On the 26th of February the Telegraph published an article by the columnist Tim Stanley. The piece is called 'Hitler wasn't a socialist. Stop saying he was'.
Tim Stanley certainly isn't one of the better Telegraph journalists; though he may be one of the youngest. Quite simply, Stanley appears to have only consulted analyses of both socialism and Hitler which were written by Marxists. Whether or not all these historians and theorists are self-described "Marxists" is more or less irrelevant; as is the question as to whether or not Stanley knew that they were Marxist analyses. (Tim Stanley calls himself a “libertarian” in the article.)
Many British people have been bred on various Marxist historical and theoretical analyses of “Hitler and the rise of the Nazis”. Indeed some of the UK's best-known historians and theorists were Marxists (e.g., Eric Hobsbawm , E. P. Thompson, Christopher Hill, Perry Anderson, Edward Arthur Thompson and Ralph Miliband). No doubt these Marxists, and other writers who aren't Marxists across the board, have provided Tim Stanley with some of the “source material” for his article. (Incidentally, even the well-known British non-Marxist historian A.J.P Taylor downplayed Hitler's socialism and up-played his “opportunism”.)
Is Tim Stanley a Marxist? No.
Some of Tim Stanley's arguments - if that's the right word - are no less than childish. Take this one:
"Tony Blair once said he was a socialist [like Hitler], too. So labels can be misleading."
Tim Stanley, some claim, "once said" he was a conservative. Despite that, he offers us a Marxist analysis - quite literally! - of Hitler and the Nazis. However, when I say that Tim Stanley - or anyone else for that matter – offers us a Marxist analysis of X or Y, I'm not thereby saying that he's an outright Marxist – full stop. Marxists analyses of all sorts of things are in the air and have been for a long time. This simply means that many people aren't even aware that they are offering us a Marxist analysis of X or Y.
Take the very popular Marxist analyses of Islam which are prevalent at the moment. All of which seem to completely disregard Islam's religious nature and the autonomy or free will of Muslims. Islam, according to such analyses, is simply - or basically - the “super-structural” expression of “poverty”, “alienation”, “foreign interventions”, “austerity” or even of the high price of bread. That is, according to Marx and contemporary Marxists, Islam is simply “the sigh of the oppressed creature”. Marxists are therefore denying Islam - or the minds of millions of Muslims - the right or ability to run free of “socioeconomic material conditions”. In other words, this is classic Marxist materialism as applied to Islam and one billion Muslims.
Tim Stanley, as well as Marxists, also assume that this very same lack of independence from socioeconomic material conditions - or from capitalism - was the case when it came to Hitler and National Socialism.
And since we are on the theme of Islam: Tim Stanley himself fully supports (again, just like contemporary Marxists) the totalitarian religion that is Islam and has done so many times. Perhaps that support, then, is also a result of Tim Stanley, as well as Marxists, seeing contemporary Islam as a mere “epiphenomenon of socioeconomic material conditions”.
Hitler and the Capitalists
Many Marxists are one-tune merchants when it comes to Hitler and the Nazis. That single tune is that Nazism was all about capitalism. And, of course, blaming the entire ideology of Nazism on capitalism (as well as all the actions and beliefs of Hitler) is a bit like blaming everything on the Jews.
Only a person intoxicated by Marxist theory would have the single-mindedness and simple-mindedness to see the entirety of Nazism to have been about "the last gasp of capitalism". So the fact that Tim Stanley appears to buy this - as a writer for the Telegraph - is truly odd.
The Marxist Nazism-capitalism angle is two-fold:
- Firstly, Nazism arose because of capitalism and its failures.
- Secondly, Hitler also gained power because of capitalism (or at least because of capitalists).
Marxists like simple explanations because they are politically simple-minded. However, that simple-mindedness doesn't arise because Marxists are thick or stupid. The simplicity of Marxist theories or explanations are necessary for the revolutionary project. If Marxists didn't offer simplistic and reductionist explanations of the Nazis (as well as of everything else), then the working class, or so Marxists think, wouldn't be fired up to carry out a revolution.
In the case of Tim Stanley himself, what's his basic point? It really is very simple: some of the people who supported the Nazis were capitalists. I agree. Nonetheless, most of his supporters weren't. It is of course then added, by the Marxist and Tim Stanley, that this capitalist support was what “really mattered” to Hitler because capitalists supplied money, power and influence. Nonetheless, capitalists have also supported various communist and Trotskyist parties. And today capitalists, of various kinds (including George Soros), have funded and supported various communist/Trotskyist parties, George Monbiot (the Green-socialist toff and snob), environmentalist parties and groups, the American Democratic Party and the British Labour Party.
It's also the case that some capitalists - and who can blame them - support the political party (as with the Nazis) which they think will gain power. Or, alternatively, they support the winners after they have gained power.
In addition, it could equally be said that Hitler required working class and (nationalist) socialist support just as much as he required capitalist support. For a start, he needed the numbers (votes), manpower, etc., they supplied. In addition, the idea that millions of German workers suffered from a collective 'false consciousness' about Hitler and the Nazis is something that only a patronising Marxist would believe.
Hitler, ultimately, might have no more needed the help of capitalists to impose his will than fellow totalitarians - such as Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, etc. - did.
Tim Stanley makes more of his capitalist-Hitler scenario when he tells us that "Hitler defined his politics so absolutely as a war on Bolshevism”. And because of that war, Hitler “won the support of the middle-classes, industrialists and many foreign conservatives”.
For a start, Hitler didn't win the support of all the middle-classes because many were communists, socialists, liberals, old-style conservatives, etc. He wouldn't have won the support of all the “industrialists” either because many of them would also have been old-style conservatives or liberals. And the idea that all “foreign conservatives” supported Hitler is outrageous and obviously false. (Tim Stanley doesn't use the word “all”; though this is what he implies.)
In addition, if Hitler had won the support of naturists or green environmentalists (which, in the latter case, he did); that wouldn't have shown us that Hitler's Nazism was all about naturism or all about green environmentalism. Neither would such support show us that Hitler wasn't a socialist or that he was a "friend of capitalism". Yes, Hitler, at certain points, needed capitalist support – though that support has been grossly exaggerated - for strategic political reasons; not because he was a lover of capitalism. He most certainly wasn't; as numerous of his own quotes show!
Surely only a Marxist would totally disregard Hitler's thirteen or so years of explicit socialism (from 1919 to 1933) followed by the following years of slightly less explicit socialism.
For a start, no one has ever claimed that Hitler's socialism was identical to Marx's (revolutionary) socialism. Then again, Lenin's or Trotsky's socialism wasn't identical to Marx's socialism either; just as, today, the socialism of the UK's Socialist Workers Party is not identical to that of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).
Despite that, Tim Stanley's non-argument appears to be that because Hitler's socialism wasn't identical to Marx's socialism, then it couldn't have been socialism at all. He says:
"Yet, by this very definition, Hitler wasn't a socialist. Marxism is defined by class war, and socialism is accomplished with the total victory of the Proletariat over the ruling classes."
Here Stanley succinctly and mindlessly fuses Marxism with socialism. This is a thoroughly Marxist analysis because it ignores all the other alternative non-revolutionary - and even alternative revolutionary - socialisms which existed both before and after Marx. In fact millions of socialists, for over 150 years, have been at pains to distance themselves from Marx's own (revolutionary) socialism. Yet Tim Stanley seems to be completely oblivious to all this.
Tim Stanley also simply assumes, as do all contemporary Leftists, that socialists cannot “by this very definition” also be nationalists and racists.
Tim Stanley also displays his political inanity and naivety when he attempts to prove Hitler's anti-socialism by telling us that “within weeks of becoming Chancellor of Germany when he started arresting socialists and communists”. Stanley concludes, like a drunk logician, that "Hitler wasn't a socialist”.
The fact that Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Chairman Mao, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, etc. also arrested, killed and committed acts of violence against the wrong kinds of socialist seems to have escaped Tim Stanley's little - though confident - mind. In fact, in the struggle for power that is politics, even if Hitler had an exact replica or counterpart he would have still fought against him. Think here about the bitter and often violent battles between rival Trotskyist groups. Or think of the mindless and theatrical disputes between the Labour Party and the Conservative Party on rival positions which are barely distinguishable from one another.
Rival gangs can be almost identical and yet still fight each other. This means that Hitler arrested socialists because they were rivals, not necessarily because they were socialists. He also arrested them because they were international socialists rather than national socialists.
Finally, the Bolsheviks mentioned by Tim Stanley offered a rival brand of socialism - international socialism. It was a bad kind of socialism to Hitler because it wasn't national (or racial) socialism. In other words, it wasn't bad because it was socialism. It was bad because it was international socialism.
Marxists, and by osmosis many non-Marxists (such as Tim Stanley himself), have - for the last 70 years or so - effectively erased the socialism from National Socialism. (Evidently they have kept the nationalism and the racism.) And it has all been an utter con. Nonetheless, it is a fully understandable con - from a Leftist perspective - in that Hitler's socialism ties him to all the contemporary communist/Trotskyist or “progressive” socialists. In other words, it's crystal clear that Hitler’s fellow totalitarian (international) socialists don't like this dirty family secret being made known to the wider public. This is strange really because literally every day International Socialists in the US and UK betray their totalitarian instincts (such as attempting to ban demos and end free speech) and thus their many family resemblances to Adolf Hitler's National Socialism.
1) Meet Reco2.
This guy commented on my article. I presume he has a Google Alert which has the words "capitalism", "Nazis", "Hitler", etc. in it. He suddenly appears on websites when the Nazis and capitalism are discussed. In fact I've just checked his Disqus account and only two hours ago he was debating the same subject, this time in the Telegraph.
I had Reco2 partly in mind when I wrote the following in the article above:
"Many Marxists are one-tune merchants when it comes to Hitler and the Nazis. That single tune is that Nazism was all about capitalism. And, of course, blaming the entire ideology of Nazism on capitalism (as well as all the actions and beliefs of Hitler) is a bit like blaming everything on the Jews."
It seems that Reco2's Marxist monomania hasn't lessened since he commented on Tim Stanley's original article a couple of weeks ago. I find it odd that a Marxist should be such a fan of Tim Stanley.
This is part of what Reco2 said:
“Tim Stanley was 100% right. Hitler allied himself with capitalists, German Junkers and conservatives against Socialists, trade unionists and communists. German capitalists also participated in the holocaust. Tim Stanley is an anti communist and a massive critic of Obama.”
I wonder if Reco2 ever actually reads any articles which advance positions he disagrees with. From his very many cut-and-pastes, it seems not. He says exactly the same things no matter what the articles actually say. In fact, in response to my article, he was saying, almost word for word, what I first read him saying around two years ago. He should try to respond to the articles and what they say for a change.
Reco2 sounds like both a Marxist automaton and a Marxist monomaniac.
Besides which, if he had read the article, he would have noted that I said that "Tim Stanley is not a Marxist". Sorry about that, Reco2.
2) “Despite the fact that both Nazism/fascism and communism/Marxism had apparent similarities...They are [also] different"
I wouldn't disagree with that for one moment - and that was partly the point of the article.
There are different kinds of socialism and fascism too. (Fascist Spain was different to Fascist Italy - and both were very different to Nazi Germany.) Many in the UK stress the fact that nowadays the Conservative Party and Labour Party are indistinguishable on a whole host of issues and policies. But even then they are still different in certain respects.
The point is, you can stress differences or you can stress similarities. My position is that the differences between the Nazis and socialists have been overstressed, whereas the many similarities have been more or less ignored - especially here in the UK. (In the US, on the other hand, the similarities are well noted.)
3) "It's also the case that some capitalists - and who can blame them -- support the political party (as with the Nazis) which they think will gain power."
That's fair enough. Nonetheless, I wasn't specifically referring to 1933 Germany. In respect of the article, millions of non-capitalists also supported the Nazis - many of them (national) socialists. Do people (especially Leftists) have the same attitude towards all the non-capitalist supporters of Hitler, of whom there were literally tens of millions?
More than that, the Nazis were appeased by many of non-capitalists after 1933 - as Churchill, in the early- to mid-1930s, was keen to point out. In fact many Western International Socialists also appeased Hitler. Many other Western Communists also upheld the "first brown then red" position in which they explicitly stated that, in order for Communism/socialism to succeed, firstly the Nazis would need to take power. And only then would the "workers" realise how bad things were and bring about a suitable revolutionary situation. As with all Marxist futurology/prophesy, it was a fantastically naive and stupid position.
If people aren't singling out "capitalists" for extra-special attention when it came to the rise of Hitler, then I have no problem with what they say.
4) "If you mean someone who believes in the free market, then I would expect that person to oppose Nazism the same as he or she would oppose any other form of totalitarianism."
I agree with that. But then people will have a problem with other Marxist/Leftist critiques - if they bother anyone, that is.
When there is any connection between capitalism and the state, we hear about "crony capitalism" or the "necessary links between capitalism and Nazism". On the other hand, if you stress the "Free" in "Free Market", they then call you a "Market fundamentalist" or a "laissez-faire ideologue". Or, possibly, an "immoral and greedy libertarian". In other words, the Left is against capitalism whatever form it takes.