Some recent bleatings from some of the more ignorant RWNJs have attempted to associate socialism with Nazism1, as have some people who should know better, such as Peter van Onselen. He tweeted some time ago that “Nazism is national socialism which is considered a branch of socialism’. By whom it is considered so, he does not say, but he did admit that he was “not a scholar of Nazi Germany”2. Peter van Onselen’s profound ignorance has been clearly demonstrated in an essay by Fitzpatrick and Moses, to which I would refer the reader3.
The most recent is the bizarre Concetta Fierravanti-Wells who has said:
“Change of [ASIO] language to umbrella terms well received. I hope it will help educate those who ignore their history that national socialism is ‘left wing’ with its antecedents in communism.”
This refers to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) using a blanket term to refer to extremist terrorism, rather than right-wing terrorism because Fierravanti-Wells feared it might offend conservatives4.
The head of the ASIO, Mike Burgess, warned in early 2020 the ‘“extreme right-wing” in Australia, describing small cells meeting to salute Nazi flags, train in combat and spread hate, which came into focus with the Christchurch massacre4,5. In reality, Fierravanti-Wells wasn’t so much concerned with upsetting conservatives, but having the government associated with an organisation (ASIO) pointing the finger at right wing extremists, whose votes the Liberal Party wants to harvest once the honeymoon between those right-wing extremists and One Notion is over.
Socialism is often defined by its contrasts with capitalism. The latter can be defined simply (this is an essay, not a treatise) with five items:
- The bulk of the means of production is privately owned and controlled.
- People legally own their labour power. (Here capitalism differs from slavery and feudalism, under which systems some individuals are entitled to control, whether completely or partially, the labour power of others).
- Markets are the main mechanism allocating inputs and outputs of production and determining how societies’ productive surplus is used, including whether and how it is consumed or invested.
- There is a class division between capitalists and workers, involving specific relations (e.g., whether of bargaining, conflict, or subordination) between those classes, and shaping the labour market, the firm, and the broader political process.
- Production is primarily oriented to capital accumulation (i.e., economic production is primarily oriented to profit rather than to the satisfaction of human needs).6
Socialism, on the other hand is defined by the following, although some are still debated:
- The bulk of the means of production is under social, democratic control.
- People control their labour power, but many do not affirm the kind of absolute, libertarian property rights in labour power that would, for example, prevent taxation or other forms of mandatory contribution to cater for the basic needs of others.
- There is a recent extensive literature on ‘market socialism’, in which it is proposed that a socialist economy can operate within a framework with extensive markets.
- There is no class division.
- Most socialists consider that profit-maximisation is a troubling phenomenon.6
It is also important to note that socialism is not equivalent to, but is in conflict with, statism. While socialism involves expansion of social power—power based on the capacity to mobilize voluntary cooperation and collective action—as distinct from state power—power based on the control of rule-making and rule enforcement over a territory—as well of economic power—power based on the control of material resources. If a state controls the economy but is not in turn democratically controlled by the individuals engaged in economic life, this is some form of statism, not socialism.6
Any analysis of the electoral platforms, internal party dynamics and political actions of the Nazis between 1921 and 1945 makes this clear how wrong this right-wing mantra ‘Nazis are socialists’ is. After his First World War service, Hitler was employed as a police spy. Initially he was told to infiltrate a small group called the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, (DAP; German Workers’ Party), but he was attracted to the group’s nationalistic and anti-Semitic ideology.3,7
Under Hitler, the renamed Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, (NSDAP; National German Socialist Workers’ Party), or Nazi Party, looked to the middle classes and farmers rather than the working class for a political base. Hitler realigned the party to ensure that it was an authoritarian, pro-business party. The “socialism” in the name National Socialism was a strategically chosen misnomer designed to attract working class votes where possible, but they refused to take the bait; the vast majority voted for the Communist or Social Democratic parties.3
For their part, businesses welcomed the Nazis’ promises to suppress socialism. In early 1933, Hitler declared that democracy and business were incompatible and that workers needed to be turned against socialism. He promised bold action to protect businesses and property from communism. Industrialists such as I.G. Farben, Hoesch, Krupp, Siemens, Allianz and other mining and manufacturing companies and groups contributed more than two million Reichsmarks to the Nazi election fund. Business leadership happily jettisoned democracy to rid Germany of socialism and to smash organised labour.3
This cosying up to big business in return for cash and the smashing of organised labour all sound very familiar. Calling socialists Nazis is simply another instance of RWNJs accusing others of the crimes of which they are guilty.
Let’s face it, Fierravanti-Wells, like many of her ilk, has no concept of what socialism is, or its many different forms. They’re stuck on a quaint interpretation of their own making that it’s communism in sheep’s clothing, and use every turn to try and cast anyone who doesn’t agree with their politics as [dangerous] “socialists”. Such trivial and rigid labelling is nothing more than a puerile scare tactic aimed at the ignorant. It has great appeal for mindless right wingers like Ms Hyphen. Meanwhile Scandanavian countries have been very successfully embracing “socialism” (social democracy) for many decades.
It’s little wonder countries which embrace forms of “socialism” are at the top of world-wide happiness indexes : https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurabegleybloom/2020/03/20/ranked-20-happiest-countries-2020/?sh=431f33ad7850
That must give F Hyphen W regular nightmares.
Australia has always embraced socialism in it’s simplest form – we share costs (and some wealth) for the greater good. Without such socialism society would collapse into a dog eat dog race to the bottom. Farmers and victims of disasters would be left to fend for themselves, the sick would have to fund expensive operations and treatments entirely out of their own pockets, people would have to revert to home births to have families, roads and other infrastructure in less populous areas wouldn’t exist, mining companies would have to create their own railways, roads and ports…… Presumably that’s what F-W would prefer?
I get sick of these vacant RWNJs, who have little if any understanding of history and just about all other fields of expertise, opening their gobs as if their ignorance is something of which to be proud. While F-W (an appropriate abbreviation) is just an ignorant religious time-server, van Onselen is apparently employed by a university, and should know better.
van Olselen. Lol. As if academics, PhDs etc are the founts of all wisdom. I love how this commentary takes him apart.
“Van Onselen, who lectures in Political Science at UWA, sent shockwaves through the left-wing historical establishment when he revealed that “Nazism is national socialism which is considered a branch of socialism.” Inspired.
This coup de grace of intellectual gymnastics was met with a tirade of abuse from people incapable of understanding PVO’s universe brain approach to history. Disregarding the fact that the Nazis eradicated Germany’s unions, espoused total inequality of people on the basis of race, and adopted the mantle of national socialism deliberately to lure the working class away from democratic socialist groups, there’s no denying, even for the most thick skulled Twitter user, that National Socialism does sound a lot like socialism.
Van Onselen followed up this initial tweet with a slew of other revelations:
“The Greens are actually considered a branch of IRA, because they share the colour green with Sinn Fein, the left wing Irish republican-party.”
“The Xbox 360, released in 2005, is the three hundred and sixtieth iteration of Microsoft’s successful line of video game consoles.”
“I left Sky News because they didn’t feature as many weather segments as I had envisioned when I joined the station.”
I’m going to have to read that. Van Onselen makes me laugh sometimes, as he is often so wide of the mark as to be comical.
i’ve said it many times in my responses: Australian pollies are pretty ignorant generally, and especially uneducated in political theory. Many European parliamentarians / government ministers are actually graduates of university schools specialising in political history and theory. They understand the complex role of power in human institutions, know the history of political change and thought in Europe as a whole, and have a good grasp of political philosophy and “ideology” as they apply in the modern world – since about the year 1700.
Our politicians receive poor preparation except, maybe, the random history and/or politics course given during their Law or Arts degree….if indeed they even attended a university. The level of discussion in this country about ideological systems and their intimate history is laughably simplistic and intellectually weak. In fact very few political figures, even in ministries here, could participate a proper, informed debate about such important topics. And with that half-baked simplicity of thought inevitably come multiple mistakes of interpretation such as F-W and Van Onselen make concerning Nazism. I’m not surprised by their dumb utterances. After 200 plus years of settlement Australia has yet a long long way to go before its politics reaches any high intellectual status. In fact, I don’t think Oz ever will, to be blunt.
It was Robert Louis Stevenson who said “Politics is perhaps the only professions for which no preparation is thought necessary.” This is clearly the case in the UK and here. However, I must admit I know very little about the political systems of other European countries except that, in some cases, they seem to be run by adults. What I find disturbing about van Onselen is that he actually teaches politics at UWA. It makes you wonder about what his students think they know when the come out of his course. For Australia to reach adulthood, we have a bloody long way to go.
Hitler stuck the word socialist into his party’s name simply to try and garner support from workers. A bit like how the LNP, particularly since Howard, has tried to claim that it is somehow a party that actually cares about workers. Laughable, except that, of course, they are too horrible to be really funny.
My spelling has turned to mush. The word “particularly” seems to have had some sort of problem. Sorry admin.
Join the club. I transpose letters all the bloody time. It gives me the jimmies. I fixed it, by the way.
Just like the Liberal Party is decidedly illiberal. I can feel a rant coming on.
waiting particularily (giggle) breathlessly to see your take on credlins recent ‘revisionist’ rant on EV’s
I haven’t seen that. Do you have a link to it?
wot? you want me to go trolling into murdicks rags? yer a nasty man! 😛
It’s just so I can stick the boot in! Can you remember where it was? Friends of ours have just hired a Tesla 3 for four days and enjoyed driving it.