Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What is national socialism?

"What is Hitler's national socialism?" asks one member of a Facebook group. I already wrote an article about this several months ago based on the ideas taken from Ludwig von Mises' book "Planned Chaos". However, I lost it when my site encountered a problem. So I thought the question is not that important that I will never return to it. But after reading several responses to that question, I decided to revisit Mises' book and start again from scratch. 

This time it's different. I discovered that Mises has another book, which dealt with national socialism far longer than the one he did in "Planned Chaos". 

In Wikipedia, national socialism is also identified as Nazism. Notable to this definition is the inclusion of the phrase "as well as other related far-right groups." Wikipedia elaborates under the "far right" or "extreme right", political groups or ideologies that support "social inequality and social hierarchy, elements of social conservatism and opposition to most forms of liberalism and socialism." "Religious fundamentalist" is also included. 

From the above definition, national socialism is open for further explanation depending on how you will take the meaning of "far right". If you will include capitalism in it, it is understandable that someone will say that capitalism and Nazism are closely connected. And also the definition shows that the political left or the communist version of socialism has nothing to do with national socialism.

However, Ludwig von Mises has a different interpretation based on "Planned Chaos" and "Omnipotent Government". In fact, anyone interested to know Nazism from Mises' point of view, understanding the whole of "Omnipotent Government" is important. The book has 304 pages, but Mises has a separate section exclusively focusing on "German Nazism" from pages 129-239. 

The material that we can read about national socialism in "Planned Chaos" is just a summary of Mises' thought. There we can read the intellectual influence that shaped Nazism, the anti - capitalistic character of Nazism, the influence of Soviet version of socialism and eugenics (I intentionally did not include here Mises' explanation on eugenics). 

Intellectual Influence

"Hitler was not the founder of Nazism: he was its product." Learned Marxist professors influenced his mind and one of them was Werner Sombart. Sombart once "boasted that his life was devoted to the task of fighting for the ideas of Marx" and he "declared that Führertum means a permanent revelation and that the Führer received his orders directly from God, the supreme Führer of the Universe. "

Before the rise of Hitler into power, the German universities had already been prepared to hate capitalism. "For more than seventy years the German professors of political science, history , law , geography and philosophy eagerly imbued Their disciples with a hysterical hatred of capitalism , and preached the war of 'liberation' against the capitalistic West ... At the turn of the century the immense majority of the Germans were already supporters of radical socialism and aggressive nationalism . They were then already firmly committed to the principles" that would later be known as Nazism .

Essential Ideas of Nazism

According to Mises , the essential ideas of Nazism are not of German origin. Their sources came from Latin, French and Jewish intellectuals. The only German ingredient in Nazism "was its striving after the conquests of lebensraum."

Nazism was basically egalitarian. It's aim was to attain "income equality" and "fairer distribution of the earth's natural resources." The Nazis "consider themselves as revolutionaries fighting for their inalienable natural rights against the vested interests of a host of reactionary nations."

So Nazism, contrary to popular belief, "is the purest and most consistent manifestation of the anticapitalistic and socialistic spirit of our age." Their slogan "condensed their economic philosophy, viz., Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz (i.e., the commonweal ranks above private profit)." The Nazi believes "that profit - seeking business harms the vital interests of the immense majority, and that it is the sacred duty of popular government to prevent the emergence of profits by public control of production and distribution." So Nazism "therefore was more comprehensive and more pernicious than that of the Marxians. It aimed at abolishing laissez - faire not only in the production of material goods, but no less in the production of men."

The Soviet Influence

Nazism found an intellectual justification for mass killing through the example of Soviet version of socialism. The Nazis learned to use violence and "mass extermination of all dissenters" as their methodology to advance Nazism. In fact, Mises described the Nazis as the most submissive disciples of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin :

"They imported from Russia : the one - party system and the pre-eminence of this party in political life; the paramount position assigned to the secret police; the concentration camps; the administrative execution or imprisonment of all opponents; the extermination of the families of suspects and of exiles; the methods of propaganda; the organization of affiliated parties abroad and their employment for fighting governments and their domestic espionage and sabotage; the use of the diplomatic and consular service for fomenting revolution; and many other things besides. There were nowhere more docile disciples of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin than the Nazis were. "

So here is the summary of national socialism based on "Planned Chaos". I wish to study it in detail using the "Omnipotent Government".