Socialism, Nazism, and Environmentalism

The National Socialist German Workers’ Party was founded in 1919 and abolished in 1945. It came into full power under Adolph Hitler in 1933, and proceeded at that time to slaughter a spectacular number of people in a relatively short span of years.

Socialists today are of course universally agreed that Nazism was many things, but socialistic was not one of them.

Indeed, socialists are most emphatic that you understand this point — and for a very good reason: Nazism exposes socialism for what it actually is: a horrific philosophy in which humans are slaves to a ruling elite.

In fact Nazism was pure socialism.

As we’ve pointed out many times before — and can never point out enough — socialism is fundamentally defined by the abolition of private property.

Private property, or private ownership, is, in the language of the law, Not only money and other tangible things of value, but also includes any intangible right considered as a source or element of income or wealth. The right and interest which a man has in lands and chattels to the exclusion of others. It is the right to enjoy and to dispose of certain things in the most absolute manner as he pleases, provided he makes no use of them prohibited by law. [Property] is a claim by a person or persons to exclusive utilization, consumption, or transfer of some category of goods. The right of property is the right to use and discard (Lectric Law Library).

It was by means of the Food Estate guild, the Estate of Trade and Industry guild, and the Labor Front guild that the Nazis were able to take control of every group of producer and consumer in Germany.

German socialism, so-called, assumed complete control of the means of production, while maintaining the facade of a market economy. The crucial point here, however, which one must never overlook, is the fact that prices and wages were all ‘fixed by the central authority.’ Thus, they were only ostensibly prices and wages — meaning: in actual fact, prices and wages were determined by order of the socialist German government, not the free-market. In this way, Nazism masqueraded as a system of free-enterprise, but in reality it was socialist up to its gills.

The difference between National Socialism (Nazism) and communistic socialism is purely a question of form: the Nazis, unlike the Marxists, did not advocate public or governmental ownership of the means of production. Nazism, rather, openly demanded that government oversee and regulate the nation’s economy. The issue of ‘legal’ ownership, explained Adolph Hitler, is secondary; what counts is the issue of control.

“Under Nazism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership. Under Marxist socialism, government officials acquire all the advantages of ownership, without any of the responsibilities, since they do not hold title to the property, but merely the right to use it — at least until the next purge” (George ReismanCapitalism).

Both are variations on the same theme, and that theme is collectivism.

Collectivism is the political theory which believes that “the collective” has primacy over the individual.

“The collective” refers to “the society” “the group” “the gang” “the tribe” “the proletariat” “the superior race” “the environment” “the common good” “labor” and many other things as well. The specifics do not matter because the principles are the same.

What really matters is that the individual is subordinate to the named collective.

This system of de facto socialism, carried out under the outward guise and appearance of capitalism, in which the legal forms of private ownership are maintained, has been aptly characterized by Ludwig von Mises as socialism on the German pattern. The Germans under Ludendorf and Hindenburg in World War I, and later under Hitler, were the foremost practitioners of this type of socialism. (The more familiar variant of socialism, in which government openly nationalizes the means of production and establishes socialism de jure as well as de facto, von Mises calls socialism on the Russian or Bolshevik pattern.)

It cannot be emphasized too strongly that Nazi Germany was a socialist country and that the Nazis were right to call themselves National Socialists. This is something everyone should know; yet it appears to have been overlooked or ignored by practically all writers but von Mises and Hayek.

In Nazi Germany, the government controlled all prices and wages and determined what each firm was to produce, in what quantity, by what methods, and to whom it was to turn over its products. There was no fundamental difference between the Nazis and other socialists (ibid).

“Basically, National Socialism and Marxism are the same,” said Adolph Hitler.

“Profit is the source of all evils,” said Goebbles, whose hatred of capitalism was stupendous.

“We believe that the scourge of pollution, depletion of resources and degradation of our natural environment is primarily the result of the reckless policies of profit-driven capitalism,” says a present-day environmental group called Socialist Action, who also add:

“We believe that under socialism – through a rational, democratically controlled planned economy – we will be able to make decisions that can stop and reverse the destruction of the environment.”

The following is from a present-day environmentalist named Roger Field:

“In fact, there are a number of environmentalisms in this country: wilderness preservation, animal rights and the like. But it is in the rich, class-based struggle to control the excesses of unrestrained industrialism where environmentalism and socialism can most easily be seen to meet.”

From Canada dot com:

“Saving the planet, like fighting wealth and privilege, is a moral proposition. It supersedes factual argument…. Environmentalism is neither religion nor science. It is a political mission, every bit as unquestioning as socialism in its heyday, and offering the same giddy promise to followers: The delicious prospect of being in the right, and better still, running things.”

“Each activity and each need of the individual will thereby be regulated by the party as the representative of the general good. There will be no license, no free space, in which the individual belongs to himself. This is socialism — not such trifles as the private possession of the means of production. Of what importance is that if I range men firmly within a discipline they cannot escape? Let them then own land or factories as much as they please. The decisive factor is that the State, through the party, is supreme over them, regardless whether they are owners or workers. All that, you see, is unessential. Our socialism goes far deeper,” said Adolph Hitler.

“Individual rights will have to take a back seat to the collective,” says Harvey Ruvin, of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, in Dade County Florida.

From a book by the Sierra Club, entitled Call to Action, Handbook for Ecology, Peace and Justice: “The political and economic system that destroys the Earth is the same system that exploits workers” – i.e. capitalism.

The head of the 1992 Earth Summit asks in all seriousness: “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”

“The state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise for every truly human culture. This basic attitude from which such activity arises, we call — to distinguish it from egoism and selflessness — idealism. By this we understand only the individual’s capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men.”

Said Adolph Hitler.

15 Comments

  • BFD

    December 26, 2009

    “We stand for the maintenance of private property…. We shall protect free enterprise as the most expedient, or rather the sole possible economic order.”

    – Adolf Hitler

    What do you say to that, jackoff?

  • Ray

    January 1, 2010

    Very poorly done, BFD.

    Is it your intention to refute with one (out-of-context) quote the entire history of property expropriation, which the Third Reich committed? And crony capitalism? Is that what you call leftist scholarship?

    You’ll first need to square that quote with Herr Hitler’s other comments — for example:

    “Basically, National Socialism and Marxism are the same” (Adolph Hitler).

    And:

    Each activity and each need of the individual will thereby be regulated by the party as the representative of the general good. There will be no license, no free space, in which the individual belongs to himself. This is socialism — not such trifles as the private possession of the means of production. Of what importance is that if I range men firmly within a discipline they cannot escape? Let them then own land or factories as much as they please. The decisive factor is that the State, through the party, is supreme over them, regardless whether they are owners or workers. All that, you see, is unessential. Our socialism goes far deeper(Adolph Hitler).

    Don’t you even know how much the Nazis loathed capitalism?

    Read any one of Herr Goebbels diaries (”Profit is the source of all evils,” he says), and read also the post-war prison interviews of Nazi officials. One theme comes through above all others, and that includes the Antisemitism: a hatred of capitalism.

    Do you not know that private property is the locus of capitalism?

    I’m familiar with the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. But since you’re making book recommendations, allow me also to suggest to you, in addition to the previously mentioned diaries and interviews, The Dark Valley, by Piers Brendon.

    Obviously, you will at some point also need to confront the encyclopedic Socialism, by von Mises, which makes the definitive case against “socialism on the Nazi pattern,” as he called it, and with which you are clearly unfamiliar. I’m afraid this isolated and well-known quote from Shire simply won’t do. It certainly won’t refute the entirety of Nationalsozialism.

  • BFD

    January 1, 2010

    So what are you say, Ray? Are you saying the quote is not true? Are you saying it’s made up?

  • Ray

    January 1, 2010

    BFD wrote: > Are you saying that the quote is not true?

    No.

    BFD wrote: > Are you saying it’s made up?

    No.

    BFD wrote: > Are you saying that Hitler did not say it?

    No; on the contrary, Hitler’s well-known quote is routinely trotted out by socialists eager to dismiss what the NAZI acronym stands for. Hitler also said “All effective propaganda must be limited to very few points and must harp on these slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand.” I’m sure he’d be delighted to know that he’s succeeded, insofar as you and Dr. Simons are concerned.

    There are a number of things you both must think carefully about:

    Why would the Nazis call themselves socialists if they were capitalists?

    With regard to property, what actually happened in Nazi Germany?

    “The National Socialist State professes its allegiance to positive Christianity,” said Hitler.

    Were the Nazis therefore Christians too?

    Hitler said: “I promise you I am quite free of all racial hatred. It is, in any case, undesirable that one race should mix with other races. Our racial pride is not aggressive except in so far as the Jewish race is concerned.”

    He was no racist either, then?

    Hitler said: “Our strength consists in our speed and in our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to slaughter, with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely the founder of a state. It’s a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me… Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

    And:

    “Each activity and each need of the individual will thereby be regulated by the party as the representative of the general good. There will be no license, no free space, in which the individual belongs to himself. This is Socialism – not such trifles as the private possession of the means of production. Of what importance is that if I range men firmly within a discipline they cannot escape? Let them then own land or factories as much as they please. They decisive factor is that the State, through the party, is supreme over them, regardless whether they are owners or workers. All that, you see, is unessential. Our Socialism goes far deeper. The people about us are unaware of what is really happening to them. They gaze fascinated at one or two familiar superficialities, such as possessions and income” (please note that) “and other outworn conceptions. As long as these are kept intact, they are quite satisfied. But in the meantime they have entered a new relation; a powerful social force has caught them up. They themselves are changed. What are ownership and income to all that? Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories when we can instead socialize human beings” (Adolph Hitler, 1933).

    Ask yourself why if the Nazis were such defenders of property rights, why did they even bother referring to themselves as socialists? What’s the point?

    Why did they believe that their socialism went “deeper”?

    There’s a difference among the types of socialism, but it’s a superficial difference, a difference of form, and not of principle.

    Through the Food Estate Guild, the Estate of Trade and Industry Guild, and the Labor Front Guild, Nazism assumed control over every group of producers and consumers in the country. “In accordance with the methods of Socialism on the German pattern, only the façade of a market economy was retained” (Ludwig von Mises, Socialism). All prices, wages, and interest rates were, in their own words, “fixed by the central authority. They were prices, wages, and interest rates in name only; in reality, they were merely determinations of quantity relations in the government’s orders…. It was socialism in the guise of capitalism” (Ibid).

    As the Nazi Minister of Economics explained it: “The time is past when the notion of economic self-seeking and unrestricted use of profits made can be allowed to dominate. The economic system must serve the nation.”

    Being a socialist yourself, ask yourself again (and again): how did Hitler and the Nazis act? What did they actually do? Did they allow free-enterprise to flourish? Did they protect property rights for everyone? Did Nazism grant and a protect by law full private property rights, or was property subject to state expropriation? Were those rights inalienable and protected by the rule of law? What about property for the Jews, the Czechs, the Austrians, the Poles? Were they guaranteed full property rights?

    Anyone can say whatever he wants about anything. Under fascism — and this is a matter of historical record as well — people retained the pretense of private property, but the government held power over its use and disposal. Property is the right of use and disposal. You can’t just ignore that fact and throw out isolated sentences. You must take the totality of the words and the deeds.

    “Under fascism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without the freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership. Under socialism, government officials acquire all the advantages of ownership, without any of the responsibilities, since they do not hold title to the property, but merely the right to use it — at least until the next purge. In either case, the government officials hold the economic, political, and legal power of life or death over the citizens” (Dr. George Reisman, Capitalism).

    Not so in a capitalistic society where the right to property is inalienable and protected by law.

    Under both de facto socialism (i.e. Nazism) and socialism de jure (or socialism on the Bolshevik pattern, as von Mises called it), the “public good” is the stated aim. The differences are purely stylistic.

    You’re backing a brutal horse here, both of you. Dig into Nazi history a little deeper, instead of running to Wikiquote and waving your hand in dismissal at the fact that NAZI plainly and simply stands for National Socialist.

    If you really believe that you can negate the title of Nationalsozialist and replace it instead with the title of Capitalist, and if you’re able to reconcile the Reich’s statements about “German Socialism,” which they loved, fine. But answer this, at least:

    What, then, is the difference as you see it between Nazi Germany and a free-market laissez-faire society that respects and protects by law full individual rights, including private property rights? What is the difference as you see it between what you’re both calling “Nazi capitalism” and Capitalism proper? And how do you explain the Holocaust itself, which laissez faire by definition explicitly forbids by placing the rights of each individual supreme? Or do you deny the Holocaust as well?

    Please tell.

    And thank you for dropping by, I guess.

  • ScummyD

    February 24, 2010

    “The Revolution we have made is not a national revolution, but a National Socialist Revolution. We would even underline this last word, ‘Socialist.'”

    Ernst Roehm leader of the Nazi SA or Brownshirts, as cited in Winston Churchill’s Gathering Storm page 97.

  • Ray

    February 24, 2010

    I hadn’t heard that one, ScummyD. Thank you.

    And thanks for dropping by.

  • Redmond

    July 10, 2010

    You are going to just love this book Ray – my buddy took it out of the library and handed it to me.

    It is the roadmap for Watermelons – published 1993.

    Eco-Socialism by David Pepper

    Ten years ago, a friend asked me to address a local Friends of the Earth
    meeting which he was organising. My interest was in the historical roots of
    green philosophy, so l regaled my audience with accounts of William Morris
    Peter Kropotkin and the like. Naively, I mentally prepared myself to receive
    accolades in the ensuing discussion for drawing such historical links. Instead
    I sensed antipathy mingled with hostilily from some . They were disappointed .
    Had I not realised that what the greens were saying had never been said
    before? Did I not appreciate its distinctiveness from conventional politics?
    I had offended a fundamental aspect of green psyches which holds that
    ecologism really is about a new world order, and a new ‘politics of life’ (to
    use the Green Party slogan). I compounded this crime by suggesting, in
    Roots of Modern Environmentalism, that greens needed to assimilate
    Marxist perspectives into their analysis. This was a red flag in the face of a
    green bull, being dismissed as ‘just so much angry spluttering from worn-
    out ideologues who have lost touch with the real world’ (Porritt and Winner
    1988, 256)

    So which of them is more out of touch with reality? the RED or the GREEN?

  • Redomondo

    November 3, 2010

    Ray – a question – where did you pull the Hitler on socialism quotes from?

  • Paul

    July 2, 2012

    Here is footnote 9 from p. 35 of the 50th anniversary edition (1994) of F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom:

    “9. Social Research, Vol. VIII, No. 4 (November, 1941). It deserves to be recalled in this connection that, whatever may have been his reasons, Hitler thought it expedient to declare in one of his public speeches as late as February, 1941, that “basically National Socialism and Marxism are the same” (cf. the Bulletin of International News [published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs], XVIII, No. 5, 269).”

    The quote, including what you find in brackets, is exact except for the bold face type with which I transcribed the quote attributed to Hitler. I think it interesting also that on p. 31-32 Hayek quotes the testimony of “Max Eastman, Lenin’s old friend, who found himself compelled to admit that ‘instead of being better, Stalinism is…better described as superfascist’“. This and the foregoing appear in the second chapter, “The Great Utopia”.

  • David

    September 2, 2012

    The Jews declared economic and political war on Germany in 1933.

    Churchill later said that the real reason for the war was economic rivalry- the Nazi Reich had become too prosperous, Britain and France were about to be displaced as world powers. The Allies did not care at all about the Reich’s civil rights record toward Jews , gypsies, etc. Britain and France declared war on Germany first, not the other way around.

    The Allies could not have cared less about Poland. The proof: the Allies were content to leave the Poles to the tender mercies of the Red Soviets after the war.

    National Socialism is distinct from Communism- in Germany in the 30’s, private property was allowed, and you could start businesses. National Socialism recognizes race, whereas the Communists deny racial factors.

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