The Clare Spark Blog

December 10, 2014

Were Nazis “Socialists”?

stalin-mao-hitler-murderers-secret-combinationWith so many readers expecting short blogs readable on smartphones these days, it is not surprising that a limited number of my numerous Facebook friends have the patience to read deep-diving explanations of why they have swallowed the rumor that Hitler and the Nazis or others called “fascists” were indistinguishable from Communists and other advocates of “progress.” Still, I promised to deliver something that serious  readers would find digestible.

First, it is well known that communist historians in America have often blamed “Republicans” for Nazism.It is understandable that many conservatives, waylaid by the term “National Socialism” would return the favor by pouncing on the word “Socialism,” without deciphering its meaning to Germans.

Even before Hitler was appointed Chancellor by German President Paul von Hindenburg (to destroy the threatening German Communist Party and the Soviet Union, but with von Papen as Vice-Chancellor to hold Hitler in check), citizens of the Reich understood the concept of socialism to entail sacrifice of the individual for the benefit of the state. I already pointed this out: https://clarespark.com/2010/02/18/nazi-sykewar-american-style-part-four/. The exact quote in this series German Psychological Warfare: Survey and Bibliography edited by Ladislas Farago (1941) on behalf of the American “moderate” progressives is here Note the date, 1920:

“43. Spengler, O. Preussentum und Sozialismus. Muenchen: Beck, 1920.
PRUSSIANISM AND SOCIALISM. Spengler, a philosopher turned political prophet, ‘discovered’ during the war years the close identity of Prussianism to Socialism. Prussianism and “genuine Socialism”—not of Marx, but of Friedrich Wilhelm I, which was authoritarian, anti-democratic and anti-revolutionary—are consolidated in the old Prussian spirit and are equal to each other because both mean power. This thesis was taken up by the Nazis in what was called ‘Socialism of action.’ Socialism meaning comradeship, service, and duty, not class struggle.” [And what “moderate” anticommunist would not find this appealing? CS]

Second, many rightists swear by Jonah Goldberg’s best-seller Liberal Fascism. I read the book twice and blogged about its slant and deficiencies here: https://clarespark.com/2010/03/10/jonah-goldbergs-liberal-fascism-part-one/. No historian or major intellectual takes this book seriously. It does feed into the misconception fostered by ardent anticommunists that it is proper and appropriate to paint the Hitler moustache upon any progressive, particularly those that were interested in social hygiene and public health, as Hitler really was, though in the context of Aryan superiority and “the People’s Community” (the Volk) I suspect that there is a strong misogynistic element motivating Goldberg and his followers, especially with their insistence that the welfare state is better described as the “nanny state.” Or perhaps there is less misogyny here than bitterness over the departure of the patriarchal father in the home, disciplining children and allocating family resources: a process that has been going on since the rise of industrialism and the rise of “the moral mother.” (See https://clarespark.com/2012/02/25/moral-atheists/, and https://clarespark.com/2009/10/23/murdered-by-the-mob-moral-mothers-and-symbolist-poets/.

Third, although virtually all historians agree that the populist/anti-bourgeois S.A., one obstreperous faction of the new Nazi party, was finished by June 30, 1934 (the Night of the Long Knives), one recent scholar agrees that a minimal socialist element persisted throughout the Nazi regime (see Robert O. Paxton’s The Anatomy of Fascism for this judgment, that I have not seen duplicated elsewhere in the English language, though in his earlier book The Racial State, co-written with Wolfgang Wipperman, he makes no such claim). For my rundown of Paxton’s most recent book, see https://clarespark.com/2014/11/13/the-anatomy-of-fascism-robert-paxtons-analysis/.

Finally, rightist culture warriors have spread the inflammatory myth that the refugee scholars of Jewish descent (the Frankfurters fleeing Nazism, who unsuccessfully attempted to fuse Marx and Freud) have turned the heads of the American electorate, propagating the notion of political correctness. I find this particularly infuriating and even likely to be antisemitic. See one of many blogs on this subject: https://clarespark.com/2011/10/21/did-frankfurters-kill-the-white-christian-west/. Rather, it was the early Progressive movement, all Christians by the way, who invented identity politics; i.e. “ethnic” or hyphenated American identity would suffocate “proletarian internationalism.” Later, to mollify and co-opt the social movements of the 1960s, similar elitist statists deployed the crypto-racism of “multiculturalism” and “cultural relativism” to quiet the new “extremists” (some of whom did sympathize with the Old Left, especially Leninist anti-imperialism).

I can understand that many conservatives remain hung up on anticommunism and continue to defend Joe McCarthy, for major scholars have examined the briefly opened Soviet archives after 1989, and found that many of McCarthy’s claims were based in fact. But these same scholars have also documented the fall of the KGB and the sharply dwindling communist movement in America. I refer to Mark Kramer, Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Ron Radosh, to name a few. None would deny that Hitler’s task, as patronized by German conservatives, was to destroy the independent working class movement and its inspiration, the Soviet Union.
To imagine that Hitler was “really” a communist/Socialist, is to weaken the argument against the increasing statism demonstrated by the Obama administration. As Paxton and his inspiration Martin Broszat, convincingly demonstrate, Leader, Party, State, and sub-agencies (such as the SS) were in constant conflict during the Third Reich. Earlier scholars failed to see that the State was up for grabs during the Third Reich, partly because of sequestered documents.

obama-hitler

Ironically, where conservative have ammunition linking “socially responsible capitalists” to Nazism, they fail to use it. For instance, to my knowledge, only I have uncovered ignore the important role that New Deal-affiliated social psychologists played in mind-management during the late 1930s and early 1940s: if you want to dig up scandals, this one is a dilly, for such luminaries as Henry A. Murray, Gordon Allport, and Walter Langer consciously adopted Hitlerian methods of controlling the little people (the mob or “the people, untrained to rule”) they held responsible for Nazism. (See https://clarespark.com/2011/03/27/progressive-mind-managers-ca-1941-42/, and https://clarespark.com/2009/12/13/klara-hitlers-son-and-jewish-blood/. Henry A. Murray argued that Jewish blood would explain Hitler’s success in fooling other world leaders.

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November 21, 2014

Love Stories: the curious case of CASABLANCA

casacast[Update: Saw the last 50 minutes  last night (9-11-16), and noticed more details: The dialogue was almost improbably Red, and the Marseillaise was played over the closing title: a reminder that the French Revolution is thought to have inspired the Russian Revolution of 1917.]

I just finished reading the script for Casablanca (1942), and realized that the underlying love story is between “Rick” (Bogart) and “Renault” (Claude Rains) who, at the last minute stroll off together to join the Free French, symbolized by the discarding of “Vichy Water.” This “buddy movie” is all about  heroism as sacrifice, this movie, so perfect for both the military and the home front.

This blog is about the fascination that “love stories” have over politics, including what we think of war and other matters of social policy. I ask, what role do television and movies play in our willingness to fight for our Constitutional rights, or, alternatively, to escape into fantastic realms, whether these are apocalypses, various forms of utopian politics (on either Left or Right), sports, or trashy diversions such as soft porn television shows?

First, let’s delve into the politics of one of the most praised movies of all time, Casablanca, set in French Morocco, December of 1941. What I remembered from this movie was the love story, not the spin it put on French resistance since the shocking Fall of France in June 1940. I began to suspect its sub-text after I read historian Robert O. Paxton’s revisionist Vichy France (first published in 1972). Read Paxton’s various introductions to later editions of his books here, and you will get the gist of his argument, which decodes the movie under discussion, revealing it to be communist propaganda:

http://books.google.com/books?id=ciM0KTvWTV0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=Paxton%2BVichy%2B2001+edition+introduction&hl=en&sa=X&ei=sEhuVPapFoKgoQTSkoKQCg&ved=0CC8QuwUwAA#v=onepage&q=Paxton%2BVichy%2B2001%20edition%20introduction&f=false . Then read the script for the movie, which is also easily found online. Note that one of the chief writers was screenwriter Howard Koch (later blacklisted in the 1950s), who went on to write the script for the notoriously Stalinist Mission to Moscow (1943).

But first Paxton: he reveals that resistance to German occupation was not only weak, but that the majority of Frenchmen favored “neutrality” during the early 1940s, adjusting to the new world order which would be controlled by France, Germany, Italy, and Spain; long gone were the days of the Popular Front of 1936; much of French conduct during the Occupation and Vichy is explicable owing to anti-Communism. Moreover, most French feared the notion of a second front, for they were already subjected to bombing by England, their traditional enemies and imperial rivals. The depiction of “Renault” is improbable (he is a somewhat enigmatic policeman in the movie, who is suddenly willing to join with “Rick”—a café owner, who was previously an activist who went straight from opposing Mussolini’s attack on Ethiopia to defending the Spanish Republic). Yet, in the movie, Rick is tough, cynical, and apparently unaffiliated, seemingly oblivious to persecutions visited upon Europeans on the lam from Hitler seeking exit visas to Lisbon.

Cherchez la femme to explain Rick’s apparent hard-heartedness. In Paris, Rick had a brief but torrid affair with “Ilse” (a femme fatale and played by the Swedish Ingrid Bergman), who inexplicably left him. (We find out later that she was married to “Victor Laszlo”, the leader of the Czech resistance, played by the nobly represented Paul Henreid.) Later, Ilse, a bit “pneumatic” (as Aldous Huxley would have said) will yield to passion once again, but Rick, returned to his preference of politics over romance, will sacrifice his temporary happiness so that both Ilse and Victor can escape Nazi-infested Casablanca. Reverting to type, he will kill a Nazi (Strasser). (For the depoliticized plot see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casablanca_(film).)

Even more improbably than the budding alliance between Rick and Renault, the clientele of Rick’s café rise up and sing the Marseillaise, thus linking Victor, France and Rick’s customers to Jacobin France, a favorite Communist tic. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Marseillaise. In fact, as Paxton insists, leftist Frenchmen were comparatively weak after 1848; it is preposterous that the customers would, by singing, so openly defy the German military who have entered Rick’s café.)

Marseillaise

The romantic plot is not so devoid of complications either; strong Rick purifies weak Ilse of her impulse to stay with him in Casablanca by lying to Victor about their sexual encounter the night before; Ilse came to him solely to pick up the exit visas, he lies. “We’ll always have Paris,” the freedom fighter, restored to the correct posture, declares. And as part of the film’s subtext, the Free French have no communists, just adherents of the nationalist and superpatriot Charles de Gaulle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_nationalism).

I began this blog by complaining about the ubiquity of “romance” over politics, real history, and realism in the mass media. It is amazing to me that film critics are incapable of seeing through this escape mechanism. But perhaps not. Audiences would prefer to believe that [obsessive] love conquers all, even though mature persons of either sex understand that [adolescent] passion fades, to be replaced by friendship, responsible parenthood, or conversely, multiple affairs or divorce. As long as populist progressives control movies and television, Amor Vincit Omnia wins every time, along with self-sacrifice for the sake of “the People”–a different kind of love, but even more intense. Romantic love, by itself, is way too subversive.

Buyers beware.

Renault with Strasser

Renault with Strasser

For the source material, also probably written by [leftists?] Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, see Everybody Comes to Rick’s (also online, note that the heroine is an American named Joan Meredith, not a Scandinavian). It was sold to Warner Brothers for only $20,000.

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