Socialist origins of Neo-Nazism

by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

AUGUST 13 1999

Buford Furrow's bloody rampage is over, and now begins the predictable propaganda campaign to score political points. With egregious sleight of hand, the American "right wing" will be demonized. No doubt, the media will get around to blaming talk radio and the Internet.

Notice that some events precipitate wide-ranging discussions on political philosophy, while others do not. After a series of school-yard killings in which the murderers were linked to violent Satanic cults, and even after it was shown that the deranged kids set out to kill students who believe in God, there was no hunt for atheistic "left-wing extremists." That would have been an unseemly attempt to use tragedy to advance a partisan agenda.

But Furrow, a deranged criminal, gives the media an opportunity to do what they love best: attack those who oppose the ever-increasing government control of our lives. Furrow, then, is being called "right wing" because he was associated with Neo-Nazi groups that imagine themselves as successors to Hitler. Their acts of violence are designed to set off a domestic war that would lead to the establishment of a New Order run by them.

But what, in Heaven's name, does any of this have to do with "right-wing" theory? By "right wing," the media can mean one of these killer Nazi thugs, or they can mean someone who believes in private property, free enterprise, and bourgeois social norms. The blurring of the difference -- they are really polar opposites -- is wildly dishonest but obviously purposeful.

Of course, the media are free to define terms however they like, but the fact is that the ideological origins of Nazism are with the left. The term Nazi itself is short for the National Socialist German Workers Party. Nazism was fashioned as a totalitarian nationalist alternative to the totalitarian international socialism of the Lenin model. But national or international, the relevant word is socialist, which should be the first tip-off to Nazism's leftist origins.

It was no accident that the Nazi flag was a red banner; it was taken from the flag of socialism. As Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn showed in his book, "Leftism" (1974 and 1990), Hitler and all his top lieutenants were hard-core socialists who hated everything about the old Europe, including small states, the monarchs, the Church, the landed aristocracy, peace, and the free economy of the 19th century. They imagined themselves running a centralized, protectionist, and statist Germany under the executive-branch "leadership principle." They talked constantly of a proletarian revolution that would destroy the bourgeois class.

Furthermore, as Robert Proctor showed in "Racial Hygiene: Medicine Under the Nazis" (1988), the Nazis were health fanatics who banned cigarette smoking, promoted vegetarianism and organic gardening, engaged in abortion and euthanasia, frowned on all capitalist excess, and even promoted animal rights. They were environmentalists who locked up land from development to promote paganism.

The Nazi government introduced socialized medicine and government-mandated vacations at government spas, imposed handgun control, and expanded unemployment "insurance" and Social Security. The Nazis opposed the traditional calendar and wanted to replace it with one centered on race and nation rather than faith and family.

A new study of Nazi make-work programs of the 1930s by Dan P. Silverman ("Hitler's Economy," 1998) shows that Hitler's government pursued a program of "public investment" even more far reaching than the U.S. New Deal. This government imagined itself as the employer of every citizen, the planner of every production decision, and the redistributor of every accumulated pocket of wealth in society. From the Nazi point of view, full glory came during the war when they took over the economy completely, Soviet-style.

Whatever you want to call a violent movement that idealizes Hitler's socialist Third Reich, "right-wing" doesn't cut it. Consider also the politics of the Neo-Nazi novel that inspires many of these killers. It is called the Turner Diaries. The book got a lot of attention after the bombing of the Oklahoma federal building because it was a favorite of Timothy McVeigh's.

It has been said that the book advocates the killing of federal officials. In fact, that's just the initial hook. Conspirators wipe out all their enemies, which include anyone who opposes their rise to total power. After taking over, they restart the calendar at the year zero, a goal associated with every socialist thinker from Rousseau to Pol Pot.

Also in the book, businessmen are portrayed as a greedy class that puts money before race, and Christians are demonized as stupid and evil. In the U.S. of the future, all free enterprise and free trade are abolished. Instead, we get a central-planning regime that distributes all resources, including food, on an equal basis. The citizens are pliable subjects of the socialist elite who exercise total power. The book ends with nuclear bombs, the invention of the socialist FDR, destroying all of Africa, China, and South America.

The plot, however crude, isn't entirely unfamiliar. It is just a version of the nightmarish dream of every variety of socialism: millennialist imaginings of a new age of history, hatred of businessmen, opposition to established religion, a belief in central planning, a love of central power, and a world government that crushes all opposition to the revolution.

No matter what they call themselves, the people who have similar dreams of total social and economic control today are on the left, not the right. (That there exists a venerable non-socialist tradition on the left is another issue for another day.) The uncomfortable truth is this: the differences between the fevered imaginings of Furrow, and those advanced in the academic socialist literature, do not concern ideological substance, but its particular shading and application.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. is president of the
Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama.

1999, Inc.


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14 Aug 1999