Nazis Are Not Socialists Nor Democrats Despite What Alt-Right Might Say

Democrats and democratic socialists were incorrectly linked by some to Nazism following the harrowing protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend that led to one woman’s death. The allegations were a huge misrepresentation of what each of the terms means and a poor, surface-only reading of what German leader Adolf Hitler’s party and government stood for.

The assertions or accusations listed above appear to stem from the official name of the party that Hitler led to take over Germany in the early 1930s. It was called the National Socialist German Workers’ Party—later shortened to Nazi party—and gained power by promising voters to alleviate a German economy mired in depression while also restoring “German cultural values, reverse the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, turn back the perceived threat of a Communist uprising, put the German people back to work, and restore Germany to its 'rightful position' as a world power," according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The party represented an extreme side of German’s right wing, and the key word in its title was not necessarily "socialism," but rather "national." During Hitler’s ascension, nationalism was preached and took hold, and excluded anyone who wasn’t fully German or considered superior.

"The Nazis opposed all traditional socialism, wanting to substitute something they called ‘German socialism’ or ‘Aryan socialism,’” Bryn Mawr College professor Barbara Miller Lane told PolitiFact in October 2015. “This meant citizenship and privileges only for ‘Aryans’ (meaning non-Jews), concentration camps for others."

Indeed, the American Nazi Party, first named the World Union of Free Enterprise National Socialists by its founder George Lincoln Rockwell in 1959 before he changed the name a year later, specifically states that “National Socialism” applies to whites. The party’s official website describes the two main tenets of the term are “the Struggle for Aryan Racial survival, and Social Justice for White Working Class people throughout our land.”

By definition, a political party with Nazi roots or affiliations is not democratic since it would apply to only one race, whereas democracy is meant to apply to all people, not a specific race or ethnicity.

Around the country today, a more true form of democratic socialism is not only taking form but growing in the form of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Following last year’s election and the rise of self-proclaimed democratic socialist and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), the group has reportedly seen its membership grow to about 25,000 people, according to The Guardian.

Earlier this month, the group was represented by 697 delegates from 49 states for its largest convention yet in Chicago. Its main tenets and calls for reform include a significant “decrease” of the influence money has in politics, as well as “empowering ordinary people in workplaces and the economy.

“We are socialists because we reject an international economic order sustained by private profit, alienated labor, race and gender discrimination, environmental destruction, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo,” according to one description of DSA’s political perspective on its official site.

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