From across the pond, our friend and fellow Irish diasporan Dan Hannan makes a point I’ve often made as well, and in any case is one well worth making, oh, pretty much on a daily basis, just to keep the historical record straight and keep our friends on the Left in a constant state of agitation:
On 16 June 1941, as Hitler readied his forces for Operation Barbarossa, Josef Goebbels looked forward to the new order that the Nazis would impose on a conquered Russia. There would be no come-back, he wrote, for capitalists nor priests nor Tsars. Rather, in the place of debased, Jewish Bolshevism, the Wehrmacht would deliver “der echte Sozialismus”: real socialism.
Goebbels never doubted that he was a socialist. He understood Nazism to be a better and more plausible form of socialism than that propagated by Lenin. Instead of spreading itself across different nations, it would operate within the unit of the Volk. So total is the cultural victory of the modern Left that the merely to recount this fact is jarring. But few at the time would have found it especially contentious. As George Watson put it in The Lost Literature of Socialism: “It is now clear beyond all reasonable doubt that Hitler and his associates believed they were socialists, and that others, including democratic socialists, thought so too.” The clue is in the name…
Leftist readers may by now be seething. Whenever I touch on this subject, it elicits an almost berserk reaction from people who think of themselves as progressives and see anti-fascism as part of their ideology. Well, chaps, maybe now you know how we conservatives feel when you loosely associate Nazism with “the Right”.
Well, yes. As Dan notes, the Left has been trying to wriggle out from underneath the National Socialist party since the collapse of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. One of the reasons that the U.S.S.R. was taken totally by surprise by Operation Barbarossa (despite advance warning from one of its spies, Richard Sorge) was that Stalin couldn’t believe his fellow Socialist, Hitler, would sneak-attack him. Live and learn.
Next time you hear Leftists use the word fascist as a general insult, gently point out the difference between what they like to imagine the NSDAP stood for and what it actually proclaimed.