Wednesday, January 25, 2017

On Fascism, Part III

Welcome back.
Continuing onward in our exploration of the ideological underpinnings of the German Fascist movement through “updating” the 25-point plan put forth by the National Socialist German Workers Party. By freeing it from its historical context, I hope to create a blueprint for identifying a modern American Fascist movement. Needless to say, I do not endorse either platform.

Trigger warnings: Politics, History.

(Note: All of the text used is from the translation on Wikipedia)

9. All citizens must have equal rights and obligations.

No need to change, as this is a mainly a clause that establishes a prerequisite for following point(s).

9a. All citizens must have equal rights and obligations.

10. The first obligation of every citizen must be to work both spiritually and physically. The activity of individuals is not to counteract the interests of the universality, but must have its result within the framework of the whole for the benefit of all. Consequently, we demand:
11. Abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes. Breaking of debt (interest)-slavery.

I’m not totally confident on my interpretation of this one,  as the Nazis would later use the work requirement as reasons to execute the handicapped (who they viewed as a drain on society). A more charitable and modern view might read more like a statement on the virtues of public service, and the societal benefit of hard work, as in the “Protestant Work Ethic”. This also brings a natural focus to income earned through work.

10/11a: The primary civic obligation of the American citizen is to work both spiritually and physically, for the benefit of society. As such, we demand the abolition of unearned income, freeing American citizens from debt-slavery.

12. In consideration of the monstrous sacrifice in property and blood that each war demands of the people, personal enrichment through a war must be designated as a crime against the people. Therefore, we demand the total confiscation of all war profits.

Here, we start to get into a series of points that reflect the Nazi party’s origins as a socialist worker’s party. The word “socialist” has acquired political baggage in the United States due to our struggles with the communist USSR, but it is important to remember that at this point in history, many countries experienced wide-scale socialist movements, as well as communist movements. There were many revolutionary political organizations in the Weimar Republic, as the government was fundamentally unpopular. Assaults (often literally) on the government were common, from the very far right, seeking to return to monarchical rule, to the communists on the far left, and many in between.

But it would be a mistake to classify even the Nazi party as a socialist/”left-wing” party. Rather, there is significant evidence that they adopted the socialist positions because they were popular. Certainly, their actions once elected strongly support this reading: their primary political enemies were the communists, and later the social democrats, who opposed the Nazis as they consolidated power (their political allies were the “völkisch” and conservative German National People’s Party, as well as centrist Christians.

I’ve gotten off topic a little, but Nazis being miscategorized as a socialist party is a pet peeve of mine. Said confiscation of “war profits” tended to be the properties of Nazi political enemies (Jews, communists, etc.) The intent of Nazi socialism was to enrich the (Aryan) middle class, and strongly opposed broader, Marxist socialism. More on all this later.

EDIT: It has come to my attention that I did not adequately explain the esteem that the German public, especially the right-wing public, had for the military. What is important to remember is that prior to WWI, and even during, there was no single army. Instead, it was the forces of multiple cooperating kingdoms, all with their own traditions. For instance, when Hitler, as a Hapsburg subject, wanted to join the “German army”, he had to petition the king of Bavaria. The point is, with the military traditions so closely tied to the monarchy, the officer class tended to be landed aristocrats, who were interested and willing to be praised for service, march in parades, and so forth. The military ended up becoming an important ally of the Nazis, and the blending of military and civilian leadership is a hallmark of fascism.

12a. Personal enrichment from war disrespects the sacrifice of American soldiers. Therefore, we demand that it be designated a crime against the American people, and all profits shall be seized.

13. We demand the nationalization of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).
14. We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries.

These attitudes were quickly downplayed, and with no major disruption of industry taking place once the Nazis were in power. By that point, their rhetoric primarily focused on anti-Jewish and anti-Marxist themes, as they actively sought the support of industrial entities.

13/14a. We demand American jobs. For the good of the middle class, and the American people, American companies should be in America, ensuring profits and jobs go to American citizens.

To be continued. (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V)

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