Writing for Washington Post, Ronald J. Granieri, “The right needs to stop falsely claiming that the Nazis were socialists”, 2/5/2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/02/05/right-needs-stop-falsely-claiming-that-nazis-were-socialists/
The author argues, as the headline implies, that the claim by conservatives that Nazis were socialists is untrue. The article is unpersuasive and arguably contradicts the headline. Unsurprisingly, given the publisher, the article essentially states that such arguments by conservatives are simply an attempt to evade answering for the extremists on the right.
If we all stipulate that Republicans are right of center, and Libertarians are to the right of Republicans, it becomes difficult to argue that Nazis are on the right at all. I will concede that the National Socialists grew out of fear of (and hatred of) communism and that this gives the appearance of Nazis and communists being on opposite ends of the spectrum. However, I would also argue that this does not negate the possibility that they are two groups at the same end of the spectrum which violently oppose one another.
What do Nazism and Communism have in common?
1) A government-mandated ideology which all members of society are obliged to follow.
2) A single political party composed only of elites.
3) Complete government control of all means of armed combat (disarmed citizens).
4) Party (state) control of the media.
5) Secret police used to terrorize the population.
6) A single totalitarian dictator.
7) Arrests and imprisonment without due process.
8) Summary executions.
9) Concentration camps.
What are the differences?
The Nazis have the goal of a world dominated by a single nation and a single race. The communists have the goal of a world dominated by the working class. These are the stated goals in any case, in practice, it seems things turn out somewhat differently. The Nazis are repulsed by the notion that the mixed-race working class might come to power, while the communists themselves seem to have no particular aversion to racism.
Nazis, therefore, are communists which are racist. As one who holds to the ideals of the United States Constitution, I view this as a distinction without a difference.
“Don’t you realize your race is being targeted?” Are these the words of a Nazi, or a Marxist BLM supporter? I can tell you from personal experience the answer is, both.
The Nazis today still regurgitate propaganda from the early 20th century even though there is still no evidence of what they call racial superiority and no evidence of a global Jewish conspiracy. Hitler’s Mien Kampf was published in 1925, the rhetoric they continue to spew has remained unchanged for nearly 100 years and is just as false now as it was then. They are unable to distinguish between religion, race, and political ideology. Indeed, their only ideology appears to be racism, and their only appeal is to uneducated people looking for someone or something to hate, and thankfully, very few of those. They attempt to distance themselves from communism with the false claim that communism is a Jewish conspiracy.
Another distinction between Nazis and communists might be that Nazis have more the appearance of a religious cult, unable to think critically, their martyr and savior Adolf Hitler whom they speak of as if he were still alive, blindly and unquestioningly following the gospel written in 1925. Marxists aren’t much different, but at least they have come up with some new material in the last 100 years.
Nazis are commonly understood to be right-wing extremists. It seems to me, as much as anything else, that they have chosen that position for themselves. They hate communists because communists are not (openly) racist and the Nazis want to occupy a position as far from them as possible. But as a practical matter, they have much more in common with communists than any other ideology.
I can understand and even accept (though I may bristle) that as a conservative I may have to own to some degree the rhetoric and actions of a foolish Republican politician or pundit. But Nazis are not conservatives. Extremism and conservatism are mutually exclusive – a conservative can not, by definition, be an extremist. Extremists riot, they burn buildings, they beat people in the streets. Conservatives do not.
Nazis and communists are in the same camp, they are our adversaries and we should treat them as such.