The Left Learned Wrong Lessons from Nazism

The only way to understand what is happening to America in our time — and for that matter, in Europe since World War II — is to understand the left.

And one way to understand the left — and its enormous appeal to many decent people — is to understand what it learned from World War II and the Nazi experience. The lessons people draw from history go a long way toward explaining how they view the world and how they behave.

Unfortunately, virtually everything the left learned from the unique evil known as Nazism has been wrong.

The first lesson was that the right is evil, not merely wrong. Because Nazism has been successfully labelled "right-wing," virtually every right-wing position and leader has been either cynically or sincerely characterized by the left as a danger to civilization. That is why the right is so often labelled fascist and compared to Nazis. Vast numbers of people in the West truly believe that if the right prevails, fascism will follow.

Of course, Nazism was not right-wing — certainly not in American terms. How could it be? Right-wing means less government, not more. Nor was it left-wing, even though "Nazism" was an abbreviation for National Socialism.

Nazism was sui generis. It was radical racism combined with totalitarianism; and racism as a doctrine is neither right nor left.

We have no contemporary movement of any major significance that is Nazi-like. The closest thing we have is Islamist hatred of non-Muslims — but even that is mostly religion- rather than race-based.

The association of Nazism with right-wing is one reason many Jews loathe the right. In the Jewish psyche, to fight the right is to fight incipient Nazism.

The second lesson the left learned is directly related to the first. If the right is so evil that, if allowed to prevail, Nazism will follow, then surely the left must be beautiful and noble. And that, of course, is how the left sees itself — as inherently beautiful and noble. After all, how can the opposite of Nazism be anything but noble?

The third erroneous lesson is a deep fear and loathing of nationalism. Since the Nazis committed their crimes in the name of nationalism (race-based nationalism, to be precise), nationalism must be curbed. That explains much of the left’s contempt for Americans who wave the flag — indeed, the left has rendered the term "flag-wavers" a pejorative term.

How else to explain the fact that on American national holidays one finds so many more flags displayed in conservative areas than in liberal ones? The trauma of World War I had already killed nationalism in much of Europe. And World War II did that for the left in America.

The left regards any assertion of American national identity — not merely flag-waving — as chauvinism bordering on fascism. When the left charges Americans who fear the dilution of American national identity that could follow citizenship for tens of millions of illegal immigrants with "xenophobia," and "racism," it is not only a cynical attempt to cultivate Latino votes for the Democratic Party. It is also a sincere belief that conservative concerns about American national identity are reminiscent of chauvinist bigotry.

The most obvious example of left-wing opposition to American nationalism is its cultivation of "multiculturalism" as a replacement for American national identity. For the left, American citizens are no longer Americans first and foremost; we are African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic- or Latino-Americans, Native-Americans, etc. The left celebrates what precedes the hyphen far more than the "American" that follows it. As a result, America no longer instills traditional American values and an American identity on either those born here or in its immigrants, which is the reason for the right’s concern over illegal immigration, not bigotry and xenophobia.

A fourth lesson the left learned from Nazism has been that no judging of cultures is permissible. Because the Nazis deemed Jews and others as inferior, we are no longer allowed to judge other cultures. In the post-World War II world of the left, all cultures are equal. To say that the contemporary Islamic world, or that black inner city culture, has serious moral problems that these cultures need to address is to be labelled dangerously racist — again reminiscent, for the left, of the Nazis who declared other groups (inherently) defective. For the left, the only cultures one may judge adversely are white American and religious Jewish and Christian.

Fifth and finally, the left has affirmed pacifism as an ideal. One would think that the most obvious moral and rational lesson to be learned from the Nazi experience is the need to fight evil. After all, if decent nations were not as militarily strong as they were, and were not as prepared as they were to use that might, the Nazis would not have been defeated, and many millions more "non-Aryans" would have been enslaved and murdered. But the left, including, sad to say, Germany, did not draw that lesson. Instead of learning to fight evil, the left has learned that fighting is evil — and it has taught this to two generations of Americans.

To amend Santayana’s famous dictum, it is those who learn the wrong lessons from history who are condemned to repeat it.

Dennis Prager’s latest book, "Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph," was published April 24 by HarperCollins. He is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of PragerUniversity.Com.


  • potemkin_village_usa

    Where the NAZIs are on the political spectrum in regard to Left, and Right, has been observed, and set forth in a pamphlet describing its absurdity in gradients measuring the magnitude of government participation in the civil society by the Ron Paul campaign.
    __ All the way left is total government, and, all the way right is total government, which begs the question: where is anarchy on such a scale? This absurdity came about when the ‘Progressives’ took over the moniker of ‘Liberal’ from those who believed strongly in individual rights; equal application of government from ‘the-general-welfare’ clause of the US Constitution; and limited federal authority set forth in article 1 section 8 of the same Constitution. In this pre FDR paradigm, the more liberal you were, the closer to anarchy you went.
    The perfect propaganda fraud today is couched in the tradition of the hijacked term ‘Liberal.’

    • Gringoviejo

      The enmity between Nazism and Communism is purely a result of “free-market conditions”.
      They are really identical, both Socialism, both Big Government, both Totalitarian (anti-freedom), both expansionist and imperialist, and both use exactly the same methods.

      Also notable is that both control trade unions when in power.

      Hitler well said “The only difference between Stalin’s Socialism and mine is that mine is Nationalist and his is Internationalist”
      SoAlso, let us look a lefty icons of strength through unity, divided we fall, etc.

      USSR – Union of Soviet (cooperative??) Socialist Republics – a nice Kumbayah sort of name. Now, that Greek fighting unit where all the soldiers stuck together and so were ‘indestuctible’ was called a Phalanx. And the Roman Magistrate’s symbol of authority was a bundle of twigs bound together, symbolizing justice for all if the community stuck together was called the Fasces.
      So the Fascists were really dyed-in-the-wool Socialists, and Spain’s Falangists also. There was even a supremely lefty sounding group in Germany, the National SOCIALIST German WORKERS Party – “nazis” for short.

      Yes, Nazism and Communism were both socialist, but were in competition, and therefore deep down hated each other. Present-day lefties think they are right because “they won”, but they forget that Stalin was Hitler’s bedfellow, helping him to rearm & retrain during the 30’s.

      So what can we learn?
      That Dire Straits song says it all –
      “the right becomes the wrong, and the left becomes the right.” and
      “today in the mountains, tomorrow the world”

      All socialism either is, or deeply desires to be, totalitarian.
      Revolutionaries are always “agin the government” and complaining about injustice, etc. but when the gain control (whether by bullet or ballot) they are worse than their predecessors.

  • Guest

    A good article, I agree with everything that was said., except that the Jewish psyche is to fight the Right. Jews who are either culturally or spiritually attuned to their heritage know that Nazism was only one reincarnation of the oldest hatred.(which is based on a mixture of ethnicity/religion/nation.)

    • George Williams

      Then why were so many Jews, prominent and otherwise siding with the Soviets, before the Second World War, and after? Hollywood was full of people with a communist bent. Even today Jews are siding with the likes of Barack Obama, who almost certainly has a strong communist twist in his poliics. The Communist Party USA recognized Obama from the start and supported him. It is not difficult to discern “From each according to is abilities, to each according to his needs” as deeply rooted in Obama’s ideology.

  • potemkin_village_usa

    __Nazi is shorthand for “National Socialism.’ We also need to see what the advocates of the Soviet model, some of whom had visited Stalin and The Soviet Union, as Fellow Travelers, learned from their trip. Here are some examples within FDRs administration: Go Figure!!

    1.) Rexford Tugwell, Governor of Puerto Rico: “Business will logically be required to disappear.”
    2.) Adolf Berle, Assistant Secretary of State. Berle says: “Over a period of years the government will gradually come to own most of the production plants in the United States.”
    3.) Henry A. Wallace, Vice President: “They will not be Socialists, Communists or Fascists, but plain men trying to gain by democratic methods the professed objectives of the Communists, Socialists and Fascists.”
    4.) Mrs. Evelyn Burns, an English Socialist, author of the National Resources Planning Board report on post-war America advocated by President. Roosevelt pushed on Congress. “Society will have to devise methods . . that would refuse individuals the right to make what use they wish of their own labor and property.”
    5.) Clifford A. Durr, of the Federal Communications Commission: “The government will provide the market and say what and how’ much is to be produced
    6.) Paul Porter, The War Labor Board: “All owners of stocks, bonds, mortgages, land, buildings, or equipment affected shall be required to surrender them in return for Commonwealth bonds.”
    7.) Thomas R. Ajmlie, Roosevelt’s Interstate Commerce Commission, later, Special Assistant Attorney General: “Congress shall have power to enact laws to provide for the ownership, operation and management . . . of business,
    manufacturing, commerce, industry and banking
    8.) Paul Blanchard, The State Department: “Having once captured the government and shelved the Supreme Court, we Socialists would nationalize as many large industries as we could chew. We would do it peacefully, if possible, and otherwise, if necessary.”
    9.) Leland Olds, The Federal Power Commission “Ownership
    will become more and more divorced from any active part in the business of
    society. The owners will cease to be necessary.”
    10.) Tom Trippett The OPA: “Take control of industry and government, abolish the present capitalistic system and build a workers’ republic.”

    • potemkin_village_usa

      This is not opinion, it’s a compendium of quotations, so what gives with the down vote here?

  • Brian Fr Langley

    The comment that Nazi’s were not socialist’s is not entirely correct. The Nazi’s National Socialists did indeed have a 26 point socialist agenda. The reason the Nazi’s hated the communists was NOT that their ideology differed so much. It was because Marxism Leninism was a world revolution NOT simply national one. Eugenics infused Nazi’s, eschewed the idea of sharing the planet with a lesser evolved humanity. (eugenics in it’s day was another so called scientific consensus movement, the idea that races evolved independently, thus some were superior and some inferior) While the highly nationalistic socialist have been universally defeated, the Marxist Leninist’s continue their world wide revolutionary efforts to achieve a one world one party Government controlled by themselves. As for Islam? The History of WW2 shows Nazi ideology was tightly embraced by it’s adherents, who then supplied the 3rd Reich with both troops and moral support. The Mufti of Jerusalem himself led large forces in the Balkans which were accused of mass genocide against Eastern Orthodox Christians. He further remonstrated the Nazi’s for the final solution being to slow. He also remonstrated the Nazi forces involved (we’re talking murderers here) for their excessive sentimentality, particularly as regards women and children.

    • Reco2

      National Socialism had a capitalist economic system where big business played a major role….that is why it is considered to be Far Right and conservatie. And Rightly so might i add,

      • potemkin_village_usa

        You may quibble about the definition of the word “capitalist” all day long, but the fact remains, that a national socialist economic model’s direction comes from the government and not from the free un-coerced choices of purchasers. The national socialist economy is based upon the dictates and needs of the state, therefore the national socialist model is not a free market one. The national socialist economic model does not fit the definition of capitalism as originally coined by Adam Smith. Bastardizing the original definition of the word ‘Capitalism’ has been a boon for the left hasn’t it?

      • Brian Fr Langley

        You mean like the Obama administration? Since the Democrats came to power the top 1% have succeeded like never before in history. And to say it’s not a command economy (like Hitlers) is laughable. Interest rates are set by the state, (not capitalism by any defintion) Money is being printed at staggering rates (QE1,2,and 3) A command economy if ever there was one. And Obama care was writtin by insurance companies for insurance companies. (the few insiders) Like the Nazi socialist agenda the few (almost always insiders) get filthy rich, while regular folks are simply cannon fodder. Anyway, their 26 point plan is there for all too see, (just google it) The only capitalism they allowed was the same crony capitalism you see today in the Obama administration. Obama like Hitler has turned making his friends filthy rich into an art form. He is the best friend the 1% ever had. PS if you don’t believe me, just check out the stock market? All losses the 1% suffered) from the “great recession” have been totally reversed.The 1% got their money back and then some. For regular folks? Despite the nonsensical claims of dropping unemployment, one number doesn’t lie. There are less Americans as a percentage of population working today than there was in 2006. The rich are richer, the poor are poorer, and the middle class has been devastated. Nazi’s were not capitalist’s by any definition of the word. What capitalism is (really) is simply the natural extension of personal, private property rights. Period. Your labors AND THEIR FRUITS. belong to you. You can ponder it any way you want, but in the end this is what it is, to be a capitalist.

      • His Excellency

        No it didn’t. National Socialism had a socialist economic system where big business was targeted repeatedly….that’s why it is considered to be Far-Left and leftist. And rightly so may I add.

        • Reco2

          More anti semtic Righting revisionist propaganda, big business benefited from Hitler’s capitalist regime as proven by the Krupp trial, Flick Trial and other IG Farben trial. Why it is seen as far right!

          • His Excellency

            More anti-Semitic Left-wing revisionist propaganda coming from a Stalinist like yourself, huh, pendejo?

  • D Parri

    “…virtually everything the left learned from the unique evil known as Nazism has been wrong.”

    Dennis, I believe that it will go far beyond the lessons learned from dealing with the Nazis. The pre-WWI isolationist period and the post WWI reconstruction period saw the U.S. foreign policies undergo enormous shifts in participation for the U.S. in world markets. Along with this momentum in outreach followed a shift in the U.S. military stance that did not follow through until after WWII.

    I am afraid that we were doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past once before, and it is becoming more and more clear that the old familiar roads of pacifism, exaggerated tolerance, and a broken or damaged national spirit are looming ever-closer once again.

  • kayakbob

    Dennis also points out how the left “wins” in the definition battle. They call themselves “progressive”, as if to imply that if I disagree with them then I, by definition, don’t want “progress”. “Progress? By who’s definition?”, I ask. Forcing people to purchase a product they don’t like, don’t want, and many say they don’t really need at this point in their lives. Well, that ain’t “progress”. It’s just Progressive.

    Yes, the Nazi label is their way of staking out ground…turf. If you are “for” liberal views, you aren’t a Nazi. Why? Because to not be for liberal views is to hold Nazi views. And conservatives do not hold liberal views, therefore conservatives must be Nazi’s. It’s obvious.

    And I should name my next kid “Ezekiel” to make sure everyone knows I am not a Nazi. Done.

    • Wheels55

      Progressive as in Obama’s slogan “Forward”. Which means not to look back. Which means don’t look at all the screwy things liberals do. Which means, they do not like the idea of learning from history. Which means liberals like fairy tales, like “you can keep your doctor, period”.

  • kayakbob

    Thanks Dennis. I have heard the nationalism argument before, and I find it ‘interesting’ (euphemism for odd). The nationalism of the Nazi’s (and Japan at that time) was destructive to say the least. No argument. But it was the nationalism of Great Britain, and the United States, Australia and others that triumphed over the nationalism of Germany and Japan. So ‘nationalism’ had nothing to do Naziism.

    To say ‘nationalism’ is a bad thing is like saying ‘money’ is a bad thing. No. It is entirely what you do with it, in the case of money. Or in the name of it, in the case of nationalism.

    Wait…I just proved my theory. Oops. The left celebrated the Occupy crowd, who didn’t like money. Ok, they didn’t like that other people have it and they don’t. But an awful lot of Occupiers that I spoke with at the time didn’t see those as distinctly different things.

  • Gratefulconservative

    Excellent analysis, Dennis but I dare say most that vote democrat have bought into the propaganda and don’t have a clue what they are voting for. I just pray they will start waking up and smell the coffee, instead boose and drugs!!! And if you notice, this too is being used to numb and dumb them down…Sooooo sad for us all…

  • Wheels55

    Interesting take. I hadn’t thought things through like that.
    I do see that people who do not like American flags, supporting military veterans, the free enterprise system and hot dogs are people who should live somewhere else. You don’t have to wave the flag, shake the hand of a vet, start a business or eat ball park food, but you need to let other people do it. Trying to redefine this country is really saying you wished you lived somewhere else. Then go live somewhere else.

  • RickonhisHarleyJohnson

    Wow! Thank you. I only saw the left’s positions in terms of getting votes or obtaining power. Had never thought of their take on Nazism in those terms. Like many things in life there are many pieces to a puzzle. Your insights have given us another piece of the puzzle that explains the left.