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The socialism in National Socialism

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The socialism in National Socialism

Post Neon Knight on Fri 15 Dec - 18:34  Quoting:

Völkisch equality is a concept within Nazism and it was also a legal practice within Nazi Germany and its controlled territories during World War II, which ascribed racial equality of opportunity, equality before the law, and full legal rights to people of German blood or related blood, but deliberately excluded people outside this definition, who were regarded as inferior . . .

The Nazis advocated a welfare state for German citizens (able Germans of Aryan racial descent) as a means to provide social justice and eliminate social barriers between the German people. The Nazis provided equal access to education for talented children of workers and peasants. Hitler claimed that equality of opportunity for all racially sound German males was the meaning of the "socialism" of National Socialism.

The Nazis sought to dismantle what they deemed to be an unnatural hierarchy of the middle class and nobility who had allegedly jealously kept their wealth and titles while failing to justify their hierarchical position through their actions in World War I. Even nationalists among them were deemed by the Nazis to have not upheld an appropriate share of contribution to the war effort. Thus the Nazis claimed that only the primordial brutality and willpower of the lower orders could save Germany, and thus justified equality of opportunity as a means to create new capable leaders for German society, and to build a new, "natural" hierarchy based on merit.  Quoting:

When, in January 1933, Hitler became chancellor, the Nazis quickly began work-creation and infrastructure programmes. They exhorted business to take on workers, and doled out credit. Germany’s economy rebounded and unemployment figures improved dramatically: German unemployment fell from almost 6 million in early 1933 to 2.4 million by the end of 1934; by 1938, Germany essentially enjoyed full employment. By the end of the 1930s, the government was controlling decisions about economic production, investment, wages and prices. Public spending was growing spectacularly.

Nazi Germany remained capitalist. But it had also undertaken state intervention in the economy unprecedented in capitalist societies. The Nazis also supported an extensive welfare state (of course, for ‘ethnically pure’ Germans). It included free higher education, family and child support, pensions, health insurance and an array of publically supported entertainment and vacation options. All spheres of life, economy included, had to be subordinated to the ‘national interest’ (Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz), and the fascist commitment to foster social equality and mobility. Radical meritocratic reforms are not usually thought of as signature Nazi measures, but, as Hitler once noted, the Third Reich has ‘opened the way for every qualified individual – whatever his origins – to reach the top if he is qualified, dynamic, industrious and resolute’.

Largely for these reasons, up till 1939, most Germans’ experience with the Nazi regime was probably positive. The Nazis had seemingly conquered the Depression and restored economic and political stability. As long as they could prove their ethnic ‘purity’ and stayed away from overt shows of disloyalty, Germans typically experienced National Socialism not as a tyranny and terror, but as a regime of social reform and warmth.

There can be no question that violence and racism were essential traits of fascism. But for most Italians, Germans and other European fascists, the appeal was based not on racism, much less ethnic cleansing, but on the fascists’ ability to respond effectively to crises of capitalism when other political actors were not. Fascists insisted that states could and should control capitalism, that the state should and could promote social welfare, and that national communities needed to be cultivated. The fascist solution ultimately was, of course, worse than the problem. In response to the horror of fascism, in part, New Deal Democrats in the United States, and social democratic parties in Europe, also moved to re-negotiate the social contract. They promised citizens that they would control capitalism and provide social welfare policies and undertake other measures to strengthen national solidarity – but without the loss of freedom and democracy that fascism entailed.

The lesson for the present is clear: you can’t beat something with nothing. If other political actors don’t come up with more compelling solutions to the problems of capitalism, the popular appeal of the resurgent Right-wing will continue. And then the analogy with fascism and democratic collapse of the interwar years might prove even more relevant than it is now.


Between the velvet lies, there's a truth that's hard as steel
The vision never dies, life's a never ending wheel
- R.J.Dio
Neon Knight
The Castellan

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