PERFIDIOUS PORTRAYAL OF HITLER AND UNIONS
The labor union was the chief tool of the early twentieth century demagogue. Modeled after the success of arousing the discontent of the French peasants of the late 18th century, it was the natural place to amalgamate the passions and tensions of workers and lead them into revolt. The basic tenet of both the Russian and German revolutions was labor based social/political revolt (“Workers of the world unite!”). The differences were in style not substance.
Stalin preached the crisis of capitalism would raise the consciousness of the working class to revolt. The Communists in Germany however, competed poorly with Hitler’s Fascistic nationalism, which was rooted in the same discontent. His message to the wealthy however, was not to take everything they owned, but to threaten it. He told them to either work within his system or risk losing your estate. Some prescient individuals understood working with Hitler was better than allowing Hitler to take their property. His message to the worker was, “above all, the trade unions are necessary as foundation stones of the future economic parliament or chambers of estates” (Mein Kampf). He was so totally aligned with labor that he used terms like, “social justice” and “national community” to confirm their importance.
In Mein Kampf, Hitler goes into great detail about how National Socialism must realign all aspects of society to the goals of trade unions, to create an equality of outcome. And if those aspects of society are not willing, they will be taken over (co-opted). Hitler emphasized the Nazi union (German Labor Front) should be the only union, and one way to make it so, was to infiltrate the Marxist unions and slowly transform them (Mein Kampf Vol 2, Ch.12). This is a stunning admission of how similar Nazism was to Marxism, that its members could infiltrate it and transform its labor union. It was not about espionage or sabotage, but simply occupying the Marxist union and moving it the short distance from following Stalin to following Hitler. This is why when combined with his co-opting of the military and the wealthy, Hitler is associated with right wing fascism. If there even were such a thing, Hitler could not have been further from it.
His extreme socialist impulse explains perfectly his hatred of Marxism, as a competitor for the constituency he so needed to take over the German government. The Communist Party, although failing to garner political majorities, by its numbers foiled Hitler’s objectives of doing the same and caused his utter hatred for Communism…not because he was right wing. Adolf Hitler was really an alloy of Socialism and Fascism, and not purely either one by itself. His relationship with private business and was a matter of a pragmatic approach to controlling the German government.
Hitler and Conservatives
He played up German nationalism as a way to appeal to the conservative elements of rural society, while playing down his economic plans, because he needed at least some conservative support to achieve his goal of winning the majority. During the Weimar hyperinflation the farmers did not fare as badly as those in the cities because they were dealing in commodities such as food that they could live off and barter with rather having to rely on the worthless currency to buy them. So he carefully crafted a messianic myth about the resurrection of the medieval German Empire, which emanated from the Holy Roman Empire, to create a new Third Empire, the German word for which is Reich. This “Third Reich” would restore the national pride missing since the humiliation suffered as a result of the terms of the armistice of WWI.
There was no question when he was appointed Chancellor of Germany by Hindenburg in 1933, that Hitler was a far left progressive (socialist) until history was rewritten by those trying to disentangle their own alignment with his legacy, lying that he morphed into a right wing despot. His alignment with conservatives was a transparent attempt by both the National Socialists and conservatives in parliament to stop the surging Communists, their common enemy. But there were no illusions on either side. And the evidence is pretty convincing: Once in office, Hitler’s depression era blend of socialism mixed with co-opted private enterprise was attractive to other countries. Roosevelt started his first term of presidency in 1933 about the same time Hitler was appointed Chancellor. Roosevelt’s approach in his first term was strangely reminiscent of Fascism and Roosevelt even complimented Hitler’s mode of “organizing society”, citing it was “necessary to check this liberty for the benefit of the freedom of the whole”. There was a common spirit of collectivism among them, Hitler, Mussolini and Roosevelt, a coalition of business, government and labor.
This gets lost in the fog of history rewritten. Nobody doubts Roosevelt was left of center. It’s no secret he is pretty far left of center, considering his big government impulse. But it is also a fact that he was an admirer of fascism. These relationships get lost in history because Hitler was an inconvenient megalomaniac. Had he not embarrassed those relationships, I doubt the fascistic impulse would be so stunted among progressives today. I believe it has remained an essential yet latent impulse, and I believe it was subsumed into modern progressivism if there every really was a divergence.
Hitler Transformed the Unions He Didn’t Eliminate Them
Instead of allowing the left to propagate the lie that Hitler did away with unions, the truth is, he created the German Labor Front, complete with a swastika flag as its symbol, because he could control it, and barred the formation of future unions (such as Marxist unions). This would control competing political forces from using unionization for the purpose of consolidation of power, as he did.
The progressives in America painfully extricate their historic relationship with Hitler by assigning Hitlerian characteristics to members of the right in American politics. It is a “thou doth protesteth too much” knee jerk reaction, and it is attended by great animation and even violence. Not that the American left actively advocates government overthrow. Oh wait! That is exactly what progressives have been doing since the sixties. In fact, Andy Stern who is very close to the Obama administrator and a frequent visitor to the White House said, “Workers of the World Unite is not just a slogan any more, it’s the way we are going to have to do our work.”
Hitler was a leftist, a union supporter and wrote in his manifesto that unions were an integral part of the much needed social justice in Germany and the entire nation and its “chambers of estates and economic parliament” must be aligned with that ideal. His entire power structure was based on this power to the people code. Along with universal healthcare, expanded animal welfare laws, support of healthy, organic foods and vegetarianism, a minimum wage, progressive taxation, and tight gun control — policies all shared by progressives from Roosevelt to Clinton to Obama, it is impossible for the left to separate themselves from Hitler. So they try a little “I’m rubber you’re glue” on the right. But it just doesn’t stick when you take a closer look.
CORRECTION: In the initial release of this post it stated, “In fact, some in the Obama administration have recently been quoted saying “Workers of the World Unite is not just a slogan any more, it is a way of life”. It should have said, “In fact, Andy Stern who is very close to the Obama administrator and a frequent visitor to the White House said, “Workers of the World Unite is not just a slogan any more, it’s the way we are going to have to do our work.” We regret the error.
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