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Never Blame The Left
#1
This article is no longer available on National Review, was written in 1994, but is most relevant in understanding what makes the Left 'tick'. By placing it here, it will be available for the interest of those, who wish to obtain a deeper undertanding of the Left.

Quote:Never blame the left:the left is perceived as kind and caring, despite its extensive history of promoting genocide

National Review, Dec 31, 1995 by George Watson


The Left is perceived as kind and caring, despite its extensive history of promoting genocide.

Mr. Watson, formerly a professor at New York University and now a Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, is the author of Politics & Literature in Modern Britain and The Idea of Liberalism (St. Martin's). He is currently completing a history of socialism.

WHEN it comes to handing out blame, it is widely assumed that the Right is wicked and the Left incompetent. Or rather, you sometimes begin to feel, any given policy must have been Right if it was wicked, Left if it was incompetent.

To give an example: I happened recently in Vienna to pass a restaurant that was advertising Jewish food, with two armed policemen standing outside. They were there, one of them explained to me, to guard against right-wing radical extremists. There had been no violence against the restaurant then, and I believe there has been none since. But racism, and especially anti-Semitism, is wicked, so it must be right-wing.

That is fairly astounding, when you think about it. The truth is that in modern Europe, genocide has been exclusively a socialist idea, ever since Engels proclaimed it in Marx's journal the Neue Rheinische Zeitung in January - February 1849. Ever since then everyone who has advocated genocide has called himself a socialist, without exception.

The Left has a lot to hide. In the 1890s, for example, French socialists dissociated themselves from the Dreyfus affair, and in January 1898 the French Socialist Party issued a manifesto that called it a power struggle within the ruling classes, and warned the workers against taking sides in the matter. Dreyfus's supporters were Jewish capitalists, they argued, eager to clear themselves of financial scandals. A few years later, in 1902, H. G. Wells in Anticipations repeated the Marxist demand for genocide, but with variations, since the book is a blueprint for a socialist utopia that would be exclusively white.

A generation later Bernard Shaw, another socialist, in a preface to his play On the Rocks (1933), called on scientists to devise a painless way of killing large multitudes of people, especially the idle and the incurable, which is where Hitler's program began six years later. In a letter to his fellow socialist Beatrice Webb (February 6, 1938) Shaw remarked of Hitler's program to exterminate the Jews that "we ought to tackle the Jewish question," which meant admitting "the right of States to make eugenic experiments by weeding out any strains that they think undesirable." His only proviso was that it should be done humanely.

Ethnic cleansing was an essential part of the socialist program before Hitler had taken any action in the matter. The Left, for a century, was proud of its ruthlessness, and scornful of the delicacy of its opponents. "You can't make an omelette," Beatrice Webb once told a visitor who had seen cattle cars full of starving people in the Soviet Union, "without breaking eggs."

There is abundant evidence, what is more, that the Nazi leaders believed they were socialists and that anti-Nazi socialists often accepted that claim. In Mein Kampf (1926) Hitler accepted that National Socialism was a derivative of Marxism. The point was more bluntly made in private conversations. "The whole of National Socialism is based on Marx," he told Hermann Rauschning. Rauschning later reported the remark in Hitler Speaks (1939), but by that time the world was at war and too busy to pay much attention to it. Goebbels too thought himself a socialist. Five days before the German invasion of the Soviet Union, in June 1941, he confided in his diary that "real socialism" would be established in that country after a Nazi victory, in place of Bolshevism and Czarism.

The evidence that Nazism was part of the socialist tradition continues to accumulate, even if it makes no headlines. In 1978 Otto Wagener's Hitler: Memoirs of a Confidant appeared in its original German. Wagener was a lifelong Nazi who had died in 1971. His recollections of Hitler's conversations had been composed from notes in a British prisoner-of-war camp, and they represent Hitler as an extreme socialist utopian, anti-Jewish because "the Jew is not a socialist." Nor are Communists -- "basically they are not socialistic, since they create mere herds, as in the Soviet Union, without individual life." The real task, Hitler told Wagener, was to realize the socialist dream that mankind over the centuries had forgotten, to liberate labor, and to displace the rule of capital. That sounds like a program for the Left, and many parties called socialist have believed in less.

Hitler's allegiance, even before such sources were known, was acknowledged by socialists outside Germany. Julian Huxley, for example, the pro-Soviet British biologist who later became director-general of UNESCO, accepted Hitler's claim to be a socialist in the early 1930s, though without enthusiasm (indeed, with marked embarrassment).

Hitler's program demanded central economic planning, which was at the heart of the socialist cause; and genocide, in the 1930s, was well known to be an aspect of the socialist tradition and of no other. There was, and is, no conservative or liberal tradition of racial extermination. The Nazis, what is more, could call on socialist practice as well as socialist theory when they invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 and began their exterminatory program. That is documented by Rudolf Hoess in his memoir Kommandant in Auschwitz (1958). Detailed reports of the Soviet camp system were circulated to Nazi camp commandants as a model to emulate and an example to follow.

Soviet exterminations under Lenin and Stalin may have totaled 25 to 30 million, which (if the estimate is accepted) would represent about three times the Nazi total of nine million. That seems to matter very little now. My Austrian policeman was still certain that racism is right-wing. As are a lot of people. After a recent bomb outrage against a synagogue in Lubeck, the German press instantly assumed, before anyone was charged with the crime, that the Right was to blame. The fact that there is no non-socialist tradition of genocide in Europe has not even been noticed.

That is an impressive act of suppression. The Left may have lost the political battle, almost everywhere in the world. But it does not seem to have lost the battle of ideas. In intellectual circles, at least, it is still believed that racism and the Left do not mix.

Why is this? How has the evidence of socialist genocide, how has Hitler's acknowledgment of his debt to Marx, been so efficiently suppressed?

The answer, I suspect, lies in the nature of political commitment. Political knowledge is not like botany or physics, and commitment is not usually made by examining evidence. When socialism was fashionable I used to ask those who believed in it why they thought public ownership would favor the poor. What struck me about their responses was not just that they did not know but that they did not think they were under any obligation to know. But if they had really cared about poverty they would have demanded an answer before they signed up, and would have gone on demanding an answer until they got one. In other words, they were hardly interested in solving poverty. What really interested them was looking and sounding as if they did.

When Marxism was fashionable, similarly, I used to ask Marxists what book by Marx or Engels they had read all the way through, and watch them look shifty and change the subject. Or, for a change, I might ask them what they thought of Engels's 1849 program of racial extermination, and watch them lose their temper. Politics, for lots of people, is not evidence-based. It is more like showing off a new dress or a new suit.

THERE are three motives, broadly speaking, for political commitment, of which the third is admirable. I shall leave it till last.

The first is self-definition. You call yourself Left or Right, that is, as a way of proclaiming to the world and to yourself that you are a certain sort of person -- kind and caring if you are Left, competent and realistic if you are Right. The reasons for these associations of ideas are far older than our century and matter now only to historians, and even they would usually prefer not to be asked about them. It might be worrying if anyone did. The line between the efficient and the inefficient, after all, is nothing like as simple as the line between the private and the public, and not all public enterprise is caring: Auschwitz was public enterprise. Never mind. If you want to look caring, you will not ask such questions, and if anybody does it is always possible to change the subject.

The second motive is a sense of community. You choose a political side because the people you know, or would like to know, are already there, and you would like them to like you. There was a time when, in university life, you would not be accepted unless you were Left, and it took enormous courage in that age to speak out on campus against Soviet or Chinese exterminations. That view is not yet dead. There are still those on both sides of the Atlantic who move, and intend to go on moving, in circles that think anti-Americanism a sufficient substitute for connected thought.

The third motive is instrumental. You can hold a political view with the admirable purpose of achieving something specific like constitutional change or a balanced budget, and support those who support it, whatever their party color. A moment's reflection suggests that this is rare. It is hard work, for one thing. It seldom attracts admiration, for another, though it often should. And it is not always easy to believe that this will work. Much more agreeable, on the whole, to use politics as a way of defining yourself or of making and keeping friends.

The Left got away with its crimes, I suggest, because those who form opinion had their own reasons for looking in another direction. They wanted to see themselves in a certain light and to keep the good opinion of people whose friendship they valued. They had no wish to look at evidence, and they were adept at pretending, when it was produced, that it did not mean what it said. I remember once, in a controversy in a British journal, being told that Marx, Wells, and Shaw were being whimsical and nothing more when they committed socialists to mass-murder. Couldn't I take a joke? Evidence is seldom as inconvenient as that in the physical sciences, and scientists do not enjoy such convenient excuses for dismissal as whimsy or irony. Most critical theory, in our times, has been a way of pretending that evidence does not, and perhaps cannot, be taken literally.

The effects of that mood are still visible. The history of socialism, above all, is studiously neglected and even, in some aspects, simply taboo. What we need now is a serious and unblinking study of socialism, of what it said and what it did: one that does not fudge the evidence: one that is brave enough to tell it as it was.

COPYRIGHT 1995 National Review, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group
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"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#2
Socialism is an economic theory that derives from the idea of the 'collective'. It is not inherently a 'left wing' ideology and can be adopted by actors on both the left and right of the political spectrum, the outcome of its adoption have a multitude of facets.

Marxism is typically seen as left due to its emphasis on the creation of communism (socialism being a transition between capitalism and communism), but this was not Hitler's interpretation for Nazi Germany. In fact, Hitler detested communists and saw himself as staunchly opposed.

The Nazi Party, despite masquerading as a socialist workers party was on the political right (although displaying aspects from both sides of the spectrum) were hyper-nationalist and authoritarian. (i)

To comment that genocide was committed by actors only to the left of the political spectrum is agenda-driven, when considering history, actors from boths sides have both committed similar atrocities, often for similar reasons.

(i) Fritzsche, Peter. 1998. Germans into Nazis. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; Eatwell, Roger, Fascism, A History, Viking/Penguin, 1996, pp.xvii-xxiv, 21, 26–3
“You know, I’ve spent my entire life time separating the Right from the kooks.” - William Buckley
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#3
mcabromb Wrote:The Nazi Party, despite masquerading as a socialist workers party was on the political right (although displaying aspects from both sides of the spectrum) were hyper-nationalist and authoritarian. (i)

Again, you are totally ignorant, and have fallen victim to the Stalin quote, where he called Hitler a Right Winger. To Stalin, Everything was to the Right of him, with the possible exception of the Borg, and he did not know about this, because Gene Roddenberry had not invented Star Trek.......yet.

Again, I point you to Dr John Ray, and his essay on the Real Fascism, and it's roots in Progressivism.

Quote:The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Ben, being Stuck on Stupid, is a terrible thing to be hung upon. It would serve you best to take the time and read the essay, if for no other reason, just to gain another side of the argument. Wink1
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#4
John L Wrote:
mcabromb Wrote:The Nazi Party, despite masquerading as a socialist workers party was on the political right (although displaying aspects from both sides of the spectrum) were hyper-nationalist and authoritarian. (i)

Again, you are totally ignorant, and have fallen victim to the Stalin quote, where he called Hitler a Right Winger. To Stalin, Everything was to the Right of him, with the possible exception of the Borg, and he did not know about this, because Gene Roddenberry had not invented Star Trek.......yet.

No. I have quoted one of the most eminent thinkers on Post 19th Century political philosophy. Your kneejerk reactions and startled comments display more about your own ignorance on the subject and reliance on professors who advertise their academic credentials as facts in themselves over your own opinions.

John L Wrote:Again, I point you to Dr John Ray, and his essay on the Real Fascism, and it's roots in Progressivism.

Quote:The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Ben, being Stuck on Stupid, is a terrible thing to be hung upon. It would serve you best to take the time and read the essay,

I read the essay, I was commenting on it. Enough second guessing John, it points to more inaccuracies and tail chasing on your behalf.

John L Wrote:if for no other reason, just to gain another side of the argument. Wink1

Why do you think I write on this forum? Discordia ut verum...

Address my arguments man! (Take them apart if you disagree with them) rather than stabbing in the dark and resorting to ad hominem from the word go. It would be so much more interesting for both parties and probably better for your blood pressure! Wink1
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#5
Sigh, Fritzwsche was using the old French definition of Left/Right. That definition has been going out of style for the last century. It got it's start from the position of the members of the legislature, with radicals on the left side of the assembly, and the crown reactionaries/conservatives on the right side.

Today, it is accepted that radicals and conservatives exist all over the political spectrum. I am a clear example of an Individualist Radical, but that does not change the fact that I espouse Individualism.

If Marxism and socialism is considered Leftist, because it is Collectivist in nature, then so is Fascism. If you wish to continue using the old definition, suit yourself. Under your thinking I am a Leftist too. But I am clearly an Individualist, just as I am a True Liberal.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#6
John L Wrote:If Marxism and socialism is considered Leftist, because it is Collectivist in nature, then so is Fascism. If you wish to continue using the old definition, suit yourself. Under your thinking I am a Leftist too. But I am clearly an Individualist, just as I am a True Liberal.

That explains a lot about your political positioning, especially in your interpretation of utopian/ realist; collectivist/ individualist.

The difficultly with applying these labels is that they were more suited towards times when collectivism was possible and before realism (as a theory) branched out and became a too narrow perspective for discussing the actions of the 'rational actor'.

I have always thought that you brandishing collectivist and utopian labels are very narrow perspectives because it implies I subscribe to a whole host of economic and political theories to which I do not.

Equally, the fascist Nazi regime were not thoroughly socialist (as their party name implied). They were capitalist in their economic model with plenty of nationalised industry (as most countries had at the time). I believe their social perspective was authoritarian and largely right wing (using a 19th Century French definition of the term), i.e. before fascism had emerged as an ideology.
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#7
actually, both communism and fascism are predominantly conservative. if you understand liberal and conservative as the two most important as well as oldest political currents, you can hardly argue fascism and communism are liberal.
"You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don't matter." Dick Cheney
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#8
Incredibly uninformed.
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