Nazi v. Communists

We should all welcome recent debate in Europe on outlawing communist and Nazis symbols. It is irrelevant to argue about whether communists or nazis killed more people and imposed more sufferings. They both did a lot. It is also important to identify those movements as two practical applications of socialist doctrines.

The basic premise of socialist literature is that the institutions of socialism are capable of bringing about a “just” society. This premise has provided both the philosophical foundation and the political justification for the practitioners of socialism to replace the rule of law and individual liberties with the rule of men (hereafter: the arbitrary state) and a contrived concern for the “people.” The term “people,” a favorite cliché of all socialist leaders, is merely a façade of words behind which the ruling elite hides its own private ends.

The twentieth century witnessed the rise and failure of two major applications of the socialist doctrine: National Socialism and Marxism-Leninism. Like the competing families of the underworld, National Socialism and Marxism-Leninism were at war (cold and hot) with each other as well as with the rest of the world. And they both failed to deliver on their promises. The Second World War destroyed Hitler’s socialism, while Marxism-Leninism decayed from within.

National socialists and communists shared many basic political and economic premises of the socialist doctrine. They both ran command economies. They made the individual a bare tool in the achievement of the ends of their ruling elites. National Socialism and Marxism-Leninism were hostile to the private-property free-market society, and its corollary, the society of free and responsible individuals. They favored a large and active state, created comprehensive welfare programs, and paid no heed to the rule of law. National Socialism and Marxism-Leninism were equally unrelenting in the pursuit of their primary targets: inferior races and the bourgeoisie respectively.

National Socialism and Marxism-Leninism had some fundamental differences as well. Communists were openly hostile to the right of ownership, while national socialists were comfortable with controlling and monitoring the behavior of private owners. National socialists saw the struggle for racial purity within national boundaries as the major mechanism for the development of their brand of socialism. Communists, on the other hand, saw the class struggle waged by the proletariat across national boundaries as the vehicle for the development of the Marxist-Leninist type of socialism. Late G. Warren Nutter, a highly respected economist, said this about the communist regime: “It was Lenin’s genius to recognize the importance of embellishing the Soviet System with all the trappings of democracy. If the people wanted a constitution, give them one, and even include the bill of rights. If they want a parliament, give them that, too. And a system of courts. If they want a federal system, create that myth as well. Above all, let them have elections, for the act of voting is what the common man most clearly associates with democracy. Give them all these, but make sure they have no effect on how things are run.”

Svetozar Pejovich 
Professor Emeritus
Texas A&M University