National Socialism an extreme Left Wing Ideology?


Originally published at:

The choice of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Worker’s Party) to incorporate ‘Worker’s’ and then changing name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German National Socialist Worker’s Party), NSDAP for short, has created controversy in the classification into a left/right political position of Naziism. Lately it has become an issue of some virulent public debate as populism resurges…


Hopefully this will settle the matter somewhat - if not it will at least save me a lot of typing :wink:


Interesting article.

On the political compass, the Nazis were definitely about as authoritarian as they come, but then so were hardline communist countries like Stalin’s USSR or Mao’s China.

While the rhetoric was very different, I’m not sure the practical result on the ground was all that different. Stalin certainly wasn’t above a bit of genocide when it suited him either. The continued existence of private enterprise in Nazi Germany might be a significant difference between the two I guess although as the war progressed, large parts of the Nazi economy came increasingly intertwined with the state anyway.

I’m kind of reminded of Oceania and Eastasia in Orwell’s 1984.


I appreciate the reply to my comment over on YouTube about this. I originally tried to specifically not use the terms “left” or “right” in my original comment because it can, at least in my experience, be difficult to accurately define where the line gets drawn between the two positions. Cultural differences also make defining the term a little tricky. Frustratingly, people get their knickers in a bunch when they hear one particular group associated with the “left” or the “right” because they may associate themselves with that particular political position and then worry themselves to death that they’ll be associated with the radical elements. For example, politically conservative individuals in the USA being associated with the “alt-right” or classical liberals being labeled “communists.” I find neither to be helpful. This is why I was just asking for some clarification regarding the terminology you’re using in the series. Having read this article I have a much better understanding of what definitions you’re using now in the videos and I feel you’ve explained your position well. I really appreciate the interaction you’re taking with these videos. Writing out articles like this to clarify things really helps out with both the discussion and in understanding the concepts covered in the video series. Thanks!


Thank you for this clarifying piece! The matter of left/right division gets really nasty very quickly, partly because left and right are not all-inclusive categories. I think comparing the authoritarian nationalist groups of the 1920s or 1930s to some of the populist, anti-immigration nationalist parties of today can make for a useful analogy: they both combine traditionalist values and a strong nationalist rhetoric with vehement opposition to the traditional elites and left-leaning labour movements. An early example of a party filling this particular niche would be the Christian Socialists in Austria-Hungary.

I would say a useful way to determine if a movement is left wing is to ask their intentions: is their stated goal an egalitarian world or not? The Nazis obviously had the opposite goal in mind: a hierarchical world with white German men on top. This would make nazis a right wing movement, even if generous social policies would be granted to Germans. Of course leftist movements can state that they are pursuing an egalitarian world and in practice build regimes that resemble 17th century monarchies. Stated ideology can rarely be implanted on the world as was intended and revolutionary chaos is historically prone to producing dictators. But, crucially, the nazis never stated any intent for a peaceful, egalitarian world. They explicitly sought to take rights away from groups that they saw as degenerates and were also in constant conflict with the actual German left wing. The nazi party was founded by and adopted the symbols of the far-right Freikorps, not the Spartacists or the Red Ruhr revolutionaries.