Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Three Differences Between Communism and Nazism

New Soviet People: Worker and Kolkhoz Woman
As an introductory note, let it be clearly stated that in this article the usage of the word “Communism” refers to Soviet-style socialism, or Marxism-Leninism as applied by the Soviet Union and later China.  “Nazism” refers specifically to German National Socialism in the Third Reich.

I’ve been reading a lot of Karl Marx lately, as well as a number of books and articles on the early decades of the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, for a large term paper due in one of my political science classes.  The thesis of my paper is that Stalinism is the logical conclusion to Marxian socialism.  The abbreviated logic is that the many holes and open ends in Marxist theory, combined with the oppressive growth of the state under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, render the conversion from socialism to stateless communism to be impossible.  The state will not wither away as workers enjoy new freedom, but rather will grow into a totalitarian one at their expense.

“On [Dr. Goebbels’] assertion that Lenin was the greatest man, second only to Hitler, and that the difference between Communism and the Hitler faith was very flight, a faction war opened with whizzing beer glasses” (from a November 1924 New York Times article, cited in The Soviet Story).

In my research I’ve found an overwhelming number of similarities and downright parallels between communism and Nazism, but what I found most striking were the three main differences between the two, which ultimately convinced me that Communism and Nazism are but two sides to the same utopian totalitarian coin.

1.      A superior human being.  Karl Marx offers in The German Ideology a glimpse of a utopia where the post-revolutionary proletariat is so productive that men are free to fish in the morning, hunt in the afternoon, and write literary and political criticisms in the evening.  From this, Trotsky expanded the utopia to include the idea of the New Soviet Man who
“will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman” (from Literature and Revolution).
Basically, the revolutionary proletarians will be such hard workers and so dedicated to the Marxian revolution that they will physically and mentally evolve into super-humans.  The Nazis, on the other hand, worshiped the Aryan as the next super-human.  In contrast to the Soviet superhero being more evolved due to class consciousness and dedication, the Aryan will advance because he is genetically (racially) superior to other humans and through selective breeding will continue to far surpass the others.

2.      Private property and state control.  In a May 1, 1927 speech Adolf Hitler said,
“We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions.”
The Soviet state confiscated the overwhelming majority of private property, encompassing real estate (land), industry/businesses, and physical objects like machines and tools.  Turning these items into state property, the Communist party-state planned the economy and dictated production.  The Nazi state never did away with capitalism, nor did it abolish private property, but rather marginally tolerated them for the sake of benefiting the state.  The Nazi party-state instead planned the economy and left it to the industrialists and business people to make it happen within heavy regulations imposed by the government.  This merger between corporate and state power was the socialism Hitler was after, with the benefit of German citizens derived from the economic outputs of the corporate/state marriage.

3.      Imperial expansion.  Marx reinterpreted Hegel’s theory of dialectics (opposing forces or viewpoints) to form historical materialism, which argues that history is the story of class struggle (The Communist Manifesto, Section I).  The struggle and victory of one class over another is what makes history move from one stage to another.  The first stages were primitive communism—as practiced by the early peoples—then slave society—as practiced by the ancient empires like Rome and the Greeks—and feudalism.  The world is currently in the capitalist stage, at the end of which the proletariat will rise up and usher in the socialist stage, which will pave the way for the stateless, moneyless utopia of communism.

The Russian Revolution/Civil War and later the Chinese Revolution/Civil War solidified the idea that the proletariat was beginning to complete its historical mission.  However, beyond Russia, no other country in the world became Marxist all by itself (except tiny Cuba).  Because the proletarians were lagging in rising up, it was the job of the Soviet Union to make revolution happen worldwide.  The USSR heavily funded Mao’s Communist army in China during the Chinese Civil War.  Later, the USSR and China either sent combat troops into or provided financial and material support to every militant Marxist movement in the world.  All the European countries that became Communist after World War II made the transformation at Soviet gunpoint.

Lenin’s idea was that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union would spread revolution across the world (implying that Moscow would be the world’s capital).  While Lenin and Stalin were intent on conquering the world for Communism to establish one giant Communist society, Hitler’s aim was to conquer the world and liquidate the undesirables for the benefit of the Aryan people of the worldwide Nazi German Empire

When comparing these three differences in the Soviet and National Socialist ideologies, they start to appear only superficially different.  They start to appear like… tyranny and genocide.

"Until its complete extermination or loss of national status, this racial trash always becomes the most fanatical bearer there is of counter-revolution, and it remains that. That is because its entire existence is nothing more than a protest against a great historical revolution... The next world war will cause not only reactionary classes and dynasties, but also entire reactionary peoples, to disappear from the earth. And that too is progress." –Friedrich Engels (from The Magyar Struggle)

"The classes and the races too weak to master the new conditions of life must give way.... They must perish in the revolutionary holocaust." -Karl Marx (from The People's Paper, April 16, 1856)

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USSR postage stamp and Stalin/Hitler portrait are in the public domain and were obtained from Wikimedia Commons.  The video is from the film The Soviet Story by Edvins Snore and is used via Standard YouTube License.

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