Part II of VI: Whitewashing Genocide: How “Leftist” Nazi Germany Gets a Pass
Glenn Beck, continuing the introduction to his program, claims that “progressives” are seeking to distort the history of Stalin, Mao, Che, etc. in their efforts to incite some unclear revolution against the people of America. Che and Mao (the latter to a lesser extent) are liberal icons; they are basically figures who one can put on a shirt or selectively quote from in order to make whatever point one wishes in some unrelated speech. Anita Dunn being a particularly obvious example that Beck makes use of, though she did not praise communism or Mao’s internal policies during her speech, but simply his “motivation” to win the civil war against the Guomindang.
“Tonight,” he says, “we set the record straight.”
To say that Stalin is undergoing a “rehabilitation” of sorts or was supported by “progressives” is an odd thing to say. By far and large, “progressives,” meaning liberals, do not like Stalin. The very word “Stalinism” is a testament to this, and the fact that if one were to talk to any “progressive,” there is a 99% possibility that their answers on Stalin will either be “he was an inhuman tyrant, I prefer Trotsky if I really had to choose” or “communism can never work and results in totalitarianism.”
Nazi Germany & Adolf Hitler’s Crimes Are Not Discussed
In any case, Beck quickly moves from “progressives want to make Stalin appear like a great human being” to the very tired thesis of “Nazism = communism.” This is where our actual refutation begins. We shall focus on the alleged similarities between communism and Nazism, since these are especially important in light of the overall attempts by the bourgeoisie of the past and present to make communism seem morally reprehensible through its “affiliation” with Nazism.
From Glenn Beck’s site comes this little gem:
“We all know about the horrors of the holocaust where the pure evil Hitler inspired claimed the lives of millions of innocent people. But most do not know about the millions upon millions of lives lost in a different genocide of the Ukrainian people under the Stalin regime” (1).
Glenn Beck has decided to approach the question of communism in such a way that he began with identifying Adolf Hitler as the most vilified of the “tyrants” on his list, but demands more attention be paid to communism. Beck himself decided to include Hitler in his list of “tyrants” to discuss, more out of necessity than real recognition of the horrors of fascism or a complete political rejection of it. As we shall soon see, his coverage of Hitler focuses exclusively on the question of whether he was a leftist or not, not on cataloging Germany’s imperialism and genocide.
What becomes obvious is that Beck did not want to discuss Hitler, but rather make him look like a leftist. If Beck wanted to avoid talking about Hitler’s genocide, why did he choose to bring it up? It is most disturbing that Beck refuses to put the era in its context by not mentioning the full extent of World War II—something that despite what he says, is not taught in our history books at all. World War II was fought and won thanks to the heroic efforts of the Soviet Union and its people. It was the largest military conflict in all of human history. Over 60 million were killed by the conflict, many of them Soviet civilians and soldiers.
It is worth noting that Beck’s figures for those killed under communism come from the so-called “objective” bourgeois scholars that place Hitler’s death tolls in Stalin’s camp, and subtract it from Hitler’s. No, the bourgeoisie aren’t pro-fascist at all!
Beck begins using his sources with Jonah Goldberg, reactionary author of Liberal Fascism. Goldberg is famous for his book, which claims that F.D.R. was influenced by fascism. While this is to an extent true, the author’s attempts to connect the Democrats or modern-day liberalism with fascism falls flat. Fascism was seen by the American bourgeoisie as a successful effort to eliminate Marxist influence within the country. This does not mean, however, that FDR was a fascist. For a better view see here: http://rationalrevolution.net/articles/rise_of_american_fascism.htm
The Right-Wing Nature of Nazi Germany
Jonah Goldberg asserts that “They say, you know, Hitler was a right-winger because of x, y and z, I say, well, what was Stalin’s position on x, y and z?” He then states that Hitler’s social agenda included “expanding access to universal health care” and for “expanding access to education… [a] big welfare state… attacking big business and high finance.”
1) The “universal health care” comment is clearly meant to be an attack against Obama’s health care policies. In any case, if Hitler’s health care plans were anything like Obama’s (that is, haggling with insurance companies), then we can safely say that this has little or nothing to do with the Soviet Union of that time, which had no insurance companies and in which health care was both a right and free for all peoples.
2) The phrase “expanding access to education” as some sort of indictment makes no sense and does not imply anything “progressive,” but merely something that all societies do.
3) The Nazis did indeed attack “big business,” but their attacks were nothing like those of the Marxists, and they were far less common once the Nazis came to power. The Nazis occasionally spoke of the “bourgeoisie” and “big finance capital,” which was a popular sentiment in Germany at the time. At their heart however, their ideology was petty-bourgeois, meaning that they regarded small, individual labor as good compared to “parasitic” efforts by “Jews” and “Jewish capital.” The Nazis idolized the concept of the middle class and in Hitler’s 25 Points of the NSDAP (Nazi Party) Program in 1920, he noted that:
“We demand the creation and maintenance of a healthy middle class, the immediate communalizing of big department stores, and their lease at a cheap rate to small traders, and that the utmost consideration shall be shown to all small traders in the placing of State and municiple orders” (2).
Communists view the middle-class (aka the petty-bourgeoisie) as vacillating and too weak to arise in power as a class, and those petty-bourgeois movements that achieve this become bourgeois once in power by necessity. Under socialism, individual commodity production, which is what a petty-bourgeois, self-employed person engages in, is phased out in favor of collective efforts by workers. The Nazis simply employed an old political tactic still used today known as populism. What is more rousing? “Elect me because of my qualifications,” or “elect me because big business exploits the people and we must put a stop to it?”
Nazi vs. Soviet Labor Union Policy
Goldberg then continues, “People say, ‘Well, Hitler abolished labor unions, he was a right-wing then.’ Well, how did labor unions do under Stalin? How are labor unions doing under Fidel Castro? Almost anything you can find on a checklist that allegedly proves Hitler was a right-winger, you can apply to almost any one of the communist dictators of the 20th century and the similarities are almost identical.”
Goldberg’s comparison is at once asinine and simply untrue. Labor unions existed under Stalin and currently exist under Fidel. There never has been a policy of banning labor unions in any socialist nation. Lenin wrote an essay where he extolled the virtues of labor unions, saying that “[…] the trade unions are a link between the vanguard and the masses, and by their daily work bring conviction to the masses, the masses of the class which alone is capable of taking us from capitalism to communism. On the other hand, the trade unions are a “reservoir” of the state power. This is what the trade unions are in the period of transition from capitalism to communism” (3).
Labor unions helped control the means of production in socialist society. Meanwhile, Hitler’s policies banned unions entirely. During his campaign, “Labor was courted, although they did not know that one of Hitler’s first acts would be to take over the Labor Unions, whom he knew to be one of the few groups who could organize active support against the Nazi agenda” (4).
In many fascist societies, such as Pinochet’s Chile, the fascists claimed to be against big business exploiting the working man, but when they realized power they merely created a state-run union for managers and capitalists. Did these capitalist unions exist in the USSR? Absolutely not, as there was no private industry in the USSR. This however, is neither here nor there, as a state’s policy towards labor unions does not determine whether it is right or left-wing. Involvement with labor unions is merely another form of populism and is used is almost all nations.
Right-Wing Class Nature & Economic Policy of the Nazi state
The Nazi Party essentially provided a program for corporations to make the losses public, but their profits were privatized. The Nazis worked for the top bourgeoisie, but their propaganda was aimed at the petty-bourgeoisie and upper strata of workers, not unlike Beck’s program.
In any case, the Nazis did receive support from bourgeois sources, such as Fritz Thyssen. Once in power, the Nazis also engaged in the privatization of several state-owned firms in the mid-1930s. These firms belonged to a wide range of sectors: steel, mining, banking, local public utilities, shipyards,
ship-lines, railways, etc. The delivery of some public services that were produced by government prior to the 1930s, especially social and labor-related services, were transferred to the private sector, mainly to organizations within the party.” (Germà Bel. “Against the Mainstream: Nazi Privatization in 1930’s Germany.” p. 2.)
Under fascism, both nationalized and privatized industries have a bourgeoisie operating them. Privatization is obviously anathema to socialism, especially the genuine Marxist-Leninist kind which seeks to empower the proletariat and to completely abolish private property.
Joseph Goebbel’s Speech
After he is finished lying about the natures of fascism and communism, Beck quotes from the New York Times in 1925, describing a speech in which future Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels compares Lenin to Hitler in a favorable light. He then goes on listing isolated incidents of cooperation between the communists and the Nazis within Germany. What is not mentioned, of course, is how Hitler exterminated entire communist parties.
1) Goebbels belonged to the “left-wing” of the Nazi Party. Along with Ernst Röhm, the “left-wing” faction within the NSDAP did occasionally have “socialist” rhetoric. Indeed, at times the Sturmabteilung (the proletarian-based militia which Röhm operated) often alluded to a sort of “proletarian dictatorship.” This faction of course, remained anti-Semitic and overall reactionary, and was clearly an attempt to woo communists over to the side of the Nazis, as Beck quickly notes with Goldberg stating that the Redshirts and Brownshirts often interacted with each other and faced defections from both sides.
However soon enough, the Night of the Long Knives in 1934 purged the NSDAP of all “left-wing” sympathies and forced Goebbels himself to fall in line, so to speak. The right-wing under Hitler was more openly supportive of business interests.
2) Beck notes cooperation between communists and Nazis in the Reichstag. This is due to an issue which requires some explanation. First, with the failure of a German communist revolution in 1918, a revolution which the social-democrats condemned, and the betrayals of social-democracy in the period of World War I in supporting imperialist wars, the Comintern (aka the Third International) felt justifiably betrayed by these so-called socialists. In the 1920s, this developed into an analysis of the social-democratic parties known as “Social-Fascism,” which was the belief that the social-democrats were the moderate wing of fascism (the sort introduced in Italy under Mussolini). Therefore absolute struggle was required against both social-democracy and fascism. (See: R. Palme Dutt’s 1934 book Facsism and Social Revolution for more info on Social-Fascism).
As E.H. Carr notes in his 1982 book Twilight of the Comintern, the communists viewed the Nazis as petty-bourgeois socialists. The connection between fascism and Nazism was not at all clear for most people back then as it is today. Fascism claimed to be “neither capitalism nor socialism” (social-democracy also claimed to be “neither capitalism nor Bolshevism”), whereas the Nazis stated that they were socialists, since socialism was extremely popular in Germany at the time. Goldberg is correct in that the communists viewed the Nazis as a temporary phenomenon, and that the communists would easily win over the Nazis. It was not a “stepping stone,” but the Nazis were seen as a progressive force in unison with the communists against what was viewed as a social-fascist government.
The conclusion here is that while the German communists and the Nazis did collaborate against a “social-fascist” government, this does not equal a “Communism = Nazism” analysis, as the communists viewed Nazism as a petty-bourgeois ideology with a working class basis, and therefore progressive against the anti-communist social-democrats. Obviously the coming to power of the Nazis revealed the flaws of such willingness of the communists to cooperate against “social-fascism.”
France & the Nazis
Next, Beck quotes the newspaper of the Communist Party of France (L’Humanité), stating in 1940 that: “It is particularly comforting, in these unhappy times, to see so many Parisian workers engage in friendly relations with German soldiers, whether it be in the street or the neighbourhood bar. Good work, comrades. Keep it up, even if that upsets certain members of our bourgeoisie [incorrectly translated as “middle class” in the clip] who are as stupid as they are spiteful.”
It goes on: “Friendly conversations between Parisian workers and German soldiers increase by leaps and bounds. We are delighted. Let us get to know one another. And when we tell the German soldiers that the communist députés have been thrown into prison for their defence of peace … we shall be working for Franco-German friendship.” (David Wingeate Pike. “Between the Junes: The French Communists from the Collapse of France to the Invasion of Russia,” Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 28, No. 3 (Jul., 1993). p. 470.)
Mr. Pike’s article is interesting and informative. As in Germany, the PCF (French initials of the Communist Party of France) condemned social-fascism, but by 1940 Nazism was in power in Germany. It oppressed the German communists and was clearly reactionary. So why the apparent “good will” towards the Nazi invaders? The PCF was in a tough spot. It followed the Comintern in condemning the former French Cabinet that had dissolved itself with the surrendering of the French Government and the establishment of “Vichy France” under Pétain. At this same time, however, it was told to not openly antagonize the Nazis.
The PCF had been banned under the previous French regime, and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had caused an abrupt but not obvious turn of foreign policy from the USSR seeking the unity of France and Britain against Nazi Germany to the condemnations of the former two states as “aggressors” against Nazi Germany.
Regardless, as Pike notes, “[Yvan] Avakoumovitch refers to a telegram sent by the Comintern on 20 July 1940 in which it expressed its approval of the political line formulated by the PCF and its efforts to organize the workers’ unrest and to direct it against the Vichy government with the aim of hurting ‘its patrons’. Avakoumovitch explains that the term ‘patrons’ was a code-name for the Germans”
The line of the PCF was to operate within the limits of both the Comintern and the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. There were many violations of the PCF’s line by various PCF members who immediately took up resistance against the Nazi occupiers, and the PCF’s line went from a strong rejection of the former French Government as composed of imperialists and colonialists while accompanied by a timid condemnation of Nazi occupation, to an open call for unity among anti-fascist groups and a dedicated struggle against the Nazis in 1941 after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
Regardless of the correctness of the Comintern line at that point, the point stands that it offers no real example of communist “cooperation” with the Nazis. The communists did not collaborate with the Nazis in France, they simply bowed to Comintern dictates and worked within them to strengthen their own position in such troubled times.
Hitler Admires Marx?
Beck then states that “Hitler’s underlying admiration for Marxism was obvious.” Heinz A. Heinz, author of Germany’s Hitler in 1938 states that: “German Socialism—Adolf Hitler’s Socialism—is a totally different thing from what is generally understood by this term, from the Socialism derived from Marxian and Communistic theory.” There was also, as Goldberg noted, obvious differences emanating from the internationalism of Communism and the xenophobic nationalism of Nazism. Let us also note the oddity of Hitler apparently admiring a Jewish man. So basically, this sentence is nonsense.
“Stalin Collaborated With Hitler”
Beck then talks about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. There are two links below which deal with both the Pact and the situation of Poland in good detail:
The clip notes arms deals between the Nazis and Soviets. E.H. Carr’s book (cited above) notes that trade between pre-Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was already quite numerous. Furthermore, it would be quite odd for a non-aggression treaty to be signed yet the Soviets refuse to trade with Nazi Germany or vice-versa.
On the Baltic states, there is the 1992 book entitled Devils in Amber: The Baltics by Phillip Bonosky, that our readers might find very informative.
Finally, for a little taste as to what Glenn Beck won’t show you, or even talk about, go here:
Categories: Economics, France, Germany, History, Imperialism, Imperialist War, International, Media & Culture, Poland, Russia, Second World War, Soviet Union (USSR), Theory, TV, United States History, World History