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Thread: Is there anything left of The Left?

  1. #121

    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    You don't need to redefine left and right since NSDAP economic policies were in essence same as conventionally recognized socialist regimes of the same period of time. So to claim that NSDAP isn't socialist one would have to deal with proving that neither was Lenin's regime.

  2. #122

    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Fact of the matter is, current "Eurosocialists" are socialists only in name. Even in the issue of immigration, they are the exact opposite from what the International Socialist Congress of Stuttgard decreed in 1907, as they in no way adopted "open borders".
    It is ridiculous to argue in favour of open borders, ie a huge supply of workers AND in favour of the worker at the same time. Supply and demand will simply crush wages and workers' rights.
    Modern "eurosocialism" is just the long reach of the employers in the socialist movement.
    Bring in as many as possible, put pressure on the social state (as they will rely on benefits for quite some time), put pressure on employment (because they will be willing to work for lower wages, and the huge supply of hands for a limited number of jobs will lower wages anyway), until there is a situation of uniform misery. THAT (the right to misery) is the only point that current "socialism" has in common with actual socialism.

  3. #123
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    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heathen Hammer View Post
    You don't need to redefine left and right since NSDAP economic policies were in essence same as conventionally recognized socialist regimes of the same period of time. So to claim that NSDAP isn't socialist one would have to deal with proving that neither was Lenin's regime.
    So you already narrowed down a political philosophy to economic policies and then further narrow it down by qualifying it with 'in essence'. What is this 'essence' you are referring to?

    Quote Originally Posted by ioannis76 View Post
    It is ridiculous to argue in favour of open borders, ie a huge supply of workers AND in favour of the worker at the same time. Supply and demand will simply crush wages and workers' rights.
    Well, the mistake that was made in the EU is the rapid eastward expansion, which resulted in a common market with freedom of movement while at the same time having large differences in wages and living standards between countries. The idea that it will even out eventually (which is in fact happening) is small consolation for those whose wages come under pressure.

    Of course hardly anybody is argueing to have open external borders of the EU. That's just one of those cases where nefarious intent is attributed to what is most readily explained by border cotrol being overwhelmed by unprecedented and unmanageable numbers of migrants. Borders are only ever closed to the extent that they can be guarded.
    Last edited by Muizer; November 14, 2019 at 07:27 PM.
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  4. #124

    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    So you already narrowed down a political philosophy to economic policies and then further narrow it down by qualifying it with 'in essence'. What is this 'essence' you are referring to?
    Socialism is, first and foremost, an economic theory. Essence is the fact that economic policies of Lenin and Hitler were quite similar.

  5. #125
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    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heathen Hammer View Post
    Socialism is, first and foremost, an economic theory. Essence is the fact that economic policies of Lenin and Hitler were quite similar.

    ..... and they are?
    "Lay these words to heart, Lucilius, that you may scorn the pleasure which comes from the applause of the majority. Many men praise you; but have you any reason for being pleased with yourself, if you are a person whom the many can understand?" - Lucius Annaeus Seneca -

  6. #126

    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heathen Hammer View Post
    We are yet to see any source from you...
    He says without a single hint of irony or self-awareness.

    I think you need to understand how debating works. If you're arguing against the orthodox position (in this case you're claiming that Nazis were socialists) then YOU need to support your claim. Asking me to prove you wrong isn't how this works. Imagine if scientists did that...

    Scientist #1: Hooray!! I've discovered the atom!
    Scientist #2: Cool, can I see your evidence?
    Scientist #1: Hell no, it's up to you to prove ME wrong!
    Scientist #2: Wait?? What?

    So please. Go away and find some sources written by actual historians that support your claims. And no, poorly produced YouTube videos, do not count. Until you provide some form of evidence, then we'll just file your claims in the bin.

  7. #127

    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    I've already provided academic sources which outline the NSDAP's association with socialism here and here.

    If you want a more thorough analysis of the Party's economic platform from 1933 onward, I would suggest reading Tooze's "The Wages of Destruction". As a starting point, I would look at Hitler's "Arbeitsschlacht "scheme, which, by any modern standard, constituted a series of socialist programmes designed to channel credit-financed state funding into the economy in order to offset the damage caused by the Great Depression.

    By way of specific policies Hitler promised a four-year programme to rescue the German peasantry from poverty and to overcome the unemployment of German workers. He promised to reform the German state apparatus and to bring order to the ramshackle division of labour between the Reich, states and local authorities. By way of social policy, he offered the promise of an agrarian settlement programme, labour service and a guarantee to maintain health care and pensions. Promoting work and economy in the public services would in turn provide a guarantee against any ‘danger to our currency’. All of this was clearly more or less what Hitler actually intended...

    In April 1933, the Reich Labour Minister, Franz Seldte, a nationalist, had taken up the cause of work creation, urging Hitler to use the May Day parades as the launching pad for the long promised work creation programme. A credit-financed work creation package costed at between 1 billion and 1.6 billion Reichsmarks was to energize the labour markets...

    The package was large. One billion Reichsmarks was a very substantial sum when compared to the Reich’s regular expenditure on goods and services, which during the worst years of the crisis, 1932–3, had fallen to as little as 1.95 billion Reichsmarks. Reinhardt’s funds were directed towards precisely the priorities outlined before 1932 by Strasser and other advocates of work creation. The money was to flow into ex-urban settlements, road works and housing, appealing to a wide spectrum of both social and national interests. Above all the package was to be credit-financed.
    Tooze, Adam. The Wages of Destruction (pp. 37-42).
    Last edited by ep1c_fail; November 15, 2019 at 06:08 AM.

  8. #128

    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    ..... and they are?
    State control over the economy.

  9. #129
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    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heathen Hammer View Post
    State control over the economy.

    For arguments' sake let's assume that's the case. So we have a commonality in the means. A bit of backward reasoning, but ok. Tell me where's the commonality in the ends. Because let's face it, no political ideology can be defined without specifying what it aims to achieve.
    "Lay these words to heart, Lucilius, that you may scorn the pleasure which comes from the applause of the majority. Many men praise you; but have you any reason for being pleased with yourself, if you are a person whom the many can understand?" - Lucius Annaeus Seneca -

  10. #130

    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    For arguments' sake let's assume that's the case. So we have a commonality in the means. A bit of backward reasoning, but ok. Tell me where's the commonality in the ends. Because let's face it, no political ideology can be defined without specifying what it aims to achieve.
    This point has already been answered on multiple occasions throughout the thread. The NSDAP's generalized philosophy of "ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer" was expressed through specific redistributive policies, of which Lebensraum was the centre piece.
    Last edited by ep1c_fail; November 15, 2019 at 09:35 PM.

  11. #131
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    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    It's true that the NSAP adopted some left-wing policies. When a party does that, different interpretations are possible. One possible interpretation is that they used them because they believed in them. After all, their name in full included the word "Socialist". However, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany before the end of Communism), wasn't democratic, nor is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). Calling something socialist or democratic doesn't automatically mean that it is.

    Another possible interpretation is that the Nazis were authoritarian ethnic nationalists who used some left-wing policies because they thought they'd be popular and because they were seen as new and exciting at the time. Their use of films for propaganda reflects their enthusiasm for what was seen as new and exciting in their time.

    Historically, socialism grew, at least in a significant part, in response to the exploitation of workers and the extreme wealth accumulated by factory owners after the Industrial Revolution. Keir Hardie, the founder of the Labour Party in the UK, was a leader of a miner's union who led strikes. Not all of Labour's early leaders were as militant as Hardie. Arthur Henderson, Labour's first Cabinet minister, was a trade unionist who wanted to use strikes only as a last resort. Despite this variation in views, socialism is strongly associated with the rights of workers and the freedom of trade unions:

    [Socialism] began as a response to the dire poverty and inhumane working conditions in industrialized Europe in the early 19th century. One of the first thinkers called a "socialist" was Robert Owen, an idealistic Welsh mill owner who in the 1820s created a number of short-lived "utopian" communities — basically, collectives — in Britain and the American Midwest. But socialism really took off in midcentury, spurred by the writings of German philosopher Karl Marx and the rise of labor unions. "Socialists rejected the argument that the wealthy deserve their wealth because they created it," Brians says, "instead believing that wealth is created by the working class and wrongfully appropriated by the rich.- The Week, The history of socialism
    Historically, trade unions have a strong relationship with the Labour Party in the UK:

    The unions have made many notable contributions to the creation and development of [the Labour Party] through:

    • the creation and establishment of the party in the first place;
    • the cultivation of its ethos of solidarity, loyalty to majority decisions, and a positive class consciousness and identity (at the extreme, those who seemed to stand against this, like Stafford Cripps in the 1930s or Militant on the 1980s, were expelled);
    • the establishment of a membership political levy and funding crucial to its electoral success at local, regional and national levels (a mandate which is largely passive but renewed every 10 years);
    • the organisation and participation by union activists at all levels;
    • the making of party policy: e.g. the welfare state; the national minimum wage, employment rights and a wider range of social and political matters;
    • the provision of stability in moments of crisis for Labour - e.g. 1931 (Bevin - 'This is like the General Strike. I'm prepared to put everything in.'); bringing it back from the brink on many occasions, as in the 1980s;
    • the sustaining of Labour governments, especially in 1945-51, 1974-79, and 1997-2010
    • the provision of a training ground for Labour leaders, MPs, local party leaders, councillors, etc.

    - Professor Andrew Thorpe, The Labour Party and the trade unions, History & Policy
    When the Nazis acquired power, what was their relationship with trade unions and the rights of workers?

    Just months after Hitler was appointed Chancellor, he took the decision to end trade unions in Nazi Germany. On May 2nd, 1933, police units occupied all trade unions headquarters and union officials and leaders were arrested. The funds that belonged to the trade unions – effectively this was workers money – were confiscated. - CN Trueman, Trade Unions and Nazi Germany, The History Learning Site
    People who believe that the Nazis were socialists may argue that the Nazis replaced the trade unions with a union of their own, the German Labour Force. That's true. However, as well as eliminating independent trade unions, they also eliminated the right to strike:

    Hitler offered the working class an improved leisure life in one hand and took away their traditional rights in the other. Strikes – the traditional way for the working class to vent their anger over an issue – were banned. Strikes had been a thorn in the side of Weimar Germany in its final years. In 1928, the equivalent of 20,339,000 days had been lost as a result of strikes. In 1930, 4,029,000 days had been lost. In 1933, it was just 96,000 days and from 1934 to 1939 there were none. New laws had been brought in after the burning down of the Reichstag and one covered ‘un-German activities’ and strikes were classed as un-German. In January 1934, the Law Regulating National Labour (the ‘Charter of Labour’) banned strikes at statute level. - CN Trueman, Trade Unions and Nazi Germany, The History Learning Site
    Some trade union officials were beaten and tortured by the Nazis:

    On 2nd May 1933, stormtroopers violently occupied the offices of Free Trade Unions across Germany. In the city of Duisburg, four official were beaten to death by Nazi thugs in the cellar of the trade union headquarters. Many more union leaders and held in prisons or compensation camps, and were often beaten up or tortured. Although most of them were released after a few weeks or months, they continued to be monitored by the Gestapo (the Nazi secret police) and faced the risk of being rearrested. Additionally, many trade union officials were placed on a blacklist which mean that they could not find work in the factories [...] It is unknown just how many German trade unionists were arrested by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945 but the number was certainly in the thousands, not least because many were members of the SPD which further made them Nazi targets - National Union of Teachers, Persecution of the Trade Unionists
    We've seen that socialists vary in their attitude to strikes - some use them enthusiastically, others reluctantly as a last resort. However, considering the strong historical association between trade unions and socialism, we'd expect socialists to protect the freedom of trade unionists, not to ban trade unions, outlaw the right to strike or to have trade unionists beaten, tortured, monitored by secret police or murdered.

    Earlier, I suggested two possible explanations for the NSDAP to adopt socialist policies - because they believed in them, or because there were authoritarian ethnic nationalists who used them as they thought they'd be popular. There is a third possible explanation - that some early NSDAP members wanted socialist policies, but they were invreasingly marginalised by Hitler's supporters. The Strasser brothers were NSDAP members who were left-wing:

    Over the following years the brothers Otto and Gregor Strasser did much to grow the party by tying Hitler’s racist nationalism to socialist rhetoric that appealed to the suffering lower middle classes. In doing so, the Strassers also succeeded in expanding the Nazi reach beyond its traditional Bavarian base. By the late 1920s, however, with the German economy in free fall, Hitler had enlisted support from wealthy industrialists who sought to pursue avowedly anti-socialist policies. Otto Strasser soon recognized that the Nazis were neither a party of socialists nor a party of workers, and in 1930 he broke away to form the anti-capitalist Schwarze Front (Black Front). Gregor remained the head of the left wing of the Nazi Party, but the lot for the ideological soul of the party had been cast. [...] Lest there be any remaining questions about the political character of the Nazi revolution, Hitler ordered the murder of Gregor Strasser, an act that was carried out on June 30, 1934, during the Night of the Long Knives. Any remaining traces of socialist thought in the Nazi Party had been extinguished. - Michael Ray, Were the Nazis socialists?, Britannica
    It seems that there were people who believed in socialism among the early NSDAP, but they tended to leave (like Otto Strasser) or were killed (like Gregor Strasser). When historians say that we must never forget, it's not the socialist supporters of the early NSDAP they're talking about, but the authoritarian, violent ethnic nationalism of the later period.
    Last edited by Alwyn; November 16, 2019 at 02:52 AM.

  12. #132

    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    It's true that the NSAP adopted some left-wing policies. When a party does that, different interpretations are possible. One possible interpretation is that they used them because they believed in them. After all, their name in full included the word "Socialist". However, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany before the end of Communism), wasn't democratic, nor is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). Calling something socialist or democratic doesn't automatically mean that it is.
    No one is arguing that the inclusion of the word sozialistische in NSDAP necessitated the existence of sozialismus within the party's platform. This is the sort of straw man that tends to crop up in press articles trying to dissociate the NSDAP with democratic expressions of socialism.

    Another possible interpretation is that the Nazis were authoritarian ethnic nationalists who used some left-wing policies because they thought they'd be popular and because they were seen as new and exciting at the time. Their use of films for propaganda reflects their enthusiasm for what was seen as new and exciting in their time.
    There is no reason to suppose that the NSDAP's collectivist policies were "left-wing" or that they were adopted because they were "new and exciting". Most of the evidence points toward Hitler's admiration of Marx (despite his public hostility to the Soviet model) and of his fervent belief in the power of centrally-planned, collectivist solutions. The party's interpretation of class through an ethnonationalist lens did/does not disqualify it's beliefs from being properly placed on the socialist spectrum.

    Historically, socialism grew, at least in a significant part, in response to the exploitation of workers and the extreme wealth accumulated by factory owners after the Industrial Revolution. Keir Hardie, the founder of the Labour Party in the UK, was a leader of a miner's union who led strikes. Not all of Labour's early leaders were as militant as Hardie. Arthur Henderson, Labour's first Cabinet minister, was a trade unionist who wanted to use strikes only as a last resort. Despite this variation in views, socialism is strongly associated with the rights of workers and the freedom of trade unions

    Historically, trade unions have a strong relationship with the Labour Party in the UK:

    When the Nazis acquired power, what was their relationship with trade unions and the rights of workers?

    People who believe that the Nazis were socialists may argue that the Nazis replaced the trade unions with a union of their own, the German Labour Force. That's true. However, as well as eliminating independent trade unions, they also eliminated the right to strike:

    Some trade union officials were beaten and tortured by the Nazis:

    We've seen that socialists vary in their attitude to strikes - some use them enthusiastically, others reluctantly as a last resort. However, considering the strong historical association between trade unions and socialism, we'd expect socialists to protect the freedom of trade unionists, not to ban trade unions, outlaw the right to strike or to have trade unionists beaten, tortured, monitored by secret police or murdered.
    An interest the "freedom of trade unions" only really exists(ed) in socialist traditions which respected democratic principles. The Fabian tradition which formed the basis of the Labour movement and sought to operate within the bounds of English parliamentarianism isn't particularly relevant to a discussion about the NSDAP.

    Earlier, I suggested two possible explanations for the NSDAP to adopt socialist policies - because they believed in them, or because there were authoritarian ethnic nationalists who used them as they thought they'd be popular. There is a third possible explanation - that some early NSDAP members wanted socialist policies, but they were invreasingly marginalised by Hitler's supporters. The Strasser brothers were NSDAP members who were left-wing

    It seems that there were people who believed in socialism among the early NSDAP, but they tended to leave (like Otto Strasser) or were killed (like Gregor Strasser). When historians say that we must never forget, it's not the socialist supporters of the early NSDAP they're talking about, but the authoritarian, violent ethnic nationalism of the later period.


    There is no dichotomy between "authoritarian ethnic nationalism" and socialism. As I stated earlier in the thread, the NSDAP practiced a form of non-inclusive socialism which contrasted with, and competed against, the internationalist Leninist perspective.

  13. #133
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    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    No one is arguing that the inclusion of the word sozialistische in NSDAP necessitated the existence of sozialismus within the party's platform. This is the sort of straw man that tends to crop up in press articles trying to dissociate the NSDAP with democratic expressions of socialism.
    Maybe no-one here is making that argument, but I've seen people use it before.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    There is no reason to suppose that the NSDAP's collectivist policies were "left-wing" or that they were adopted because they were "new and exciting". Most of the evidence points toward Hitler's admiration of Marx (despite his public hostility to the Soviet model) and of his fervent belief in the power of centrally-planned, collectivist solutions. The party's interpretation of class through an ethnonationalist lens did/does not disqualify it's beliefs from being properly placed on the socialist spectrum.
    As I showed, historically socialists have strong links with independent trade unions and support the freedom of trade unions to operate. When they took power, the Nazis banned independent trade unions and had their leaders beaten, tortured and killed. There were socialists in the early NSDAP, the Strasser brothers, but they left or were killed.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    An interest the "freedom of trade unions" only really exists(ed) in socialist traditions which respected democratic principles. The Fabian tradition which formed the basis of the Labour movement and sought to operate within the bounds of English parliamentarianism isn't particularly relevant to a discussion about the NSDAP.
    While every political group has some people with extreme views, mainsteam socialism respect democratic principles. Germany remained a democracy under the leadership of Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schröder of the SDP (a member of the Party of European Socialists), while Britain remained a democracy under the leadership of Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson of the Labour Party. The history of socialism in Britain is relevant to the meaning of socialism, so it's relevant to a discussion of whether the NSDAP were socialist.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    There is no dichotomy between "authoritarian ethnic nationalism" and socialism. As I stated earlier in the thread, the NSDAP practiced a form of non-inclusive socialism which contrasted with, and competed against, the internationalist Leninist perspective.
    Mainstream socialists tend to prefer internationalism rather than nationalism. There are left-leaning parties which are nationalist, such as the Scottish National Party. However, the SNP are a party of civic nationalism, not ethnic nationalism:

    The SNP explicitly promotes civic nationalism, claiming that membership in the Scottish nation is to be defined not by blood but by voluntary attachment to Scotland and participation in its civic life. This has paid off, with high support from ethnic minorities for independence. - Elliott Green, Scottish nationalism stands apart from other secessionist movements for being civic in origin, rather than ethnic, LSE British Politics and Policy
    There are ethnic nationalist parties, such as the British National Party in the UK, the National Rally (previously called the National Front) in France and the Danish People's Party in Denmark. They are usually described as right-wing populists or far-right, not socialists. When marchers in Charlottesville in 2017 chanted the Nazi slogan "Blood and Soil", demonstrating their support for ethnic nationalism, they were part of a rally called "Unite the Right", not "Unite the Socialists".

  14. #134

    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Maybe no-one here is making that argument, but I've seen people use it before.
    Best stick to what people are saying in the thread.

    As I showed, historically democratic socialists have strong links with independent trade unions and support the freedom of trade unions to operate.
    Fixed that for you.

    When they took power, the Nazis banned independent trade unions and had their leaders beaten, tortured and killed. There were socialists in the early NSDAP, the Strasser brothers, but they left or were killed.
    Support for "independent unions" is a qualification only for more permissive or tolerant expressions of socialism. One need only look at the Bolshevik's constriction of the union's "independence" and murder of their rival Mensheviks to recognize that the NDSAP's dissolution of the unions in Germany does not invalidate the claim that it (the NSDAP) can aptly be described as socialist.

    While every political group has some people with extreme views, mainsteam socialism respect democratic principles. Germany remained a democracy under the leadership of Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schröder of the SDP (a member of the Party of European Socialists), while Britain remained a democracy under the leadership of Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson of the Labour Party. The history of socialism in Britain is relevant to the meaning of socialism, so it's relevant to a discussion of whether the NSDAP were socialist.
    The British expression of socialism (which was itself imperialist and racially discriminatory during its formative years) contrasting with that of the NSDAP proves only that socialism, like almost all other political positions, exists on an ideological spectrum. Trying to make the case that the divergence between English socialism and National Socialism indicates the ineligibility of the latter to have existed within a socialist framework is an intellectual dead end. You might just as well be arguing that any form of socialism which does not - or did not - conform to the parliamentary/democratic tradition isn't "real socialism" - and I think I've heard quite enough of that for one life time.

    Mainstream socialists tend to prefer internationalism rather than nationalism. There are left-leaning parties which are nationalist, such as the Scottish National Party. However, the SNP are a party of civic nationalism, not ethnic nationalism
    Mainstream socialists tending toward internationalism isn't proof that socialism cannot or has not be practiced by ethnonationalists or isolationists.

    There are ethnic nationalist parties, such as the British National Party in the UK, the National Rally (previously called the National Front) in France and the Danish People's Party in Denmark. They are usually described as right-wing populists or far-right, not socialists.
    You are making the usual mistake of conflating the so-called political "left" with "socialism" as if the two terms are somehow interchangeable or necessarily closely related. Whilst I tend to steer clear of the left-right dichotomy, I can - and have - made the case that the NSDAP was both socialist and right wing.

    When marchers in Charlottesville in 2017 chanted the Nazi slogan "Blood and Soil", demonstrating their support for ethnic nationalism, they were part of a rally called "Unite the Right", not "Unite the Socialists".
    Neoconfederate white supremacy is not the same as German fascism. The fact that the extreme right in the US has a habit of regurgitating Nazi phraseology and symbology is not relevant to whether the NSDAP were socialist.
    Last edited by ep1c_fail; November 16, 2019 at 06:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    This point has already been answered on multiple occasions throughout the thread. The NSDAP's generalized philosophy of "ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer" was expressed through specific redistributive policies, of which Lebensraum was the centre piece.
    I don't think it's been answered by HH though and I don't think this answer would be his.
    "Lay these words to heart, Lucilius, that you may scorn the pleasure which comes from the applause of the majority. Many men praise you; but have you any reason for being pleased with yourself, if you are a person whom the many can understand?" - Lucius Annaeus Seneca -

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    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    Fixed that for you
    Socialist parties like the SDP in Germany and Labour in Britain are democratic. We don't talk of 'democratic conservativism', even though some far-right governments have been dictatorships, because people understand that mainsteam conservatives are democratic. We shouldn't apply a double standard.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    Support for "independent unions" is a qualification only for more permissive or tolerant expressions of socialism. One need only look at the Bolshevik's constriction of the union's "independence" and murder of their rival Mensheviks to recognize that the NDSAP's dissolution of the unions in Germany does not invalidate the claim that it (the NSDAP) can aptly be described as socialist.
    Extreme-left groups like the Bolsheviks aren't representative of mainsteam socialism, just as the extreme right aren't representative of mainsteam conservatism.

    Socialism was inspired by concern about the exploitation of workers, trade unions oppose the exploitation of workers and socialists defend the freedoms of independent trade unions. The Nazis banned independent trade unions and murdered trade unionists.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    The British expression of socialism (which was itself imperialist and racially discriminatory during its formative years) contrasting with that of the NSDAP's proves only that socialism, like almost all other political positions, exists on an ideological spectrum.
    Yes, there was imperialism and racism among British socialists historically, just as there was imperialism and racism among British politicians generally in history. We agree that socialism varies.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    Trying to make the case that the divergence between English socialism and National Socialism indicates the ineligibility of the latter to have existed within a socialist framework is an intellectual dead end. You might just as well be arguing that any form of socialism which does not - or did not - conform to the parliamentary/democratic tradition isn't "real socialism" - and I think I've heard quite enough of that for one life time.
    I'm not saying that undemocratic left-wing governments don't represent 'real socialism', I'm saying that they're on the extreme left. There have been undemocratic far-left (Communist) and far-right (fascist) governments, this doesn't mean that socialism or conservativism oppose democracy.

    When I've heard arguments about what's 'real', they're usually in relation to Communism - when people made (wholly unconvincing) arguments that the failure of Communism in the Soviet Union meant that they hadn't tried 'real' Communism. It's starting to seem as if your argument is conflating socialism with Communism, although perhaps you don't intend to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    Mainstream socialists tending toward internationalism isn't proof that socialism cannot or has not be practiced by ethnonationalists or isolationists.
    That's not my argument. My argument is that the Nazis were authoritarian ethnic nationalists who persecuted trade unionists (and many others). Socialists support democracy, defend trade unions and oppose ethnic nationalism. It doesn't make sense to describe the Nazis as socialists, even if some on the extreme left are authoritarian - the extremes are not the norm.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    You are making the usual mistake of conflating the so-called political "left" with "socialism" as if the two terms are somehow interchangeable or necessarily closely related. Whilst I tend to steer clear of the left-right dichotomy, I can - and have - made the case that the NSDAP was both socialist and right wing.
    Socialism is 'interchangeable or closely related with the political left', just as conservatism is closely related or interchangeable with the political right.

    You made the case that the NSDAP used some socialist policies. However, if your argument is that any party which uses socialist policies is a socialist party, then the Conservative Party in the UK has been socialist since the introduction of the National Health Service by Clement Attlee's government. This isn't the case: the Conservatives Party is committed to free markets, low regulation and low taxes, like conservatives elsewhere. The NHS remains a public health service, because the Conservatives know that it's popular and they want to win elections. Similarly, university tuition in Germany is free under a centre-right government - this doesn't make moderate conservatives into socialists, it simply means that free university tuition in Germany is popular and the politicians want to win elections.

    If your argument is that neither left nor right are immune from the risk of falling into violent authoritarianism, I agree. There are examples of brutal and undemocratic rule by both the extreme left and the extreme right.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    Neoconfederate white supremacy is not the same as German fascism. The fact that the extreme right in the US has a habit of regurgitating Nazi phraseology and symbology is not relevant to whether the NSDAP were socialist.
    This is a straw man, I didn't say that it was the same.

    I said that ethnic nationalism is a belief held by far-right parties, just as it was a defining feature of Nazism. When someome talks of Nazism today, people are likely to think of a dictatorship which engaged in the mass killing of Jews (and others, including trade unionists). The defining features of Nazism are undemocratic rule and the persecution of Jews and others. While some on the extreme left don't support democracy, mainsteam socialists are democratic (just as mainstream conservatives are democratic, even though some extreme-right governments have been undemocratic). Socialists oppose the exploitation of workers, historically this was done through trade unions - the defence of independent unions is a defining feature of socialism.
    Last edited by Alwyn; November 16, 2019 at 07:13 AM.

  17. #137

    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Socialist parties like the SDP in Germany and Labour in Britain are democratic. We don't talk of 'democratic conservativism', even though some far-right governments have been dictatorships, because people understand that mainsteam conservatives are democratic. We shouldn't apply a double standard.
    Whether or not conservatism implies an alignment with democratic principles is self-evidently contingent on the context in which the term is used. The same is also true of socialism. As this is an historical discussion which concerns a variety of socialist regimes which existed in different eras, it is clearly appropriate to distinguish between its democratic and its authoritarian forms. There is no particular reason for us to assume the superiority of the English socialist experience.

    Extreme-left groups like the Bolsheviks aren't representative of mainsteam socialism, just as the extreme right aren't representative of mainsteam conservatism.
    No one is arguing that the Bolsheviks are representative of "mainstream socialism" as it exists in its contemporary western form.

    Socialism was inspired by concern about the exploitation of workers, trade unions oppose the exploitation of workers and socialists defend the freedoms of independent trade unions. The Nazis banned independent trade unions and murdered trade unionists.
    I've already answered this point. Authoritarian forms of socialism do not "defend the freedoms of independent trade unions". That does not disqualify them from existing on the socialist spectrum.

    Yes, there was imperialism and racism among British socialists historically, just as there was imperialism and racism among British politicians generally in history. We agree that socialism varies.
    If we agree that socialism varies, then we can discard the idea that it must conform to its softer democratic forms. We can also, based on your acknowledgement of historic racism within the British socialist movement, disregard the claim you make below that socialists, as a matter of compulsion, "oppose ethnic nationalism".

    I'm not saying that undemocratic left-wing governments don't represent 'real socialism', I'm saying that they're on the extreme left. There have been undemocratic far-left (Communist) and far-right (fascist) governments, this doesn't mean that socialism or conservativism oppose democracy.

    When I've heard arguments about what's 'real', they're usually in relation to Communism - when people made (wholly unconvincing) arguments that the failure of Communism in the Soviet Union meant that they hadn't tried 'real' Communism. It's starting to seem as if your argument is conflating socialism with Communism, although perhaps you don't intend to do so.
    No one is arguing that socialism "opposes democracy" as a matter of inevitability. The discussion is about whether or not the NSDAP can accurately be described as socialist, not whether socialism sits in inevitable ideological opposition to democracy.

    That's not my argument. My argument is that the Nazis were authoritarian ethnic nationalists who persecuted trade unionists (and many others). Socialists support democracy, defend trade unions and oppose ethnic nationalism. It doesn't make sense to describe the Nazis as socialists, even if some on the extreme left are authoritarian - the extremes are not the norm.
    There is no compulsion for socialists to "support democracy, defend trade unions and oppose ethnic nationalism". The largest practitioners of socialism in human history - namely the USSR, its satellites and the CCP - cannot simply be airbrushed out of history or reality because they don't conform to less authoritarian, parliamentary forms of socialism.

    Socialism is 'interchangeable or closely related with the political left', just as conservatism is closely related or interchangeable with the political right.
    This isn't correct. The left-right dichotomy, crude as it is, concerns equality. It is perfectly possible to have, authoritarian, violent and exclusionary forms of socialism which have no interest in promoting equality for out groups. Again, see the USSR, CPP or North Korea for examples.

    You made the case that the NSDAP used some socialist policies.
    I have made the case that the NSDAP's ideological obsession with centrally planned, collectivist solutions was an expression of revolutionary socialism perceived through the lens of ethnonationalism. If you want to see my reasoning for that, you can read my other posts in this thread.

    However, if your argument is that any party which uses socialist policies is a socialist party, then the Conservative Party in the UK has been socialist since the introduction of the National Health Service by Clement Attlee's government.
    That isn't my argument.

    This isn't the case: the Conservatives Party is committed to free markets, low regulation and low taxes, like conservatives elsewhere. The NHS remains a public health service, because the Conservatives know that it's popular and they want to win elections. Similarly, university tuition in Germany is free under a centre-right government - this doesn't make moderate conservatives into socialists, it simply means that free university tuition in Germany is popular and the politicians want to win elections.
    The more relevant observation to make would be that most of the mainstream European parties which have adopted the socialist label are - in contravention of the Marxist tradition - fundamentally committed to market economics.

    If your argument is that neither left nor right are immune from the risk of falling into violent authoritarianism, I agree. There are examples of brutal and undemocratic rule by both the extreme left and the extreme right.
    That isn't my argument.

    This is a straw man, I didn't say that it was the same.

    I said that ethnic nationalism is a belief held by far-right parties, just as it was a defining feature of Nazism. When someome talks of Nazism today, people are likely to think of a dictatorship which engaged in the mass killing of Jews (and others, including trade unionists). The defining features of Nazism are undemocratic rule and the persecution of Jews and others. While some on the extreme left don't support democracy, mainsteam socialists are democratic (just as mainstream conservatives are democratic, even though some extreme-right governments have been undemocratic). Socialists oppose the exploitation of workers, historically this was done through trade unions - the defence of independent unions is a defining feature of socialism.
    I've already answered this. Socialism has a history outside of its less damaging democratic forms.
    Last edited by ep1c_fail; November 16, 2019 at 09:49 AM.

  18. #138

    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    For arguments' sake let's assume that's the case. So we have a commonality in the means. A bit of backward reasoning, but ok. Tell me where's the commonality in the ends. Because let's face it, no political ideology can be defined without specifying what it aims to achieve.
    Goal of both regimes was world domination, no?

  19. #139
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    Whether or not conservatism implies an alignment with democratic principles is self-evidently contingent on the context in which the term is used. The same is also true of socialism. As this is an historical discussion which concerns a variety of socialist regimes which existed in different eras, it is clearly appropriate to distinguish between its democratic and its authoritarian forms. There is no particular reason for us to assume the superiority of the English socialist experience.
    Both socialist and conservative parties are normally democratic - it's the extremes who aren't. Adding 'democratic' in front of socialism, but not conservativism, implies that socialism isn't ordinarily democratic while conservativism is.

    It's appropriate to distinguish between socialism (as in post-Second World War socialist parties in Germany and the UK), conservativism (as in post-Second World War conservative parties in Germany and the UK), extreme-left authoritarianism (Communist governments) and extreme-right authoritarianism (fascist governments). Both socialism and conservatism exist in democratic and authoritarian forms.

    I didn't claim that British socialist experience is "superior", I said that the history of British socialism is relevant to the meaning of socialism.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    No one is arguing that the Bolsheviks are representative of "mainstream socialism" as it exists in its contemporary western form.
    You referred to the Bolsheviks in relation to your statement that:

    "Support for "independent unions" is a qualification only for more permissive or tolerant expressions of socialism.
    You seemed to be implying that tolerance is the exception for socialism, not the norm - and to imply that the Bolsheviks are representative 'expression of socialism'. Believing in freedom for trade unions, in public health care and affordable housing and travel isn't the same thing as wanting Communist oppression.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    I've already answered this point. Authoritarian forms of socialism do not "defend the freedoms of independent trade unions". That does not disqualify them from existing on the socialist spectrum.
    It's true that Communist governments (authoritarian extreme-left socialism) don't defend those freedoms. The Nazis weren't Communists, they were authoritarian ethnic nationalists who used some socialist policies because they were popular or useful. In power, they demonstrated their opposition to socialism by banning independent trade unions and murdering trade unionists. Socialism - like trade unionism - originated, at least in a significant part, from opposition to the exploitation of workers.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    If we agree that socialism varies, then we can discard the idea that it must conform to its softer democratic forms.
    Socialism and conservativism vary, neither 'must' be democratic and both have extremes.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    We can also, based on your acknowledgement of historic racism within the British socialist movement, disregard the claim you make below that socialists, as a matter of compulsion, "oppose ethnic nationalism".
    Ethnic nationalism is a feature of far-right (or right-populist) political parties, such as fascists in the 20th century and a number of far-right parties today. Socialists may not be 'compelled' to oppose ethnic nationalism, but they do. It was 'Unite the Right', not 'Unite the Socialists', who chanted 'Blood and Soil'.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    No one is arguing that socialism "opposes democracy" as a matter of inevitability - though it does tend toward authoritarianism.
    Socialism doesn't normally 'tend' in that direction. As I said, Germany remained a democracy under the leadership of Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schröder of the SDP (a member of the Party of European Socialists), while Britain remained a democracy under the leadership of Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson of the Labour Party. There are some on the extreme left who are authoritarian, just as there are authoritarians on the extreme right.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    The discussion is about whether or not the NSDAP can accurately be described as socialist, not whether socialism sits in inevitable ideological opposition to democracy.
    We agree on what the discussion is about.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    Socialists do not inevitably "support democracy, defend trade unions and oppose ethnic nationalism".
    Normally they do, except for the extreme left (Communism). Supporting decent pay rises for nurses and firefighters doesn't mean that you oppose democracy. Believing that people should be treated decently in the workplace leads to supporting trade unions, not murdering trade unionists. Socialist parties oppose ethnic nationalism, far-right parties endorse ethnic nationalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    The largest practitioners of socialism in human history - namely the USSR, its satellites and the CCP - cannot simply be airbrushed out of history or reality because they don't conform to softer, parliamentary forms of socialism.
    I'm not trying to 'airbrush' Communist repression out of history, I said that ...

    There are examples of brutal and undemocratic rule by both the extreme left and the extreme right.
    ... and you quoted me saying that, so you know I said it.

    It seems that you're conflating socialism with Communism.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    This isn't correct. The left-right dichotomy, crude as it is, concerns equality. It is perfectly possible to have, authoritarian, violent and exclusionary forms of socialism which have no interest in promoting equality for out groups. Again, see the USSR, CPP or North Korea for examples.
    Yes, there are extreme forms of socialism - we agree that this occurs in Communist countries. I wouldn't list fascist regimes from the 20th century as if they were typical 'examples' of conservative governments, that would be unfair to conservatives. Communist governments don't represent ordinary socialism in the same way that fascist governments don't represent ordinary conservatism.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    I have made the case that the NSDAP's ideological obsession with centrally planned, collectivist solutions was an expression of revolutionary socialism perceived through the lens of ethnonationalism. If you want to see my reasoning for that, you can read my other posts in this thread.
    As I showed, there were socialists in the early NSDAP who left or were murdered. The Nazis then murdered a lot of other socialists (trade unionists and SDP supporters). As I also showed, conservative parties routinely use some socialist policies while remaining conservative. The Nazis used some socialist policies because they thought they'd be popular or useful.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    The more relevant observation to make would be that most of the mainstream European parties which have adopted the socialist label are - in contravention of the Marxist tradition - fundamentally committed to market economics.
    Yes, socialist parties routinely use some conservative politicies (like market economics) while remaining socialist. Socialism isn't the same thing as Communism. This is another example of my point that parties routinely use ideas from their political opponents if they're popular or useful.

    Quote Originally Posted by ep1c_fail View Post
    I've already answered this. Socialism has a history outside of its less damaging democratic forms.
    Yes, the extreme left has a damaging and undemocratic history - and so does the extreme right. This doesn't mean that every repressive regime which adopts some socialist policies can fairly be described as socialist. As you said, socialist parties can use some conservative policies while remaining socialist, just as conservative parties can use some socialist policies while remaining conservative. In the same way, authoritarian ethnic nationalists can use some socialist policies whle remaining authoritarian ethnic nationalists.

  20. #140

    Default Re: Is there anything left of The Left?

    I'm not going to respond to this point by point for three reasons: (1) Most of what you've written is a recitation of your previous post; (2) Your insistence on framing socialism in accordance with your own political beliefs rather than in accordance with its historical reality is impeding your ability to argue coherently; (3) You've become distracted by a contest between conservatism and socialism which isn't of particular relevance to this thread.

    Your premise that democracy and tolerance are implicit elements of socialism - and that by extension the NSDAP ought to be disqualified from any such categorization - is false. This can be plainly indicated by acknowledging that the most significant standard bearers of international socialism throughout history (the USSR and the PRC) were of the revolutionary, authoritarian tradition rather than parliamentary form.The fact that you feel a sense of allegiance the English labour movement (which is neither Marxist nor of any contemporary global importance) is fundamentally irrelevant to this discussion.

    That said, it is fairly straightforward to identify the NSDAP with the aforementioned revolutionary tradition once you understand the party's ideological commitment to centrally planned, collectivist solutions designed to elevate the volk via the overthrow of the international order and the redistribution of wealth and resources to the Reich. As was the case with the Bolsheviks, the essence of class struggle, international insurrection and subservience to the state was integral to National Socialist doctrine: the key divergence was the NSDAP's racialisation of class, so as to create a wholly non-inclusive form of socialism.

    This is precisely why, as I highlighted in an early post, Watson described Hitler as "an unorthodox Marxist who knew his sources and knew how unorthodoxly he handled. He was a dissident socialist. His programme was at once nostalgic and radical. It proposed to accomplish something that Christians had failed to act on and that communists before him had attempted and bungled. "What Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism failed to accomplish", he told Wagener, "we shall be in a position to achieve".

    Last edited by ep1c_fail; November 16, 2019 at 02:49 PM.

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