February 19, 2015

"In reviewing Mein Kampf in March 1940, George Orwell confessed that he had 'never been able to dislike Hitler'..."

"... something about the man projected an underdog quality, even when his goals were cowardly or loathsome. 'If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon.' The Islamic State’s partisans have much the same allure. They believe that they are personally involved in struggles beyond their own lives, and that merely to be swept up in the drama, on the side of righteousness, is a privilege and a pleasure—especially when it is also a burden. Fascism, Orwell continued, is 'psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life … Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people "I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.' Nor, in the case of the Islamic State, its religious or intellectual appeal. That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model."

Once again, I'm quoting from Graeme Wood's "What ISIS Really Wants/The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths...." Please use the previous post as the main discussion thread and use this post only for George Orwell and the Hitler comparison.

98 comments:

Oso Negro said...

Facism was simply a mutation of socialism.

Fandor said...

Here is Winston Churchill to the House of Commons on May 13, 1940:
"We are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history.... That we are in action at many points—in Norway and in Holland—, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean. That the air battle is continuous, and that many preparations have to be made here at home.
I would say to the House as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs—Victory in spite of all terror—Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival."


Oso Negro said...

And Hitler and Orwell were both socialists.

traditionalguy said...

Hitler's special talent was his sexually emoting a fighting underdog persona that was spread in mass propaganda by newsreels. He had achieved a stunning Charisma level in speeches from occult methods. Today re-reading the Nazi propaganda is dangerous because it will suck you in.

The internet spreads that kind of mass propaganda a whole lot faster.

Meanwhile the important issue of a mass rape epidemic of coeds by their dates in American colleges goes on.

Robert Cook said...

"And Hitler and Orwell were both socialists."

No matter how many times you (and your ilk) say it, it just ain't so.

Or, to put it in more classic terms:
"No matter how thin you slice it, it's still baloney!"

Robert Cook said...

"Today re-reading the Nazi propaganda is dangerous because it will suck you in."

Only if you're already inclined that way, or simply too credulous for your own good.

traditionalguy said...
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traditionalguy said...

BTW, Hitler was not a socialist and even if he was, it is totally irrelevant. He was the dedicated Superman who demanded total personal loyalty from Germans to conquer the world and exterminate its population.

The Germans let him down primarily because of Russian socialists who had to counterattack him with the help of American supplies or die.

CStanley said...
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CStanley said...

I never understood Hitler's appeal but clearly his charisma was a thing.

But beyond the specifics of this one man, the greater point that Orwell makes is true: given a choice between a meaningless existence with physical comforts and a meaningful struggle without the comforts, most people will choose the latter.

Rusty said...

That's odd. They murder like a bunch of psychopaths.

john said...

To Hitler and the generals closest to him, it was far better, and fitting, to die in a great conflagration, and to take Germany with them to the flames, than to surrender and be crushed under Stalin's boot. Though they didn't get that wish either.

That the western allies accommodated that belief by essentially standing by while Stalin's troops took Berlin has always been one of the great curiosities of the war.

Rusty said...

Robert Cook said...
"And Hitler and Orwell were both socialists."

No matter how many times you (and your ilk) say it, it just ain't so.


No matter how many times you deny it, it's still true.
History repeats itself because people like you deny the facts of history.

Simon said...

Orwell was a terrific writer; it's worth going and reading the whole thing. (It's freely available online.)

traditionalguy said...

@John...How can you be puzzled? Berlin was inside the occupation soviet zone as planned at FDRs last conference at Yalta. So why would Americans want to suffer the 100,000 casualties in the final month of the war that the Russians were happy to suffer to get final revenge on the rape and pillage of Russia in 1941?

buwaya said...

This Fascist appeal was not entirely Hitlerian. You will find a great deal of it in Mussolini and D'Annunzio among others. Much of Hitlers stuff came from populists like Lueger, and for that matter the whole milieu of "third way" characters, including US progressives of the era and the social-justice activists of the Catholic church (with whom Lueger had close ties). There was a lot of underdogism in the air, as well as inspired demogoguery.

For an illustration of how Fascist rhetoric came across to the educated European, have a look at "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" (set in the early 1930's). There were lots of Mussolini admirers back then too.

chuck said...

I've always liked that Orwell quote. Orwell's essays offer more than a view into an historic moment, they also contain interesting observations on larger themes. Orwell tried to find larger truths, starting with personal truths, and it is that respect for the idea of truth that set him apart from other Left intellectuals. He was an unique mix of socialist and Victorian.

Michael K said...

"No matter how many times you (and your ilk) say it, it just ain't so."

So, "National Socialism" wasn't. Got it.

And Mussolini, founder of Fascism, wasn't editor of a Socialist newspaper in Italy before he entered politics. Got it.

Michael K said...

"There were lots of Mussolini admirers back then too."

Mussolini appeared in a US movie with Lionel Barrymore.

Alex said...

Yet Orwell had a change of heart as witnessed by the most devastating critique of socialism - 1984.

buwaya said...

Hitler and socialism is a perennial controversy.
This isn't a subject thats going to be answered with point-scoring arguments.
The best approach is to understand the times and the priors to the whole phenomenon. The inevitable result of an honest understanding is that everyone (those maintaining that Hitler was a socialist or the opposite) will have to make great concessions.
Hitler wasn't the only Fascist, Fascism had respectable roots (came out of "third way" and "social justice" ideologies that are still dominant in our world - we are all Fascists now) as both economic and social policy. Antisemitism was an accretion mostly confined to the German /Austrian flavor.
Two useful and accessible books -
"Modern Times", Paul Johnson - yes, the point scorer par excellence, but he covers the priors, in particular of Mussolini, particularly well.
"The Proud Tower" - Tuchman.

traditionalguy said...
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traditionalguy said...

Mussolini was a facist because it was the old Roman Empire's way.

Hitler was a rune reading Nordic god proponent who desired a personal rule by psychic power of a Superman. The Aryans were supposed to have been a master Tibetan Psychic bloodline with blue eyes who had ended up in nordic lands and now needed their mixed blood strengthened by generations of inbreedings of purer psychic power containing blood with purer psychic power containing blood.

All carriers of subhuman blood were to be exterminated like rats. That was the European Jews and the Russian Slavs.

The socialists never knew what hit them.

john said...

Traditionalguy - The Yalta Conference was in early 1945. Although Eisenhower might have been aware of how that conference was going to work itself out some time beforehand, and changed his tactics accordingly, it is still “curious” for a number of reasons:

That, in summer of 1944, the Germans could engage in an orderly retreat from France through a passage a few miles wide, when a pincer attack by the western allies, nearly in place, could have decimated Hitler’s remaining troops in the West, except that Eisenhower got cold feet.

That in December 1944 these same German troops were available to open a huge salient to try to split the Americans and British and retake Antwerp (“Battle of the Bulge”), and again, after having shot their wad, were able to retreat through their tracks, with the stunned Eisenhower again unable to effectively engage their flanks.

That one of Hitler’s objectives in taking Antwerp was to split the allies and give him a position of strength to negotiate peace individual peace treaties, so he could concentrate his forces in the east. There were certainly overtures made by German officers to effect a surrender before Stalin could take Berlin, but maybe by that time, as you say, the division of the world by the Yalta attendees precluded any other alternative for Hitler. Faced with unconditional surrender to Stalin as his only other option, he instead chose immolation.

BarrySanders20 said...

Christopher Hitchens' Why Orwell Matters was a great book. At least I thought so.

And you can buy it through AA's Amazon link! Dontcha know.

chuck said...

we are all Fascists now

Reminds me of a poll a few years back to pick the most influential socialists. Rosa Luxembourg was there in the top three, and, IIRC, Trotsky also, but I forget the rest. The big missing person was Mussolini, whose ideas are, I think, very much part of modern Europe.

There were many more varieties of Fascism than Communism. I would place both the Swedish Way and Peronism in that large tent. The result, no doubt, of the greater emphasis on nationalism in Fascism as opposed to the international uniformity imposed by the Comintern.

Mark Caplan said...

The right, the business interests, the Catholic Church, and the upper class held their noses and backed Hitler because that was the only perceived way to crush the Communists. At the time, Germany was going to go either Fascist or Communist. There was no viable middle ground.

buwaya said...

"Mussolini was a facist because it was the old Roman Empire's way"

No, he wasn't.
The whole new Rome business was stuff dredged up by his PR department. He picked up Italian super-nationalism from the romantic milieu around D'Annunzio and socialism from his communist priors, plus the fashionable "third way" line. He and his were reacting to the unexciting Liberal, capitalist, very reluctant warriors, guys like Giolitti.
Italian nationalists were insane btw. Talk about jihadists.

Bobby said...

Buwaya,

But I don't think that's how many of our fellow commenters want to see it. They want this to boil down to something very simple that ultimately means either "Republicans good, Democrats bad" or "Democrats good, Republicans bad" depending on their personal ideological preference and in order to defend or advance the contemporary policies of their chosen side.

There's no room for the nuance and historical determinism that you point out.

Even if you're right.

--Bobby

William said...

Among the educated classes in Germany, Keynes' book, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, was a bigger best seller and far more influential than Mein Kampf. The book played to their sense that Germany had been treated unfairly by the Allies. The Germans had a lively sense of injustice. It is true that France and the other powers much preferred to have a collection of small principalities on their borders and tried to prevent the Germans from assuming their national identity. However, just about everyone on the face of the earth has been screwed over at one time or another. If you endlessly contemplate the wrongs that have been done to you, then that resentment will itself be the source of further wrongs......This is not a lesson that leftists feel comfortable teaching.

Gahrie said...

Hitler offered to restore German greatness, just as ISIS is promising to restore Islamic greatness. Both appealed to an sense of entitlement and victimization, not some noble sacrifice.

Gahrie said...
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Robert Cook said...

Gahrie, I said it first, so yours doesn't count!

Sloanasaurus said...

Victory can make any ideology much more popular than the philosophy of the ideology itself. Thus, the unfortunate thing for the German people, was the early victories by the Nazis. Everyone was with Hitler when he overran France in 1940 following a string of victories.

ISIS early victories will have the same effect. Millions of young men, hungry for a violent life, will flock to the victories so they too can rape and pillage with ISIS.

ISIS will be Obama's legacy. He will never be like Truman because he is unwilling to do the Berlin Airlift or invade Korea.

Robert Cook said...

"So, 'National Socialism' wasn't. Got it."

True, it wasn't. (Do you think every email you get from a chap in Africa offering to share ten million dollars is real just because he says so? Or that "Lord Sutch" was actually a Lord?)

"And Mussolini, founder of Fascism, wasn't editor of a Socialist newspaper in Italy before he entered politics. Got it."

Oh, yes, he was. But people change. Just as David Horowitz, contemporary fanatic right wing jackass, was a fanatic left wing jackass back in the 60s.

MaxedOutMama said...

I always thought Orwell was really, really strange. Strange passing my understanding.

Marty said...

buwaya's citation of Johnson's and Tuchman's books is an excellent starting point for getting at the root of the whole mess that spewed forth communism and fascism: both were Romantic yawps of rebellion against the inexorable modernization of the world.

As Tuchman so lucidly presents it, the 40 years leading to WWI were roiled by the unprecedented impacts of accelerating industrialization, which was uprooting all the social structures upon which Europe had come to depend. There were no precedents for the ruling classes to access to help them figure out an effective response to the rapid urbanization, the impact of huge amounts of new trade, emigration, mass media, and democratization. Demagogues thrived in this period, and almost no one understood what was happening at a macro level--why, much like today's world.

While adapting the rhetoric of a post-industrial utopia, communism and fascism both offered the seductive promise of a return to a never-existent Eden of tribal security and nuturing by Mother Earth. The dictatorship of the proletariat would be the new global tribe that would take care of everybody equally, transcending that evil individuality that so disturbed the alleged equanimity of the globe in the pre-industrial era.

Orwell knew that you can't turn back history without applying massive repression, which is why it was so important for O'Brien to force Winston Smith to renounce his individual autonomy and let Big Brother love him. "Do it to Julia!" is what the fascists and communists both want us all to scream.

The disruptions of modernity are the genie that cannot be put back in the bottle, but until we collectively absorb its lessons, too many of us will continue to try--and blame all the violence on someone else.

buwaya said...

If you want to understand Orwell, best to read his less popular works. They explain his POV, and a great deal of background on the times.
"Burmese Days" - Clear exposition of his moral reasoning, his ideological priors, etc.
"Wigan Pier" - where he explains his take on class background and the anxieties he ascribes to it, and many, many observations of the nature of the "left", by an honest but puzzled genius.
"Homage to Catalunya" - nothing more to say, essential reading to understand the modern world.

Alan said...

A passage in Harry Kessler's diaries (for 1933, I think) describes Hitler as suicidal, and attributes his attractiveness to Germans as based on his inviting them to a grand mass suicide. This was written shortly after Kessler fled Germany. One of Kessler's friends said it, and Kesssler agreed.

damikesc said...

The right, the business interests, the Catholic Church, and the upper class held their noses and backed Hitler because that was the only perceived way to crush the Communists.

Not quite. Business HATED Hitler until he basically gained power. The upper class weren't fond of him either, preferring a return of the Kaiser.

The Catholics always hated him and it was mutual.

Among the educated classes in Germany, Keynes' book, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, was a bigger best seller and far more influential than Mein Kampf. The book played to their sense that Germany had been treated unfairly by the Allies. The Germans had a lively sense of injustice. It is true that France and the other powers much preferred to have a collection of small principalities on their borders and tried to prevent the Germans from assuming their national identity. However, just about everyone on the face of the earth has been screwed over at one time or another. If you endlessly contemplate the wrongs that have been done to you, then that resentment will itself be the source of further wrongs......This is not a lesson that leftists feel comfortable teaching.

Hell, you want a harsh treaty? Look at Brest-Livotsk (which the Entente certainly did when the Germans complained). Significantly worse than Versailles.

Oh, yes, he was. But people change. Just as David Horowitz, contemporary fanatic right wing jackass, was a fanatic left wing jackass back in the 60s.

Can you name what Socialist policies Mussolini ignored? He was quite an adamant Socialist.

Hitler wasn't suicidal. He was a megalomaniac and provided a glimpse of Germany ruling the world.

He was lucky that Europe was quite willing to let him do so for a long time.

YoungHegelian said...

If a person had the chance to choose to be in the personal entourages of Mao, Stalin, or Hitler, one was, by far, safest in Hitler's.

After the purge of the SA, the Nazis never killed any of their own party members again, unlike Stalin & Mao, who made a downright habit of it.

The folks around Hitler actually liked the man, even if, like Goering, they thought he was now in way over his head. The politburo members around Stalin (Khrushchev, Beria, etc) all loathed him, and were thrilled when he died. Mao was just a sociopath, and everyone feared him from the get-go, but he always seemed to be able to make himself the top dog in any intra-party conflict. That Mao got where he got (and stayed) is a huge historical blemish on the history of the CCP & China itself.

traditionalguy said...

@ John...The failures of Eisenhower were many. He was never a combat General. And he hated Patton for showing him up again and again. And he feared the Bulge would be a career ending problem inthe USA. so he demanded Patton's Army do frontal assault after frontal assault against the Germans to slowly push back into Germany for a month and erase the Bulge on American news media maps to show he had control. Ike refused for Patton to get more glory by cutting them off the retreating Germans and forcing their surrender in a week. That self serving political tactic cost 60% of the casualties incurred in the Battle of the Bulge.

But the directive to Patton to take Bavaria and Prague in April probably came directly from Marshall to make sure that we got to the German nuclear Scientists that we feared the Russians taking first. That decision was so secret Eisenhower was never in on it.

Lydia said...

It should be noted that 63% of the German electorate never voted for Hitler or the Nazis, and the Nazis never had a majority in the Reichstag. Were it not for the idiotic, self-serving Franz von Papen, Hitler would never have been appointed chancellor.

YoungHegelian said...

@RC,

If, by socialist, one means someone who believes in the state control of the means of production, then the Nazis & the Italian Fascists were socialists. In 1932, the European country that had the greatest per cent of state ownership of the means of production was the USSR. The second was Italy.

If by socialist, one means someone who follows a revisionist Marxist ideology that preaches class consciousness as the foundation of historical and political struggle, part of which involves state ownership of all or part of the means of production, then Italian Fascism & German National Socialism were not socialist.

As a matter of historically record, German National Socialism called itself "socialist" & IF called itself "syndicalist". Both spoke of their political ascendency to power as "revolutions".

tim maguire said...
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tim maguire said...

My favorite Orwell work--An Homage to Catalonia--got me interested in the Spanish Civil War. This was the event that turned him against the communists--2 of the best anti-communist writers (Orwell and Koestler) were lefties turned anti-communist by experience with the Comintern during that war.

1930's Spain showed them what was coming from both sides--the communists and the national socialists (sorry Cookie, you won't get far claiming the national socialist workers party wasn't socialist). Everything you need to know about geopolitics from 1940 to 1990 was foreshadowed in that tragedy.

damikesc said...

It should be noted that 63% of the German electorate never voted for Hitler or the Nazis. Were it not for the idiotic, self-serving Franz von Papen, Hitler would never have been appointed chancellor.

I'd also argue the Social Democrats and the other center parties fucked up royally not working together to beat back the Nazis.

But, then again, in 1930, Nazis and Communists were the majority of the Reichstag, so a moot point.

Also, Hindenburg was old and senile and should've never named a non-entity like van Papen (or the even worse Schleicher) as Chancellors in the first place.

Hitler simply stumbled into power, basically.

damikesc said...

1930's Spain showed them what was coming from both sides--the communists and the national socialists (sorry Cookie, you won't get far claiming the national socialist workers party wasn't socialist). Everything you need to know about geopolitics from 1940 to 1990 was foreshadowed in that tragedy.

It's still sad that Franco was the better choice of the two. He may have had Nazi support, but he was not on board with them all the way.

Spain's Jews didn't tend to get slaughtered (nor did Italy until the Nazis basically took it over). Unlike, say, France.

Christopher said...

Hitler was a rune reading Nordic god proponent who desired a personal rule by psychic power of a Superman. The Aryans were supposed to have been a master Tibetan Psychic bloodline with blue eyes who had ended up in nordic lands and now needed their mixed blood strengthened by generations of inbreedings of purer psychic power containing blood with purer psychic power containing blood.

All carriers of subhuman blood were to be exterminated like rats. That was the European Jews and the Russian Slavs.

The socialists never knew what hit them.


It was called National Socialism for a reason.

Liberal Fascism will help you understand, for those who want to understand.

buwaya said...

Off the wall book for anyone interested in the Spanish Civil War. Popular attitudes, ideology, society, ethics, the style and atmosphere of the times - sometimes a small, understandable bit of a greater whole helps make it all come together.

Long out of print, but not hard to find used -
"The Siege of the Alcazar" - Cecil Eby
Very Cornelius Ryan-ish treatment, and a great story.

tim in vermont said...

No matter how many times you (and your ilk) say it, it just ain't so. - Robert Cook.

No matter how many times you deny it, it is so.

We have thee main forms of political organization:

Fascism
Communism
Liberal Democracy

Two of them require total control over people's lives, one of them does not.

Two of them operate through state control of the economy, one does not.

Two of them do not allow free speech, one does.

Two of them do not allow insults to the maximum leader,
One does.

Whatever huge difference Robert Cook finds between the two totalitarian political economic systems, they are to be found in branding, propaganda, whatever. And I suppose people like Robert Cook are heavily influenced more by the propaganda than they are by the root differences between the systems.

tim in vermont said...

It is amusing that Robert Cook is always right there to defend Communism from every calumny.

buwaya said...

"Two of them require total control over people's lives, one of them does not."

Not quite true. There is a continuum. Both fascism and communism came in varieties, generally most fascist regimes in practice were more "liberal". We lived in Spain for a few years in my childhood, and several years under the Philippine dictatorship, which was fascist in substance. Under most circumstances most people were "free" in most of our understandings of the term.

The Nazi regime (in peacetime) was much more liberal in most ways for most people than the Soviet communists. The Yugoslav and some other East European communists also were more liberal. There was private landownership in Poland, etc. None of these are strictly defined categories.

"Two of them operate through state control of the economy, one does not."

Some parts of the economy, sometimes, this varies. Lots of "liberal" modern governments even explicitly claim to attempt to control their economies, or try to. Japan had its MITI, there are many similar systems. US administrations have tried similar things and the current one seems determined to do its best in this regard.

"Two of them do not allow free speech, one does."

Even here there are degrees of freedom. Some fascist regimes permitted most speech, most of the time.

"Two of them do not allow insults to the maximum leader,
One does."

Well, here you are closer to a universal rule.

James Pawlak said...

I have read, all the way through, both Mohammmed's and Hitler's attacks on literature. The parallels are many and horrid.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Along with Eby's Between the Bullet and the Lie, Homage to Catalonia is a great primer on the totalitarian impulse that informs the Left. Read The Road to Wigan Pier first.

Robert Cook said...

"It is amusing that Robert Cook is always right there to defend Communism from every calumny."


????

tim maguire said...

Buwaya, thanks for the book suggestion--I'm always on the lookout for English language material, of which there is not a lot. I really need to learn Spanish to become the expert I'd like to be.

Damiksec, one of the conclusions I've come across that is probably accurate is that, though the war dragged on for 3 years with tremendous suffering along the way, it stopped mattering who would win by the time it was 6 months old, such was the decay on the Republican side as the communists expanded their influence. All the sacrifice after that was for nothing.

Michael K said...

"Although Eisenhower might have been aware of how that conference was going to work itself out some time beforehand, and changed his tactics accordingly, it is still “curious” for a number of reasons:"

The boundaries were drawn in 1944 and Churchill had a lot to do with them. He, for example, insisted that the French have an occupation zone. The British got the north, Baltic zone as it would be easier to supply and send home the British troops by sea. The Americans got the south and Bavaria because they had been the southern army all the way from Normandy.

Yalta had more to do with Poland than anything else.

Robert Cook said...

Oh, I get it...because I distinguish between fascism and socialism/communism, you misread it to convince yourself I'm "defending" communism.

Hahahaha! No.

The whole reason rightists want to conflate fascism with "liberalism" or the left--a recent passion, inflamed, I believe, by the aforementioned Goldberg's Liberal Fascism--is to deny that any right-wing government could ever be a tyranny...that, by definition, "tyranny" = "left-wing" and can never = "right wing."

I don't defend any form of tyranny; I insist on pointing out that right wing governments are as prone to becoming tyrannies--if unchecked--as left wing governments. In short, any government, if not checked by the governed, through whatever mechanisms are in place to check the governors, will tend toward accruing greater power unto itself, and this will continue and continue until a state of tyranny is the result.

damikesc said...

Damiksec, one of the conclusions I've come across that is probably accurate is that, though the war dragged on for 3 years with tremendous suffering along the way, it stopped mattering who would win by the time it was 6 months old, such was the decay on the Republican side as the communists expanded their influence. All the sacrifice after that was for nothing.

Yeah, the Nationalists pretty well knew where to strike and hobbled the Republican side quickly and rather decisively.

Honestly, just in terms of tactics, it was a brilliant plan.

The boundaries were drawn in 1944 and Churchill had a lot to do with them. He, for example, insisted that the French have an occupation zone.

Which was one of his great mistakes. Why the Allies felt France needed an occupation zone is baffling given that --- and, this is a bit of a technicality I guess --- they didn't actually fight.

I don't defend any form of tyranny; I insist on pointing out that right wing governments are as prone to becoming tyrannies--if unchecked--as left wing governments.

...except extreme right wing governments would be anarchist.

Which isn't an improvement over tyranny, mind you.

YoungHegelian said...

@RC

The whole reason rightists want to conflate fascism with "liberalism" or the left--a recent passion, inflamed, I believe, by the aforementioned Goldberg's Liberal Fascism--is to deny that any right-wing government could ever be a tyranny...that, by definition, "tyranny" = "left-wing" and can never = "right wing."

No, RC. The reason is because historians, many of them much better than Goldberg's tendentious book & many of them men of the Left, have actually tried to recover the true nature of National Socialism & Italian Fascism after years & years of Marxist misrepresentation.

What side of the political divide calls those it dislikes "fascists"? You say righties try to deny any right wing government could ever be a tyranny, but that's not what's happening. The left says that fascism (in both the IF & Nazi) sense are capitalism gone mad, and that there is a continuum between right wing free market economics & fascism. The contemporary American right says that's historical bullshit, and that any association between classical-Liberal capitalism & fascism is a Marxist myth. RC, the righties are absolutely correct in this.

tim in vermont said...

--is to deny that any right-wing government could ever be a tyranny

Well, a tyranny requires a strong central government. To claim that advocates of a government that is subservient to a sovereign people, a liberal democracy, are the same thing as advocates of a strong and forceful government which is sovereign over the people, the preferred form of government of the people who have stolen the term liberal, is laughable. Fascists and Socialists both believe that the government is sovereign over the people. So there is no difference to me but the propaganda used.

I have to say that stealing the term "liberal" and conflating actual liberals, people who are for human freedom, with the kind of right that exists mainly in Europe was a solid political maneuver. Well played.

But yeesh, you shouldn't believe your own BS.

tim in vermont said...

I used to have some sympathy for the French followers of LePen, for example, because they are called "right wing" and I am called "right wing." I had that sympathy until I entered into extended comment interactions with a couple and it slowly dawned on my that they were actually just Nazis who happened to be French and not German.

Like I said, it was quite a coup for the left wing media to have burned this political message into American political discussion.

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Cookie,

You keep saying that but provide no references. What bios of Hitler, what political histories of the 3rd Reich, what other books can you refer us to to buttress your contention that National Socialism was not socialist in philosophy, word and deed? Have you read Mein Kampf, for example? It is pretty explicit that National Socialism was socialist to its core.

Ditto Mussolini. What bios of him have you read? What books on Fascist (capital F) political thought and ideology? What histories of Italy can you refer us to that will show that Fascism (capital F) was not socialist?

Put up or shut up.

Cookie is probably not even aware that there is a huge difference between Fascism and facism. They are as different as chalk and cheese. It probably would not be an exaggeration to say they are unrelated. Capital F Fascism was a well thought out and defined political party/movement in Italy. The Fascist Party in the same sense that we have a Republican or a Democrat Party.

fascism, (small f) was defined by Orwell in 1943 or so as a word devoid of any meaning used to describe any politics you do not like.

So back to you Cookie, what is the basis for your contention that National Socialism (Germany) and Fascism (Italy) were not socialist ideologies.

Or perhaps you have not read much socialism, either? You do know that there is more than one kind of socialism, don't you? You do know rthat there were socialism and communism, by those names, before Karl Marx was born.

You have read some Marx, right? Capital? Communist Manifesto?

Because if you don't know what socialism is you can't know what it isn't

So back to you. Elucidation too.

Trad guy, feel free to jump in. I think you are one that does not think Fascist and National Socialism are socialist. (If I am confusing you with another, sorry)

John Henry

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

I am a big fan of Orwell. I suspect that most American read his two books in high school. I suspect that, like me, most Americans are aware that he wrote about a dozen other books before the two everyone know.

I stumbled across "The Road to Wigan Pier" about 10 years after HS and was hooked. I've since read every book he wrote as well as 4 large volumes of collected letters, stories, scripts, reviews, essays and more.

All of it more than once, some of it, like "Coming Up for Air" dozens of times.

If all you's read are 1984 and Animal Farm You are missing out on a great author.

He wrote Animal Farm on the spur of the moment soley to fulfill his contract with Victor Gollancz. He thought it a piece of tripe but since all he had to do was submit his "next" book to Gollancz, he dashed it off figuring it would be rejected but he would be freed from the contract.

Someone said that he moved away from socialism. Nothing I've read by or about him indicates that he was not as ardent a socialist as ever on the day he died.

He was always, particularly after his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, against Russian and totalitarian socialism.

But it was always totalitarianism that he was against, not socialism. He died believing, mistakenly IMHO, that you could have socialism without totalitarianism.

John Henry

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Christopher Hitchens was as nutty as a Collins Street fruitcake, politically. He was a fantastic writer though and I don't think I ever didn't enjoy a piece of book by him no matter how much I disagreed with him.

Someone mentioned his book on Why Orwell Matters and I would second that. I even agreed with much of it.

So hie thee off to Ann's portal and don't come back without it.

John Henry

traditionalguy said...

You know naming your group the Washington Redskins doesn't prove you are American Indians.

We Americans don't think like Europeans, because we long ago quit accepting a class structure and a privileged Aristocracy as a permanent part of life. The Episcopal Church and the Free Masons still act like they want that element back.

But in Europe after 1848 there was a civil war always going on under the surface between the Democratic Socialists and the Monarchy party over wages and freedoms.

Hitler used the name National Socialists as a political cover to appear as a normal candidate until he took power and immediately declared a police state using first the Brownshirts and then the Hitler's personal Protection Squad ( Schutzstaffel or SS.)

That possibility that a Personal leader with a private army institutes a police state can come from any political stripe of demagogue during any crisis. Obama has persistantly edged his way closer to that event with an army of miltarized Federal Agency Corps and a facist approach to big Business to get their aquiescence.

So keep impressing yourself by spotting the name socialist to make Hitler out to be a liberal politician, but that wastes everybody's time because Hitler was a unique demon possessed meglomaniac.

tim in vermont said...

So keep impressing yourself by spotting the name socialist to make Hitler out to be a liberal politician,

By incorrectly using the term "liberal" you make discussion difficult, if not impossible.

Hitler used the name National Socialists as a political cover to appear as a normal candidate until he took power and immediately declared a police state using first the Brownshirts and then the Hitler's personal Protection Squad ( Schutzstaffel or SS.)

So different than the socialist and communist experiments history records.

YoungHegelian said...

So keep impressing yourself by spotting the name socialist to make Hitler out to be a liberal politician, but that wastes everybody's time because Hitler was a unique demon possessed meglomaniac.

No. Hitler was the head of a political movement that had deep currents going back to the 19th C, and whose concerns were the concern of a sizable fraction of the European intelligentsia. Why do you think intellectuals like Ezra Pound, or Yeats, or Martin Heidegger had deep fascist sympathies? The ideological foundations of National Socialism & Italian Fascism are every bit as philosophically, economically, & politically sophisticated as Marxism.

Germany, at that time, had the best educated & read population on the planet. They were not fooled by some megalomaniac who blundered into office. They lined up behind National Socialism because they thought that its ideology not only explained their humiliation in WWI, but that it showed them a future in a new Europe where they, the Herrenvolk got to call the shots.

Michael K said...

"The whole reason rightists want to conflate fascism with "liberalism" or the left--a recent passion, inflamed, I believe, by the aforementioned Goldberg's Liberal Fascism--is to deny that any right-wing government could ever be a tyranny...that, by definition, "tyranny" = "left-wing" and can never = "right wing."

So, the two "right wing" governments of modern times, Coolidge and Stanley Baldwin/Chamberlain, set up tyrannies and Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy did not.

Got it, Cookie.

Michael K said...

"So keep impressing yourself by spotting the name socialist to make Hitler out to be a liberal politician, but that wastes everybody's time because Hitler was a unique demon possessed megalomaniac."

Someone has already pretty well refuted this but here's another whack.

The last thing Hitler was was a "Liberal." Those of us who study history don't like the term "Liberal" applied to statists and tyrants.

The Liberals in England were free market traders who resisted Mercantilism.

Hitler was well within the tradition of European tyrants. Fortunately for history, they usually do not have the resources of the most modern nation state at their disposal.

Prussian militarism was well known in the late 19th century and it was not a huge step from Belgium in 1918 and "Schrecklchkeit" to Hitler and the SS.

tim maguire said...

Hitler and Mussolini were so rightwing that after meeting Roosevelt, Mussolini happily cabled Hitler, "he's one of us!"

David said...

“I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.'

Nor should we misconstrue the means necessary to defeat such a force.

WW II was fought under a different set of rules than we in the west apply to warfare today. These rules include not only different conduct towards the enemy, but our informal rule that significant friendly casualties are to be avoided as a matter of doctrine. We also seem to define it as a failure if a single American civilian is killed anywhere in the world, even though it is manifestly impossible to protect all at every time.

Those who define our conflict with the violent incarnations of radical Islam as a war have so far largely been unwilling to explore what that means for how we conduct warfare. Many now propose "advisers" on the ground, aggressive use of Special Forces, arming foes of the radicals and increased bombing as the steps that should be taken. Implicit in this recommendation is that this will be enough. It might be, but very well could prove wholly inadequate. Are we then wiling to engage in whatever the current equivalent of WW II's "total warfare" is? I think the clear answer is that we are not ready for that, and may never be until something far more previous than September 11, 2001 occurs.

David said...

Hegeiian: Germany, at that time, had the best educated & read population on the planet. They were not fooled by some megalomaniac who blundered into office. They lined up behind National Socialism because they thought that its ideology not only explained their humiliation in WWI, but that it showed them a future in a new Europe where they, the Herrenvolk got to call the shots.

I was greatly influenced by Erich Fromm's "Escape from Freedom," which argues that humans can easily gravitate to approving authoritarian structures because they find freedom so productive of anxiety and uncertainty. He further argued that the political and social structure of Germany (and the current historic context) made it particularly susceptible.

I have not reread Fromm for a long time, but as I go through life I see again and again a strong impulse to authoritarian conduct. Large elements of the left in this country have caught this disease, and do not even know they have it, it seems.

jr565 said...

What ISIS doesn't want is jobs. They don't want to bring Starbucks to the ME.
The state dept recently made the point thwt wars won't stop ISIS. What will stop ISIS are jobs. Um, how are they proposing you being jobs to the ME if ISIS isn't stopped? If some CEO thinks he can do business and decides to set up shop in the ME, and ISIS is still around they will promptly murder him and his employees by decapitating them and setting their business on fire. You can't get job growth if backward monsters are out killing moderate people.
And at any rate acting like totalitarian monsters pays quite well for ISIS. The guy cutting off the heads is EMPLOYED.

Now there would be a case for bringing about jobs for young men in the ME. And thst would require stability. The exact thing thst this president pissed away in Iraq.
It requires security to deal with the guys that are going to jump over the walls and start killing the populace.

jr565 said...

As for Hitler, itsquite clear he was a socialist of some variety. Not only was it in the name itself, it's quite clear nazism was a socialist movement. Now each country brings its own unique spin to socialism. For the fascists they were also nationalistic. But then again, when push came to shove so was Stalin.
Hitler and nazism diverged in some ways from classical socialism. and their brand of socialism was also colored by antisemitism,and hitlers nietzchean darwinistic modernism. but they were still socialistic. They were certainly not right wing.

jr565 said...

"Everything must be different!" or "Alles muss anders sein!"
That sounds an awful lot like hope and change doesn't it? Do conservatives demand revolutionary change? No, lefties do.

tim maguire said...

A while back I was reading transcripts of the propaganda work Orwell did in India. I didn't finish, it was very repetitive, but it had 2 very interesting aspects. First, the false upbeat tone. Transcripts were in chronological order, so one would start (this is by memory and without a map, so don't check my geography), "the battle for Burma is over, next stop for the Japanese is Java, but those Javans are tough and ready to fight, the Japs won't find the going so easy," and then the next broadcast, "the battle for Java is over, next stop for the Japanese is Sri Lanka, but those Sri Lankans are tough and ready to fight, the Japs won't find the going so easy." That went on for a while.

The other was his observation that, unlike the German conquests in Europe, Japanese conquests in the Pacific were militarily worthless, just another set of islands to supply and defend. So, ironically, each Japanese victory made Japan weaker and more vulnerable, closer to ultimate defeat.

jr565 said...

Ludwig Von Mises (Austrian Jewish economist who got out Germany right in the nick of time) said in 1944:
"The Nazis have not only imitated the Bolshevist tactics of seizing power. They have copied much more. They have imported from Russia the one-party system and the privileged role of this party and its members in public life; the paramount position of the secret police; the organization of affiliated parties abroad which are employed in fighting their domestic governments and in sabotage and espionage, assisted by public funds and the protection of the diplomatic and consular service; the administrative execution and imprisonment of political adversaries; concentration camps; the punishment inflicted on the families of exiles; the methods of propaganda. They have borrowed from the Marxians even such absurdities as the mode of address, party comrade (Parteigenosse), derived from the Marxian comrade (Genosse), and the use of a military terminology for all items of civil and economic life. The question is not in which respects both systems are alike but in which they differ..."

jr565 said...

And Edward Feser in describing hitter makes him sound like a modern day liberal:
He had been something of a bohemian in his youth, and always regarded young people and their idealism as the key to progress and the overcoming of outmoded prejudices. And he was widely admired by the young people of his country, many of whom belonged to organizations devoted to practicing and propagating his teachings. He had a lifelong passion for music, art, and architecture, and was even something of a painter. He rejected what he regarded as petty bourgeois moral hang-ups, and he and his girlfriend "lived together" for years. He counted a number of homosexuals as friends and collaborators, and took the view that a man's personal morals were none of his business; some scholars of his life believe that he himself may have been homosexual or bisexual. He was ahead of his time where a number of contemporary progressive causes are concerned: he disliked smoking, regarding it as a serious danger to public health, and took steps to combat it; he was a vegetarian and animal lover; he enacted tough gun control laws; and he advocated euthanasia for the incurably ill.

He championed the rights of workers, regarded capitalist society as brutal and unjust, and sought a third way between communism and the free market. In this regard, he and his associates greatly admired the strong steps taken by President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to take large-scale economic decision-making out of private hands and put it into those of government planning agencies. His aim was to institute a brand of socialism that avoided the inefficiencies that plagued the Soviet variety, and many former communists found his program highly congenial. He deplored the selfish individualism he took to be endemic to modern Western society, and wanted to replace it with an ethic of self-sacrifice: "As Christ proclaimed 'love one another'," he said, "so our call -- 'people's community,' 'public need before private greed,' 'communally-minded social consciousness' -- rings out.! This call will echo throughout the world!"

The reference to Christ notwithstanding, he was not personally a Christian, regarding the Catholicism he was baptized into as an irrational superstition. In fact he admired Islam more than Christianity, and he and his policies were highly respected by many of the Muslims of his day. He and his associates had a special distaste for the Catholic Church and, given a choice, preferred modern liberalized Protestantism, taking the view that the best form of Christianity would be one that forsook the traditional other-worldly focus on personal salvation and accommodated itself to the requirements of a program for social justice to be implemented by the state. They also considered the possibility that Christianity might eventually have to be abandoned altogether in favor of a return to paganism, a worldview many of them saw as more humane and truer to the heritage of their people. For he and his associates believed strongly that a people's ethnic and racial heritage was what mattered most. Some endorsed a kind of cultural relativism according to which what is true or false and right or wrong in some sense depends on one's ethnic worldview, and especially on what best promotes the well-being of one's ethnic group"
Aside from the Jew hatred and war mo gerring, how does hitter differ from modern liberals? Not conservative. And not right wing.
Unless you are saying he was on the right wing of the socialism. (Ie. If commiunism was the left wing, nazism would be e right wing) but it's not right wing the way liberals describe conservatives.

jr565 said...

I'll only differ from Feser slightly in the "not particularly Christian" remark. If hitler was Christian then we have to rethink what it means to be religious. The nazis put out a 30 point plan abolishing things like Bibles. They outlawed the Catholic Church. The church became a meeting place not for religion but to spread nazism)

FDR said of Hitlers religion:
“It is a plan to abolish all existing religions, Catholic, Protestant, Mohammedan, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish alike […] the cross and all other symbols of religion are to be forbidden. The clergy are to be ever liquidated, silenced under penalty of the concentration camps, where even now so many fearless men are being tortured because they have placed God above Hitler. In the place of the churches of our civilization there is to be set up an international Nazi church, a church which will be served by orators sent out by the Nazi government. And in the place of the Bible, the words of ‘Mein Kampf’ will be imposed and enforced as Holy Writ. And in the place of the cross of Christ will be put two symbols, the swastika and the naked sword”.

Char Char Binks said...

National SOCIALIST Germany's alliance with Italy didn't make them Fascists any more than their alliance with Japan made them Shintoists or Japanese Imperialists. The only thing that makes them seem not to be socialists is the continued Stalinist propaganda of the left.

Michael K said...

"So, ironically, each Japanese victory made Japan weaker and more vulnerable, closer to ultimate defeat."

They had a plan that included a defensive ring around the home islands but they began with a fantasy. They thought, as did Hitler, that the US would recoil from total war and sign an armistice which would leave them in possession of their conquests.

I hate to think what Iran believes about us now.

jr565 said...

fascism was also a LEFT WING movie. Il Duce grew up as an ardent socialist. If he felt there was a third way it didn't mean he rejected the tenets of socialism. He thought facism would better bring about socialistic ideals that communism/socialism. But it's a sister movement.
neither is a right wing movement. Both are revolutionary left wing movements. Different at the margins, but fundamentally similar.

jr565 said...

Trotsky had big beefs with Stalinism. It didn't make either of them right wing. Trotsky was still a died in the wool communist/socialist.
The assumption that either couldn't be socialists because they hated each other and Trotsky got an ice pick to his head for standing up to Stalin belies the fac that the communists/ socialists had no problem going to war with other communists/socialists over the best way to push the brand and achieve the goals.

William said...

The worst dictators of the 20th century were Stalin, Hitler, and Mao. Of the three, the only one who did not have significant left wing support was Hitler......I would argue that the German left was harder on the Weimar Republic than they were on the Third Reich. In any event, the Weimar Republic produced a fair number of significant artists but their best work served to undermine the moral legitimacy of the Weimar Republic and not to subvert Hitler.

William said...

There is a fine book by Alan Bullock called "Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives". The two men had far more in common with each other than with any western liberal or conservative.

traditionalguy said...

Seriously a quick read/listen to the Rise and Fall of The Third Reich would be valuable. From day one Hitler was taking personal charge of the German military, churches, universities, police and media in the first years. He had his rivals murdered in one night. He then rearmed Germany until he could crush every other surrounding country that did not surrender to his demands to keep peace.

He was not a European Socialist for one day after he was given the Chancellor job and got his thugs in the power positions.

Socialism is bad enough, but Hitler was something else entirely,

The Godfather said...

Orwell is one of my two favorites essayists of the first half of the 20th century (the other is C.S. Lewis -- go figure). Orwell was a socialist and an anti-communist, which made him a pretty queer duck in his time: Most socialists thought communists were black sheep, but still part of the family. Orwell fought with the anti-fascist forces in Spain, but much of Homage To Catalonia is about what bastards the communists were.

Like John Henry, years after reading 1984 and Animal Farm, I read The Road To Wigan Pier, which is about the plight of the working poor in England. Since then I think I've read all his books, and much of his uncollected shorter works. If you haven't, do read them all.

Orwell believed that the plight of the working class could only be improved by socialism. He thought there was no hope that the upper classes of England, including the capitalist class, could or would do what needed to be done. History has proved him wrong, but if you'd lived in his time and place, and if you had a heart, you probably would have reached the same conclusion.

But Orwell was right in his opposition to communism, and he did not allow his support for socialism to seduce him into apologizing for communism.

Although there were obvious differences between Soviet communism and German and Italian fascism, both trampled on the basic human rights and Orwell condemned them.

William said...

I read Homage to Catalonia. In that book he details how he took particular pleasure in using an abandoned Catholic Church as a latrine. He expresses some regret for using the woodworking within the church for firewood, but it was a pleasure for him to take a dump in the church....... You can see how the Republicans lost. Franco's forces were comprised of the same men who fought with Wellington against Napoleon--namely the conservative, rural Catholics. You don't wAnt to get in a war with such people.. The Republicans attracted such stalwarts as Virginia Wolf's nephew. They could write better books about the war, but they weren't the type to last a year in the trenches.

tim in vermont said...

Socialism is bad enough, but Hitler was something else entirely,

So was Mao and Stalin, right? And Kim Jong Un is also a "pseudo socialist," right? Castro too, right? Pol Pot... not a socialist! Che? He was not a socialist because socialists don't personally execute political opponents before breakfast.

Hitler was not a free market classical liberal. He was a believer in total state power. The differences between him and a socialist are matters of branding and marketing.

tim in vermont said...

Notice how communist countries can flip to fascism on a dime.

traditionalguy said...

Hitler cannot fit into any of our political categories. He was not an example of total State power, such as a communist Party strong men exercised. He held personal oaths from every German who pledged themselves to him serve as loyal to death and no one dared cross him up to the day he died.

Their reward was that by April 1945 all of Germany's cities, infrastructure and industrial sites had been wiped off the face of the earth.

Terry said...

I was a bit surprised to read this Orwell quote. Even after he was betrayed by Stalin's thugs, Orwell continued to condemn fascism on the page. He considered fascism to be reactionary, an attempt by the Church and State bosses to continue crushing the Little Guy under foot.
He hadn't heard about the Kulaks, yet, I suppose.

jr565 said...

William wrote:
The worst dictators of the 20th century were Stalin, Hitler, and Mao. Of the three, the only one who did not have significant left wing support was Hitler......I would argue that the German left was harder on the Weimar Republic than they were on the Third Reich. In any event, the Weimar Republic produced a fair number of significant artists but their best work served to undermine the moral legitimacy of the Weimar Republic and not to subvert Hitler.

because they were both fighting over how,to achieve revolutionary change. Just because lefties fight each other doesn't mean that they aren't still lefties. Who were the lefties you say opposed nazism? Communists? They were fighting over the hearts and minds of the same groups of people. It's like coke fighting Pepsi. Still colas.

Rusty said...

John Henry

2/19/15, 5:55 PM











carry on

Oso Negro said...

Robert Cook, you simpering socialist twat, please read the 25 points of National Socialism! I will help you here with points 9 - 16:


9. All citizens must possess equal rights and duties.

10. The first duty of every citizen must be to work mentally or physically. No individual shall do any work that offends against the interest of the community to the benefit of all.

Therefore we demand:

11. That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished.

12. Since every war imposes on the people fearful sacrifices in blood and treasure, all personal profit arising from the war must be regarded as treason to the people. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits.

13. We demand the nationalization of all trusts.

14. We demand profit-sharing in large industries.

15. We demand a generous increase in old-age pensions.

16. We demand the creation and maintenance of a sound middle-class, the immediate communalization of large stores which will be rented cheaply to small tradespeople, and the strongest consideration must be given to ensure that small traders shall deliver the supplies needed by the State, the provinces and municipalities.

Eric said...

No matter how many times you (and your ilk) say it, it just ain't so.

No matter how many coats of "no true Scotsman" paint you apply, you can't get away from the facts.

Of course Hitler was a socialist. Are you going to pretend he didn't know what the word meant when he put it in the name of his nascent party?