Friday, April 29, 2005

A Bit More on Socialism and "National Socialism"

There is one aspect of Ulrich Speck's original German post on the "Greatest Possible National Community" or "Höchste Volksgemeinschaft" that does not come out clearly in my English abridged version: namely, the importance of the materially "socialistic" elements of National Socialist economic policy. It is indeed, on Ulrich's account, the "central thesis" of Götz Aly's new book Hitlers Volksstaat that National Socialist rule "quite simply bought consent, especially from the 'little people'." There is an interesting discussion going on concerning the issue on Medienkritik and one of the commentators, by the name of Christian, adds some pertinent details (I don't know if he is also drawing on Aly's work here) plus an observation:

Hitler increased the "Körperschaftssteuer", corporate tax from 20 % in 1932 to 40 % in 1935, he was cutting income taxes for most Germans, especially workers, but he dramatically raised the taxes for the richest 5 % of the population. Hitler was a big fan of "Taxing the Rich". He introduced all kinds of social programs, most of them like "Kindergeld" [literally "child-money", i.e. state subsidies granted to families "per child" - JR] are still part of the German social system. Hitler also made May 1st a national holiday in Germany, the same day that is celebrated by Socialists all over the world and later became the day for great parades in the communist GDR.

National socialism is not equal to communism, but it is definitely a socialist ideology, of course this is something the lefties will never accept.

While it is important to remember this materially "socialistic" aspect of the Nazi regime, it is equally important, as Ulrich emphasizes in his post, not to forget the ideologically "völkisch" or ethnic-national aspect. Perhaps no element of Nazi social policy more clearly articulated these two aspects than "Kindergeld": which was at once an expression of the regime's "socialistic" inclinations and part of a "natality policy" driven by "völkisch" concerns to preserve "the German people" in an ethnic sense. As Ulrich succinctly and accurately puts it: "The specificity of National Socialism consisted precisely in the conjugation of Race/Nation and socialism."