Well, it’s come full circle; after years of calling everyone they disagree with a Nazi, it’s made itself painfully clear that conservatives — even ones in office — no longer know what the Nazis really were, if they even knew at all.
For instance, take a look at this meme:
This was tweeted by a state representative during the first Democratic debate last month. Granted, this was a Texas state representative, but that doesn’t exclude the rest of the country for producing Republicans that aspire to Texas-levels of ignorance and belligerent stupidity.
Democratic Socialists, National Socialists, and Anarcho-Fascists
State Rep. Jason Villalba posted the meme during the first Democratic debate last month as a response to Bernie Sanders, who is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, with the following message:
The modern Democrat Party is filled with Democratic Socialists and soft socialists. Is this where we are in America?
Of course, he didn’t stand beside it, and Villalba backtracked rather quickly, claiming that . . . I’ll let you try to figure out what point he was aiming for:
He also insisted his tweet wasn’t likening Democrats to Nazis. “So is the history accurate in this?” Villalba told Tilove by phone. “Of course not. Look, was I trying to make a connection between Sanders and the Nazi party? Absolutely not. I categorically reject any suggestion that that is what I was intending to do.”
In any case, whatever he was “intending to do,” he failed, because what he did was compare Sanders to the Nazis. Unsurprisingly, Politifact rated his claim “pants on fire,” but that doesn’t begin to describe why he — and other Republicans who make the same claim — are as wrong as they are.
The problem starts with the name: Nazi is actually shortened form of Nationalsozialismus, or “National Socialism.” Right-wingers are incapable of critical thinking, so they grab the name and run with it, not realizing that socialism isn’t one set political theory, but a constellation of them.
Nazism is a form of right-wing socialism, also called Conservative Socialism. The very idea that socialism can be a right-wing philosophy breaks some people’s minds, but this is a world where anarcho-fascism is a legitimate political theory; it has no room for black and white thinking. Sanders, like most socialists in the United States (who call themselves that, anyway; the Teabaggers are very much Socialists, they just want socialism that works against them and for the rich people), is a left-leaning Socialist.
And there are multiple types of left-leaning socialists. I’m a Liberal Socialist, which means I support capitalism through implementing socialist policies, like a mincome, nationalized healthcare, nationalized college education, etc. Left-wingers suspicious of “big government” but who still support socialism are Libertarian Socialists or Anarcho-Communists.
Sanders calls himself Democratic Socialist, which is like liberal socialism in that it supports a mixed economy, but it also adds the “Democratic” prefix to show it supports democracy. And that — support for democracy — is why Sanders isn’t, and can’t, be a Nazi. Or even a fascist, for that matter.
Why? Because Adolf Hitler, the default spokesman for the National Socialist ideology, hated democracy:
. . . democracy will in practice lead to the destruction of a people’s true values. And this also serves to explain how it is that people with a great past from the time when they surrender themselves to the unlimited, democratic rule of the masses slowly lose their former position; for the outstanding achievements of individuals…are now rendered practically ineffective through the oppression of mere numbers
Fascists in general dislike democracy, because fascism — whether it’s in the form of Falange-style national syndicalism or Nazi-style national socialism — is a philosophy of action. It’s not about thinking and deliberating, it’s about doing. That’s why fascism is authoritarian — one person, one will, one state, one unified action.
It’s also a philosophy that appeals to tradition, to an earlier time when the population was “morally pure,” back before the Other — Jews, Muslims, Atheists, liberals, Mexicans, Chinese, take your pick — polluted the land racially or ethnically by challenging the status quo.
So while Sanders clearly isn’t a national socialist in this or any other reality, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the appellation better fits the side accusing him of being one.
Feature image via Wikimedia Commons