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Mark Atwood
What is a Nazi?
Most people don't even know what "Nazi" means, other than "you are bad, and if I call someone that, everyone else will agree with me that they are bad", e.g. it's nothing more than an insult plus argumentum ad populum.

At best, most people just ignorantly assume that "Nazi" means "militaristic expansionist racist bigot". We've had militariastic expansionistic racially bigoted totalitarian states for a long time, and we will probably never be rid of that particular evil, but it distracts from the issue to just call such "Nazi".

What Nazi actually meant was "buy local, hire local, local production, with barriers and regulations and bans on imports, on outsourcing, on capital mobility, and on immigration. Strong social and government control over corporate action, e.g. you my own your company, but we dictate to you what to do with it. Strong government and social control of funding of, control and insight into all aspects of cultural, artistic, educational, sporting, media, and social activities."

When I point that out to people, they either cannot see the mirror I am holding up to them, or else they get really really angry. Probably because they understand exactly what I am calling them.

This entry was originally posted at http://fallenpegasus.dreamwidth.org/829914.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
21 comments or Leave a comment
mangosteen From: mangosteen Date: March 3rd, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am disappointed by your disingenuousness.

seawasp From: seawasp Date: March 4th, 2010 12:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, it also meant "scapegoating convenient minorities for any problems you have currently or expect to have in the future." This is one of the specific charming characteristics of the Nazi regime which has ensured that they have been remembered so fondly. Especially their particular way of dealing with said Problem Groups. Not that other groups didn't indulge in similar practices, but the Nazis used the specific efficiencies of their regime to take this sort of behavior a little beyond prior efforts.
nancylebov From: nancylebov Date: March 4th, 2010 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Also, the Nazis were determined to conquer as much land as they could, and killed tens of millions in the process. This is not an inevitable consequence of localism.

I've been poking at the question of which government policies have the worst effects, and I'm pretty sure that for the most part, you can't tell just by looking at the policy. (A few policies, like genocide, are obviously bad.) However, the ill effects of a policy generally have a lot to do with how energetically it's pursued.

This being said, I'm wondering who's most likely to get annoyed by your description of Nazis.

Edited at 2010-03-04 02:06 am (UTC)
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: March 4th, 2010 02:47 am (UTC) (Link)
It shouldnt be a surprise by who is being annoyed by it.
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: March 4th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC) (Link)
"scapegoating convenient minorities for any problems you have currently or expect to have in the future" is not something unique to, invented by, or even raised to high effeciency and art by the Nazis. Doing so, and even stepping it up to the level of genocide has a very long, very old, very distinguished history.

Hell, the Nazis are not even remarkable by their raw body count.
mangosteen From: mangosteen Date: March 4th, 2010 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)
The primary Nazi atrocity was the unprecedented use of industrial methods to facilitate the orderly, cataloged, efficient killing of 12 million non-combatants.

rhonan From: rhonan Date: March 4th, 2010 12:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Nice dodge, focusing on some of the policies the Nazi party followed to bolster their allies in industry and finance, and passing them off as progressive reforms. Of course, the Nazi party found many willing allies in banking and industry who were more then happy to support an authoritarian government that would help them crush their smaller competitors and the trade unions. It is, in fact, that union of capitol and the State that distinguishes fascism in general from other authoritarian regimes past and present.
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: March 4th, 2010 02:34 am (UTC) (Link)
You are now welcomed to list all authoritarian regimes present (with the exception of the weird and crazy case of North Korea) that do not have a union of capitol and the State.

(And if you say "Venezuela", I will laugh, and know you have nothing useful to tell me on this point.)
rhonan From: rhonan Date: March 4th, 2010 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
No, I'm being more precise here. All regimes curry favor with wealth, unless they violently seize it themselves like the Bolsheviks. Fascism historically involved a distinctly different flavor of this, as it allied with finance and large industry, while often completely ignoring the interests other wealthy elites.

Besides, you mistake the opposition from the left to the current trade regime as protectionism. What we oppose is the global race to the bottom. We welcome open trade in a world where sound ecology and fair labor practices are followed. Until other countries meet or exceed our labor and environmental standards, we prefer to limit trade to those countries that do meet those standards.
docorion From: docorion Date: March 4th, 2010 02:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Are you stating that "Nazism" as defined by you, is more akin to the policies of the left than the right?

(Want to make sure I'm reading it right).

I reject your definition as incomplete. National Socialism was notably about the importance of the German (well, Aryan, hence mostly German) people compared to any others, especially others who were Jewish or otherwise non-Aryan. It was and remains a central tenet of their belief system; much of what they believe flows from it. In addition, the state (which was strongly identified with the Aryan "race") was all-important, and the executive was entirely unitary; all authority flowed from the Leader.

Control over corporations was required to make sure they served the Aryan state. Ditto control over funding for arts and cultural activities. Und so weiter, as they say.

The left as I experience it is more about inclusion than separation. About listening, rather than dictating. About making sure corporations don't pass unpleasant externalities on the the public, and instead are required to pay for them as they use them. That corporations are held responsible when they act irresponsibly, but yet ask to be bailed out by the government they then turn around and say ought to be abolished or at least markedly curtailed. (I will agree that there has been some discussion on the part of what I will call the "thinking right" that the corporations in question ought to have been allowed to fail hard; there is some merit in that argument). Are there excesses on the left? Absolutely. My experience of them is that they are more of an exception than excesses on the right, and are often sidelined by the mainstream left. The right's excesses are celebrated; note the adulation given to the birther and tea party movements (the latter recently noted to be composed largely of rich rural white men rather than a surging populist movement) (See here for the report in question).

Put another way, GOP policies as expressed by the loudest (not necessarily the majority) of its adherents are more exclusionary (especially with respect to race), more statist (in that the "unitary executive", for instance, is clearly a tool of the right, not the left), and more rejecting of social and cultural differences, than Democratic policies.

So, in short, I call shenanigans on your definition, and ask that you show cause why anyone should believe that the GOP, the birther movement and the tea party movement, taken in toto, are not at least somewhat "National[ly] Socialist".
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: March 4th, 2010 02:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I do not presently give a warm shit about contemporary USian politics, left or right.

My old post about "when we do it, when they do it" continues to stand, and in fact, is reinforced.

My personal experience with leftish politics is and remains that they are "inclusionary" only so far as one mouths the shibboleths du jour, that "inclusion" is defined as an insistence on "if you support this cause, you MUST support, or at least not oppose this other cause as well".

My experience and observation of the organized right is that many of them are a pack of morons, fear mongers, and the spiritual heirs of Alex P. Keaton. However, they also are the spiritual heirs of Abraham Lincoln and William F. Buckley, and nobody in the history of the US left has ever come close to that legacy.
docorion From: docorion Date: March 4th, 2010 02:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Fair enough. What is the point you are trying to make with this inflammatory bit of rhetoric-splitting? Who are you calling Nazis?

And I doubt Abe would own them, should he be given the opportunity. Bill Buckley manifestly did, but we differ on his greatness or lack thereof, so I will pass the point.
docorion From: docorion Date: March 4th, 2010 03:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and also, you need to start talking to (or at least hearing from) a better class of leftish political people The shibboleths du jour are optional, and we can agree about some things without agreeing on everything. Moreover, you can work with me (or your lefty of choice) on something we both care about without giving up your beliefs, in my world, and in the world of lefty people I know.
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: March 4th, 2010 02:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Speaking of the terrible concept of the "unitary executive" (something I agree with you on), how is that President Hope'n'change working out for you?

Every time something does leak past my read filters about contemporary US top level politics, it's something about the current Administration's claim and support of some power overreach of the previous administration, only even with less oversight and even more power grab.
docorion From: docorion Date: March 4th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Not so well, honestly. Less hope, more plus ça change, at the moment. On the other hand, he's had a tough row to hoe recently. On the gripping hand, regardless he ought to do better, despite the tough row; I didn't hire him to sell the store.

(Although he has made at least some concessions away from the unitary executive, when not blocked by a Congress which seems hell-bent to give their own power away. Terrorists are criminals, and get tried in courts. Whoops, congressional opposition, 10 point penalty! If Congress would cowboy the fuck up, I'd be better pleased).
mauser From: mauser Date: March 4th, 2010 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)
gipsieee From: gipsieee Date: March 4th, 2010 04:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh good, you're posting inflammatory political snippets again. You must be feeling better. Welcome back.
wetdryvac From: wetdryvac Date: March 4th, 2010 05:12 am (UTC) (Link)

If you call someone a Nazi to me, I will *research* them. Then, based upon their own statements of allegiance and the contexts in which those allegiances are made, as well as their actions, I will determine whether or not the term Nazi does or does not apply. I'll then point out - as I am now - that calling someone a Nazi, whether or not they are, puts you in an easily assailable position.

Firstly, because so doing gains you and your target nothing beyond confusion or anger. Secondly, because if they are not, under the letter of the law, a Nazi, they may feel free to eat you in court. Thirdly, because labeling someone a something: be it Nazi, or something else, encourages generalization.

Generalization, a tactic used by many, including the Nazi party in the leadup to WWII, encourages mob-mind - encourages that people not think for themselves about cause and effect, but instead about target designation *without* thought.

This mirror you have: It gains you nothing. It is not, in fact, a mirror. If you want to call someone on something, calling them on the specifics is effective, ethical, and tends to reduce incidentals such as rage and violence. Name calling, in short, gains more name calling.

So, presume I call you a Nazi because you use a tactic used by the Nazi party. Further, presume that you and I both see that your tactic doesn't instantly render you evil, vile, or Nazi by one similarity. Further still, even a multitude of tactics and methods used by the Nazi party does not a complete correlation make. Whether I'm addressing you on a single tactic, or you're addressing someone on multiple, deliberately insinuating Nazism or other generalization creates problems - and solves none.

I use, in this reply, some Nazi tactics. I agree that some Nazi means, methods, and tactics were effective, too. However, I draw the line here: Calling someone something they are not - and even with very near correlation on some items, they probably are not - earns you their rage and my attention.

My attention simply earns you a somewhat barbed reply. Their rage earns the almost assured failure of any gain you might have hoped to make with them.

On reflection, does this seem like a good idea? What other tactics do you have available to you? Might there be more civil and ethical approaches?
awfief From: awfief Date: March 4th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, to that end, "communism" means "getting rid of the financial statuses like poor/working class, middle class, rich/upper class and communal ownership of property." That doesn't take away the connotations of Communism.

Even these days, people call it "co-housing" instead of "a commune".

For that matter, "faggot" means gay person, "nigger" means black person, and "kike" means a Jew. You can't just take away the connotation of a word, cracker boy.
awfief From: awfief Date: March 4th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I do understand your point that *inherently* "Nazi" (or maybe even "nazi") does not mean "racist genocidal belief set".

However, you should explain *very quicky* that the *implementation* of the theory of Nazism, in particular the strong controls on immigration, led to the idea of a "pure Aryan nation" which is where we *get* the connotations.

It's a very geeky thing to do, btw, to try to convince people about the literal definition of something. Be aware of that, when you're saying "but just put that connotation aside, here's where it came from....."
amythis From: amythis Date: March 4th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mark, what is the point of this almost Godwinian post? (Or maybe it's anti-Godwinian, I can't tell.) Of course people get angry when someone calls them Nazis or Nazi-like. It's inflammatory, no matter how true it might be, because of what you said in the opening, that most people think it means "you are bad, and if I call someone that, everyone else will agree with me that they are bad," and you know that the term is loaded like that.

If "buy local" etc. is bad, it's bad for reasons not related to the Nazis. It's like "Hitler was a vegetarian." Yes, and?
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