So I’ve “gotten into it” any number of times about Hitler being a Socialist, that you can’t say NAZI without understanding it comes from “National Socialist German Worker’s Party”, and so on. And there is plenty of evidence that he was, indeed, a Socialist.
I was born and raised in the “People’s Republic of Marxachusetts” and grew up very, very liberal. Name a Left/Right issue, I was on the Left. No question. Yet each time I abandoned a Left position to move Rightward, I can point to a seminal event or other piece of insight/learning that ushered in a reconsidering of my former position and – often – describe my thought process after that event as well as new insights and thought patterns that started to ascend.
As one example, still fresh in my mind despite (cough cough a long time), is the moment when I started to doubt the anti-gun teachings I’d been impressed with all my life (bolding in original):
I was living in the Midwest when my police officer neighbor remarked that I should get a gun for self-defense. Having been raised, all my life, to believe that civilian gun ownership was wrong, it shocked me to my core that – of all people – a cop was telling me this.
Unlike most Leftists – and have no doubt that I still was one – I didn’t dismiss this as a flier data point stated by a knuckledraggingslopedforeheadredneck, but rather it made me think those great two words that often stand at the threshold of a new insight: That’s weird…
I can also describe – and did – the thought processes and cascades that came from that moment. As I can when I started to question my “pro-abortion” stance to move towards the pro-life view. And many other shifts, including my transitioning from a climate alarmist to CO2-mageddon skeptic. All of this ties back to something our host said some time ago on their old blog about humility. In this context, the willingness to admit the possibility of error. Humility is the opposite of Vanity, and while the Seven Deadly Sins – and Seven Heavenly Virtues – are Catholic constructs (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) I have found them to be useful intellectual tools. I have told my children, in teaching them my values, that it’s my belief that all humans have 1-2 sins that dominate a particular person’s weaknesses, that there are 1-2 that are “intermediate”, and the rest fall off Pareto-like into the trivial.
As noted in an excellent book I recently read, learning requires change, and change requires the humility to admit one might be wrong in one’s beliefs. This is, as an aside, is something I would ask when doing interviews back in my days as a corporate slave, er, drone, um, I mean employee: Tell me about a time when you changed your mind on something significant. Describe the background, your initial thoughts, what you changed to, and why you changed your mind.
If reworded a little, it’s also an excellent question to ask of a potential new boss.
So I engage with people who say things like “Well, OK, yes, Hitler was a socialist, but then he flipped to the opposite…” This is, of course, mental contortionism of the first order arising, from reading Liberal Fascism, as a way to differentiate between the “good” international socialism of the USSR from the “bad” national socialism of the Fascists – only necessary after Operation Barbarossa started. Speaking of, Bill Whittle weighs in on this important piece of history:
But there’s something missing: the speech wherein he announced this shift.
I ask – never with any response of course – for the translated writings, the captioned speeches, where he announced this miraculous change in policy, this fundamental shift. Surely it has to be there! Surely people can point to the barnburner speeches, the pamphlets, the leaflets, announcing this grand and immense step away from everything his followers believed to the new, non-Socialist mentality! Doubtless the historians also have scathing anecdotes, letters, and other documents as Hitler’s socialist supporters voiced white-hot outrage at this betrayal of their fundamental beliefs. Right? Bueller? Bueller?
Hitler was a Socialist, and never renounced it. Mussolini was proudly a Socialist and declared so many times, and never renounced it. So add their death toll to the 100+ million. And the next time someone says that Hitler made a grand shift, ask for the speech, the leaflets, etc. You, too, will get silence.
Not that they’ll ever make the connection of course, or correct themselves. Vanity – particularly vanity that is founded on a belief one is better, more noble, more educated, etc. – cannot change, and leads to errors, and hubris. Which leads to Nemesis. Nothing truly every changes…