National Socialist Germany and the right
Was Hitler’s Germany a right-wing regime? Yes. Yet the question as to whether it is or not—rather like the question over Hitler’s religion—runs and runs. I’ve settled the latter question, now it’s time for the former.
This situation occurs because Hitler’s Germany just means “absolute evil” in Western societies today—hence it is hard to think about it in objective terms, everyone wants to prove they had nothing to do with it, whereas their enemies were closely allied to it.
Your first instinctive response to this question is “yes”—and, in this case, your answer would be correct. Now, you might say “it depends what ‘left’ and ‘right’ mean—you could define them in such a way as that it was or wasn’t a left-wing or right-wing regime.”
Yes, however, the terms are not completely malleable—and equivocations like “it had mixtures of both” are not sufficient, because every political party is “a mixture of both”, to some degree—yet you can identify the general orientation easily enough.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, what are “both”? I define the right as responsible engagement with reality—with the accent on “reality”. There are then deviations from reality that are based on lies—the deviations vary in degree. It’s why Solzhenitsyn’s catchphrase, “Live not by lies,” is rightist in essence. The less you lie, the more rightist you get.
I don’t define the right as being about “hierarchy” or “tradition” because, in fact, most leftist organisations, save for tiny anarchist cells, are hierarchical—the KGB was a very hierarchical organisation, it also pursued left-wing objectives. In similar fashion, Christian socialism speaks to a long-established egalitarian tradition in the West—primitive Christian communism (think about monastic life).
What is true is that the right accepts that hierarchy and tradition are innate parts of reality and seeks to accentuate them, whereas the left seeks to, for example, turn “hierarchy against hierarchy”—so that, notionally, the KGB, though very hierarchical, is only a “temporary measure”.
So the right will tend to praise hierarchy and traditions, but these are not intrinsic to what the right is. The right is just reality—then there are other people who through envy, ignorance, or delusion lie about reality.
As soon as you start to cover up a situation, you move to the left (the right, for its part, obsesses over “cover-ups”)—and, as it happens, to just “say it how it is” constitutes an essential facet of wisdom, common-sense, and science. The left, by contrast, has an elaborate theory or doctrine of salvation that sounds pleasant but denies reality.
Now, as it happens, the only people who say Hitler’s Germany was not on the right are classical liberals (libertarians)—basically, the most right-wing position available in the West today. Their interest in this position, which defies common-sense, being that they wish to say some realistic things—but realism sounds a lot like Hitler, because Hitler was very realistic; and hence it is important to create the impression Hitler belonged to “the other side”.
Their argument concentrates on the “socialist” in NSDAP and what they use is a variation on scientific thought where the situation is only regarded from a functional perspective; hence, in this account, FDR’s America, Stalin’s Russia, and Hitler’s Germany all interfered with their respective economies on a mass scale—interfered with the ability for people to make contracts freely, hence all are on the left.
What we really need to get back to, so they say, is mid-Victorian free-market rules and to independent gentlemen in Parliament, like John Stuart Mill, and to real science—which might be Darwinian, might say nations struggle, but would not have any ideas like “the mystical unity of the Führer with the blood of the German nation”.
This manoeuvre is accomplished through reductionism. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, it defies common-sense to say FDR’s America, Stalin’s Russia, and Hitler’s Germany were “the same” (in this case characterised as “left-wing totalitarianism”) just because the state took up a certain percentage of economic activity (not least because, on that basis, Henry VIII’s England was “the same” as Stalin’s Russia if levels of state interference are taken into account—and yet common-sense tells us it was not the same at all).
Indeed, a classical liberal would say that Henry VIII’s England was leftist—quasi-feudal slavery; for, in fact, classical liberalism is itself a leftist movement that considers itself, since it is the most right-wing position on offer in situational and relational terms, to be “the right” (“true progressives”—so the USSR and Hitler’s Germany both “regressed” into feudalism on this model).
But classical liberalism denies reality in at least two key dimensions, hence it is only relatively on the right: it denies that the individual can be restrained either by spiritual ties (religion) or the military (aristocracy).
Aspects of reality also excluded by classical liberals: the history of a people, non-economic human relations, the cultural factor, the artistic life, and the racial dimension—and that is just for a start. Classical liberalism, in relative and situational terms, is to the right of anything today—because it lies about fewer things than other positions, but it still lies about a lot; and, in the end, it is a product from the English Revolution, from Locke, and so is itself an egalitarian movement that sees man as formed, per Locke, 9/10ths by education and only as an economic unit.
The reason there are people who propagate this counter-intuitive idea “Hitler’s Germany was not right-wing” today is that the right is dominated, especially in America and Britain, by classical liberals and, really, the remnants of classical liberals—decadent classical liberals, mostly broken down into progressive liberals. They see man as an atomised individual, formed by education, who struggles against other men through the use of his reason and entry into free contracts.
In actuality, classical liberals at the time, such as Pareto in Italy, supported fascism (I use that as a generic term to refer to all the regimes of that type in the period, including Hitler’s regime).
Why? Because Bolshevism was social democracy in a state of emergency—that was its rationale. Lenin’s legal foundation was that, unlike the Mensheviks or Labour in Britain, Russian social democracy would suspend all laws in order to govern. That is why the Soviet Union was so vicious—for about 70 years it was governed with no legal restraints at all, as if there was a constant state of emergency, as after Hurricane Katrina, where you have to shoot looters on sight.
Fascism was classical liberalism in a state of emergency, at least in one dimension—it was the symmetric response by classical liberalism to Bolshevism. So, just as Bolshevism sacrificed aspects of social democracy to achieve socialism by decree, so fascism sacrificed aspects of classical liberalism to preserve its core elements (such as some regard for private property and a sense of the individual).
This was inevitable because the rise of classical liberalism—which looked for a time to herald unlimited technological progress, economic growth, and universal values—was actually just a repeat of an old process, recorded by the ancients, where an aristocracy degrades into democracy and then into tyranny.
Liberalism unleashed the forces that would destroy it—it created vast inequalities and an atomised areligious population ungoverned by martial values that would then be incited by clever orators to overthrow the system and establish a tyranny. Fascism was an attempt to set this process, already begun in Russia, on a less destructive path—one that retained some elements of individual personality and private property, while at the same time re-inserting martial and spiritual values.
Although you’d expect there to be some diversity in politics, in political systems, there isn’t really. There are really two options—there’s the reality, and then there’s the distortion (the only variety lies in the number of lies—there are many versions of feminism, for example, but all are incorrect; and yet they squabble with each other as though they are distinct, despite being almost the same).
This might be because, at the metaphysical level, the left is feminine and the right is masculine—the left copies and distorts the right, just as women copy and distort the actions of men. Hence if you just do the opposite to what the left says you have an account closer to reality. This makes life simpler than it otherwise seems for our purposes, for there are many ways to be wrong—but only one way to be right…so if we just do the opposite to all the answers we know are wrong…
To bring this back to the concrete example at hand, what is a state for?
(1) A state exists to protect the people who live in a territory, that people being a nation—which is an extended family and constitutes the maximum bounds within which men can recognise each other in a friendly way and can cooperate with each other.
Within this context, the people can fulfil their common destiny—a destiny that can only be understood through their shared history. The preservation of this people is a spiritual necessity that transcends mundane goals and requires sacrifice. The state is pragmatic and considers all options to ensure the nation’s survival.
(2) A state exists to administer a territory upon which a group of people, brought together by a common idea, undertake various economic and social activities, as individuals, which make their lives more enjoyable. There are no constraints on who can join this group—all humans who accept “the idea” can cooperate with each other.
There is no destiny for individuals or the people who happen to live in this state—although it is inevitable that technology and the opportunities for hedonistic enjoyment will increase over time. All activities can be understood through science and quantification, there is no spiritual dimension to life.
The first state is on the right, because it accepts reality as regards what man is—the second state abbreviates what man is, reduces him to a quantified economic unit with no history or destiny; and hence it is on the left. And (2) is just the mirror inversion of (1) because it’s based on lies—to find the truth, you just have to flip it.
Hitler’s Germany conforms to (1) more than to (2) and hence is on the right—whether or not he made an alliance with Stalin is irrelevant, post-war NATO let Franco join their alliance; but only a Soviet propagandist would say “therefore, NATO was fascist” (or perhaps Franco sold out his fascism to join NATO?).
States take various actions to deal with realpolitik but the nature of the state cannot be reduced to actions that are compromises by necessity (the state’s nature is its character—people can act out of character, or break character in difficult circumstances; but their character still exists).
This brings me back to the “socialist” in NSDAP—the difference between the NSDAP and the USSR in this regard is that the USSR had a programmatic commitment to socialism, to full nationalisation and socialisation. What Hitler’s Germany had was a pragmatic idea that sometimes—in a form of “military socialism”, or Prussian socialism (the “barracks socialism” abhorred by Marx)—the state would control sectors of the economy to stabilise the whole nation.
This policy, pragmatism, is realistic. What is unrealistic is to have a dogmatic commitment to “nationalise everything, now, always, and forever”—or, conversely, “privatise everything, now, always, and forever”. Both classical liberalism and Marxism are utopian—and, in particular, libertarianism, heavily influenced by Jews like Mises, is also utopian and doctrinaire.
Classical liberalism, especially its libertarian iterations, takes on a “salvation story” where man will be achieve heaven through constant economic growth and technological developments—there are certain holy rituals to achieve such as state, such as free entry into contracts and the protection of private property. States that fail to adhere to these laws become “unholy”.
Think about Thatcher—her policies were as fanatical as the socialists she opposed (fanatical like a Christian or a Marxist—Semitic salvation stories based on lies and deviation from reality, just like libertarianism). Why not, for example, during the miners’ strike, dragoon the miners into the army to work on building the Channel Tunnel as an alternative to unemployment as the pits closed—since the Tunnel was a strategic asset to move British troops to Germany if the then extant Soviet Union invaded?
But if you listen to economists like Friedman, also Jewish, that turns people into “serfs”—it can’t be allowed, conscription is “slavery”. But what happened instead is that the mining communities were wrecked, the country forced into bitter division, and the people there were lost altogether, as economic units or anything else—all for a utopian doctrine, neoliberalism, that is as dogmatic as Marxism.
It’s the dogmatism that’s unrealistic, not the policy as such—and Hitler’s Germany was flexible in that regard; but countries like the Soviet Union and FDR’s America were not (which is not to say they were “the same type of regime”, because these countries have radically different histories, racial characteristics, and traditions).
So Hitler’s state was on the right—as most people would say. It sought to protect a nation through pragmatic decisions that allowed the people within it to fulfil their particular destiny—it didn’t prohibit the scientific worldview, nor did it prohibit all private enterprise; but it took decisions in a holistic way that didn’t reduce the state’s function to economic administration or quantifiable scientific activities.
Hence it was a rightist state, since it based itself on reality—on wisdom, pragmatism, and the basic unit of social organisation (the family—the extended family, the nation). Obviously, there are degrees of being in touch with reality—people completely out of touch with reality are dead (even the left is realistic to a degree, though it fights against it). Hitler’s state could have been more realistic—in particular, it tended towards atheism and crude versions of Darwinian evolution; though, in relative terms, it was more spiritual than any other major state at the time.
To be real: reality is war, reality is a struggle to survive, the basic unit of survival being the family; and it is a struggle in which you have to be pragmatic in your actions to protect your interests, you have to have the wisdom to see the situation as it changes and not be dogmatic or doctrinaire—and understand that, further, life cannot be reduced to economic or scientific calculation (although these are real in their own way) but also has a spiritual dimension.
To me, that is reality—and if you lie about it, you’re on the left. Hence Hitler’s Germany was on the right, and people only lie about it now because they hope to persuade people dominated by lies to be less deluded through the use of further lies…