Thanks to Instapundit, I was made aware of this post by Ezra Klein, whose credentials include work at The Washington Post, Bloomberg News, MSNBC and The American Prospect.
It’s from 2006, so it isn’t news. Then again, he’s writing the same sort of stuff today.
Not everything the Nazis touched was bad. Hitler was a vegetarian. Volkswagen is a perfectly good car company. Universal health care is a perfectly good idea. Indeed, the Nazis actually did a pretty good job increasing economic growth and improving standards of living (they were, many think, the first Keynesians, adopting the strategy even before Keynes had come up with it), pushing Germany out of a depression and back into expansion. Unfortunately, they also set out to conquer Europe and exterminate the Jews. People shouldn’t do that.
Update Sigh. Let’s try to be clearer, then. The problem with the Nazis was that they were genocidal white supremacists with an appetite for continental hegemony. To invoke them in order to tar, by association, privatization, or “appeasement,” or socialist policies, or other policies that were not related to their murderous crimes is a noxious debate tactic that should be widely and rapidly condemned.
OK, let’s be clearer. Hitler was a vegetarian who, instead of cows, slaughtered people. This doesn’t reflect badly on vegetarians or cows, it just shows Mr. Klein’s thoughts on the topic he takes to hand are incoherent. Should we be more kindly disposed toward Stalin because he made a non-aggression pact with a vegetarian?
Volkswagen is a good car company. Note the Clintonian ‘is.” During World War Two, OTOH, it’s believed that as many as four out of every five workers at Volkswagen’s plants were slave laborers. Klein neglected to mention that Krupp makes decent coffee makers. Still, Volkswagen and Krupp subscribed to the “Arbeit macht frei” meme.
Universal health care was Bismarckian, not Hitlerian. And it’s not inarguably a good idea. The face of Hitlerian health care is Dr. Josef Mengele. His practice was quite restricted, of course, but it was based on the idea that the State owned his patients. For a more general view of Statist health care, where the State only leases patients, check out Britain’s NHS or the Veteran’s Administration.
The hard-core Keynesians were the Volk running the Weimar regime. When they printed, they Printed. Hitler had to start a world war for his spending spree.
Alongside starting a world war, I think the economic boosting technique Weimar failed to grasp was starvation of slave laborers. When labor costs are zero, productivity goes up. When health care is delivered by Dr. Mengele, insurance costs become irrelevant. Neither does it immediately hurt your economy if you seize the Sudetenland and Poland. Think of all the broken windows that needed repair.
So, is invoking the NAZIs when discussing political policies other than genocide a noxious debate technique? In some cases, I’m sure. But Mr. Klein can’t name any of them.
Fascism is accurately defined as the political belief that the state is more important than the individual. “Nothing outside the state, nothing above the state, everything within the state.” You may object that that is a Mussolini quote. I’d claim Hitler wished he had said it.
This collectivist mind-set is fundamental to praising corporatist automobile companies who would avail themselves of slave labor. It’s a conviction you must hold before you force free people to accept government rationed health care. It’s necessary thinking for idealizing Keynesian economics. Collectivism is the perfect philosophical precursor to genocidal hegemony. The NAZIs were collectivists.
No matter what the leaders say, collectivist states always end this way. For evidence that the cause is not Hitler, but Nationalism and Socialism, I recommend reading The Black Book of Communism.
Of the two collectivist pillars of NAZI political thought, which do we blame more, NAtionalism or soZIalism? I’m not sure it matters. When you combine nationalism and socialism, you’re on the road to justification for “racial purification.” In fact, you’re likely to need the justification because someone like Hitler, Stalin or Mao is always lurking.
Here is an example where collectivist supporters of federal funding for Planned Parenthood will not engage in “noxious debate,” and they condemn any such discussion “widely and rapidly.” But when you cut a living baby’s face open in order to extract the brain intact, I’d say a Mengele comparison is not only apt, but required. So are criminal charges.