Were the Nazis Left-Wingers?

Cheradenine Zakalwe
Islam Versus Europe
October 1, 2013

He looks very conservative.
He looks very conservative.

Nowadays, it’s common to hear the claim that the Nazis were left-wingers. The claim relies on a reductive definition of conservatism as simply anti-statism. Since the Nazis created a totalitarian government, the argument runs, they cannot have been conservatives.

But this view, expressed most notably in Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism, is simply rhetorical and philosophical sleight of hand. Where does it say that conservatism means opposition to the role of government?

Conservatism, very simply, is the defence of the traditions and distinctiveness of a people against the forces seeking to undermine it. It is no coincidence that the terms left and right and the very concept of conservatism were birthed in the French Revolution, the starting point of the European Genocide. By embracing universalist moral codes, the Cult of Equality and the anti-democratic ideal of human rights, by substituting the government-allocated status of citizenship for deeper notions of ancestral belonging, the French Revolution sowed the seeds whose apocalyptic fruit is being reaped in our own time.

The Left were those who sat literally on the left of the national assembly in Paris. They were the firebrand Jacobins calling for their countries traditions to be put to the torch. The right, those who sat on the other side, were sceptical of the changes proposed and sought to restrain them.

There is really no reason to believe that conservatism has anything to do, per se, with libertarianism, free market economics or anti-statism. This definition of conservatism is an American import. Traditional definitions of conservatism, based around the defence of a people, cannot apply in America, because in America there is no people to be defended. America is an agglomeration of peoples, an artificial construct, a zoo in effect, not an organic nation serving as the home of an ancestral tribe.

Left and right has nothing inherently to do with big government or little government. The axis of difference is not economic, but moral: anti-nationalism versus nationalism. People are naturally nationalistic, so an argument could be made that anti-nationalism could only ever be made effective at the policy level through intrusive government action. Leftism, then, has a more natural tilt towards big government or even totalitarianism than conservatism does.

Since the dawn of time, however, unscrupulous rulers have sought to suppress the nationalist impulse. Their dreams of power caused them to erect empires that transcended the natural territorial limits of peoplehood. History is essentially just the chronicle of ordinary people attempting to resist the trans-nationalist machinations of rulers and assert their natural nationalist instincts in defiance of them. That struggle continues into our own time.

Whenever nationalists come to power, therefore, they are likely to find themselves not in what we might call the default condition of humanity: an extended kin group living as a homogeneous unit under its own governmental authority in its own ancestral homeland – but in some balkanised nightmare that has emerged from the scheming of power-mad rulers. Different ethnic groups will be living under the same government. Their lack of empathy with one another – proceeding from their genetic difference – will be the source of endless discord. They will plot against one another’s interests. Government policy will be the unsatisfactory end result of the mutual contention of these ethnic factions.

To unwarp this warped world will require government action, perhaps big government action. Once the natural nationalist balance of things has been restored; once trans-nationalist utopian fantasies have been abandoned and countries once again consist of ethnic cores cherishing and preserving their own distinctiveness, then perhaps conservatism can downsize into libertarianism and just let people do their own thing. Until that great day arrives, the insistence that true conservatism = minimal government action does not deserve to be taken seriously. And the claims that the Nazis were left-wingers should be dismissed as a profound error of understanding.