The National Socialists were Socialists, Shock!

By Andy Duncan, Vice-Chairman of Mises UK

The national socialists were socialists, shock! This is as described by Sir Norman Tebbitt in a recent Daily Telegraph article:

“It is either delusional or deceitful to call the Nazi or Fascist parties “Right wing”. There could hardly be any more clear example of the tin containing exactly what is said on the label than Hitler’s Nazis, the National Socialist German Workers Party, nor Mussolini’s collectivist Fascists. They were the Left-wing of politics on the European mainland. And they both proudly wore the racist badge of anti-Semitism.”

With President Trump in the United States, President-Elect Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Chancellor Kurz in Austria, as well as several others, we’re seeing a lot of Non-Player-Character Leftists handing out epithets such as ‘Far-Right’, ‘Ultra-Right’, ‘Neo-Nazi’, and so on, to anyone who dares stand up against socialist hegemony. This is an attempt to try to link such politicians to the greatest ever bogey-man of the Left, Reichs Chancellor Adolf Hitler.

But what if it turns out that this bogey-man is actually a Leftist himself? And what if his political regime was also a totally Leftist construct? What would the NPC Left say then? Well, if they accepted it, they would probably be speechless. So they will be kicking and screaming, I should imagine, in the face of this Telegraph article, to completely deny it.

However, it remains undeniable. The national socialists were socialists.

In my opinion, the best full book on this subject is Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War, written in 1944 by Ludwig von Mises. As a lover of liberty who had fled before the national socialists himself, in 1940, he knew exactly how to describe their political nature:

“The German and the Russian systems of socialism have in common the fact that the government has full control of the means of production. It decides what shall be produced and how. It allots to each individual a share of consumer’s goods for his consumption. These systems would not have to be called socialist if it were otherwise. But there is a difference between the two systems— though it does not concern the essential features of socialism. The Russian pattern of socialism is purely bureaucratic. All economic enterprises are departments of the government, like the administration of the army or the postal system. Every plant, shop, or farm stands in the same relation to the superior central organization as does a post office to the office of the postmaster general. The German pattern differs from the Russian one in that it (seemingly and nominally) maintains private ownership of the means of production and keeps the appearance of ordinary prices, wages, and markets. There are, however, no longer entrepreneurs but only shop managers (Betriebsführer). These shop managers do the buying and selling, pay the workers, contract debts, and pay interest and amortization. There is no labor market; wages and salaries are fixed by the government. The government tells the shop managers what and how to produce, at what prices and from whom to buy, at what prices and to whom to sell. The government decrees to whom and under what terms the capitalists must entrust their funds and where and at what wages laborers must work. Market exchange is only a sham. All the prices, wages, and interest rates are fixed by the central authority. They are prices, wages, and interest rates in appearance only; in reality they are merely determinations of quantity relations in the government’s orders. The government, not the consumers, directs production. This is socialism in the outward guise of capitalism.”

Omnipotent Government followed on from a much deeper analysis of socialism, in my favourite Von Mises book, Socialism, written much earlier in the 1920s, which analysed every facet of socialism known at the time. In this book, Von Mises distilled out the essential point via which we know whether a particular political system is socialist or not, later reflected in the above quote:

“The essence of Socialism is this: All the means of production are in the exclusive control of the organized community. This and this alone is Socialism.”

I always love the cognitive dissonance it provokes in Leftists when one correctly describes the national socialists as socialists. They generally hate being forced to acknowledge this reality, preferring to call them ‘Nazis’ instead, to somehow obliterate the link. However, the clue, as always, is in the name. Were they called ‘National Conservatives’? No. Were they called ‘National Liberals’? No. They were called ‘National Socialists‘.

Deal with it, Leftists. He was one of your own.


  1. By this definition, then, Britain would not be classed as a Socialist country? How would you describe it then?

  2. I think you should be a little careful in saying that the national socialists and fascists were leftists.I don’t think its accurate at all to portray the difference between left and right as state planning and coercion vs markets and persuasion. I think someone like Paul Gottfried accurately describes the essential difference between left and right being egalitarianism vs hierarchy.

    “What Strauss said about “conservatives” would apply to the genuine Right, yet his definition should be expanded for the sake of completeness. The Right affirms inherited hierarchy, favors the particularistic while being suspicious of the universal, aims at preserving social traditions wherever possible, and opposes the Left by every means at its disposal. The Left takes the opposite positions on the first three points out of a sense of fairness, a passionate commitment to the advancement of equality, and a universalist conception of human beings. Whereas the Right believes that what Aristotle defined as the order of the household, marked by elaborately defined distinctions, is “natural,” the Left views non-egalitarian arrangement with revulsion. Leftists are delighted to call on state managers and judges to abolish anything faintly resembling such a hierarchy.”

    What united the marxian socialists (and many others) with the national socialists was not that they were all leftists, they were united in their statism.

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