Updated: Feb 26
Because this is an in-depth and complex issue, for brevity and to appeal to those with a short attention span, I have broken the elements of Nazism up into a 4 part series.
Part 1: Nationalism and Racism
We have all heard it before; politicians being called, "Nazi" by the mainstream media, political pundits, opposition politicians, or even the common man on the street.
Donald Trump has been compared to Hitler on numerous occasions. George W. Bush has had his share of comparisons, as well. I have seen pictures of Joe Biden with a swastika armband. As a matter of fact, I cannot recall a president who has not, at least once, had that comparison directed at him, since, maybe, Ronald Reagan.
However, are these fair comparisons? Where do the real Nazis of WWII reside on the political spectrum? This question is the subject of our inquiry.
Who were the Nazis?
NAZI was an acronym for the National Socialist German Worker's Party, which was formed in the early 1930s, was led by Adolf Hitler, and was responsible for the Holocaust and the atrocities that unfolded in Europe, as a result of World War II; a war that began when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939.
With that established, what were the primary ideologies of the National Socialists?
In the past few decades, the common theme has insisted that Nazism was a right-wing phenomenon. This propaganda was first spread by Stalin's Communist Russia in the 1930s and that narrative has been continued by communists, all the way until the present time. There certainly was no doubt that even by European standards, Communism was on the left end of the spectrum. Stalin, himself, would have been proud to make that claim.
One of the arguments for the Nazis being on the political right comes from one of the keywords in the name of the party i.e., National or Nationalism but is nationalism a right-wing only mindset?
Nationalism is, first, defined as patriotism or national pride. That, on its own, is a good thing. If nationalism is right-winged, then, left-winged would be the opposite or hatred for your nation. By that definition, even if a left-winger turned his country into his ideal utopia, he would still be required to hate it or risk becoming a right-winger.
Perpetual hatred for your country is not a very appealing platform for a political party.
Therefore, patriotism cannot be the gauge by which left and right are measured. If perpetual hatred of the nation is the ideology of the left, that would be a platform stemming from insanity. I think we need a little more information.
So where did this idea of "right" and "left" come from and what does it mean?
In his book, "The Big Lie", Dinesh D'Souza traces the terms "Right" and "Left" back to their political roots.
“The political use of the two terms dates back to 1789 and the French Revolution. In the National Assembly in Paris, the partisans of the Revolution sat on the left side and their opponents sat on the right. This is how we got our original “left-wing” and “right-wing.” The term “right-wing” in this context refers to defenders of the Ancien Régime who wanted France to return to the governing alliance of throne and altar that had preceded the revolution. “Conservative” became a description of the old guard who wanted to conserve the monarchy and the prerogatives of the established church against revolutionary overthrow. So right away we have a problem: if this is what “right-wing” and “conservative” mean, then there are no right-wingers or conservatives in America. America has never had either a monarchy or an established church. Modern American conservatives have no intention to introduce either. In what sense, then, are modern conservatives right-wing? What is it that American conservatives want to conserve? The answer is pretty simple. They want to conserve the principles of the American Revolution. So while the French Right opposed the French Revolution, the American Right champions the American Revolution.”
— The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left by Dinesh D'Souza
Not only does this show that there is no right-wing in the US by European standards, but it also shows that the Nazi movement was not right-wing, in the political sense.
Hitler was not attempting to re-establish the German monarchy which ended in 1918. If that was his goal, he could have reinstated the last monarch, Kaiser, Wilhelm II, who was still alive when Hitler seized control.
Instead, Hitler worked to consolidate all power to himself via violence and political maneuvering, thus creating a new hierarchy. As a result, he obtained absolute power in 1933. These actions do not describe a conservative movement of the right but a revolutionary movement of the left.
Nationalism is not a policy but a form of identity politics. Hitler, as well as Mussolini, in Italy, used the idea of nationalism to appeal to the masses. It was a political tactic of using something that a large group can identify with to manipulate people to join a cause. For years, politicians have used nation, race, religion, gender, sexual preference, and even environmentalism to mislead gullible citizens to subscribe to a movement that has nothing to do with the bait that attracted them to the crusade. No matter what the cause may be, identity politics can be used to destructive ends. This tactic was modeled from fascist dictators.
However, let's assume for a moment that nationalism is right-winged. Was patriotism really what Hitler was striving for? As you will see, the answer is no.
Hitler's ideal of nationalism had little to do with patriotism and everything to do with racism. In the case of the Nazis, it was more of a love for the "Aryan" race and hatred for most other races, especially, the Jewish race.
“I developed very rapidly in the nationalist direction, and by the time I was 15 years old I had come to understand the distinction between dynastic patriotism and nationalism based on the concept of folk, or people, my inclination being entirely in favour of the latter.”
— Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Hitler's idea of nationalism was not patriotism, at all. It was extreme racism through and through.
The Nazi hostility toward the Jewish people is well known. Hitler's book, "Mein Kampf" is a sickening diatribe of anti-semitism. It was the basis for the eventual attempt at mass extermination of the Jewish people throughout Europe, by the Nazis.
That brings up the next question. Is racism a tenet of the right?
If so, the US Democratic Party's history of the defense of slavery, the forced removal of the Indians beginning under Democrat President Andrew Jackson (research the Trail of Tears), starting the US Civil War, founding the KKK, passing Jim Crow segregation laws, and fighting against the civil rights act in the 1950s and 60s, puts the Democrats squarely on the right.
As a matter of fact, the last known member of the KKK in the Senate was Democrat Robert Byrd whose funeral was attended by Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden.
Joe Biden even gave his eulogy. If racism is a right-wing tenet, the Democrats are surely on the far right. However, that is not the case, so racism is also not a value of the right.
By the way, this would be a good time to mention that the policies of the Democrat Party above were the policies that directly influenced the policies of the Nazis regarding their so-called "Jewish Problem".
However, the characteristics above, do not complete the full picture. I will cover more in the following entries of the series. With the Nationalism element covered to some degree, we next look at the "socialism" of National Socialism, in Part 2 of the series.