- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Hitler the Leftist

Posted by: Porgie Tirebiter on January 16, 19100 at 15:44:53:

The "Left verus Right" spectrum business is at times a useful conceptual model, but we should be careful of getting carried away with it. The more appropriate model for socialists is always "Up versus Down"--the Rulers and the Ruled--and significantly, capitalist ideology does its best brainwash its people into thinking that such a model shouldn't exist.

"Sure there are rich and poor," they love to say, "but it's not systemic. Here in the free-market, it's all about personal responsibility! . . .capitalism is freedom! . . .live your dreams! . . .control your destiny! . . ." and other assorted bullshit propaganda which props up what a lot of people know to be a destructive and unsustainable system.

That being said, Fascism, Nazism and Hitler do share some features with what we call Leftism, but I'm positively stupefied that Rightists would consider them significant enough to draw parallels between them. I mean, the Hitler Youth Movement advocated good oral hygiene--does that make the American Dentistry Association fascists? They also stressed regular excercise--what does that say about the makers of my girlfriend's "Buns of Steel" aerobics video.

People and groups who advocate views such as this are just grasping for signs and symbols; they're reaching into our collective cupboard and saying to themselves: "I want to say 'Leftism equals Bad.' Now here's Hitler, and everyone knows Hitler equals Bad. Okay everyone, 'Leftism equals Hitler!'"

These are the same people who said that Martin Luther King would have been a Conservative Republican who opposed Affirmative Action, and that's a proposition that defies satire.

This is not to say historical parallels are never useful, but a more honest approach (i.e. one that's not animated by the desire to align oneself with power, Frenchy) searches for significant patterns and features which can yield interesting insights on the way the world operates. Let's see, for example, a post comparing the Gestapo to the FBI. Now there's one that might add to the sum of human understanding!

Okay, alright, Hitler's rhetoric was anti-capitalist and was pro-environment. Big deal. Most people in the world share these very same views Nazism was a lot of things our triumphalist media and school system don't tell us, like how it was anti-capitalist but very pro-business, and in fact owed its ascendancy to power to the financial backingof German corporations who were growing concerned about the growing influence of the Left. Forget your models and diagrams, it's a historical fact that the Nazis were the tools of the German industrialists who wanted to wipe out German communists, which they did.

Americans do hear a lot about is the Holocaust and its well-known figure of six million Jews. What we don't hear about are the historical facts about our own complicity in their deaths. Hitler did hate Jews, of course, but the Final Solution (i.e. the industrialized slaughter, not the simple mass imprisonment and killing) was carried out only after years of explicit warnings from Hitler. At the Conference of Evian in France July 1938, convened at the invitation of the American government, it was agreed from the beginning that "No government will be expected to receive a greater number of emigrants than is permitted by existing legislation. Finance will come from private sources."

At this conference, one country after another found reasons for refusing entry to Jewish emigrants, but it wasn't because Hitler didn't try saying, "I can only hope that the other world which has such deep sympathy for these criminals will at least be generous enough to convert this sympathy into practical aid. We are ready to put all these criminals at the disposal of these countries . . .even on luxury ships."

On the issue of statism, it is true that fascism by definition favors a authoritarian government, but the paradox of communism is (or, will be, when and if communists seize political power) will be how to construct a state dedicated to its own disintegration. How can any self-respecting person draw parallels here, unless, as I've stated before, the animating priciple is not to augment understanding but rather to align oneself with power.

And, anyway, it is simply not true that capitalists want to abolish the state. Capitalist need the state, and use its force all the time, whether the task is breaking up unions, spying on political activists, confiscating wealth to build useless weaponry, going to war to protect or expand corporate profits.

What many capitalists and pundits don't realize is that one of the main functions of the government is to ensure the long-term survival of capitalism in general, and as such it often comes into conflict with the short-term goals of individual capitalists, which is always immediate profits. So, when the Roosevelt administration responded to the threat of social revolution with the New Deal, lots of capitalists howled; similarly the Johnson administration responded to the street-power of the sixties with environmental legislation, Affirmative Action and the Great Society.

Marxist scholars call this strategy "transformative maintenance"--altering capitalism in order to save it-- and it shouldn't be surprising that that a good slice of of the CEO's and their cultural managers in the media object so vehemently. What is surprising, though, is the extents to which they will go to do so. I mean, Hitler hated Leftists--he killed them for crying out loud! How can you call him one?

So, to end this intolerably long missive, I have some requests: Let's ban the word 'fascist' entirely for a while, because nobody here is one, not Frenchy, not Stoller, and probably not even Dr. Cruel. For the socialists and would-be socialists, we should remember that "Up versus Down" is our most important conceptual model, not "Left versus Right." The former makes clear the hierarchical class relations in capitalism and its fundamental contradiction with democracy; the latter obscures hierarchical social relations and makes politics seem like a graph on a scale of opinion.

Finally, I'd like to make a request directly to Frenchy: If you must continue to post on this board (and it baffles me why, except as I suggested before it's your own way of publicly sucking up to power), please submit posts that at least have a tangential grip on reality, not baffling thought-experiments like "Hitler was a Leftist."

Or, how about this: How about if you and me, Frenchy, start our own debate room dedicated to surrealist poetry? I'll start off and you finish. Ready? Okay, here I go:

"Leukemia ceilings and a Cadillac floor
Hitler was a Leftist and I'll tell you more"

Go, Frenchy, go!


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