How has “The Hitler Rule” protected American Progressivism from having a fair and democratic analysis by the American people? Is there a fair comparison to be made between Hitler’s worldview and present-day American Progressivism? These are the questions that Paul Gordon Collier probes in this analysis.
Before I begin, I want to clarify a few things about the terminology I will be using. When you see the word ‘progressive’, I am actually referring to the true ideologues and/or the opportunists who have come to the conclusion that they could benefit from the fulfillment of the progressive vision for America.
I would wager that the overwhelming majority of Americans who call themselves progressive or vote for progressive candidates do not know, might even deny the true nature of progressivism. I would wager many of them either vote for progressives because they think they will benefit economically or they favor one or more of the progressive positions on social issues.
This analysis will not touch on the fullness of progressivism, which would include an analysis of why progressivism tends to support certain social positions, such as being pro-abortion and pro gay rights. It focuses on the core beliefs of American Progressivism, or, rather, core presuppositions, of American Progressivism, and what it may or may not have in common with Hitler’s Worldview, Nazism, or National Socialism.
I should also point out that, in my opinion, I view both the democratic and republican party as being essentially progressive in nature, with the republican party allowing for a greater degree of free market within the progressive vision and also emphasizing less social engineering control than the democratic party. In short, the Republican Party is less aggressively progressive and would accept a more hybridized version of republicanism and progressivism
American politics has built within it some fundamental progressive notions that have largely been accepted by the political class, even by constitutionalists and ‘far right’ conservatives. Some of these assumptions include the notion that government must regulate and manipulate the economy to keep it going in the right direction and that government could and should use its power to encourage or penalize behaviors that, while not in violations of others’ rights, do not benefit the nation as w hole. In other words, government does not exist solely to protect rights, settle disputes or provide for the common defense. It exists to guide people towards better, more constructive behavior.
All of these assumptions, now taken almost as a tautology, while finding some expression almost from our conception, did not come to be so widely accepted as a natural part of the American government until after the American Progressives began the work of changing the republic from within, starting in earnest with the first progressive Presidency, Republican Theodore Roosevelt.
Keep this in mind as you read on, so you get a sense that when I say “American Progressivism” I am referring to the thought leaders, GOP and Democratic leaders among them, of that movement. When I talk about the left I am specifically referring to the thought leaders. When I talk about the right. I am specifically talking about activists, supporters who are not the thought leaders that actually control the governmental actions of what the folks, the activists and supporters, on the right believe is their party, the Republican Party.
And now, I give you, The Hitler Rule….
Protecting Progressive from Fair and Democratic Analysis
Anyone engaging in political discourse knows the sometimes unwritten, unexpressed rule known as ‘The Hitler Rule.’
It goes something like this. He who accuses the other of being like Hitler, loses. This has created a silencing effect on applying any comparative analysis between the worldview of Hitler, Nazism, and any contemporary worldview.
The most common comparison made is between the right-wing and Nazis, a comparison that is still deemed ‘acceptable’ by the thought leaders in our academic institutions.
The American political perspective divides the major camps in either a left or right column. Charts are displayed that demonstrate the political spectrum going from right to left. On the right, often, the Nazis are placed, a bit further right than the ‘right wing’ of the conservative movement in America.
Similarities between ‘right wing’ America and the Nazis can be found. Both the Nazis and the ‘right wing’ embrace a degree of nationalism that calls on people to sacrifice for the good of the nation. Patriotism is highly valued. Law and order is championed. Military power is celebrated.
The Nazis, while not actually reflecting a Christian worldview, nevertheless incorporated a great deal of Christian rhetoric, using the language of religion to inspire their followers to embrace their ideology and their leaders. This use of religious rhetoric to inspire followers is also incorporated by the ‘right wing’, especially, but not exclusively, by so-called ‘Christian fundamentalists.’
If you haven’t quite figured it out, use of such terms as ‘right wing’ and ‘Christian fundamentalist’ are not terms I actually believe reflect reality. Certainly, if we define right wing as being extremely nationalistic, patriotic, religious and militaristic, we can find Americans that could be labeled ‘right wing.’
But that label has become ubiquitous, being applied to anyone who espouses even moderately nationalistic, patriotic and pro-military worldviews. Anyone, for instance, who supports the second amendment is being labeled a right winger by the thought leaders in our academic institutions.
These days, anyone who does not embrace an international, world-citizen, heavily government-managed-market worldview is labeled a right winger.
We can find the same thing with the term “Christian fundamentalist.” Technically, a Christian fundamentalist is really simply one who adheres to the infallibility of scripture and believes in basing all of their actions, in all facets of life, on what scripture tells us to do.
Over the years, the term has come to be applied to Christians who wish to use the mechanism of the state to coerce non-Christians to follow their particular morality. But now, like ‘right wing’, the term is now applied ubiquitously to anyone who espouses a Christian worldview and believes that their Christian worldview has the same right to influence the public square as any other worldview.
For the vast majority of Christians who fall into this category, myself included, despite the fact that we respect individual liberty and recognize the boundaries of applying our morality to others by use of the state, all conservative-leaning Christians engaged in political activism are labelled “Christian Fundamentalists.”
The comparisons between true Christian fundamentalists, people who seek to utilize the state to enforce Christian morality on others to a degree that they violate the free will and individual liberty of others, and Nazis is a fair one if we narrowly focus on the incorporation of religion to justify the denial of liberty to those who don’t fit into that religious worldview. I would wager the percentage of Christian political activists who fall into this category is a very small minority representation of that group.
Still, I am quite comfortable, and so are the thought leaders of our academic institutions, having a comparative analysis discussion about the parallels between Nazism and true Christian fundamentalism (as defined as a political expression, not as the traditional meaning of the term).
Within the conservative movement, however, the percentage of activists who could justifiably be considered ‘right wingers’, while still a minority, is a significant percentage. The comparative analysis between Nazism and the true ‘right winger’ is a healthy analysis our country should be having. I have no problem analysis these similarities. Nor do the thought leaders in our academic institutions have any issues drawing those comparisons.
The Hitler rule, in practice, really only applies when we attempt to draw comparisons between American Progressivism, the dominant political ideology in both major political parties, and Nazism. Yet, the similarities between the two political ideologies are much more significant than they are with ‘right wingers’ and ‘Christian fundamentalists.’
As a matter of fact, I would argue, a lot of the similarities between the right wing, Christian fundamentalists and Nazis are also shared by some progressives. The history of American progressivism also has produced even more shared similarities, with examples of nationalism, hyper patriotism and religious rhetoric to be found among their ranks in least to the same percentage as is found among conservatives.
The other terminology for Hitler’s worldview, Nazism, is National Socialism. This is a type of socialism that derives its root beliefs from the same sources as Socialists, communists, and yes, progressives do, from Darwin, Hume and Marx.
National Socialism originally had a lot more in common with American progressivism as articulated and expressed by Woodrow Wilson, the second American progressive president, and the first progressive president to represent the more secular branch of the progressive party.
Where Teddy Roosevelt believed more in a progressivism that extended some form of Christian values, Wilson embraced the more man-centered, earth-centered version of progressivism (despite, like the Nazis, paying lip service to Christianity).
Early on, progressivism focused more on the idea of a perfected nation, America, through which individuals would find a more fulfilled expression of humanity. Both Roosevelt and Wilson (Roosevelt more than Wilson) appealed to American patriotism and a call for a new American ideal to replace the old American ideal of individual liberty.
Both Roosevelt and Wilson made appeals to Christians, utilizing verses and rhetoric that would appeal to their Christian constituents. Roosevelt appears to have fully believed the rhetoric, while Wilson seems to have simply utilized the useful terminologies of the day to advance his cause.
This American-centric progressivism would gradually give way to the more international-focused progressivism of today, starting in the 60s with the rise of post-modernism and deconstructionism in our academic centers.
Post-modernism and de-constructionism served their purpose in the second half of the 20th century, undermining and invalidating the old institutions that continued to advocate for individual liberty and a government limited by negative rights which people inherit.
Now that post-modernism has served its purpose, the modernist version of progressivism has come back to the fore. The restoration of the ideal that ‘science’ and ‘reason’ can guide the collective towards a more perfect expression of justice and equality is proof that post-modernism is dead, save as a tool of de-construction against opposing non-progressive views.
So, while progressivism early on had much in common with National Socialism, including nationalism, hyper patriotism and religious rhetoric, the current iteration of progressivism has lost a lot of that commonality.
Even the notions of the perfect human and superior races versus inferior races has largely left progressivism, though early on it even shared that with National Socialism. The main differences between the two had to do with how to take power and how to raise up the more pure races. National Socialism was much more aggressive in its approach, willing to murder at a large scale, where American progressivism believed in incrementally nudging America to progressivism and enacting programs (like Margaret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood) that would gradually eliminate, or at least control, inferior races.
National Socialism also placed a lot more significance on race, where, for the American progressive, the issue of race was not nearly as important as economics. National Socialists despised the Socialists (though Hitler and the Soviets early on collaborated considerably with one another), calling them materialists, forgetting the primacy of ‘volk’ in bringing a more perfect human expression into being.
The National Socialists also mixed in elements of the occult that eventually led them more and more towards a type of pagan socialism where the volk, the blood, was a god, and every genetically acceptable person could be part of the collective godhead.
By the time the American Progressive government under FDR faced off against the Nazis, the difference between the two ideologies was much more pronounced than it was when Hitler rose to power in 1933. George Bernard Shaw, an English progressive who fell well within the same ideological framework as American Progressives, admired Adolph Hitler and viewed him as a great help to advance the progressive cause.
Shaw also called for the elimination of undesirables, of people who were no longer useful to society, but he thought it should be done ‘humanely’, and with the willing consent of the person who was no longer useful to society. As he began to see the lengths that Hitler went to in the name of National Socialism, Shaw, like all the American Progressives, withdrew his support.
It should be pointed out that American Progressives withdrew their support of Hitler not because his ideology was unaligned with their own, save for his claims that the German race was superior (at that time, the sentiment was still largely, within American Progressive circles, that Europeans overall were the superior race). What bothered the American Progressives was the method for pushing a people towards a progressive state.
They were not in favor of concentration camps or the use of political assassination and execution to advance their cause. They were also more democratic than Hitler and the Nazis (who ended the democratic process once they completely consolidated power). They believed they could persuade the people to accept progressivism and they could gradually, naturally, eliminate the undesirables that were getting in the way of progress.
American Progressivism today has far less in common with National Socialism than the American Progressivism of the first half of the 20th Century. While they still adhere to the idea of the possibility of perfecting the human biologically, their notion of supremacy is not found in a specific race, but rather in the internalizing and normalizing of progressive ideals within the human brain.
To be sure, there are elements within the American Progressive movement that do view the white race as being inherently flawed. Some within this camp hope for a gradual elimination of the white race, while others believe the white race can eventually be retrained, after it has paid sufficiently for its crimes against the rest of the world.
While I cannot say this definitively, my suspicion is that the thought leaders of American Progressivism, the overwhelming majority of which are white, do not hold to a racial view of the white race, but they see in this narrative a convenient tool to target a much more real enemy of progressivism, a strong, resourceful middle class.
As the middle class in America is largely white, by targeting whites with means, they are effectively targeting the middle class. One of their underlying philosophies, ‘by any means necessary’, allows for the thought leaders to advance this narrative, even if they don’t believe it’s true, for the good of the cause, a promise of the progressive dream of social justice, equality, and a more efficient, more perfected expression of the human collective.
If you accept my supposition, then the element of race that is so fundamental to the National Socialists is not shared with American Progressives any more than it is among conservatives. Both sides have their race-centered elements, but in neither case do these race-centered elements have any significant influence at the thought leader level of both movements.
But American Progressivism does still share some significant beliefs with the National Socialists. These beliefs are important for us, as Americans, to come to terms with. American Progressives have been protected from this fair comparative analysis due to “The Hitler Rule”, while this rule has not been applied when doing comparative analysis between the National Socialists and the Conservative Movement.
Nazism has been used to condemn, vilify and invalidate individuals and groups on the right, even though the progressives have far more in common with Nazism than do the conservatives.
National Socialism and American Progressivism both share the same socialist belief that the means of production should be in the hands of ‘the people’ and that ‘the people’ is represented and reflected in a government.
For the National Socialists, the government was represented by the people through one man, the Fuhrer, the Humian man of the people whose proof of such a status could be found in the fact that he held the power in the first place. For the American Progressives, the government is represented by democratically elected leaders who appoint regulators that have the power to freely manage and manipulate regulations to control outcomes that point the collective towards a greater progressive perfection.
The key similarity here is that the ‘people’ control the means of productions. The Soviets also believed this, as did the Maoists. What differentiated the National Socialist approach to achieving this goal from the Soviets and the Maoists was they believed in not eliminating the good planners, nor the wealth of these planners, the owners and managers of the means of production.
They believed in controlling the means of production not through state ownership of the marketplace, but state management of the marketplace by government planners who gave their commands to the owners and planners.
Within National Socialist Germany, the producers were given specific regulations that set prices and quotas, as well as told the producers what to produce. For the American Progressive, they have not achieved the level of management of the marketplace that the National Socialists have, but they have been steadily moving in that direction for over a hundred years now.
It is important to take into consideration this comparison between National Socialism and American Progressivism to get a sense of where the American Progressives hope to eventually take us. The Affordable Care Act is as close as the American Progressives have come to achieving the high level of government management of the market they feel is necessary to guide us towards that greater progressive perfection.
Early on in the American Progressive movement, the factions that believed in the Soviet model of controlling the means of production (by having the government own those means directly) was much stronger than it is today. The relative success of the National Socialist model had a lot to do with this faction losing influence within the American Progressive movement, as did the Chinese example, where they abandoned the old Maoist approach and began to adopt the American Progressive model.
The Chinese, due to their starting point, quickly created a much more fulfilled ‘progressive’ marketplace than the American had, or even have today. They started off with total ownership of the market, so lifting the ownership and allowing for a degree of the free market to come in was seen as liberating to a people who had largely accepted, grown up with a much more rigid control of the means of production.
In America, while we are, largely, a progressive nation, the producers, the middle class, would not easily accept a more fulfilled progressive market. As America still holds some vestiges of a republic, and as the middle class still has considerable resources and the arms to protect itself, American Progressives still face considerable hurdles to convert the now managed market to a truly progressive market.
One of the key similarities between the National Socialists and the American Progressives is something that all of the Marx-influenced worldviews have in common, their view of ‘rights.’ For American Progressives and National Socialists, rights are not inherited by humans at birth, they are granted by the state, for the purpose of edifying the state, which is the greatest expression of humanness.
The state is the central focus of a perfected human life that recognizes his or her individuality as being an impediment to that state perfection, not an asset. Government is here to grant us positive rights, rights such as having a secure job, an affordable house, healthcare, a working vehicle, reliable wi fi, etc. Government is the vehicle through which the greatest amount of human beings can more equally share in the wealth of a successful, just government.
Our nation, as it exists today, has mostly progressive-type government institutions, and a highly managed market, with one major part of the market nearly fully progressive, the healthcare market. A significant portion of Americans, maybe even a slim majority, have adopted largely progressive worldviews thanks to decades of persuasion by American institutions that are largely dominated by progressives (entertainment, education, news media, arts).
The impediments to progressivism remains the vestiges of the republic this nation still holds. The Supreme Court interferes with the regulators far more than the progressives would wish. In the progressive model, more or less created by Woodrow Wilson, the elected officials are directly answerable to the people, in a democratic, not republican model. The regulators are to be freed from any political pressure, and certainly should be freed from the anti-democratic Bill of Rights, which, from Wilson’s perspective, denies the majority their just power to enact programs that benefit the majority.
For the progressive, there is absolute rule of law, but the absolute is the end goal, to create a more perfect collective where social justice and equality prevail and where dangerous elements are prevented from denying the will of the majority. The Constitution, fixed as it is, is anathema to the true progressive. It limits the ability of the regulators to adjust their plans on the fly, when needed, for the good of the whole.
The National Socialists did not face such impediments, nor did they face another great impediment to the progressives in America, an armed middle class. Within Nazi Germany, however, there were gun control laws that restricted who could own guns and for what purpose. If you were a member of the party, you could more freely own guns. If you were a member of an undesired race, especially the Jews, your guns were seized.
Understanding the similarities between American Progressivism and National Socialism is essential at this point in our history, as American Progressivism stands on the precipice of consolidating power and implementing a more thoroughly progressive market, a more thoroughly progressive education system, and a more thoroughly progressive regulatory model.
All that stands between full progressivism and the restoration of the republic is the removal and/or de facto devaluation of the Bill of Rights, the ending of the Electoral College, the disenfranchisement of the middle class and the significant reduction of privately held arms in America.
As we head closer and closer to the full vision of American Progressivism coming into being in this nation, it behooves us to consider whether we would embrace such a vison for this nation. Finding the examples of progressivism in history is one of the most effective means through which we can assess whether we wish to embrace this fulfilment of the progressive vision.
While National Socialism certainly has some major differences with American Progressivism, on a large scale it is perhaps one of the most closely related systems we have seen enacted so far in human history. Given that fact, the study of the elements of National Socialism that are similar to American Progressivism warrants our study.
Sadly, due to the control that progressives have over the mainstream delivery of culture (through education, entertainment and the media), the uneven application of “The Hitler Rule” prevents us from having the type of conversations we SHOULD be having at this important, transitional stage in our history.
Given the nature of progressivism, where ‘by any means necessary’ is a noble virtue, it is not surprising that progressives wish to avoid this considered analysis of what the true nature of progressivism is and whether people, once they fully understand this, will or should embrace this transformation, this finishing off of the republic so that the full progressive state might rise.
Thanks to “The Hitler Rule”, progressives have eliminated themselves from that fair, democratic analysis of their vision for Progressive America.