rights.

    I dont think the repetition of him being a Vegitarian was helpful.

  7. Other than the fact that they would deprive people like me of their primary source of income I have nothing against them. However, you have hit on the core issue so I think you know the answer to your own question. Those actively pushing veganism today are predominately radical leftists who do so because they consider animals equal to or of greater value than humans. I consider it noteworthy because it is the modern big-government leftists, supported by the radical vegans, who want to control even what people eat, be it in the form of taxing trans-fats, cokes or oreo cookies. The most extreme even want to make vegetarianism mandatory and do away entirely with the killing of animals for food. Of course not all vegans are liberals but liberals today are the only ones I have ever seen promoting vegetarianism and I would put money on the majority of vegans and animals rights activists being liberals.

  8. He didn't founded the Nazi party. He entered in it when it was called DAP and just renamed it to NSDAP (Actually was Rudolph Jung who did rename the party to "National Socialist German Workers") Hitler wanted to call it "Social Revolutionary Party" which to me sound even more left wing than the other)

    From the rest of it yeah, Fascism as a whole comes from the left spectrum of politics (Mussolini was Communist before creating fascism).

    Anyway to me every republican governament is left winged, no matter what policies they have. If the Old Regime wasn't broken why fix it? To have a lot of glorified peasants bossing around people who aren't theirs.

    Just Kidding

  9. Left and right wing are very relative terms. Usually left-wing refers to social leveling movements, while right-wing refers to movements that favor social hierarchy. But there are different kinds and degrees of both leveling and hierarchy. In the 1848 revolutions, socialists, republicans, democrats, and anarchists were all considered left-wing, as opposed to the right-wing forces of the old regime. In modern Europe, however, most governments are so egalitarian that both America's "Republican" and "Democratic" parties would be considered right-wing. So to a large degree, context is everything.

    The Nazis are a complicated case because they were "right-wing" in the sense of being nationalist, Aryan supremacist, and militantly anti-Communist, but they were "left-wing" in the sense of being socialist. Economically, they were the left-wing party within the German context. However, they also campaigned partly on an anti-Communist, pro-private property platform, so they were left-wing compared to the Bolsheviks of the neighboring Soviet Union.

    Personally, I think the labeling of Hitler as "right-wing" (by which is meant nationalist and white-supremacist) probably originated within an American political context in response to Republican attempts to associate any leftward initiative, such as the welfare state, with Soviet-style Communism. This sort of rhetoric is pretty standard in American politics. The truth is that the Nazis built their dictatorship on all of these things-- socialism and statism on the one hand, and nationalism and racism on the other-- but that the American left and the American right are both centrist parties by comparison. You won't find the Republicans advocating American empire or white supremacy, and you won't find the democrats advocating socialism or large-scale state control of industry.


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