Friday Ephemera
The Feel of Rubber

But Left Equals Virtue...

A few days ago, my piece on the political vanities of Professor Jere Surber was linked from a message board where Karl Marx quotations are displayed triumphantly and the following question still hangs in the air:

And what’s with this historical revisionism that keeps creeping up that puts Hitler on the left?

Readers may find it odd that there are people who resent Hitler’s Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – National Socialist German Workers’ Party – being regarded as in any way leftwing. Albeit not quite as leftwing as Stalin’s communism, with its more... international flavour. If Hitler wasn’t a socialist, or a type of socialist, it’s odd that he should give his party an overtly socialist name and outline his economic programme in overtly socialist terms: “We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system... and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions.” [Adolf Hitler, speech, May 1, 1927.] It’s odd too that Hitler should subsequently inform the “bourgeois” newspaper editor Richard Breiting that the Nazi economic programme “demands the nationalisation of all public companies, in other words socialisation, or what is known here as socialism.” Perhaps there are those who imagine the word “left” is, and always must be, universal shorthand for “good hearts, decent people and unassailable virtue.” If contributors to the aforementioned message board are visiting today, they may find what follows a tad bothersome. Here’s Stephen Hicks noting some interesting thematic links:

Baader-Meinhof was a far left terrorist group, and one of the most violent, killing dozens and maiming more during the 1970s. Its “official” name was Rote Armee Fraktion (“Red Army Faction”). The logo shows a nice big socialist red star with a Heckler Koch submachine gun. The group’s two most prominent members were Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof. Here is one of Meinhof’s explanations: “Auschwitz meant that six million Jews were killed, and thrown on the waste-heap of Europe, for what they were: money Jews. Finance capital and the banks, the hard core of the system of imperialism and capitalism, had turned the hatred of men against money and exploitation, and against the Jews… Anti-Semitism is really a hatred of capitalism.” [Source.]

Which is of course right out of Karl Marx: “What is the profane basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly cult of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly god? Money. Very well: then in emancipating itself from huckstering and money, and thus from real and practical Judaism, our age would emancipate itself. [...] As soon as society succeeds in abolishing the empirical essence of Judaism - huckstering and its conditions - the Jew becomes impossible… The social emancipation of the Jew is the emancipation of society from Judaism.” [Source: On the Jewish Question (1843), in The Marx-Engels Reader, pp. 48, 52.]

Which is what Hitler agreed with: “Today I will once more be a prophet. If the international Jewish financiers, inside and outside Europe, succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevisation of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!” [Source: Hitler, speaking in the Reichstag on January 30, 1939.] As did Goebbels, in speaking of “the money pigs of capitalist democracy”: “Money has made slaves of us.” “Money is the curse of mankind. It smothers the seed of everything great and good. Every penny is sticky with sweat and blood.” [Sources: Goebbels, 1929, quoted in Orlow 1969, p. 87 and Goebbels 1929, quoted in Mosse ed., 1966, p. 107.]

Bonus question: Who said this?

“The worker in a capitalist state - and that is his deepest misfortune - is no longer a living human being, a creator, a maker. He has become a machine. A number, a cog in the machine without sense or understanding. He is alienated from what he produces.”

Answer: Joseph Goebbels, in his 1932 Those Damned Nazis pamphlet.

I talk with Stephen Hicks here. Should any visiting Marxists resent parting with money for Dr Hicks’ book Explaining Postmodernism, it can read here, for free.