National socialism (Nationalsozialismus) which also goes by the name Nazism is associated with the leadership and governance of WWII Germany, but has also been applied to political parties after the war including the New British Union
Following the end of WWI, there were major problems within Germany caused by economic and social pressures. Hitler managed to gain support – as people were struggling day to day – by depicting the Jews as being at the root of all society’s problems. (Hence the oft repeated statement on social media – Replace the word Muslim with the word Jew and see if you sound like a Nazi…).
The development of Nazism was propagated by –
1. German Nationalism – The Nazis emphasised the ethnic German identity and German “greatness”. This idea of a superior race was taken during Hitler’s leadership to the extreme by exterminating Jews, Gypsies, and other peoples in the Holocaust.
2. Pan-Germanism – When Hitler came to power, the Treaty of Versailles greatly limited Germany’s power. This included ensuring Germany was distinct from Austria. However, during Hitler’s election campaign he promoted the idea to Austria for the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria to Germany) using the slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer (“One people, one Reich, one leader”).
3. The Völkisch movement – Simply put, this is the populist movement. There was a focus on German community and being “one people” and unified. It also had roots in the idea of German folklore, essentially promoting all that is good within the land when the focus is on the German people.
4. Freikorps – These were people who fought against communism/left wing members of society in the run up to the war. They could be of any nationality and later, during the war, they included people from Britain who fought alongside the Germans.
5. Social Darwinism – Essentially this was the concept of survival of the fittest within society. To keep their bloodlines pure the Nazis kept the pure Ayrian race away from “tainted” Gypsy, Socialist and Jewish blood and also gave rise to the T4 program where there was enforced euthanasia of people with mental of physical health issues .
6. Volksgemeinschaft – Simply put, this included “Blood and Soil” where, for example, the land owner and peasant who works on his land were one and the same and all tied up within the good in Germany.
The German Workers’ Party formed at the beginning of 1919 and was dissolved in February 1920. It was called the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or “DAP” for short. Adolf Hitler was employed as an intelligence agent and was asked to infiltrate the DAP and keep tabs on what was happening during their meetings and who was involved. During these sessions he became attracted to Anton Drexler’s views on Jews, anti-capitalism and anti-Marxism. Hitler was invited to join the DAP after an argument in the beer hall where the meetings were held.
Given his aptitude for public speaking and his ability to drill into propaganda to get people to buy into what he was saying, Hitler eventually became leader of the DAP. However, there were not many members at this time and Hitler needed to expand the organisation if he was to get the power he wanted. To achieve greater publicity he changed the name of the group from Deutsche Arbeiterpartei to Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei, (the German National Socialist Workers’ Party). The NSDAP had a 25 point program to achieve the ends desired by Hitler, clearly documenting their right wing ideas.
The 25-point Program of the NSDAP
1. We demand the unification of all Germans in the Greater Germany on the basis of the people’s right to self-determination.
2. We demand equality of rights for the German people in respect to the other nations; abrogation of the peace treaties of Versailles and St. Germain.
3. We demand land and territory (colonies) for the sustenance of our people, and colonization for our surplus population.
4. Only a member of the race can be a citizen. A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed. Consequently, no Jew can be a member of the race.
5. Whoever has no citizenship is to be able to live in Germany only as a guest, and must be under the authority of legislation for foreigners.
6. The right to determine matters concerning administration and law belongs only to the citizen. Therefore, we demand that every public office, of any sort whatsoever, whether in the Reich, the county or municipality, be filled only by citizens. We combat the corrupting parliamentary economy, office-holding only according to party inclinations without consideration of character or abilities.
7. We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to sustain the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.
8. Any further immigration of non-citizens is to be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans, who have immigrated to Germany since 2 August 1914, be forced immediately to leave the Reich.
9. All citizens must have equal rights and obligations.
10. The first obligation of every citizen must be to productively work mentally or physically. The activity of individuals is not to counteract the interests of the universality, but must have its result within the framework of the whole for the benefit of all. Consequently, we demand:
11. Abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes. Breaking of debt (interest)-slavery.
12. In consideration of the monstrous sacrifice in property and blood that each war demands of the people, personal enrichment through a war must be designated as a crime against the people. Therefore, we demand the total confiscation of all war profits.
13. We demand the nationalisation of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).
14. We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries.
15. We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.
16. We demand the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation, immediate communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low cost to small firms, the utmost consideration of all small firms in contracts with the State, county or municipality.
17. We demand a land reform suitable to our needs, provision of a law for the free expropriation of land for the purposes of public utility, abolition of taxes on land and prevention of all speculation in land.
18. We demand struggle without consideration against those whose activity is injurious to the general interest. Common national criminals, usurers, profiteers and so forth are to be punished with death, without consideration of confession or race.
19. We demand substitution of a German common law in place of the Roman Law serving a materialistic world-order.
20. The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program, to enable every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education and subsequently introduction into leading positions. The plans of instruction of all educational institutions are to conform with the experiences of practical life. The comprehension of the concept of the State must be striven for by the school [Staatsbürgerkunde] as early as the beginning of understanding. We demand the education at the expense of the State of outstanding intellectually gifted children of poor parents without consideration of position or profession.
21. The State is to care for the elevating national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.
22. We demand abolition of the mercenary troops and formation of a national army.
23. We demand legal opposition to known lies and their promulgation through the press. In order to enable the provision of a German press, we demand, that:a. All writers and employees of the newspapers appearing in the German language be members of the race; b. Non-German newspapers be required to have the express permission of the State to be published. They may not be printed in the German language; c. Non-Germans are forbidden by law any financial interest in German publications, or any influence on them, and as punishment for violations the closing of such a publication as well as the immediate expulsion from the Reich of the non-German concerned. Publications which are counter to the general good are to be forbidden. We demand legal prosecution of artistic and literary forms which exert a destructive influence on our national life, and the closure of organizations opposing the above made demands.
24. We demand freedom of religion for all religious denominations within the state so long as they do not endanger its existence or oppose the moral senses of the Germanic race. The Party as such advocates the standpoint of a positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: The common good before the individual good. (Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz).Has also been translated as “The good of the state before the good of the individual.”
25. For the execution of all of this we demand the formation of a strong central power in the Reich. Unlimited authority of the central parliament over the whole Reich and its organizations in general. The forming of state and profession chambers for the execution of the laws made by the Reich within the various states of the confederation. The leaders of the Party promise, if necessary by sacrificing their own lives, to support by the execution of the points set forth above without consideration.
Hitler and the Nazi party, like other fascist movements, had a populist political style which means their propaganda relied on phrases and appeals that had a certain popularity with the disaffected. In Germany Socialism had acquired a lot of popularity within the masses of ordinary people by World War 1. Hitler and his group adopted some of the language of Socialism and popular programmatic points in their drive for power. However, they defined Socialism as state power, and the primacy of the collective-nation. This is not how the traditional Socialist movement defined Socialism. The traditional Socialist movement defined Socialism as democratic social ownership – usually under the control of the workers. By this definition Hitler and the Nazis were not Socialists. It should also be noted that once in power the Nazi party ignored many of the politically left elements of their original program, and in 1934 the Nazi party purged its party of those identifying as left wing.
Even more importantly, Socialism arose as a labour political perspective, grounded in unions and other mass democratic organizations, and rooted in the struggle against employers. Autonomy from employer control was part of this political perspective. All of these things are fundamentally at odds with Hitler and the Nazis. As soon as they took power the Nazis crushed the unions in Germany. Nazism like other forms of fascism arose at a high point of class conflict, and a central point to both Nazism and other forms of fascism was to protect Capitalism by smashing the radical labor movement. And that’s exactly what the Nazis did. So they were fundamentally Anti-Socialist.
Emphasis on National –
The party was all about Nationalism (and its own power), everything else was a means to an end, including the word Socialism in the name.
Socialism as propaganda –
Socialism was a popular phrase at the time, made people feel like the state cared about the people and not just about its own power.
In addition to this, Hitler makes very clear arguments against Socialism in the very first pages of Mein Kampf. In chapter 1 of the first volume he explicitly states that he discovered as a child that Marxism was extremely bad and, promoted by the Jews. In another quote early in the book Hitler clearly states that he did not like Socialism: “If Social Democracy is opposed by a doctrine of greater truth, but equal brutality methods, the latter will conquer, though this may require the bitterest struggle“. Hitler uses the terms “Jew,” “Marxist,” “Social Democracy,” “Communist” and “Socialist” pretty much interchangeably to describe a group of people whom he blames for the weakness and downfall of Germany. He considers them all traitors. Hitler doesn’t bother defining what a Jew is but instead makes it a very broad classification of people, even stating at one point that people can be Jewish merely by being born of parents who had Jewish parents and that a Jew is not necessarily defined by believing in the religion of Judaism.
Hitler also stated that through his supposedly endless research (which he, strangely, never offers any evidence of in Mein Kampf ), he found that the heads of all the Socialist groups, all the trade unions, and all the other leftist networks were headed by Jews. So, essentially, Communists, Socialists, Marxists, etc., in Hitler’s eyes, were all Jews. “Only a knowledge of the Jews provides the key with which to comprehend the inner, and consequently real, aims of Social Democracy“. Hitler pretty much defines the entirety of “leftist” ideology as being a Jewish conspiracy that he and the Nazi party would fight against.
In summary – National Socialism is about as socialist as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is democratic.