Enough with the Attacks on Dissident Cons

January 26th, 2010 at 8:35 am | 33 Comments |

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In an essay published January 25 at FrumForum, John Guardiano calls me a whining, conformist young “hipster con” who misunderstands the conservative movement and lacks the courage of my convictions, linking to material that backs up none of his characterizations.

The piece stops short of insulting my mother. But it does build to the assertion that Michael Brendan Dougherty, Ross Douthat and I are fortunate to live at a time in history when the Internet gives everyone a platform, so we have “no excuses for not speaking out” and “a moral, intellectual obligation” to make our voices heard. “So stop whining and do something!” Mr. Guardiano writes, without citing any instance of me whining, or any indication that all three of us are prolific writers and bloggers. “Build a website and join the fray. Demand a seat at the political, intellectual, and policy table. Marshall your arguments and organize like-minded writers and thinkers. Pick a fight and come out swinging.”

Reader, I am human. Upon reading all that, I initially thought about a Bobby Knight quote I once heard. “When my time on earth has passed,” the great basketball coach said, “I hope they bury me upside down so that all my critics can kiss my ass.”

Can you blame me for finding his argument galling?

Here I am a full time freelance writer who made my name in political journalism as founding features editor at a start-up conservative magazine. Did I not build a Web site? Did a manifesto not precede it? I now do part of my blogging at The American Scene, another Web site filled with young right-of-center writers. Does my output there seem like it belongs to someone hesitant to join the fray? How about my Daily Beast columns? Or my second blog at True/Slant? Or the sundry other freelance pieces I write often enough to keep me housed among coastal liberals, eating arugula and making good on NPR pledges? I’ve even written at FrumForum (about my efforts to poll GOP County Chairmen all over America). Failure to “pick a fight and come out swinging” isn’t among my countless faults.

Of course, I am a relatively obscure writer, and Mr. Brendan Dougherty, a talented, outspoken writer for The American Conservative, is only somewhat better known, whereas Mr. Douthat is a devoutly Catholic, socially conservative, staunchly anti-abortion New York Times columnist. The author of an Atlantic piece arguing that pornography may be adultery, he co-founded The American Scene, literally wrote the book on the way forward for the Republican Party, and pens film columns for National Review in his spare time. So bizarre as I found Mr. Guardiano’s attacks on Mr. Dougherty and I, we weren’t even treated the least charitably! Was it the NY Times piece on overturning Roe vs. Wade or the one titled “Cheney For President” that led to the argument that Mr. Douthat is afraid of disagreeing with the liberal elite?

Defending against attacks like this is tedious and awful, especially when you’re their object. Recall what it is like to write a college essay or get asked in a job interview, “What’s your best quality?” Readers who are neither corporate lawyers nor I-bankers surely understand how uncomfortable it can be when a task demands a lengthy, favorable assessment of yourself. But I’ve grown terribly tired of attacks on so-called dissident conservatives that utterly misunderstand or misrepresent the subject at hand as much as they mislead about our output. I’m inspired by the vim and vigor of Mr. Dougherty’s excellent piece in The Awl, and my one-time professor Katie Roiphe always counseled that I shouldn’t shy away from polemical writing when the occasion demands it. So brace yourself, Mr. Guardiano, for a rebuttal that picks a fight, forgives your negligent ignorance only because it seems earnestly argued, and ruthlessly cleaves the corrupt wings of movement conservatism with the coldest, bluntest shears at hand.

Think you know what motivates “dissident conservatives?”

In an upcoming post, you’ll have the story of how one young political independent with conservative and libertarian philosophical beliefs came to Washington DC, familiarized himself with the conservative movement, and left utterly, rightly disillusioned with it. It’ll correct Mr. Guardiano’s ill-informed presumptions about what motivates people like me to write — asserted with stunning confidence given that he has never interviewed me, and attributes to me beliefs that I’ve never written and don’t hold — and more importantly, it’ll definitively set the record straight for everyone on the right who harbors mistaken assumptions about anyone who dares to criticize folks who are “on our own side,” as it is sometimes put.

Stay tuned.

Recent Posts by Conor Friedersdorf

33 Comments so far ↓

  • joemarier

    But you ARE a hipster! I’ll hold my fire, though…

  • VACon

    This is all fair enough, but I hope you’ll concede that there’s a lesson here. You rightly object to being stereotyped unfairly, but often would-be dissidents (not Douthat, though) seem overly trigger happy when it comes to generalizing mainstream Conservatism and your average right-leaning voter as unthinking, quasi-Redneck, fundamentalist drones in love with everything Glenn Beck or some other high-profile loudmouth pundit says.

    If you want to be respected, there’s something to be said for treating your ideological opponents with a minimum of good faith in return. But the conversation practically ends before it begins when the majority of your foes are being written off as degenerate anti-intellectual fools. That is no way to actually persuade anyone.

    And relevant to Conservatism’s long-term health and political prospects, it’s rather harrowing to see writers my age talking as if the majority of right-leaning social conservatives deserve to be disrespected and essentially kicked out of the Conservative moment entirely, if not polite society itself. One can reasonably sense that the goal isn’t fusionism, but an ideological purge of a different type.

  • GOProud

    Conor whines: “Defending against attacks like this is tedious and awful, especially when you’re their object.”

    No, good Sir, reading about your defense is what is both “tedious and awful”.

    It reminds me of a famous Bobby Knight quote about sports writers: “Reporters think they know coaching, know sports. Having an opinion routinely fly out your ass doesn’t make you a reporter… reporting it just puts the reporter in the way of a good story.”

    I think that’s more instructive, Conor.

  • WillyP

    I confess I am not ultra familiar with the works of the “dissident cons.” What I have read has not really stirred me. The matter of their dissent seemed to take 2 forms:

    1) Agreeing with “green” (that is, Red) liberals on “global warming,” local industry/business, organic foods; and agreeing with liberals on healthcare – that “something” must be done, and that “something” is more government involvement, not less.

    2) Strong, borderline anachronistic support of some of the odder tendencies of Catholic social thought. Occasionally delivered is a strong polemic against abortion or gay “marriage,” but typically the anger is directed at the progress enabled by the free market. Capitalists do this wrong; workers (whoever “workers” are) are suffering; we need more protectionism (usually sold with the popular “Stop outsourcing manufacturing!”). “The family is suffering because business is too big!” “End the wars of capitalism!”

    Now, this may or may not be a fair representation of the group that Mr. Guardiano had in mind, but my list is really not that far off for conservative dissidents as a whole – there’s a lot of Pat Buchanan in them.

    A bit of an anachronism myself, I don’t see much need to reinvent good government with every Sunday periodical. Government should encourage the things that enable civilization, the unchanging things that make humans human: family, faith (generally!), freedom, and protection of private property.

    The best commentators are able to identify the underlying transcendent arguments in the day-to-day political debate, and frame an argument that is informed by history, and wise. I have in mind here (presently, anyway) Victor Davis Hanson, Mark Levin, Michael Novak, Thomas Sowell, Mona Charen, Mark Steyn.

    Finally, I do think that “whiner” was good diction on the part of Mr. Guardiano. We need more movement LEADERS – see above. While the country is being dismantled by an ideological communist president, leave the introspection to the whiners.

  • franco 2

    Willy P,

    I have done a little research and I’m beginning to believe that these folks don’t understand the nature of the opposition. At. All.

    Hanson, Levin, Sowell, Steyn and I would add Horowitz, Limbaugh, Jonah Goldberg all understand what the left wants and what tactics, strategies, and rhetorical devices they use to achieve to gain power. This I believe accounts for the disconnect. For example, Friedersdorf does not understand the nature of Levin and Limbaugh. Levin IS disrespectful to leftwing callers – to show OUR side that it can be done. That sometimes these people should just be held in contempt – especially since these individuals hold conservatives in total contempt. Conservatives are openly mocked and dismissed summarily everyday by the left, and taking it, and not retaliating in kind, is a tacit admission. Like the nerd in school who doesn’t fight back against the bullies, he will be continually bullied. These guys are like the moms and the teachers who tell the kid to be above it and retaliate. I say it’s better to fight and risk a bloody lip. They may still hate you but you will get other kids respect even if you got sent to detention for fighting.

    Levin has rightly guessed that he is more effective bolstering his side and rallying them, than trying to convince the closed-minded leftist drone. Leave that to Michael Medved.

    Rush’s statement ” I hope he fails” is a direct challenge to the wimpy Republicans intimidated and afraid of charges of racism, as though Obama needs to succeed because he is our first black President and so whatever he wants should be enacted which is the context for his game-changing statement. The fact that Limbaugh makes such a statement provides room in the debate. It creates a debate.

    And while it played into one aspect of the Democrat narrative, which gets these guys all upset, it has paid off in the long run. Rush knew what Obama wanted and now the rest of the country is beginning to see the left-wing agenda, now they want Obama to “fail” too.

    The dissident cons have some very good points, but they seem to grant the left far too much good will. Perhaps they have spent too much time with the useful idiots and not enough time with the Chicago boys. They may know Adam Smith, Willam F. Buckley and Edmund Burke but they don’t know Rahm Emanuel, Saul Alinsky and Cloward-Priven. They can’t get their heads around Obama with Rev. Wright or his association with Bill Ayers. They won’t consider that Obama may just share their views. I don’t know what evidence they have for believing this (Obama’s denials ?) Every bit of evidence since BHO was elected bears out his leftist agenda.

    I daresay talk radio audience is a step ahead of these intellectuals. When Levin is talking about Obama’s intentions and motivations I know he’s talking about leftist tactics. I know he is referring to the Cloward-Priven strategy. I know leftists and Levin is trying to enlighten those who don’t. If it goes over the heads of some people, so be it.

  • WillyP

    You’re right, of course. These “dissidents” would rather win a war on paper than at the ballot box. I’m as much for precision in academic debate as the next (talk radio) caller, but let’s face it: who gives a flying hoot what’s in the minds/books of some clear thinkers when the laws are nonsensical, destructive, and idiotic.

    Levin (and Limbaugh, and Goldberg, etc… I did not/could not name them all) et al. understand that there are two parts to any political struggle: First you must create a confidence on your side that they are correct, which enables them to fight the other side bravely. And then you must develop a language for the rest of society, who are not political activists. That’s another way of saying that you need to use POPULAR and EMOTIONAL words to convert the apathetic/agnostic. This is practical politics, how it’s been conducted since ancient Athens.

    Divisive, angry, and non-intellectual dialogue are just part of the Democratic process. The Left gets this; half the time, the Right gets this. The “dissenters” deign it beneath them. Their naivety would be charming if it weren’t so simultaneously pathetic.

    The left utilizes emotion well. It uses (primarily) hatred, resentment, envy, and jealousy to drive voters. When, on occasion, the Right does this well, we use the language (largely bygone in this era of statism!) of FREEDOM! Our side would do well to read some Thomas Paine and learn what useful propaganda reads like.

    Talk radio is terrific in this regard, too, because not only does it take a bare-knuckles approach, pulling no punches, but it also opens up a forum to the entire country. What other programs can claim that ability? You really do hear from all walks of life listening to WABC from noon-9pm. 60 Minutes, Dateline, 20/20 mainly interview the newsmakers/elites. Talk radio engages the public, and gives the listening a sense of the national mood from coast to coast. If you want to forge a popular message, no medium can beat it.

  • jakester

    I guess it is a crime to be a hipster if you are a conservative. You must be a humorless, hate filled, militaristic conformist dressed for business or for hunting and killing to be taken as an authentic con. It’s the John Guardiano’s & Limbos is why I shun the label conservative.

  • WillyP

    jakester – I don’t think Mr. Guardiano wrote his piece to denounce “hipsterism,” but instead whining. Perhaps I’m wrong.

    I’m a conservative, and I could care less if you’re a hipster. (Though I do think you rather resemble the cast from A Clockwork Orange.)

  • jakester

    Yes Willy, me and my droogs dress like Billy Boy and Dim, and we got jobs with the local constables too.

  • WillyP

    Well what would ever possibly make you sympathetic to the label conservative? What brings you to a conservative forum? If not JG or “Limbo” ???????

  • jakester

    I tend to favor a more conservative approach. But I simply do not subscribe to the Limbo Coulter worldview. Especially when it comes to people who want to inject their backwards Christianity into the polticial fray. I laugh at conservative Catholics who want us to bow down to the dictates of the Vatican, who outside of their sexually prudery, have a leftist political bent vis a vis social welfare spending, reduced military, open border, etc. Our founding fathers understood well the anti-democratic pro monarchial mentality of the Church. I am Jewish by faith and a secularist politically, which alienates me from the bulk of today’s conservative movement where Huckabees and creationists run rampant. This is the same reason why I am a staunch anti-jihader Islamicist too.

  • kensilber

    Douthat’s “Cheney for President” headline was sarcasm, I thought–he was arguing that if there were a Cheney candidacy, it would lose and thus discredit idea that GOP should be hard-right.

  • trajan

    I’ve heard Jakester’s confused crap come from the mouths of many other Jews and it’s symptomatic of why 78 percent of Jews voted for Obama and would probably do so again today. They learn nothing. I’m one as well so I can get away with saying that. It’s as intolerant as anything coming from the mouth of Pat Buchanan. Jakester may be a “staunch anti-jihader” but for the wrong reasons. Jakester, you know what putz means?

  • jakester

    Trajan, up yours, there is nothing confused or bigoted about what I said. Maybe the reason why 78% of the Jews supported Obama is they can smell the anti-semitic bigotry coming off your rancid theocon bodies. Don’t call me a putz, you piece of anti-semitic trash. You are basically calling not only me a confused bigoted putz, but most Jews. Well, all Jew haters start out by calling the Jews bigoted as to excuse their own innate bigotry, the same way racists start out by calling Obama a racist.

    This is why I support secularism, I won’t force my religous values on you and dont’ do the same to me.. You can take all the Uncle Hymies like Prager who run to bail out Coulter et al and certify pork kosher every time one of them says what they really think about Jews.
    Oh yeah, the last time the Vatican gave it’s official blessings to a warring belligerent was Franco in the Spanish Civil, but to the allies fighting Hitler, no

  • jakester

    Trajan, up yours, there is nothing confused or bigoted about what I said. Maybe the reason why 78% of the Jews supported Obama is they can smell the anti-semitic bigotry coming off your rancid theocon bodies. Don’t call me a putz, you piece of anti-semitic trash. You are basically calling not only me a confused bigoted putz, but most Jews. Well, all Jew haters start out by calling the Jews bigoted as to excuse their own innate bigotry, the same way racists start out by calling Obama a racist.

    This is why I support secularism, I won’t force my religous values on you and dont’ do the same to me.. You can take all the Uncle Hymies like Prager who run to bail out Coulter et al and certify pork kosher every time one of them says what they really think about Jews.
    Oh yeah, the last time the Vatican gave it’s official blessings to a warring belligerent was Franco in the Spanish Civil, but to the allies fighting Hitler, no

  • WillyP

    jakester, and you associated JG and Rush with Catholoic monarchists? That’s bizarre.

    Also, I’m not sure how well modern democracy is going to stack up against and old monarchical order. Sure, many of them were tyrannical, but most (if not all) were a whole lot more limited in power than modern democracies. Matter of fact, if America and Europe don’t get around to their serious structural debt problems, the future world may shun democracy is evil.

    H.L. Mencken, no Catholic or monarchical apologist, more or less agreed.

  • WillyP

    Actually, you sound vehemently anti-Catholic. You’re a secularist… which means, what? Are you an atheist? Would you like to ban religion, or maybe just the Vatican? You sound like you should be attending some Skeptics conference, and not discussing politics but theology (or its negation).

    A “secularist politically” to me, would mean something like a classical liberal. I have my doubts that you’re politically attenuated enough as to be able to distinguish between this and a modern liberal. I don’t mix my religion and politics, though it would not be inaccurate to say that my politics comes from my underlying religious beliefs.

    If trajan can’t understand what you’re saying, it’s not his fault.

  • jakester

    I was commenting in general about how many conservatives, not all, are also not only conservative Christians but are quite open about injecting THEIR religion into politics. I said that to explain why I shun the label “conservative” for myself. Rush, of course, only uses religion as a club to attack liberals, but the second running GOP presdential candidate in 2008 primaries was a Baptist minister who got into politics to bring America back to Jesus and McCain’s running mate was a some fundamentalist end times believer who thinks the earth is only 6500 years old. They are now both FOX News employees which speaks volumes on how central theocons are to today’s conservatice movement. What is laughable about the Conservative Catholics today like most of the NRO, is that outside of sexual prudery, the current Vatican platform is more like Obama’s than Palin’s. I brought up the founding father’s angle since cons are always using them as sockpuppets when it suits their goals.

  • trajan

    Jakester, child, did I say confused? Uh, how about psychotic.

  • jakester

    I am married to a Catholic and most people I know are Catholic, so please spare me your cheap ugly accusation about my non existent Catholic bigotry. I’m sorry if I happened to notice that for about a millenia, the Catholic Church was anti-semitic as well as I don’t not acknowledge their authority, which makes sense since I am not Catholic. Also, I can’t help noticing that most of the vehemently Jew hating bigots I have met personally, the ones who think we are the devil and Hitler(a Catholic too) is right, are Catholics too. If noticing that Catholicism in general has a vast documented legacy of anti-Semitism is some sort of bigotry is lunacy. Look at the thousands of Jewish death camp surviviors who were murdered and assaulted in post WW ll Poland. If disagreeing with the Vatican is the same as anti-Catholic. then you have mangled the meaning of words to a new level. That would be like accusing a black who is suspicious of the Sons of the Confederacy and Rebel Civil war re-enactors as a racist who hates Southerners. I am a secularist in that in politics, we need to leave religion out. Twisting that into your contemptible accusation that I want to ban religion is very low and dishonest. Injecting religion into politics can only lead to more divide in our pluralistic nation because, guess what, most people don’t believe what you believe.

  • jakester

    you are a bigoted and cruel, shut up.

  • jakester

    You are a stupid patronizing bigot, the kind of low brow trash that repels me away from Conservatism. Please enlighten me, you ugly little man, what did I say that made a person who obviously has no training in psychiatry, think I am psychotic? Your insults and accusations are as utterly contemtible as you are in general. Well, what can one expect from some meglomanaic who names himself after a Roman emperor.

  • WillyP

    I am not entering a religious discussion, and I am not going to bother answering your claims. You may be right. I prefer to let the scholars debate medieval history. To be sure, there was “anti-xxxx” attitudes back then, as there are now, and the church’s history of anti-Semitism, while certainly not laudable, is not really very surprising to a student of human history. I’m not excusing it – just giving it some context.

    But to throw in that Hitler was a Catholic is quite dishonest. He was no more a Catholic than I a ostrich. I mean, the guy banned the Church, after all…

    I never liked Huckabee for President, and still don’t. I think he’s way out there on his health obsession, wanting to ban smoking and tax fatty foods… sounded kind of Third Reichish.

    Finally, I do think I’m right that you’d rather discuss religion. And I very strongly disagree that the Right poses a legitimate theological threat to the non-fundamentalists. You act as though conservative Christians are still running around in white sheets.

  • trajan

    Jakester, LOL.

  • jakester

    I never said or implied that all the conservative Christians are klansmen. But there is anti-semitism element inherent in a lot of them and what they say, starting with Trajan. After all, if I am one of those stubborn Christ killers who is going to hell, who could possibly agree with me unless I get baptised & purified? It’s like when someone on talk radio starts off with the line, “My deeply held religous beliefs,”, I know a gay bashing slam or something similiar is coming next. I am entitled to point out that injecting conservative Christianity into politics is not a good thing & I disagree with it. Tens of millions of good Christians would agree with me on that, as well as most gays.

    Pointing out that Hitler was a Catholic, who did not ban the Church as you claim, just demonstrates the innate anti-semitism that Catholicism engendered. He grew around Jew hatred so it was second nature for Adolph to hate Jews. Pointing out that most of the Protestant churches in Germany initially supported Hitler and the Nazis later co-opted many of them is simply a fact. Do you remember Pastor Neimoller? So Christianity is not some tyrant repellent as some cons like to claim, or we wouldn’t have had those Spanish emperors or Russian Tsars too.

    I also acknowledge, to their credit, the Church & most Christians in general has moved moutains to repudiate and reverse anti-semitism, as well as their history of laudable service to the poor and underprivileged.

    Finally it’s a bit silly and disingenuous to parade one’s conservative Christian creds while tallking about strong military, pro gun, anti-health care, and tax cut positions, I have only read small parts of the Gospels but I don’t recollect Jesus’s taking a stand on any of those issues. My bet is that he would’ve felt differently about them. Jesus wasn’t even a Zionist.

    If what I said is riling people up, I think it is because I have made a good point they refuse to acknowledge. Not because I am some alleged Christian hating Jewish golem.

  • WillyP

    I think people what people find risible is your willy-nilly abuse of history.

    Aquinas referenced the pagan Aristotle approvingly.

    Hitler banned the Church all but in name, subsuming it into the Nazi machinery.

    Jesus, being the Prince of Peace, and an observant Jew, would generally be against tyranny, and likewise the things you apparently like:

    1) Gun control 2) High taxes 3) Compulsory health insurance

    It is a bit disingenuous to start slurring earlier Christians, when in fact, politically speaking, they existed in the same world as the rest of humanity. Every creed has had periods of tyranny; that Christians were far and away the largest religious group in Europe lends it to more criticism by virtue of the fact that it had more followers – i.e., people identifiable as “Christians.”

    I told you – you like to discuss religion. I am not a comparative religious scholar, and do not spend very much time investigating the religious roots of political movements (though I can tell you in no uncertain terms that Hitler was not some sort of modernist Catholic dictator… modernism, born out of Germany, was actually a target of the Church, if I’m not mistaken).

    I suggest you occupy your time on a forum where you’ll have all sorts of nuts eager to engage you in inflammatory religious dialogue. That seems to be what you’re looking for.

  • WillyP

    Err, let me clarify:
    Modernism, as a movement, was quite German.

    Hitler was not a modern (in the vulgar sense) Catholic dictator. He was a Nazi dictator, which was an entirely different ethos, and mainly pagan.

  • kevin47

    Fair enough on the cease-fire for dissident cons. In Conor’s defense, he wrote conservative articles for our college newspaper, which certainly was not the hip thing, and more than I and the few conservatives on campus were willing to do.

    I would still call the centrist wing of the party to move beyond drafting manifestos, and begin to take stances going forward. Given the implosion of the Democratic party, there is a wide swath of ideological terrain to cover.

    Part of building a consensus means staking a claim on that territory, and defending it. If the “new majority” movement has a lingering fault, it is that it has skipped the claiming part, and moved right to the defense. The result is rather, erm, defensive.

    So let’s call a truce. I’ll quit calling the Conor Friedersdorfs of the world RINOs, hipsters, and dummy farts, and they can quit evoking Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin at every turn. Sound fair?

  • jakester

    Of course Hitler was not a practicing Catholic and he and the Nazis certainly did not like the Church. But he and the Church were willing to deal with each other. After all, the Nazis occupied Rome for nine months: if Hitler hated Catholics and the Church so much, who was stopping him from annihilating the Vatican, the Pope’s Swiss Guard? It’s not like Hitler was coy and concerned about world opinion at this time. The only Nazis who set foot in the Vatican in that time were the accredited ambassadors to the Vatican and other envoys.

    Nor am I laying the blame for the Holocaust at anyone’s feet but the Nazis and the bulk of the German people who went along with them and followed all their orders willingly. But don’t tell a millenia of anti-Semitism, most of it theologically inspired, didn’t provide fertile soil for this horror to happen.

  • WillyP

    I’d say, much more than the ancient prejudice, the fertile soil was provided by militarism, German nationalism, the myth of the Aryan uberrace, and a desperate population that had just suffered a currency collapse on the heels of losing a major armed conflict. For the sake of brevity, one could say WWI led to WWII, and they’d generally be considered correct.

    The Holocaust is, of course, not exactly WWII. Addressing specifically that atrocity, we should remember that dictators regularly make use of old hatreds. We can see that right now in our own country, as the president regularly attacks the successful with Marxist rhetoric. Sure, Antisemitism is largely a European brainchild. In the 13th century, it was Aquinas who espoused tolerance of different creeds, but death to the heretics [i.e., Christians who were not in line with official Dogma]. I don’t think the casuistry of Antisemitism of the Christian ages leads, necessarily, to the Holocaust. You should also remember that it was not only Jews who were targeted, but the Roma, the infirm, and anyone else who fell outside the Nazi eugenic ideal.

    The Nazi religious ceremonies and holidays, like I said before, were primarily pagan. And to the extent that the National Socialists were Marxists, they detested religion in general.

  • PCR

    WillyP, your history is spot-on until the bit about the Nazis being, in any sense, shape, or meaning of the word, Marxists. This is just factually untrue. Yes, there were, in the early days of the movement, genuine socialists in the Nazi movement (like the Strasser brothers), but these were removed from positions of power by the late 1920s, and the leaders of the left wing of the Nazi Party were, almost to a man, dead or imprisoned after the Night of the Long Knives in 1934. The “Socialism” in National Socialism was a complete fiction by the time Hitler had consolidated his power.

    Hitler, for his part, was class-conscious only to the extent that he hated intellectuals and people more sophisticated or educated than himself. He actively courted both large corporations such as Krupp and Bayer and preserved the estates of the landed Junkers when they came under the threat of land reform.

    Orthodox Marxism is decidedly international, the Nazi movement by its very nomenclature was xenophobic and nationalistic.

    Orthodox Marxism ascribes to a class-based, non-ethnic, teleological view of history, Nazi ideology was explicitly racial and emphasized the work of “great men” as the shapers of events.

    Regarding religion, Hitler was inconsistent. When he needed the support of the Church and the Catholic Center party, he actively courted them, portraying himself as a bulwark for Christian Europe against the godless Soviet hordes. When they had outlived their political convenience, he disposed of them alongside the countless other betrayed allies who facilitated his rise to power. If he was antagonistic to religion, it was in the same way that he set himself as an enemy of any interest group that detracted from the all-encompassing service and worship of the totalitarian State. While you are totally correct in asserting the pagan origins of Nazi ceremonies and holidays, I think it’s erroneous in the extreme to somehow conflate Nazi paganism and anticlericalism with the rabid, unyielding hatred that Marx and his ideological heirs have of religion in any form. The ends may be similar, but they arrive there on two totally different ideological roads.

    Words like “Marxist”, “socialist”, “fascist”, etc., are so overly and poorly used that they have lost practically all of their meaning, and now signify little more than “someone we don’t like”. I hate to call you out on that when your history is, as I said, otherwise flawless, but words do HAVE meanings, and it’s important to understand what those are before we throw them around carelessly.

  • WillyP

    Thanks for the praise. On the Marxism of Nazi Germany: this is not my original idea. It was generally considered true at the time of Nazism.

    You can read the first few pages of this book (see below), written by a Communist economist, stating his the belief that there were (at the time) no more pure examples of the Marxist ideal of the State than Russia and Germany.


    W.E.B. Debois, H.G. Wells, and many other intellectuals of the Progressive era (whose names escape me at the moment) visited both Italy and Germany, and regarded them as Marxist states. The intellectual history goes back to Hegel and Nietzsche, Saint-Simone, Comte, and the earlier socialists. It was the ideal of the State before the people, which goes back to, oh, say Hobbes.

    I will defend the use of my words fascist and socialist, because I have studied their intellectual origins and theories of economy. And in practice, although the technic may have been marginally different, both system end with bureaucratic planning of the economy. From the perspective of a citizen, it matters very little how my rulers justify their totalitarian tyranny; be it the omnipotence of the State over the individual, or the Marxist dialectic.

    When I said the Nazi ethos was a fusion of paganism and Marxism, it was meant, primarily, to show that Nazism was anything but Christian – as both those belief systems are explicitly anti-Christian. I did not mean to imply that the two (paganism, Marxism) were otherwise interconnected.

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