National Socialism vs. Socialism In One Country

Hitler and Stalin’s respective doctrines, national socialism and socialism in one country, pretty much sound like the same thing. What’s the difference?

No more than a “people’s democratic republic” sounds like a real democratic republic.

Nazism was totalitarianism in its ugliest, most violent, racist form. Socialism is just public ownership of industry and finance. Public schools and public roads are “socialist” measures. The Nazis did not nationalize German industry (until late in the war, as a desperation measure, if I recall correctly; I could stand to be corrected on this.)

Nationalist socialism was never really socialism. The party was originally supported by some businessmen who were worried about poor people rising up against the wealthy. So they funded the National Socialist Party because it blamed the communists and the Jews rather than the wealthy. Hitler came along, joined the party, and eventually took it over. He purged all the socialists in the party on the Night of the Long Knives in 1934.

This site gives a nifty test to see where you stand politically. In its FAQ it offers this explanation of the differences between the Nazis & the commies:

One of the early things Hitler did was outlaw all labor unions. Hardly the act of a true socialist.

I’m guessing most of the people who claim the Nazis were left wing would have no problem with also claiming the GDR was Democratic.

The Nazi Party only had “Socialist” in the name because at the time they were formed the only way you could get any popular support was by claiming to be Socialist. The Nazis were never socialists in practise and their first and biggest enemies were the Communists and Social Democrats, ie the far and centre left.

The Nazis were fascists. Fascists love guns and uniforms and nationalism. That’s the right wing, not the left.

Now, Communism as it played out in the Soviet Union was also totalitarianism, in the same way that German Nazism was totalitarian. There is left wing totalitarianism, and there is right wing totalitarianism, and they’re both evil. But the evil is totalitarianism, which is not the same thing as socialism at all.

Yes. Yes they would. I myself went through a left-right dualist period (“All left is bad, Democrats are Reds.”) in high school, and I have met people who think “democratic” means “communist” means “evil.”

German Democratic Republic…Union of Soviet Socialist Republics…Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…Islamic Republic of Iran…the Republican Party…what’s the common element?

(Well, fundamentally speaking, nothing at all, of course. “Republic” is a word with even more meanings than “democracy” or “socialism”.)

Nope. It applies to both Left and Right. Or are you forgetting all those May Day parades in Red Square, and in China?

Yeah, it’s a totalitarian thing rather than a left/right thing.

Technically, “Socialism in one country” was Stalin’s phrase, created to differentiate him from Trotsky, who advocated "permanent “revolution.”. Trotsky was following Marxist beliefs that all capitalist governments must topple and the Bolsheviks needes to export their revolution worldwide. Stalin realized that Russia was tired of war and revolution and coined the phrase to say that they would concentrate on getting the Soviet Union on its feet. Through his maneuvering, he used this to marginalize Trotsky and eventually force him into exile.

It had no connection with the Nazis and was a reaction to Soviet experience in the 20s, not German experience in the 30s.

…which was my point, though it looks like I failed to get it across. Subtlety + internet = fail.

Yes, guns and uniforms and nationalism are beloved by totalitarians of all persuasions. The reason I mentioned those three things in particular was because they’re also particularly beloved by right-wing Americans who seem to believe that they’re the opposite of totalitarians.

I am suspicious of the authority of a site that cites the “Business Plot” as established fact. It is nothing of the sort, and if anything is not credible.

Anyways, the difference between Nazism and Stalinism is like the difference between a brontosaurus and a rockslide; they are completely different things, but both would squish you if you were standing in the wrong place.

Nazism is not really clearly placed on the one-dimensional political spectrum from right to left that people love to use today; it is quite a different thing. To say it is right wing is to ignore the mays ways in which Nazis hated things we today associate wit hthe ring wing; they were virulently anti-religious, for example, and wanted to wildly transform society, which isn’t conservative at all. To suggest they were left win is to ignore the many ways in which they hated things we associate with the left (such as, rather obviously, the concept of equality.) The Nazis were not on that spectrum. They were Nazis; they were outside our political worldview entirely, which is why they came into conflict with, essentially, the rest of the world, and why they had to be destroyed.

I think you’re massively misperceiving things. As far as I can tell, right-wing Americans are nationalistic because they love a country founded on the principles of liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness. As far as I can tell, right-wing Americans love guns in private hands because they’re seen as a bulwark against tyranny. As far as I can tell, right-wing people don’t love uniforms but respect the people who wear the uniforms.

I think we’re veering out of GQ territory here. Suffice to say that I don’t see much real difference between the mythologies.

National Socialism is seriously nationalist, unlike the internationalist socialism that we are familiar with. While Stalin wanted to consolidate power in the USSR, there was nothing ideologically inconsistent with his beliefs about fomenting revolution in other nations. The German nationalism of the Nazis and their forebears, on the other hand, precludes concern with other nations: they are not worthy to take part because they are not German. Fascism and Nazism are very similar, as they both have that “our people working together to oppose our enemies” ethic, but the Italian Fascists were far more conservative and capitalistic than the Nazis, who – contrary to what some people argue – were socialists. The ideological antecedents of the Nazis were anti-monarchist volksreichists (but NOT egalitarians), and after WWI (with no monarch to oppose) these sentiments were alloyed with German exceptionalism, along with strengthened anti-capitalism (which the Nazis identified with antisemitism) and workers’ rights. It is this element of the Nazi party – its militant rank-and-file – that Hitler destroyed after he came to power. While the young Hitler flirted with communism, as a head of state he was firmly opposed to redistribution of wealth (except from Jews to Germans), restrictions on capitalism, and other leftist ideas that might have cost him the cooperation of Germany’s industrialists. Indeed, it might be said that Hitler co-opted the party more than he led it. He was not a socialist, but the Nazis definitely were.

To me, the distinguishing characteristics of Fascism are:

  1. A cult-like leadership: You’ve got to have a Supreme Leader who’s considered to rise above the crowd: Hitler, Mussolini, Franco. This can also be found in left wing systems as shown by the examples of Stalin, Mao, Castro, or the Kims.
  2. Totalitarianism: Everything and everyone belongs to the state, serves the state, and is controlled by the state. Again, this is also a feature in left-wing systems.
  3. Militarism: A glorification of the military and war.
  4. Ethnic supremacy: You have an ethnic group that is defined as a Master Race which is inherently better than other ethnic groups. Other ethnic groups are often seen as enemies trying to hurt the Master Race. This is perhaps the key difference between Fascism and its left-wing equivalents.

I’ve never thought of it in the way that the Nazis were socialist, but Hitler wasn’t. Most people either say that both Hitler and the Nazis were socialist, or that they both weren’t. Seems completely reasonable to me.

On the fourth point, wouldn’t the glorification of the proletariat class (in traditional Marxism and Communism) be a “Master Class,” that is inherently more noble, worthy than any other social class, with other class groups seen as enemies trying to hurt this class? Obviously, a class and an ethnic group are categorized according to different criteria, but they are still similar in that it defines these rigid categories, with the inferior class or race being considered the enemy, and potentially subject to liquidation.

Aren’t there more similarities between “class warfare” and “race warfare” than there differences? I tend to think that the concept of struggle between various classes and groups is more significant than the point of who these groups that are struggling are (i.e. either class-based or race-based).