In this short piece I’ll be looking to answer a few questions:
1) What is National Socialism? Is it equivalent to being both Nationalist and Socialist?
2) Is National Socialism inherently evil? Is it unworkable?
3) Are there any modern parties that use or hold a National Socialist ideology?
I will use the terms “National Socialism” “Nazism” and “NS” interchangeably.
What is National Socialism? Is it equivalent to being both Nationalist and Socialist?
Wordweb defines National Socialism as:
“a form of Socialism featuring racism and expansionism”. A search on ‘google scholar’ reveals that almost every paper, every book and every encyclopaedia entry on National Socialism references to the Nazis.
The roots of NS almost entirely originate from Germany, mostly with the intellectual doctrines of late nineteenth century figures such as the composer Richard Wagner who encouraged the militant type Socialism of some European states and espoused what would now be considered a vile form of “master race” type psychology.
However the separate ideologies of “Nationalism” and “Socialism” existed a long time before such political evolution occurred. In any case, a cursory search of the internet should be enough to confirm that “National Socialism” is now epitomised by Nazism and vice versa.
So while “Nazism” is a portmanteau of “Nationalist Socialist” (in German), a study of political timelines shows us that NS should be considered an entirely separate and unique ideology in its own right. National Socialism is not simply a loose term for any party or ideology that happens to have elements of both Nationalism and Socialism. The later two ideologies can and do exist entirely as entirely different entities from NS.
So what is NS? National Socialism has several defining characteristics. It is dictatorial and therefore anti democratic. It is expansionist. It is anti-economic liberalism but also anti-Communist. It is militant and, of course, nationalistic.
This is a total contrast to the separate ideologies of Socialism and Nationalism. Socialism – in brief – believes in greater distribution of income and resources in a struggle to lower the class gaps in society. Nationalism – also in brief – seeks to place the role of the state or nation at the forefront of society in order to make people aware of their culture and identity. There are many separate forms of Nationalism including civic Nationalism and ethnic Nationalism.
It should therefore be apparent that NS is not at all equivalent to being “Nationalist” or “Socialist”. Modern Socialist parties in the UK would heavily oppose many of the aforementioned aspects of NS and crucially, they would go through the democratic channels, which is against a core concept of Nazism.
Is National Socialism inherently evil? Is it unworkable?
It should be equally apparent that while Nazism was an evil and unworkable ideology, it is certainly not evil to hold an ideology of Socialism, Nationalism, or an ideology that combines elements of both.
Are there any modern parties that use or hold a National Socialist ideology?
Apparently, yes. I have heard of fringe groups that follow Hitler or employ Nazi ideology. These fringe groups will never be anything more than a small bunch of misguided people. In the mainstream, there are no such parties. Whilst some people have accused the British National Party of being “Nazis” or “Fascists”, these are groundless, almost comical accusations. Certainly the BNP is a Nationalist party which contains elements of Socialism in its political manifesto but – as we have seen – like any other serious party the BNP has core values that are polar opposites of Nazism. The BNP is a party committed to the democratic process. It also supports a policy of non-intervention in foreign conflicts and affairs, which is a total contrast to the expansionist zeal of Nazism. Anyone who accuses the BNP of Nazism clearly has no understanding of history or politics.
Nazism is, essentially, a horrid ideology that is now firmly rooted in history and may it always stay there. It has no relevance to many of the modern, progressive parties in the UK that follow the democratic process and employ elements of both Nationalism and Socialism when needed.