Were Nazis a Socialist? The Definition of Socialism Vary

The Nazis tried to reinterpret socialism when they established national socialism.

After Secretary Barr briefed the House on the Mueller Report on March 25, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama opted to recite from Mein Kampf on the House floor. Brooks then referred to Adolf Hitler as a "socialist," suggesting a link between the Fuhrer and democratic socialists. Brooks' assertions that the Nazis were socialists were quickly discredited by Democrats, who saw the Nazis as far-right fascists who were not socialists at all. Right?

It's a thorny issue. The term "national socialism" was not coined by the Nazis only as a catchy moniker for their political philosophy. They had a strong anti-capitalist stance. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Party's top propagandist, famously said he preferred Bolshevism over capitalism. Public works projects like the Autobahn and full employment were created and government expenditure greatly expanded during Nazi rule.

The Nazis, on the other hand, were vehemently anti-communist in their ideology. It was one of the primary pillars of Nazism stated by Hitler in Mein Kampf, along with German nationalism and anti-Semitism. All of these things would make Karl Marx roll in his grave if they hadn't been done by the Nazis after they had control of the country.

Changing Conceptions

Why, therefore, did the Nazis refer to themselves as "socialists" in their manifestos? The word "socialism" has seen a great deal of change and evolution since its beginnings, which may account for some of this. In certain cases, socialism has nothing to do with Karl Marx's ideas. It was French philosopher Henri de Saint-Simon, according to Friedrich von Hayek's 18th-century work The Counter-Revolution of Science, who first used the term "socialism" to describe his belief that industrialization and the Scientific Revolution required fundamental changes to society and politics.

In his post-French Revolution writings, Saint-Simon envisioned a technocratic elite of manufacturers, academics, businesspeople, and scientists ruling over a totalitarian society. After Marx, socialism became identified with class conflict since early socialists were mainly concerned with improving society via central organization and scientific discoveries.

Marx and Friedrich Engels established their own "scientific socialism" in response to the "utopian socialists" of the early socialists. Marx thought that capitalism will lead to a worldwide revolution of workers against the bourgeoisie because he viewed the classes trapped in a continual fight for material resources. A communist society with no classes and collective ownership of the means of production would be established by the triumphant proletariat. Socialism was defined as the transitional era between capitalism and communism by Marxist-Leninists as a state-owned economy that was centrally controlled.

The Nazis tried to reinterpret socialism when they established national socialism. When national socialism was first proposed, it was based on the notion of a technocratically-managed economy and the anti-Semitic Völkisch nationalist ideology. The Nazis saw both capitalism and communism as unhealthily materialistic and centered on selfishness rather than national solidarity, attributes they linked with Judaism, in their growing worldview.. As one of the key ideological influencers of Nazism, Oswald Spengler called Marxism "the capitalism of the workers." The Völksgemeinschaft, the Nazis' reinterpretation of socialism, was a vehicle for tying the individual to the state.

Not all Nazis were Socialists.

While the Nazis had a contempt for business, they did not have the same contempt for the people who made the money. The Nazi party's Strasserist wing, which was ousted during the Night of the Long Knives, was the only socialism that included class warfare. As a result, Nazis saw both capitalists and workers as vital members of the Völksgemeinschaft. However, the Nazis also stood apart from Marxists in their support for private property, although with a few exceptions.

Although the Nazis did not possess Germany's manufacturing facilities, they had considerable influence over them. In order to oversee and monitor the various industries, they established control boards, cartels, and state-sponsored monopolies. Leaders in the industrial sector had nothing to say about it. State ownership of their businesses ensured that they would stay at the top of their respective sectors since they were protected from market pressures. Marx and the Nazis indicate that socialism is continuously being redefined and its varied manifestations may be very different from one another. Early utopian socialists, Marx, and the Nazis. Democratic socialism and politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez continue this trend today. Individuals would have "economic rights" under Sanders' and AOC's socialist plans, according to Sanders. The government would cover things like health insurance and college tuition, among other things.

Instead of comprehensive state control of the means of production, democratic socialists do not believe in technocratically managing the economy as the Nazis did. Instead, they "think that workers and consumers who are impacted by economic institutions should own and manage them," according to the Democratic Socialists of America.

Bottom-Up vs. Top-Down Solutions

It's extremely simple for adherents of different ideologies to point fingers at one another and declare, "That wasn't true socialism," due to the great variety of utopian, communist, national, and democratic socialisms. Socialism may be defined in a variety of ways, but there is a common thread in all of them. AOC and Saint-Simon share a notion that top-down solutions to society's issues are preferable than bottom-up solutions provided by the free market.

Neither Marx nor Hitler liked the free market because it obscured the value of people' labor, but they both disliked the free market because it made war more difficult. Unlike her predecessors, AOC thinks that the free market is incapable of adapting to climate change and aims to use the state as a vehicle for drastic social and economic readjustment like her ancestors.

So, socialism was a philosophy shared by the Nazis? Only in terms of what they think is best for them. However, this has always been the case when it comes to various versions of socialism.

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