What is “Nazism”?

For an intelligent and well-educated man, Barack Obama says some incredibly stupid things.  Speaking to a college campus on September 7, on the topic of the many failings of the Trump presidency, and in particular his response to the alt-right, white nationalist Charlottesville rally in 2017, Obama denounced Trump for not clearly and unconditionally denouncing the marchers.  The participants, who represented a range of views and political opinions, were uniformly condemned by the mass media as “Nazis.”  At the time, Trump said there were “good people” among the marchers.  Obama disagrees; he said, “We’re sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers.  How hard can that be?  Saying that Nazis are bad?”[1]

Now, it’s unclear if Obama is ignorant, brainwashed, bribed, or coerced into saying such simple-minded and facile things.  The degree of distortion, deception, and propaganda in this short statement is quite amazing—and likely deliberate.  It’s worth taking a moment to dissect this situation, and draw some plausible conclusions.

First, it’s not evident that there was much ‘Nazism’ in Charlottesville at all.  A few Nazi flags were to be seen, and a few random swastikas (from unknown perpetrators possibly engaged in a false flag operation) but they were vastly outnumbered by American flags, Confederate flags, and a range of alt-right and nationalist symbolism.  I don’t recall seeing any stiff-arm salutes, pro-Hitler chants, or anything of the sort.  And yet Obama and the media—left and right—love to call the marchers ‘Nazis’ or ‘neo-Nazis,’ as if this were some magic incantation with the power to ward off evil.  Calling someone a Nazi is evidently an effective all-purpose slur intended to stifle discussion and demonize one’s target.  And in our present politically-correct, media-dominated world, it works—at least, on the unthinking masses.

But any thoughtful person understands that there is much more going on here.  Any thinking person would ask at least two questions:  1) What exactly is a ‘Nazi’? and 2) Why are they ‘bad’?  Let’s start with these elementary issues, because even here there is much to be revealed.

Most people, I hope, know that ‘Nazi’ is a slang shorthand for the National Socialists of Hitler’s Germany (Nationalsozialisten in German, hence the ‘z’).  It was coined by his opponents, along the lines of an earlier term, ‘Sozi,’ that was applied to the Social Democrats (Sozialdemokraten).  Hitler himself apparently never used the term ‘Nazi,’ and others, such as Goebbels, did so only rarely.  They preferred the full German word, or would use the acronym NSDAP (for Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or National Socialist German Workers’ Party).

But beyond this simple terminology, we have the striking fact that no one today—virtually no one—knows what a ‘Nazi’ is.  Are they Jew-haters?  No, that’s an anti-Semite.  A Hitler-lover?  Perhaps, but that’s not a definition, and certainly not a requirement.  A violent right-winger?  Hardly.  A racist?  More likely a ‘racialist,’ but again, that’s no definition. 

Let’s start with the actual phrase, ‘national socialism.’  The first term refers simply to nationalism—that is, a tendency to favor one’s own nation or nationality, as opposed to outsiders, foreigners, or those of other ethnicities or races.  It typically involves national independence, self-reliance, self-determination, and a robust sense of patriotism.  A nationalist is usually concerned to have a military capable of self-defense, an economy and a currency that operates independently of other nations, and places an emphasis on traditional culture and social norms.  A ‘nation,’ in turn, is literally a breed, stock, or ‘race’ of people.  The word derives from the Latin nasci or natus, ‘to be born.’  A nation, then, is a group of people who are genetically related, of common ancestry, and who comprise a unified ethnicity.

The opposite of nationalism would be, of course, ‘internationalism’—that is, globalism.  Internationalists, such as those who predominate in the US today, promote global trade, global treaties and business pacts, currency unification, and active involvement in foreign affairs.  In the old days, they pushed for colonialism.  Today they promote international business practices (such as low-cost labor in poor, third-world countries), and they like to project military power around the world.  Being unconcerned with ethnic unity or homogeneity, they advocate for mass immigration, interracial marriage, and multiculturalism—none of which are historically or biologically natural, and which are proven to be detrimental to the national majority.

What about socialism?  Certainly nothing evil there.  Socialism—loosely defined as a system in which the government owns or controls large sectors of the economy—is widely practiced around the world, often in a kind of partnership with capitalist activities.  Socialism is not ‘a’ system, but rather a spectrum of political and economic positions that can range from relatively unobtrusive to highly active and controlling.  Most European countries today are mildly socialist and are able to produce very high qualities of life.  American capitalists love to bash socialism, primarily because it tends toward higher taxes (especially on the rich) and because it tends to restrict otherwise unrestrained business practices and speculations.  In a nutshell, socialism tends to benefit society as a whole, especially the middle and lower classes, whereas capitalism tends to benefit capital—i.e. the wealthy.

Hitler, then, found virtue in both nationalism and socialism.  He decided that it was necessary, early in his career, to take the small existing German Workers’ Party (DAP) and make it both nationalist and socialist.  This was neither radical nor evil; it was simply common sense, for someone who was concerned about the well-being of his fellow native German speakers.[2]  ‘National socialism’ is thus nothing intrinsically evil or “bad,” despite what the media or government—or Barack Obama—would have us think.

The context for all this, and for the rise of the NSDAP, was Germany’s defeat in World War I in 1918 and the subsequent rise of the Weimar regime that ruled that country.  As a frontline soldier, Hitler knew firsthand the sacrifices that were made in the war.  And he also knew—or came to discover—the dominant role played by Jews in the German Revolution of November 1918, and in the postwar Weimar government.  On his view, Jews were the leading elements in the Revolution that fatally undermined support at home; they were leaders among all the various revolutionary groups that were active at that time; and they benefited the most from the formation of the Weimar government.  (For the extensive Jewish role in WWI, see my two-part essay “The Jewish Hand in the World Wars.”[3])  Thus it was that Hitler’s form of national socialism came to take on an anti-Semitic outlook.

But the movement itself, National Socialism in itself, was in many ways a remarkably progressive and benign system.  It was codified in the famous 25 Points established by Hitler in 1920.  They called for equal rights for German people (Points 2 and 9).  They gave citizens the right to select the laws and governmental structure (6).  They abolish war-profiteering (12).  They called for corporate profit-sharing with employees (14).  They supported retirement pensions, a strong middle class, free higher education, public health, maternity welfare, and religious freedom, including explicit support for “a positive Christianity” (15, 16, 20, 21, 24).  And they explicitly endorsed the principle of “Common good before individual good” (24).  Certainly nothing outlandish or extreme here.

On the other hand, only a relative few—albeit important—points appear threatening or aggressive.  These points assert that the interests of ethnic Germans should be the first priority of the government; they are fundamentally about making Germany into a German ethnostate, just as Israel’s recently passed nationality law is intended to “codify Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people into Israel’s Basic Laws.” Unlike Israel, where the ethnic majority is in a dominant position politically, economically, and culturally, in Germany during this period, a small ethnic minority held vastly disproportionate power, resulting in proposals intended to redress this situation—as, one might reasonably imagine, would also occur in Israel if the Palestinians had vastly disproportionate power in Israel.  The points grant citizenship only to ethnic Germans, explicitly denying it to Jews (4).  They block further immigration, and compel recent immigrants to leave (8).  They seek to prohibit all financial speculation in land (17), though this can hardly be called a negative.  More harshly, the plan calls for the death penalty against “traitors, usurers, and profiteers” (18).  It demands that the German-language press be controlled only by ethnic Germans—but doesn’t restrict press in other languages (23).  And it calls for “a strong central authority in the State” (25), thus being unsympathetic to anything like parliamentarian democracy.

As anti-Semitic as Hitler was, it’s surprising how lightly the Jews get off.  They are banned from citizenship, and therefore from any role in government or the German-language press.  Recent (since August 1914) Jewish immigrants, like all immigrants, must leave.  And the National Socialist view of religious freedom “fights against the Jewish materialist spirit” (24).  But apart from these two references, there is no explicit mention of Jews or other minorities.  There are no threats to imprison or kill Jews.  Longtime Jewish residents can stay in the country.  No confiscation of wealth, with the stated exceptions.  Also, incidentally, no repression of Gypsies or gays.  And certainly nothing that sounds like a looming ‘Holocaust.’

In sum, Hitler’s National Socialism, as described in the 1920 document and as enacted through the 1930s, was essentially the product of German nationalism and progressive socialism, combined with an anti-Semitism that was fundamentally concerned with enacting a program that would limit Jewish influence, particularly in the media, and restore ethnic Germans to a dominant position in the German economy and culture.

In practice, National Socialism was, of course, ‘bad’ for some people.  It was bad for those who would exploit the masses through financial chicanery (disproportionately Jews).  It was bad for those who wanted to accumulate unrestricted wealth.  It was bad for globalists and internationalists.  It was bad for those who were happy to see African Blacks streaming into Europe from former colonies—or Jews streaming into Germany from Eastern Europe.  It was unsupportive of non-Christian religions, but this can hardly be considered a major fault.  But for the vast majority of people, National Socialism was a benevolent, supportive, uplifting, and visionary political ideology.

In the end, National Socialism, or Nazism, was really only bad for one small group of people: the Jews.  Throughout the early part of the twentieth century, Germany never had more than around 1 percent Jews—about 600,000.  And yet they were massively overrepresented in business, commerce, finance, media, academia, and the arts.  Major sectors of German society were dominated by non-Germans, and Hitler was determined to put an end to this.  Hence, upon coming to power in 1933, he proceeded to push the Jews out of these aspects of social life, and encouraged them to emigrate.  We should note that this was not inherent in the National Socialist platform; rather, it was a consequence of the particular implementation that Hitler enacted.  There is nothing intrinsic to National Socialism that compels abuse, torture, or murder of Jews.  But of course, these policies did put an end to Jewish domination of society.  And for many Jews, that was simply intolerable—the greatest of all evils, in fact.

And so it is today.  The specter of Nazism is raised whenever anyone or any movement threatens to disrupt Jewish power or control over society.  The alt-right movement has the temerity to examine and criticize Jewish power, and thus is equated to stereotypical “Nazism,” and thus slandered in the highest degree.  Alt-rightists, White nationalists, Confederates—these people threaten to upset Jewish influence in the media and in the political realm.  Hence the Jews, and their establishment lackeys, do everything possible to attack and condemn such movements.

Despite what we universally hear from media and government, the alt-right movement threatens no one—apart from Jews and those reliant upon them.  Even if they were true Nazis—and very few are—they pose no risk to society at large.  And in fact, the opposite:  By exposing and criticizing Jewish power and influence, they promise to make things vastly better for society.  Disproportionate Jewish influence in government, media, business, and academia inevitably serves to benefit Jewish interests—and not society at large, let alone the world.  Why do we relentlessly push globalism?  Because it serves Jewish financial interests.  Why do we engage in endless wars against Arabs and Muslims, at the cost of trillions of dollars since 2001?  Because they attack and kill the enemies of Israel.  Why do we (apart from President Trump and some members of his administration) support unlimited and unrestricted immigration?  Because a multiracial, multicultural society makes Jews feel more comfortable.

Imagine a society not dominated by Jewish interests.  Imagine a nationalist America that was primarily concerned with the White European peoples who established this country.  Imagine a socialist America in which the media did not continually spout anti-White messages and in which the needs of the true middle class, and the truly underprivileged, were addressed.  Imagine, that is, a national socialist America:  an America more concerned with the problems at home than with running a global empire; an America more concerned about justice and fairness than with crude power politics; an America that regained something of its original idealism; an America not content to allow its culture to be debased by crude Jewish appeals to common human vices.

When Trump calls on us to “make America great again,” it’s not just a slogan.  There is something to it.  America has the potential, the resources, the intelligence, and the initiative to become, again, a truly great nation.  We need only recall what Hitler achieved in Germany with his National Socialism and a derailing of Jewish power:  he took a beleaguered, defeated, bankrupt nation to the height of prestige and power in just six short years, and amidst a global depression.  Had he not over-reached in his military aims, Germany might well have gone on to become a true leading light in the world.  Germany could do it again.  America could do it.  There are lessons here for all peoples of the world.

So, explain it to us again, Mr. Obama, about how, precisely, “the Nazis are bad.”  And this time, tell the truth

Thomas Dalton, PhD, is the author of Debating the Holocaust (2nd ed, 2015) and The Holocaust: An Introduction (2016).  He has also recently published a full, new English translation of Mein Kampf (both volumes), including a dual English-German edition.

[1] A similar situation occurred a year ago, when Stephen Colbert interviewed former Trump communications director Anthony Scaramucci.  Colbert opened the interview with this line:  “I promised you no gotcha questions, but I’m going to lead with one:  Nazis, good or bad?”  Scaramucci gave the politically-correct answer:  “Super-bad.”

[2] Hitler, of course, was a native Austrian, but identified strongly with the Germanic peoples, regardless of which political unit they happened to live in.

[3] On-line at www.inconvenienthistory.com.