Wednesday, January 25, 2017

On Fascism, Part V

Welcome back.

This is the last entry (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V) wherein I break apart and “update” the original 25-point plan put forth by the National Socialist German Workers Party. Following this will be a conclusion, where we try to figure out what, if anything, we’ve learned. This is the final part of this series, and not the recommended place to start reading. Once again, I do not endorse any of these platforms.

Trigger warnings: Politics, History.

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

22. We demand abolition of the mercenary troops and formation of a national army.

Another consequence of the Treaty of Versailles. Can easily be dropped due to lack of relevance, but the reformulation is simple enough (with some of the implicit assumptions spelled out for clarity):

22a. We recognize the right of the United States to establish a military capable of defending the rights, interests, and safety of the American People.

23. We demand legal opposition to known lies and their promulgation through the press. In order to enable the provision of a German press, we demand, that:

    a. All writers and employees of the newspapers appearing in the German language be members of the race;
    b. Non-German newspapers be required to have the express permission of the State to be published. They may not be printed in the German language;
    c. Non-Germans are forbidden by law any financial interest in German publications, or any influence on them, and as punishment for violations the closing of such a publication as well as the immediate expulsion from the Reich of the non-German concerned. Publications which are counter to the general good are to be forbidden. We demand legal prosecution of artistic and literary forms which exert a destructive influence on our national life, and the closure of organizations opposing the above made demands.

And here we go. The reason I started writing this series, and the real-world impetus to get it out online as soon as possible. It’s taken a little longer than I’d hoped, but 25 points is a lot to cover. However, I suspect that this will still be all too relevant in the years to come.

There is a lot to cover here, and plenty of real world examples.

But as much as I’d like to, this is not going to be a passionate philosophical defense of objective truth or the epistemological process. America today lives, as much as possible, in separate media bubbles. Telling either side that they have a poor grasp on truth, and that the other side is right goes over about as well as you’d think. There’s no one unbiased left to persuade, and this is not a new phenomenon. Consider this quote from a 2004 article, later attributed to Karl Rove:

“The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. ‘We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’”

If there’s one clever argument to convert a thinker like that to the enlightenment’s values of truth and science, I don’t know it, and I sincerely doubt that it exists. And it’s not as if reality intrinsically has some magic property, that allows it to sneak past misinformation. Governments around the world have proven very capable of suppressing unwanted facts, with many alternate histories readily available. Hell, in 2015, a full half of Republicans believed we had found WMDs in Iraq.

As someone who believes deeply in objective, verifiable truth, this is very frustrating, and extremely worrying. People are simply not very rational, and many studies have shown that presenting people with evidence that disagrees with their beliefs, just makes them believe it more. Changing your mind, or anyone else’s, is really hard. And the rational arguments I am so fond of seem to do more harm than good.

So, in conclusion, it’s extremely depressing, and puts a real damper on this project. Certainly, it makes it difficult for me to want to go into the history and rationale behind the exact arguments used. But, on the plus side, it does make it all too easy to reformulate for modern times:

23a. We demand legal opposition to known lies and their propagation by the press. In order to combat this, we demand, that:

    a. All writers and employees of American media be American citizens;
    b. Non-American newspapers must obtain government permission to be published;
    c. Non-Americans are forbidden by law to have any financial interest in American publications, or any influence on them, with violations punishable by the closing of the publication as well as their immediate deportation. We demand legal prosecution of artistic and literary forms, forbidding all publications which exert a destructive influence on the general good and the American way of life, as well as the closure of all organizations opposing the above demands.

24. We demand freedom of religion for all religious denominations within the state so long as they do not endanger its existence or oppose the moral senses of the Germanic race. The Party as such advocates the standpoint of a positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: The common good before the individual good. (Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz).

This one is... another tough one for me. Jewish Atheists tend to come up high on a lot of people’s “most disliked” list, and I have done little to personally combat this. The only major change needed is a removal of the overt reference to Judaism (this is mirrored in my previous edits as well). I am also adding a clear reference to Islam, judging by the degree of anti-Islamic vitriol present in political discussions today.

24a. We demand freedom of religion for all religious denominations, so long as they do not threaten the United States, or oppose the moral senses of the American people. As such, we advocate for a recognition of positive Christianity, without limit to any one denomination, to defend America against the corrupting spread of Sharia Law.

25. For the execution of all of this we demand the formation of a strong central power in the Reich. Unlimited authority of the central parliament over the whole Reich and its organizations in general. The forming of state and profession chambers for the execution of the laws made by the Reich within the various states of the confederation. The leaders of the Party promise, if necessary by sacrificing their own lives, to support by the execution of the points set forth above without consideration.

Last one. Obviously, there is a lot in here about the inefficiencies of parliamentary system, but discontent over government and a desire for a strong centralized power are easy enough to rephrase:

25a. To ensure the implementation of these demands, we demand a strong central government, staffed by loyal patriots, that obeys the will of the American people.

Conclusion to follow.


  1. It's an interesting experiment you did here, and I wish I could say that I was more surprised at the results. As you say in the conclusion, a lot of the ideas of fascism are widely popular, even if their sum is universally loathed.

    That said, I think you were letting your biases(mostly the "Nazis weren't really socialists" thing) show with a few of them. Most were fairly plain readings of the text, suitably translated, but a few jumped out.

    For example, #13-14, "13. We demand the nationalization of all (previous) associated industries (trusts). 14. We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries.". You translated it as "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.", but IMO that completely misses the (extremely socialist) bent of the original. A more accurate rendition might be something like "We demand that the American people share in the profits of all American firms, and that any firm which tries to evade this responsibility to the American people be subjected to large penalties"(since nationalization is something of a dead idea today). You can play with it a bit, but the core of the idea is quite literally government control of the means of production and/or the profits thereof(depending which point a given firm falls under).

    Likewise, #20 was about free public education as well as being about what the content taught in the education system is, and you excluded that. I'd say that tacking on "We demand that all gifted students be able to attend college without concern for ability to pay tuition or student loans" would be substantially closer to the original.

    1. I had written a much more comprehensive response that disappeared when my browser crashed.

      At any rate, it was intended to be less about bias and more about squaring the circle with regards to the NDSAP's actions while in office. Socialist policies were universally popular, these days they're the sole province of the left. I was trying for ideological consistency, though I may have gone too far on that one.

      20, I will certainly grant you that.

  2. "Nazis weren't socialists" isn't bias, it's history.