Nazism – Left or Right?

I’ve always had a problem with the way the media, not so much the offending parties themselves, endlessly define extreme nationalist, anti-Semitic groups as “extreme right”. The anniversary of the Holocaust always give rise to this assignation, thrown around willy nilly.

It’s a strange label that routinely goes unchallenged. The implication is clear: the further “right” you go on the political spectrum – a smidgen beyond Enoch Powell perhaps – and you are entering neo-Nazi territory. Doubtless it’s comforting for Lefties to know that only a thin veneer of conscience prevented Mrs Thatcher from introducing the Nuremberg laws or advocating compulsory repatriation – or worse.

Actually, neo-Nazis seldom describe themselves as “far right”. Did Hitler ever describe himself thus? No, he was a self-proclaimed National Socialist. Oswald Mosley had been an MP for both main parties; he then moved sharply to the Left before he became a fascist. In his memoir “My Life” he described clearly how he viewed fascism as a combination of socialism and nationalism. Hardly a right-winger then. Mussolini had also been a socialist at one point, likewise French collaborators Jacques Doriot and Marcel Déat.

Moving to the present, German Holocaust denier Horst Mahler was a Maoist before he became a Hitler-lover. The self-designation of “far right” was never used by Jean-Marie Le Pen, former head of the National Front. He preferred a formula of words popular with such groups: “Ni Droit, ni Gauche, mais pour la France” (Neither Right, nor Left, but pro-France). In Bulgaria, the leader of Ataka, Volen Siderov, whose formation is very pro-Russian, advocates sweeping nationalisation and expelling foreign companies. I doubt he would call himself “extreme right”. We don’t have to look far to see politicians – like in Venezuela – who are perfectly happy to accept the leftist label while ratcheting up the pressure on Jews.

Hatred of Jews, in particular, comes more easily to the Left. This is because Socialists do not see human beings as individuals but rather as players in eternally warring classes, chasing after a cake of fixed size. They do not accept that we all, in Mrs Thatcher’s words, have “the right to be unequal”. They profess to want everyone to be equal. So they secretly despise Jews for their prominence. And here there is a significant overlap with Nazism. You’ll always hear Nazis say that there are too many Jewish members of parliament or too many Jews at the head of media organisations. The true Socialist cannot but agree because he too has an urge to impose quotas and caps before breakfast, lunch and dinner. They dislike the fact that Jews have acquired what they see as a disproportionate influence. The true conservative does not recognise “disproportionate influence” because he sees Jews as occupying certain positions simply because they are talented, not in their capacity as Jews.

This racist phenomenon is often said to be the socialism of fools, although all socialism is a fool’s paradise – as doubtless the voters in Greece will soon discover. It’s natural for the Left to dislike all elites. Its whole instinct is to decapitate, to destroy the conspicuously successful or those who challenge their concept of human beings as equal.

I don’t mean to suggest, of course, that all those on the extreme left are ready to don swastikas. But, in certain cases, this is only because they have not thought through the logical consequences of their argument – or never had the chance to implement their ideas. The political leap between far-left and fascist is actually far easier to make than the one between right-wing conservative and fascist.

It’s therefore a puzzle – as Milton Friedman pointed out – why Jews gravitate to the Left. Perhaps they believe they’re safer in the Left’s embrace. But I doubt they are.

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2 Comments on Nazism – Left or Right?

  1. I believe it was Churchill, during WW2, who began the process of incorrectly labelling Fascists and Nazis as Right Wing, in order to avoid confusion on the part of the public, at a time when the Left Wing Communist USSR was a convenient ally. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to identify a source of support for this claim: Can anyone, please, assist?

  2. This excellent essay deserves a much wider audience, since it succinctly challenges so much of the nonsense one encounters about Left and Right and the place on the spectrum occupied by Nazis.