I noticed a lot of hate focused on the idea of Nazism, especially with Hitler's reputation and whatnot. But I was wondering, because Hitler's scheme was far from 'socialist' and more fascist than 'nationalist'. Simply put, you could be (non-)racist but still be a Nationalist Socialist. Or am I just not understanding what a true nationalist-socialist is?

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    Please clarify further what you currently understand the term "Nationalist Socialist" to mean and differentiate it from the terms "National-Socialist" and "Nazi". – LangLangC Dec 19 '18 at 20:26
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    Can you clarify what you mean by "the racism is left to ambiguity?" Changes in the loudness level of the racism doesn't really change its essential character as racism. Stylistic decisions about whether you shout the racism really loudly or say it quietly don't inherently change the nature of a political philosophy. – Zach Lipton Dec 19 '18 at 23:11
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    When it appears on the HNQ, it appears to be asking whether naziism is a bad thing, which is rather offensive and trollish. Can you make the question title less ambiguous? – Andrew Grimm Dec 20 '18 at 3:43
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    @AndrewGrimm I edited the title. But please note that you should have the privilege to make edits yourself. So when you think that a question title needs to be changed, you do not need to take the detour through the moderation team. – Philipp Dec 20 '18 at 11:51
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    Hitler's racial views were not political? It's really weird that the policy of the country he led focused on carrying out those racial views through a program of systematic slaughter and imprisonment, then. You make it sound as if Hitler's belief in Aryan supremacy was just an offensive opinion he brought up in coffee-table discussion, but otherwise of little practical importance. – Obie 2.0 Dec 24 '18 at 6:45

National Socialism is a specific thing. You can't just take parts of the name and then assume what it means based on these parts (another example: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is not a democracy). National Socialism is not simply a nationalist version of socialism (Stalin's Socialism in one country would be closer to that).

National Socialism is the ideology that Nazi Germany had. It is inherently antisemitic, racist, nationalist, völkisch, social-Darwinist, anti-communist, anti-liberal, and antidemocratic. Nazism cannot be separated from these ideas.

National Socialism did not want to change the relations of production (as socialists would), and expressions that might hint towards socialism were only catchphrases used for propaganda purposes.

Some try to temporarily separate Nazism from some of these concepts in an attempt to whitewash it and make it palatable to the mainstream. This is not possible. If you consider antisemitism, racism, or genocide to be "bad", then you should also consider National Socialists and those trying to defend them to be "bad".

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    So you are saying that we define the idea nationalist socialist against Hitler's ideals albeit the ideals did not follow that of what the name suggested. If so- how do we differentiate if someone who is talking about a nationalist socialist (by definition of name) and a nationalist socialist (by definition of Nazi ideals)? – yolo Dec 19 '18 at 19:32
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    @yolo There is no such thing as a "definition of name"; only a definition. The way a word is used determines what it means, not how the word looks. There are plenty of words that look like they might mean one thing, but which are never used that way. National Socialism is such a word. It is always the National Socialism of the Nazis, and never some sort of odd national version of socialism. – tim Dec 19 '18 at 19:38
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    And if you want to refer to said 'odd national version of socialism'? – yolo Dec 19 '18 at 19:39
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    @yolo then you make up a new word or phrase to describe it that doesn't carry all the negative associations of ' national socialism '. – PhillS Dec 19 '18 at 19:42
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Sam I am Dec 26 '18 at 23:16

Q: How does Hitler's interpretation of “Nationalist Socialism” relate to the modern interpretation of “Socialism” and “Nationalism”?

In easy English and fairly short sentences:

  • The definitions of the words did not change.
  • The "relations" between them have therefore also not changed.
  • The person of interest did not interpret any "Nationalist Socialism"
  • The person of interest invented "National-socialism."
  • That is a difference.
  • This National-Socialism was never any form of Socialism.
  • National-socialism is not socialism.
  • It was not so in theory, not in practice.
  • National-socialism has a good deal of nationalism in its core beliefs and a genuine hatred for any form of socialism.
  • For Hitler "nationalism" was natural, socialism "unnatural".
  • Nazi = right-wing, like republicans or democrats
  • Socialism = left-wing
  • People claiming the word part "socialism" in "national-sociliasm" would really mean socialism = very reprehensible, but just extreme right wingers as well.
  • The socialism in national-socialism was kept as a fraud by the nazis.
  • The Nazi-party was not socialist, disapproved of socialism and explained it again and again before being given power.

In terms of analysing the political spectrum, one might think that there is a clear continuity from generalised right-wing to the extremes of fascism and national-socialism.

If it weren't for the distraction of "socialism" in the name. But that is just a remnant of the origins of that far-right authoritarian movement.

First, "Socialism" was the future, as seen by almost everyone after the Russian revolution and the end of the First World War.

Some early members of the Nazi-party had indeed some rather left-leaning ideas about the future. But they were a minority quickly expelled.

Nothing remotely socialist remained.

But the name stuck and was kept for social appeal as well as brand-recognition.

Only far-right extremists ignore the actual history, deeds and politics of national-socialism and focus solely on the latter part of the term, socialism.

In that distorting world view the overwhelming similarities in actual political views and goals between "ordinary" far-right authoritarians and just one small further step towards the fascism of "national-socialists" should be overlooked by focussing on the distraction that the devil-be-with-us word "socialism" seems to provide.

But labelling the nazis as socialists is:

  • completely ahistorical,
  • believing the fraud-by-misnomer the nazis devised
  • intentionally distracting from or even derailing meaningful discussion.

The 25 points party programme is completely irrelevant!

That could be read on the relevant Wikipedia page already. Or in the edit history of this answer. With details, links and quotes. But on this exchange analysis, proof, quotes or meaningful argument are labeled as "too much information".

Since here apparently no one wants to read – or even can read – that much of things they do not like:
you have to take the above as truth. It is.
And be content. It's now a two minute read.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Catija Mar 6 at 15:46

If you want to restrict your question to the strictest of laboratory settings, you may be able to squeeze out a point if the concerns are artificially limited to just economic questions about the division of labor. The problem is that National Socialism didn't happen within a laboratory, it happened in real life. Arguments made from the perspective of: "Perhaps a true national socialist wouldn't have done that" are a recognizable informal fallacy, and vulnerable to the pure fact that the actual National Socialists committed atrocities on a grand scale in the name of their total and complete ideology, whatever it may have been.

Trying to compare even in an academic sense policies or goals on a simple left-right scale may grant you knowledge at the cost of wisdom, so it is probably best to use it sparingly. Trying to split off "nationalist" or "socialist" in an attempt to understand why others simplify with the colloquial "fascist" I don't think will get you anywhere, but something that may help is to look into Horseshoe Theory. A quick summary is that far-right self styled "fascists" may actually believe in and support similar types of policies to those that may want to describe themselves as "anti-fascists." The only difference being who they choose to direct those policies against. This point of view naturally sits well with those in the "center" who just want everyone to get along, but your assertion that the "two sides" could "balance out to the middle" is a huge assumption that in the real world wound up with an estimated 3% of the entire world's population dead.

But to answer your title question: the full name of the party (in English) was: National-Socialist German Workers' Party, which you are correct itself includes appeals to nationalist, socialist as well as populist ideals, but in the end it's just a name. If you wish to promote policies inspired by both "nationalist" and "socialist" ideals, I would suggest you choose a different one. And yes they are bad.


Hitler originally joined the precursor to the national socialist party in 1919 as an agent of the Bavarian police to spy on them and make sure the weren't revolutionaries. At the time, they were significantly more socialist than the Nazis of the 1940s.

The Nazis shed much of their socialism around 1934 (when they killed George Strasser) in order to gain favor with industrialists and the "junker" military class. The socialist policies didn't help them much electoraly because most of the people they would have appealed to would prefer to vote social Democrat or communist. They didn't change the name of the party.


Some similarities between nazis and socialists --

Both Nazis and extreme socialists/(communist) believe in unlimited Government power.
Neither believes in individual rights. Specifically:

  • No freedom of speech
  • No right to a fair trial
  • No freedom of religion
  • No right to a meaningful vote
  • No right to bear arms

The Nazis created a "cult of personality" type government where everything depended on a single leader. Extreme socialists/(communist) seem to do the same thing, while the less extreme ones generally don't.

Some differences --

Nazis wanted to conquer (and sometimes exterminate) other peoples by invasions and external force. Socialists/communists usually prefer internal revolutions.

During the later part of their time in power, Nazis wanted to exterminate certain groups and peoples as a fundamental tenet of their program. By contrast, socialists/communists don't have a fundamental desire to exterminate this group or that, although there have were cases where they did so order to stamp out opposition.

Nazis were explicit about wanting to care for "members of the race" only. Socialists/communist generally claim to want to care for everyone. (Whether they actually do so is another matter).

Nationalism is all over the map. I don't think it has enough universal traits that you can say much about it in general, so trying to compare it with Naziism is probably a hopeless task.

  • Minor clarification request: " Nazis and more extreme socialists", do you mean to say that 'Nazis are less extreme socialists'? I guess and hope: no you don't. But I can't tell what exactly this is supposed to mean. ((& just can't hold myself together about it. But as two answers here were criticised for the contradictions presented by 25-points; care to contrast that with your narrative? – LangLangC Dec 23 '18 at 0:54
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    @LangLangC just read the party platform : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Socialist_Program ... Particularly points after 10. There is a significant overlap between the declared goals of the Nazis and the declared goals of socialists. Maybe these things didn't happen (I'm NOT knowledgeable on this topic) and they were just tools that Hitler used to gain power, but didn't the same thing arguably happen in other 'socialist' countries? – Lorenzo Najt Dec 24 '18 at 18:02
  • This answer would benefit from being backed up. In particular, I think that many Socialists would be surprised to hear that they don't believe in freedom of speech, fair trials, or effectual voting. – indigochild Jan 8 at 5:07
  • "Socialism" means different things to different people. The early days of the USSR were devoted to building "Socialism in one country". At the other end, we have Sweden. That's why I wrote "extreme Socialists". – William Jockusch Jan 8 at 13:51

protected by Philipp Dec 19 '18 at 22:42

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