Ian Miles Cheong, a journalist for The Daily Caller, angered many leftists this past Wednesday when he said, “Nazis were socialist,” in response to Lauri Love, a college dropout and leftist activist, who had said, “People who even mentally f—ing reach for ‘Nazis were socialist’ will find themselves at the bottom of a f—ing river immediately.” There is obviously a lot of missed nuance between “Nazis were not socialist” and “Nazis were socialist,” but the most interesting thing about this exchange is that the Left’s favorite
high school English teacher historian, Mike Stuchbery, who apparently stalks Cheong, decided to defend socialism against any affiliation with the Left’s favorite boogeyman:
OK, d—head, I did this politely to someone else earlier, but now I’m going to rinse you. Prepare.
The Nazis were fascists. Indisputably. They drew their ideology from Italy’s fascists, who arose in reaction to the Left.
The Italian Right, still mired in 19th century thought, could not tackle the explosion in left-wing organization. Mussolini gives us the first fascist platform – national/racial superiority, rearmament & expansion, and consolidation of capital. The Italian Fascists appropriated, wholesale, Roman imagery, such as the ‘fasces,’ to evoke renewed national pride & a sense of superiority. The Italian Fascists sought to expand & reclaim historically Italian lands (mirroring a large portion of the old Roman Empire). After nicking some socialist economic policies (public works & spending), fascist government formed corporate cartels, enriching the few.
Hitler & his Deutcher Arbeiter Partei mates see this and decide that they need to steal support from actual socialists, so the DAP rebadge themselves as the NSDAP… Socialism still being a relatively new ideology. It’s like adding ‘e-‘ to a product name. Otherwise, they were fascist.
The actual socialists who emerged after Marx wanted three things – 1. Removal of classes. 2. World socialism. 3. Distribution of capital. There was a huge gap between rich & poor in Tsarist Russia. The Bolsheviks sought to eliminate this division (yes, by violent revolt). After they succeeded, the Bolsheviks wanted to take the Revolution worldwide. heard of ‘Comintern’? No race, no nations, only socialism.”
This “hot take” on history is quite interesting, not least because The Independentcovered it as, “Man says Nazis were socialist, gets schooled by history writer,” while Occupy Democratsran with, “A White Supremacist Writer Just Said Nazis Were Socialists And Got Owned By A Historian.” Cheong, an Asian journalist with a legitimate publication, is thus reduced to either “a man” or “a white supremacist” who got “schooled” or “owned” while Stuchbery, who isn’t academically qualified to teach a first year history course at university, is elevated as a “history writer” and “historian.” This raises obvious questions from the leftists’ own point of view. How can an Asian be a “white supremacist”? Is it not racist to denigrate an Asian man while elevating an unqualified white man as an expert? Naturally, these questions are not asked because leftists are the least self-aware people on the planet. They just know that Cheong, likely the only non-white involved in this entire thing, was “schooled” and “owned” by the liberal white man. But what of the substance of what Stuchbery said? Well, as should be expected after his previous claims of a “Black Britain,” his history leaves a lot to be desired to say the least.
First, let’s consider the claim that the Italian Fascists were an inherently right-wing party that believed in racial superiority, rearmament, reclaiming the Roman Empire, &c. For that, we can look to the Il manifesto dei fasci di combattimento, or Fascist Manifesto, of 1919, a document that provided a platform for the Fasci d’Azione Rivoluzionaria, which had been founded in 1914 by Benito Mussolini. This manifesto called for lowering the voting age to 18, allowing women to vote and hold office, abolishing the Senate controlled by the King, instituting an 8-hour workday for workers, creating a minimum wage, supporting labor unions, nationalizing of transportation and arms industries, revising military contracts so as to confiscate 85% of intended profits, formulating a “national policy intended to peacefully further the Italian national culture in the world,” and seizing “all the possessions of the religious congregations and the abolition of all the bishoprics.” Additionally, Fascist Italy did not issue the Il manifesto degli scienziati razzisti, or Manifesto of the Racist Scientists, until the summer of 1938, and the racial policies adopted were to mimic German policies rather than vice versa as claimed by Stuchbery.
Secondly, and following from the first point, we must question Mr. Stuchbery’s understanding of the historical timeline. For example, he claims that the “Deutcher Arbeiter Partei”—presumably, he meant Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—saw what the fascist government was doing and decided to “steal support from actual socialists” by changing their name to Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP). The problem with this is that the DAP was only formed from the Freier Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden, or Free Workers’ Committee for a Good Peace, in 1919, and it became the NSDAP in February 1920, which was nearly two years before Benito Mussolini came to power. How could Hitler have been taking cues from a fascist government that did not exist and would not fit Stuchbery’s description for years after?
Similarly, he claims that socialism was still a “relatively new ideology,” so the Nazis using “socialist” was “like adding ‘e-‘ to a product name” to sound hip. The problem with this claim is that socialism had been first used a century before, appearing in published works of the time, and, in fact, even the Communist Manifesto had appeared in February 1848, more than seven decades before the NSDAP adopted the label. How exactly was socialism a “relatively new ideology” when it had been around for a century in its pure form and more than half a century in its Marxist form? Indeed, both socialism and communism were important topics in Germany with anti-socialist laws being passed in 1878, and the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, or Communist Party of Germany, was founded in 1918 and took part in the failed uprising of January 1919. Socialism was not “relatively new,” and the Nazis were already a “Workers’ Party.”
Thirdly, Mr. Stuchbery seems to be confused about what exactly a “socialist” is since he references Karl Marx, the Bolsheviks of Russia, and Comintern, or Communist International, an organization created by Vladimir Lenin in 1919 to promote global communism until it was dissolved in 1943 and ultimately succeeded by Cominform, or the Communist Information Bureau, from 1947-1956. Indeed, Karl Marx has been called “The Father of Communism,” not socialism, and the Bund der Kommunisten, or Communist League, and the Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei, or Manifesto of the Communist Party, that he founded and wrote, respectively, with Friedrich Engels only saw socialism as a stepping stone. While it is true that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics included the word “socialist” in its title, the Bolsheviks of Russia were communists, not socialists, as were the organizations they created such as Comintern and Cominform. This blurring of the lines between ideologies is what Mr. Stuchbery claims to be against yet it is precisely what he is peddling. One can be a socialist without being a Marxist or communist.
Once we acknowledge the nuance involved in “socialism,” we can look to the “discussion of state socialism and the planned economy” in Germany around the time of World War I wherein “several political economists [such as Johann Plenge and Ernst Troeltsch] had talked about the end of the hitherto individualistic order of economy and society—not without stressing the English (hence un-German) origins of this order,” and the result was the notion of “an anti-liberal, centrally controlled economy” using “self-governing war corporations (co-ordinating distribution of raw materials) as prototypes… of a national communal economy.” In other words, they were formulating a distinctive form of socialism that sought to implement state-control of industries without negating private property, but the objective was still a communal economy that benefited the nation. Ultimately, Plenge, arguably the “intellectual father of National Socialism,” was shunned by the Nazis because they preferred to think their ideas came from war and struggle rather than economists and theorists. Still, however, it is incorrect to say the Nazis were being disingenuous when they named their party or that their national socialism had no basis in socialism.
Finally, let’s be clear. National socialism being a form of socialism does not mean that it is a left-wing ideology because it most assuredly is not. In American politics, it is all too common to see people reducing the political spectrum to “more or less government” with “more” being left-wing and “less” being right-wing, but this is patently absurd. Indeed, the entire notion of left vs. right comes to us from France in 1789 where royalists and clergy sat to the right of the National Assembly while commoners (republicans) sat to the left. In that sense, “less government” would actually be left-wing, but that too misses the important nuance of what an ideology is striving to achieve rather than the specifics of how it attempts to do so. The Nazis were socialists, but they were also right-wing. This is because they promoted a strong national identity, sought to preserve and restore traditions, combated degeneracy, &c. In other words, they were quite illiberal. Contrast that with Marxists, especially the modern variety, who seek, as Mr. Stuchbery put it, “No race, no nations, only socialism.” In other words, they are exceedingly liberal.
Now, it must also be said that Nazis being right-wing (or left-wing) has no bearing on others who happen to be on the same side of the political spectrum. A monarchist is no more a Nazi than a communist is, which is to say not at all. Those who use “Nazi” as some sort of sweeping accusation against anyone who disagrees with them are only demonstrating their own ignorance and inability to understand the nuanced differences between ideological positions, which speaks volumes considering that leftists today call literally everyone to the right of Karl Marx a “Nazi” or “fascist.” Socialism is not inherently left-wing, and capitalism is not inherently right-wing. Both can be fit into ideological systems on either side of the political spectrum, but understanding that perhaps requires one to have a better understanding of history than demonstrated in the quote above.