Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Adolf Hitler - Progressive Pioneer


President Obama's second inaugural was a speech that the Obama Media literally drooled over as a straight forward and forceful expression of progressivism unmatched in American history. I agree, it was, but there was one thing that bothered me...the tendency of these media personalities to ignore the sources of many of the ideas the president expressed so well.

In the interest of fairness and as a debt to history, I think it's important that we take a minute to give due credit to one of the greatest progressives in history, someone who undoubtedly should be an inspiration and influence to all progressives - former German leader Adolf Hitler, who against strong odds rose to power and fundamentally changed Germany and for a while, the world.

Like our president, Adolf Hitler came from humble beginnings, the son of an Austrian civil servant in Linz whom died when he was fourteen. Some biographers have said that Alois Heidler provided the young Adolf with his first example of government in action and how it could affect people's lives. Young Hitler's early years also undoubtedly gave him a sense of the importance of education and how government could strengthen it. As a young student, Adolf Hitler was frequently at odds with his non-unionized teachers, who seemed content to teach by rote and lacked strong support from government.

When Adolf Hitler gravitated to Vienna as a young man to pursue a career as a painter, not only was he influenced by other progressive thinkers like Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Heinrich Gotthard von Treitschke, but also by an extraordinary activist progressive politician, Karl Lueger, the Burgomaster (Mayor)of Vienna, whom Hitler later called 'a genius' and claimed as a model. Lueger, whose Christian Socialist Party was organized along many of the same lines that Hitler would later adopt for his National Socialist Party could best be described as a early practitioner of Saul Alinky's political ethics, balancing one special interest group against another for his own political advancement. At one point, when some of his anti-Semitic supporters questioned his taking campaign contributions from wealthy Jewish donors, Luegar famously shut them down by telling them that he was the one whom would decide who was a Jew! Lueger is also credited with municipalizing utilities and instituting public transportation in Vienna,along with a number of other shovel ready public works projects.

During this period,Hitler also experienced first hand what happens when government does not institute an adequate social safety net. After falling into dire poverty in Vienna, Hitler was forced to live in a homeless shelter for some time, and later a men's hostel for the disadvantaged. He remained a socialist and a champion of the 99% ever after, although rejecting pure Marxism as being unworkable and unsuitable to those who favored strong, nationalist views and German exceptionalism.

In WWI, Hitler served in the German Army, suffered combat wounds and was a decorated veteran.

He later decided to truly make a difference in his adopted homeland by entering the public sector via the National Socialist Democratic German Worker's Party (NSDAP in German, or Nazi using the typical German diminutive).

Hitler,being a spell binding orator and a charismatic speaker soon took over the party and refined its progressive agenda and message. With the exception of calling for a strong military and a renunciation of the restrictions of the Versailles Treaty, two issues unique to that place and time, Hitler and the Nazi's message hardly sounds out of place in our political climate of today.

The German Hyperinflation and resulting economic crisis of 1921 occurred just as the Party and Adolf Hitler came of political age.

It destroyed the savings of Germany's middle class, created massive unemployment and was blamed by most Germans on the financial establishment, poor governmental fiscal management, profiteers, and speculators. Or as today's progressives call them, 'banksters', 'Wall Street' and the 'one per cent'.

In this 3 year period, 1921-1923, Hitler's political star rose as he became a vociferous champion of the middle class and Germany's 99%. He and the Nazis called for reining in German financial institutions, job creation, making the fat cats pay their fair share and for increased spending on social welfare programs. The main difference in Hitler's program as opposed to main stream socialists and communists was his championing of a resurgent German military and his  fierce opposition to the restrictions and the huge reparations demanded by the Versailles Treaty. Hitler's patriotic message, particularly coming from a decorated war hero resonated with a surprising amount of the German people.

The Nazi Party also won friends and influenced people by community organizing. They ran soup kitchens, promoted youth programs and championed the 99% in issues like landlord tenant relations, particularly in their main base of Munich.

And it was in Munich that Adolf Hitler made his first serious political miscalculation, misjudging his popular support in Bavaria with an attempted 'putsch',  a takeover. It failed, but Hitler's personal popularity ensured that he received an extraordinarily light sentence of 8 months in comfortable circumstances, where, like a lot of other revolutionary figures, he used the time to refine his message further and wrote his political testament, Mein Kampf ('My Struggle').

After he was released in 1924, Hitler used the rest of the 1920's to consolidate the Nazis and turn them into a nationwide movement. The SA (known colloquially as Brownshirts) were reorganized into an effective force of street activists, Hitler established his own national daily newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, and continued to build his following and spread his message of nationalism mixed with progressive social policies. The Nazi banner is a superb symbol of Hitler's ideology - the red banner of socialism with the Aryan nationalist symbol of the swastika in the middle.


Hitler was one of the first modern politicians to recognize how important media and messaging were to popularizing progressive policies:

"The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses." [...]

"This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood."

"Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side. (...) The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward. (...) Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion. The leading slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula."

What Adolf Hitler wrote about messaging in Mein Kampf predates and almost exactly mirrors what Sol Alinsky wrote many years later in Rules For Radicals, a book that many progressives consider their political bible, but with one exception...Hitler was much more open about referring to what he was doing as propaganda for political purposes.

In fact, Hitler could be said to be the originator of Alinsky's famous Rule 13: 'Pick the target, freeze the target, personalize it and polarize it.'

Adolf Hitler and the Nazi's moment came with the worldwide depression of the 1930's which devastated Germany's economy. The chancellor at that time, the Catholic Centre Party's Heinrich Brüning attempted to stave off some of the worst effects with various austerity measures, similar to those of President Hoover in America. However, the measures were unsuccessful and only added to dissatisfaction with the Weimar government, which many Germans felt had been forced on them by the victorious allies anyway.

The same sentiments ordinary Germans had voiced during the Hyperinflation were repeated..that the misery was due to the government's policies, the fat cats, the speculators. This was amplified by the failure of several large banks.

Such an environment was almost tailor made for Hitler, his Nazis, and their message, targeting the 99% and assuming the mantle of the champions of the middle class and social justice. In the 1931 elections, the Nazis gained 18.3% of the votes and became the second largest party in the Reichstag.

In the years between 1931 and 1933, The Nazis increased their share of the German electorate, getting to 43.9% of the vote. Germany's government was ineffectual and unable to act because of partisan politics and the difficulty in consensus between the Nazis, the Communists, The Catholic Centre Party, President Paul Hindenburg's German National People's Party (DNVP) and some of the other smaller parties. In those conditions, Hindenburg was convinced to appoint Hitler as Chancellor in 1933 as part of a coalition of the Nazis, DNVP, And Catholic Centre Party. The idea was to unify and take action for the good of the nation, or as a group of influential German politicians, industrialists and military figures wrote to President Hindenburg, to appoint Hitler as leader of a government "independent from parliamentary parties", which could turn into a movement that would "enrapture millions of people".

Hope and change with a gemütlichkeit flavor, nicht wahr?

After the burning of the Reichstag ( which, really, can be considered street theater and legitimate protest designed to provoke a public response) Adolf Hitler wasn't one to let a good crisis go to waste. He promptly brought the Ermächtigungsgesetz (Enabling Act) to a vote in the newly elected Reichstag. It was designed to bypass partisan gridlock in Berlin, gave Hitler's cabinet full legislative powers for four years and allowed Hitler's cabinet to bypass Germany's constitution. After the Catholic Centre Party agreed to support it, it passed by a vote of 441–84.

Adolf Hitler was now in power to enact a number of important reforms and institute his progressive program without being impeded by a set-in-stone constitution or partisan bickering. He promised Germans a new society and his word for this was 'volksgemeinschaft', a 'people's community.'

He ended labor abuses and a number of strikes plaguing Germany by creating the German Labor Front as an umbrella organization to represent all workers, administrators, and company owners. He banned strikes, firings without government approval and lockouts. This ensured that government would be the ultimate protector of worker's rights and the arbitrator of all labor disputes, something American labor leaders like Richard Trumka and Jimmy Hoffa Jr. have been advocating for years.

Farmers received subsidies and guaranteed prices for their crops in exchange for increased government supervision over what they grew and how they did it, and were given loans for tools, livestock and seed, as well as  labor to work their farms by the state if needed.

While Hitler recognized the sanctity of private property, he also was emphatic that the government should have the power to regulate the use of private property for the good of the nation since it had been acquired with the help and use of public personnel and infrastructure, thus anticipating Elizabeth Warren by over seven decades.

At Hitler's direction his finance minister Hjalmar Schacht instituted Keynesnian policies with large deficits and and low interest rates combined with stimulus programs of pubic works to reduce unemployment. Hitler also mandated price freezes to prevent a recurrence of inflation. He started numerous public sector programs that actually got built, including the construction of dams, the autobahns, railroads, and public buildings as well as a military build up that later superseded the public works policies while maintaining high employment and job creation.

Hitler financed much of Germany's rearmament and rebuilding with promissory notes known as MEFO bills, which ensured that the 1% contributed their fair share of the cost. While Hitler's government like FDR's here in America ran a deficit, the MEFO bills allowed the German government to defer payment on goods and materials for needed projects while keeping Germans working and moving the economy forward. Another progressive idea was Hitler's creation of the "Reinhardt Program" for growth that combined indirect incentives like tax credits and reductions with government investments in infrastructure.

Hitler and the Nazis also were very involved in picking winners and losers among Germany's corporate and manufacturing concerns, swapping preferential treatment,government contracts and loans  and policies that benefited specific well connected and supportive companies in exchange for political and financial support for Hitler and his policies.In essence, Hitler made sectors of German business his partners in building the Third Reich while suppressing other, non-supportive players..certainly a tactic we've seen used recently with great success.

Another aid to the German economic recovery was the gradual removal of Jews and other political enemies from business, the arts. the professions and civil service, about which more later. German unemployment, which stood at six million in 1932 had been reduced to one million by 1936, the year the world saw a refurbished and invigorated Germany first hand as it hosted the Olympics.

Like his economic program, many of Hitler's social programs also struck a resounding progressive chord.

Hitler revamped Germany's healthcare system and made it truly universal as well as state subsidized.Hitler and the Nazis considered healthcare to be the right of all Germans, and there were numerous public-health campaigns in Nazi Germany urging healthy eating and exercise, and even no smoking campaigns at a time when cigarettes and cigars were being puffed with abandon worldwide. Water supplies were cleaned up, lead and mercury were removed from consumer products, and women were urged to undergo regular screenings for breast cancer.

Strict gun control? Ja, richtig!  Hitler enacted the Weapons Law in 1938 under the pretense of ending crime and unrest, effectively disarming almost all of Germany's private citizens from owning firearms except under strictly limited circumstances. As a matter if fact, the Nazi Weapons Law was so exciting to one of America's progressives that it became the template for the Gun Control Act of 1968, championed by Democrat Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut ( former Senator Chris Dodd's father). The late Senator Dodd, who served as a member of the Judge Advocate Corps was part of the prosecution team at Nuremberg and owned personal copies of this and other laws.Unfortunately for Dodd, Hitler's law got watered down quite a bit in congress, but once again, Hitler's gun control law anticipates today's progressives and remains an inspiration and something for them to shoot for, if you'll excuse the pun.

Hitler enacted strong environmentalist legislation, such as the 1935 "Reich Nature Protection Act" which sought to control air and water pollution, reduce the use of coal and promote forest management and preservation.While the necessities of WWII eventually overrode many of these laws, it's no exaggeration to refer to Adolf Hitler as a staunch environmentalist. And an outspoken champion of animal rights. As an animal lover and a  strict vegetarian whom PETA would have been proud of, Hitler saw to it that extensive animal rights laws were passed, and even made an effort to ban hunting.He was a pioneer in this regard also. Many of the current animal welfare laws in Germany are adapted from laws originally introduced by Hitler and the Nazis.


But where Adolf Hitler showed himself a true progressive in his interest in education and children. All teachers were required to join the German Teacher's League (Nationalsozialistischer Lehrerbund) and were required to attend seminars and classes in teaching progressive values in the classroom.All German university professors were required to be members of the National Socialist Association of University Lecturers.

For Germany's children, Hitler formed two compulsory organizations, the Hitler Youth for ages 14-18 and the Jungvolk, for ages 10-14. They were trained in Hitler's progressive national Socialism, wore uniforms, performed public service, did physical fitness and were given meals and other benefits by the State. For girls, there were the League of German Maidens and the Young Girls League where girls along with similar activities to the boy's groups were taught homemaking skills. Both the German Maidens and the Hitler Youth had to complete a year of 'land service' working on Germany's farms or performing other public service.German women were encouraged to be mothers and homemakers, and had their own organizations, the National Socialist Women's League and the Strength Through Joy movement.


Hitler deviated from the progressive ideal in that he was not a feminist, although he employed women as secretaries and was universally remembered by all of them as an ideal, courteous and sympathetic employer.Nor did he favor abortion on demand. But you have to consider both the prevailing social climate and morals of that time and place,the fact that much of Germany was Catholic, and the fact that he knew Germany needed a larger population to fulfill his political and territorial ambitions. To Hitler, Germany's children were its future.

But in reality  Hitler actually did introduce  certain progressive policies in this regard as well.

The Nazis enthusiastically embraced eugenics  and had no qualms about abortion and sterilization for those they considered unfit, weak minded, or inferior. In this, they agreed with progressive heroine Margaret Sanger,  likewise a strong believer in eugenics who formed Planned Parenthood expressly with the idea of limiting non-white births and the reproduction of 'the unfit'.

The Nazis were also were quite open about the need to ration healthcare when it came to what they called 'useless mouths', This included the mentally ill, the disabled and handicapped, and in many cases people whom were simply terminally ill.Almost 300,000 people - that we know about - were killed by lethal injection in this way, not in concentration camps but in German medical facilities. Horrific as this may seem to some, this bears remembering when we look at the conversations about healthcare in our own time and examine the views of some of President Obama's healthcare appointees. Hitler may once again come to be proven to be a pioneer.

One of the major problems progressives have with embracing Hitler totally are his racial policies, particularly the ones directed at Jews. He also was anti-gay, although several prominent Nazis are rumored to have been gay or at least bi-sexual. Yes, these policies  were problematic, even horrible. But if we examine these policies in detail, we find them to be largely a product of the existing political and moral climate of that time. Certainly that shouldn't stop progressives from celebrating Hitler's achievements while disapproving of some of his excesses and mistakes.

Anti-semitism in Germany has a long history and was a mainstream attitude in Germany's social and  political culture, as it was in much of Europe and perhaps remains so even in our own time. When Germans talked about profiteers, speculators and the financiers they blamed for the Hyperinflation and the miseries of the Depression, not a few of them meant 'Jews', and certainly not just in Germany.
Some of the progressives here in America like Father Coughlin and his Silver Shirts, among others, certainly employed similar language and code words.

Our own times are certainly not divorced from this.As the idealistic protestors of the OWS movement and other parts of the progressive movement have shown us, many of them use terms like 'banksters', 'Wall Street', 'neocons', 'zionists' and the like  as code words for 'Jews' today, and mask actual anti-semitism under the cover of 'anti-Zionism'.

Obviously, these particular progressives in America have never gone quite as far as Hitler did when it came to Jews, but it's also true that they've never had the power to do so either, and that anti-semitism in America was never as much of a mainstream popular belief as it was in Europe.

But in Germany in the 1920's and 1930's, it definitely was.And Adolf Hitler,  as a populist progressive  gave voice to those feelings, just as he  also reflected the popular attitude in the Germany of his time towards homosexuals. If Hitler were alive here in America and say, running as a Democrat for the Senate in California or Massachusetts,  would  gay bashing even be one of his issues, at least on the surface? Would opposition to abortion? Of course not. Hitler was a pragmatic and canny politician. If anyone asked,or even pointed to something he'd written or said, he's simply say his views had evolved on the subject. And if he had, shall we say, certain views on Jews, he would undoubtedly be able to express them in vague terms about the need for a two state solution, a public embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood and its various front groups,  endorsing military aid to anti-semitic Arab regimes  or maybe even a few quips about the Jewish lobby or the need for daylight between America and Israel.There's no doubt in my mind that in many respects, a modern Adolf Hitler with evolved positions on abortion and gay rights  would be an acceptable candidate for office in our own era.I could certainly see the New York Times endorsing him!

Without the unfortunate history,  the errors and excesses that stigmatized him, today's progressives would feel much better about embracing a true pioneer of their movement - Adolf Hitler.



Sara Noble said...

I have a draft of a similar article I never posted because I was afraid to. So glad you posted. People don't know their history.

louielouie said...

what do i think?
surprise, for one.
on the other hand, ff presentation is indisputable.
i've long thought, those such as anon, who wish to engage in obfuscation of the facts scream, NAZI, at those they disagree with. all the while, they propose national socialist policies.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you just come out and call President Obama a Nazi. Racist, ignorant asshole.

Tantric Logic said...

I looked at the article and all I saw is that Nazis and progressives have a lot of the same ideas.

So Hitler was a progressive.

Can't handle the truth, anon?

The tipoff is the R word. Because that's what creeps like you do when you can't answer.

louielouie said...

Why don't you just come out and call President Obama a Nazi. Racist, ignorant asshole.

jeebus cripes man get a grip.
ff didn't do that because, if you had read the essay, that was not the intent of the essay.
ff went into great detail to document that hussein is not the problem. hussein does not matter. what matters is there are about 160 million NAZIS in what is left of this country.
oh dear.
i just said hussein doesn't matter.
just a sec', eric holder is knocking at my door.

Dave Schuler said...

Have I ever mentioned that when my dad was travelling in Germany in 1938 he heard Hitler speak in person and on the radio several times? Or that he was in Munich on Kristallnacht? You should see his journals! One of these days I'll get around to publishing them.

Sara Noble said...

Anon won't even use a fake name s/he's so afraid.

We can learn from history and we shouldn't ignore it because it involves Hiteler.

Anonymous said...

Wait, so are you saying that Obama is Literally Hitler?

Or is he Hitlerally Hitler?

Or Literary Hitler? (Grammar Nazi)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article. My two cents is that obama has studied the methods used by some of the most brutal dictators in history and possible pick and chooses what works and what didn’t. Hitler actually had gay rights parades and at one time appeased the gay community. Once in power, he rounded up the more “effeminate” gays to send to his death camps. Others he actually kept in his regime in positions of power. Witness accounts that there were many young male prisoners that were used as sex slave and became rape victims. Masculine lesbians were also used in the female camps as guards because they were know for their brutality. This should not be surprising as most sexual deviancy is a characteristics of these maniacs. Might reference Frank Marshall Davis, William Ayers and the sex orgies of the anti-war and OWStreeters. .


Unknown said...

The Obamabots that include the media will never be able to look past their noses until it is too late when they will say, 'how did this happen?'

As with Hitler people cannot conceive that any man or regime could have the intentions that they seem to have until the point of no return has already been reached!

Anonymous said...

Nice job!


Anonymous said...

I'm at a loss to figure out what it was that Obama ever "studied," other than how to ensure that no THC ever went unabsorbed during meetings of the Choom Gang.


Anonymous said...

Alas, v. true. It's hard to believe that the Supreme Court, ostensibly all loyal Americans who can read plain English, would deliberately pervert the Constitution's meaning to facilitate the birth of the gargantuan federal monstrosity that today sucks the marrow out of our bones. But that's what it did. And the bar associations and chief justices today fret about civility and pro bono work. Tra la la ad astra.


Anonymous said...

Sadly these are just a few of the similarities. I've done my own research and discovered literally dozens more - and they are absolutely shocking.

Now notice your anonymous critic ISN'T denying any fact or specific you said. He's only crying because in his heart of hearts he KNOWS you are right, yet he loves the President because he is "black" - sort of. But of course the official story about Hitler and the Nazis ISN'T true. Even the most basic facts contradict what everyone is being taught. In fact Hitler aligned himself with the "yellow skinned" Asian Japanese, the dark swarthy skinned Italians, and the brown skinned Arabs to attack and exterminate the lily-white French, Russians, Poles, Brits, and rest of the Caucasian. But what we're told is "oh.. he was a racist" But when you actually know a thing or two about the Nazis, you'll notice that even his "Aryans" aren't "white", Just look up the word "Aryan". Surprisingly enough, they're not even German. They're Tibetan. Again look up the word. And notice all the research he did in India, Nepal, and Tibet - measuring people's heads and learning their spiritual arts. That's even where he got the Swastikan- from Helena Blavatsky and "Theosophy". In fact that's where he got the whole "Aryan" "Atlantis" "anenerb" master race nonsense. And far from being defeated, "Theosophy" is even more powerful today.