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Posts Tagged ‘heresy’

Peeling Away Lies: The True History of the Spanish Inquisition

Posted by Tony Listi on June 3, 2011

“…historians are now discovering that the common notion of the Spanish Inquisition as some horrible, fanatical, all-encompassing bloodthirsty monster could not be further from the truth. Their conclusions come from the first-time ever study of the actual cases taken from the archives of the Inquisition itself…. Studying the archives of the Inquisition demolished the previous image that all of us had.” (BBC documentary “The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition”)

“The reason why accurate information about the Inquisition fails to penetrate the popular mind is not such a mystery at all. Numerous people have a vested interest in keeping the traditional image alive…. Those who resent the Church’s claim to moral authority use as their most effective weapon the allegation of hypocrisy….” -James Hitchcock, Professor of History at St. Louis University

There are so many myths, lies, and half-truths surrounding the history of the Inquisition. In this post, I’m going to set aside the philosophical, moral, and prudential considerations surrounding the issue. Let’s focus on the historical facts first, shall we? Some historical accuracy and perspective should be enough to defuse much of the hatred and animosity aimed at the Catholic Church.

First, some general historical facts:

The Inquisition technically had jurisdiction only over those professing to be Christians (i.e. Catholics). It did not have jurisdiction over those who did not claim to be Christian like Jews and Muslims.

States and kingdoms of the time explicitly and officially endorsed and embraced the Christian faith as the foundation of their own authority and the peace of civil society. Thus they saw an attack on the unity and purity of the Christian faith as an attack on them, their authority, and the public peace. This was not a new or unique idea in the previous history of the relationship between religion and politics. Furthermore, even by some imperfect modern standards, in point of fact, these heretical sects were indeed in many cases violent and destructive of civil society.

The Inquisition was a response to statist encroachment into doctrinal territory and overzealousness of the State and mobs of people in executing heretics. In the early 13th century, the Inquisition was born most likely in response to popular mobs’ and the State’s aggressive prosecution and punishment of heretics, especially the Cathari, a sect that taught that sexual intercourse and marriage was evil and that suicide was good under certain circumstances. The Church likely saw these secular tribunals as an encroachment on its authority with regard to what is true doctrine and what is heresy. So it decided to create its own body of judges that would exercise doctrinal authority and judgment in the name of the pope.

The Inquisition was not an all-powerful institution with unlimited power and supreme authority. Rather, it was under the authority of the pope and diocesan bishops and competed with the State and the local aristocracy in many instances. It was often overshadowed in the city and powerless in the country.

This rest of this post is going to focus on the Spanish Inquisition.

My primary source of historical information is going to be a TV program that the BBC that aired in 1995 called The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition (see videos below). Why? Because this TV documentary presents the views of scholars who actually examined the original and detailed achival records of the cases that came before the Spanish Inquisition. These internal records were never intended for public viewing. The documentary draws primarily upon the work of Professors Henry Kamen and Stephen Haliczer. There is also a Wikipedia article devoted to the new historical findings.

You can watch the documentary yourself, starting with the first YouTube video below (of five videos):

The documentary is no more than an hour long and well worth the watch. For those who don’t want to watch it or don’t have the time to, I’m going to highlight some key facts that it brings to light.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Catholicism vs. Protestantism, Church History, Religion and Theology, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Papal Authority and Early Heresies in the 1st Millennium AD

Posted by Tony Listi on March 21, 2010

The Church was institutionally united (allowing for some temporary schisms) up to 1054, under the supreme jurisdiction of the papacy. The Roman See, with its bishop, the pope, was the supreme arbiter of orthodoxy in the Church universal in the early centuries. If Rome had this supreme role for the first 1000 years or so of Church history, why should one believe that it hasn’t always held this supremacy according to the teachings of the apostles (esp. St. Peter and St. Paul, who were martyred in Rome)?

There is abundant historical evidence for papal supremacy, especially in Rome’s relation to the Eastern Church, which was very frequently plagued with heresies that virtually every Christian today acknowledges as heresy, perhaps unconsciously so, thanks to Rome (Where’s the gratitude, non-Catholics??):

Marcionism rejected the Old Testament and its God, said to be different from the God of love in the New Testament, and made a complete dichotomy between law and grace. Marcion (d.c.160) came from northeastern Turkey and migrated to Rome but was promptly excommunicated in 144. The heresy was checked by 200 in Rome but lasted for several centuries in the East.

Montanism was an apocalyptic sect that denied the divinely-established nature of the Church. Montanus, who began prophesying in 172, came from central Turkey (which became the heresy’s center of operations). Opposition to Montanism was spearheaded by Pope Eleutherus (175-89), and it was condemned by Pope Zephyrinus (198-217).

Modalism (also known as Sabellianism) denied the full Personhood of all three Persons of the Trinity, and believed that God operated through mere “modes” or the transferral of power. Theodotus (2nd cent.) came from Byzantium to Rome, only to be excommunicated by Pope Victor (c.189-98). His disciple, also named Theodotus (early 3rd century) was condemned by Pope Zephyrinus (198-217). Artemon (3rd century) was teaching in Rome, c.235, but was excommunicated. Sabellius (fl.. 215) was excommunicated by Pope Callistus I.

Novatianism was a rigorist schism, stating that persons who fell away under persecution or who were guilty of serious sin could not be absolved. Its theology was otherwise orthodox. Novatian (d.258), a Roman presbyter, started the schism in 250. In 251 it was condemned by a Roman Synod and Pope Cornelius, and Novatian became an “antipope.” His views were approved at Antioch.

Donatism held that sacraments administered by unworthy priests were invalid, and practiced re-baptism. The sect flourished in Africa, around Carthage. It began in 311 and was condemned by Pope Miltiades (311-14), who also came from Africa, in 313.

Arianism held that Jesus was created by the Father. In trinitarian Christianity, Christ and the Holy Spirit are both equal to, uncreated, and co-eternal with God the Father. Arius (c.256-336), the heresiarch, was based in Alexandria and died in Constantinople. In a Council at Antioch in 341, the majority of 97 Eastern bishops subscribed to a form of semi-Arianism, whereas in a Council at Rome in the same year, under Pope Julius I, the trinitarian St. Athanasius was vindicated by over 50 Italian bishops. The western-dominated Council of Sardica (Sofia) in 343 again upheld Athanasius’ orthodoxy, whereas the eastern Council of Sirmium in 351 espoused Arianism, which in turn was rejected by the western Councils of Arles (353) and Milan (355). Learn more about St. Athanasius’ appeal to Rome by clicking here.

Pelagianism is the heretical doctrine that man can make steps toward salvation by his own efforts, without Divine Grace. Pelagius cleared himself at a Synod at Jerusalem around 416, but was condemned at Carthage and Milevis in 416 and excommunicated by Pope Innocent I in the same year. Pope Zosimus reaffirmed this judgment in 418, as did the ecumenical Council at Ephesus in 431.

Nestorianism contends that there are two persons in Christ (Divine and human) and denies that Mary is the Mother of God incarnate. Orthodox, Catholic Christianity holds to one Divine Person — a Godman. Nestorius (d. c.451) studied at a monastery at Antioch and became Patriarch of Constantinople from 428 to 431, having been condemned by Pope Celestine I in the Council at Rome in 430 (after both sides of the controversy appealed to Rome). The ecumenical Council at Ephesus in 431 repeated the Roman condemnation, after which Eastern bishops predominantly from Syria, Persia and Assyria withdrew from the Catholic Church.

Monophysitism was a heresy which held that Christ had one Divine Nature, as opposed to the orthodox and Catholic belief in two Natures (Divine and human). The Henoticon, a semi-Monophysite document was widely acknowledged in the East, but never at Rome. The cowriters of the Henoticon are thought to be Acacius, Patriarch of Constantinople (471-89), and Peter Mongo, Patriarch of Alexandria (477-90). Both were Monophysites who rejected the Council of Chalcedon. Monophysitism was an advanced type of Alexandrian theology. Pope Leo the Great dominated the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451, which repudiated Monophysitism.

Monothelitism is the heretical belief that Christ had one will (Divine), whereas in orthodox, Catholic Christian dogma, Christ has both Divine and human wills. Sergius (d.638), Patriarch of Constantinople from 610 to 638, was the most influential exponent of Monotheletism. The Ecthesis, a Monothelite statement issued by Emperor Heraclius, was accepted by Councils at Constantinople in 638 and 639, but was finally rejected at the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 680, which confirmed the decisions of Pope Agatho and the Synod at Rome in 679.

The Iconoclastic Controversy, a great upheaval of the 8th and 9th centuries, was spurred on notably by Monophysitism and influenced by Islam. This heresy held that images in worship were idolatrous and evil. It was initiated by Eastern Emperors Leo II (717-41), who deposed Germanus (c.634-c.733), Patriarch of Constantinople (715-30) — who appealed to Pope Gregory III. Gregory held two Synods at Rome condemning Leo’s supporters in 731. In 784 Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, initiated negotiations with Pope Adrian I. The Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 787 condemned the Iconoclasts. The Iconoclast Controversy was a major contributor towards the enduring schism between East and West.

Rome never succumbed to any of these heresies. Rather, it was the popes and local synods who vigorously attacked and denounced these heresies, often resorting to excommunication.

In the first millennium of Christianity’s existence,  the Roman See and the papacy were absolutely necessary for the purpose of upholding Christian orthodoxy (literally, correct doctrine) and preserving apostolic Tradition. It still is and always will be.

(This post was adapted from Dave Armstrong’s Orthodoxy and Catholicism: A Comparison)

Posted in Catholicism, Church History, Religion and Theology, The Papacy, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Commentary on St. Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians

Posted by Tony Listi on February 28, 2010

St. Ignatius (d. circa. 98-117 AD) was the bishop of Syria and perhaps the earliest Church father whose writings we have. His letter to the Ephesians is one of the earliest and most explicitly Catholic writings of the fathers that I’ve ever read.

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia….

As with virtually all letters of Scripture and the early fathers, only one Church is affirmed; it just happens to be at different places physically on the earth.

I received, therefore, your whole multitude in the name of God, through Onesimus, a man of inexpressible love, and your bishop in the flesh, whom I pray you by Jesus Christ to love, and that you would all seek to be like him.

This is perhaps the same Onesimus who was a slave of Philemon and whom St. Paul converted. Ignatius prays that the Ephesians will love and imitate Onesimus.

After praise for Onesimus and his subordinate ministers, he continues:

It is therefore befitting that you should in every way glorify Jesus Christ, who has glorified you, that by a unanimous obedience “you may be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment, and may all speak the same thing concerning the same thing” (1 Corinthians 1:10), and that, being subject to the bishop and the presbytery, you may in all respects be sanctified…. But inasmuch as love suffers me not to be silent in regard to you, I have therefore taken upon me first to exhort you that you would all run together in accordance with the will of God. For even Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the [manifested] will of the Father; as also bishops, settled everywhere to the utmost bounds [of the earth], are so by the will of Jesus Christ. Wherefore it is fitting that you should run together in accordance with the will of your bishop, which thing also you do.

Ignatius exhorts the Ephesians to “unanimous obedience” to the doctrinal teachings of their bishop, not to rely on Scripture alone (there was no New Testament anyway then). Through this obedience to the bishop and his ministers, the flock is sanctified in all respects. It is not up to the individual believer to decide what true, correct doctrine is. Unity of mind, judgment, action, and speech are necessary. Moreover and strikingly, the will of the bishop is identified with the will of God. The necessity and authority of the bishops is “so by the will of Jesus Christ.”

It is profitable, therefore, that you should live in an unblameable unity, that thus you may always enjoy communion with God. For if I in this brief space of time, have enjoyed such fellowship with your bishop — I mean not of a mere human, but of a spiritual nature— how much more do I reckon you happy who are so joined to him as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father, that so all things may agree in unity!

Unity, unity, unity. This is a constant theme of this letter and other letters by Ignatius.

Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God.

This is a reference to the Eucharist. Those outside of the Church are not part of the Body of Christ and thus do not receive the Body of Christ at the altar.

For if the prayer of one or two possesses (Matthew 18:19) such power, how much more that of the bishop and the whole Church! He, therefore, that does not assemble with the Church, has even by this manifested his pride, and condemned himself. For it is written, “God resists the proud.” Let us be careful, then, not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God.

Again, authority and power rests with the bishop and the Church universal (the catholic Church). Those who separate themselves from the catholic Church out of pride condemn themselves. Again, the will of the bishop is identified with the will of God.

For we ought to receive every one whom the Master of the house sends to be over His household, (Matthew 24:25) as we would do Him that sent him. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself. And indeed Onesimus himself greatly commends your good order in God, that you all live according to the truth, and that no sect has any dwelling-place among you. Nor, indeed, do you hearken to any one rather than to Jesus Christ speaking in truth.

Again, the bishop is identified with “the Lord Himself,” as an overseer designated by “the Master” who must be obeyed. The bishop creates “good order in God” so that Christians may “live according to the truth” and that no denomination/sect disobedient to the bishop is tolerated among them. Sects do not arise if there is “unanimous obedience” to the bishop, but when the disobedient cannot be reconciled, they must be expelled from the communion in which the one, true Church dwells. Thus Martin Luther and other heretics sealed their own fate with regard to the Church.

For some are in the habit of carrying about the name [of Jesus Christ] in wicked guile, while yet they practise things unworthy of God, whom you must flee as you would wild beasts. For they are ravening dogs, who bite secretly, against whom you must be on your guard, inasmuch as they are men who can scarcely be cured.

There are many wicked people who call themselves “Christian” but who are not worthy of the Name. The true Christian must be on guard against them and avoid them.

Let not then any one deceive you, as indeed you are not deceived, inasmuch as you are wholly devoted to God. For since there is no strife raging among you which might distress you, you are certainly living in accordance with God’s will. I am far inferior to you, and require to be sanctified by your Church of Ephesus, so renowned throughout the world. They that are carnal cannot do those things which are spiritual, nor they that are spiritual the things which are carnal; even as faith cannot do the works of unbelief, nor unbelief the works of faith. But even those things which you do according to the flesh are spiritual; for you do all things in Jesus Christ.

The faithful can be deceived and fall away. Strife in a church is caused by false, deceitful teachers and is a sign that God’s will is not being done. Ignatius also powerfully expresses the Catholic position that faith and works are intimately and inseparably joined together. If you “do the works of  unbelief,” then you do not have faith or salvation.

The last times have come upon us. Let us therefore be of a reverent spirit, and fear the long-suffering of God, that it tend not to our condemnation. For let us either stand in awe of the wrath to come, or show regard for the grace which is at present displayed— one of two things. Only [in one way or another] let us be found in Christ Jesus unto the true life. Apart from Him, let nothing attract you, for whom I bear about these bonds, these spiritual jewels, by which may I arise through your prayers, of which I entreat I may always be a partaker, that I may be found in the lot of the Christians of Ephesus, who have always been of the same mind with the apostles through the power of Jesus Christ.

We should fear God. Notice that Ignatius does not discount the possibility of any Christian’s condemnation by God. He does not speak as one assured of his own salvation. One does not “get saved”; one is “found in Christ Jesus unto the true life.” Salvation comes from always being “of the same mind with the apostles.”

Take heed, then, often to come together to give thanks to God, and show forth His praise. For when you assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and the destruction at which he aims is prevented by the unity of your faith.

This is a reference to the Eucharist (Greek eucharistia, thanksgiving). Again, “unity of faith” destroys the powers of Satan. Schisms empower Satan.

No man [truly] making a profession of faith sins; (1 John 3:7) nor does he that possesses love hate any one. The tree is made manifest by its fruit; (Matthew 12:33) so those that profess themselves to be Christians shall be recognised by their conduct. For there is not now a demand for mere profession, but that a man be found continuing in the power of faith to the end.

Real faith is evident from sinlessness, obedience, and good works. “Mere profession” is not enough to be saved; one must continue “in the power of faith to the end.” And the power of faith is the power to avoid all mortal sin and bear good fruit.

Do not err, my brethren (James 1:16). Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). If, then, those who do this as respects the flesh have suffered death, how much more shall this be the case with any one who corrupts by wicked doctrine the faith of God, for which Jesus Christ was crucified! Such an one becoming defiled [in this way], shall go away into everlasting fire, and so shall every one that hearkens unto him.

Error and consequent sin effect death, not salvation. Just as those who corrupt their bodies in sins of the flesh (and don’t receive forgiveness) suffer death in hell, so those who wickedly corrupt the “faith of God” and listen to these corrupters “shall go away into everlasting fire.”

Be not anointed with the bad odour of the doctrine of the prince of this world; let him not lead you away captive from the life which is set before you. And why are we not all prudent, since we have received the knowledge of God, which is Jesus Christ? Why do we foolishly perish, not recognising the gift which the Lord has of a truth sent to us?

Again, Christians can fall away from the faith and be damned; they can be led away from the Christian life like a captive in war. Knowledge of the truth is not enough to keep the Christian from perishing foolishly; discipline of the will is necessary to tame the body and evil desires of the heart.

Especially [will I do this ] if the Lord make known to me that you come together man by man in common through grace, individually, in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that you obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ.

Again and in conclusion, another reemphasis that there is only “one faith,” that one must “obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind,” and that one must break “one and the same bread.” The faith (body of true doctrines), the Church leadership, and the Eucharist together all proclaim the oneness and unity of the Body of Christ. Moreover, the Eucharistic “bread” is not merely memorial but effective as “the medicine of immortality,” “the antidote” to death, and the cause of eternal life in Jesus.

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Fascism is Merely Heretical Communism, Like Liberalism

Posted by Tony Listi on May 29, 2008

How many times have you heard a liberal call a conservative a “fascist” or “neo-fascist”? The Left apparently thinks that only right-wingers can be fascists. But the truth is that fascism is wholly a product of the Left, not the Right, side of the political spectrum. Only liberals can be fascists because modern American liberalism is a product of communist and fascist ideology.

This can be most clearly and immediately seen by examining the term “Nazism,” which is actually short-hand for National Socialism in German. The Nazi Party was the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Socialism is an ideology of the Left! Communism is global socialism, and fascism is national socialism. The ONLY real difference between the two is one of scope and geography.

Mussolini: Communist Heretic
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini, dictator of fascist Italy and conventionally labeled the father of fascism (the term “fascism” is Italian in origin), was a lifelong socialist and follower of Karl Marx. He was named after two socialists: Amilcare Cipriani and Andrea Costa. His father was a stalwart socialist who was a member of the First International and served on the local socialist council. His father read him passages from Das Kapital (I know that’s what I read when I want to put myself to sleep, haha). Benito started early in his socialist activism: he called himself a socialist while in high school and became the secretary of a socialist organization at Forli at the age of 18.

In his youth, he carried a medallion of Karl Marx. He also became close friends with Angelica Balabanoff, a longtime colleague of Lenin. In fact, Lenin and Mussolini were mutual admirers. Lenin wrote, “Mussolini? A great pity he is lost to us! He is a strong man, who would have led our party to victory.”

Mussolini seriously began his political career as a left-wing journalist and intellectual. He was very well read in socialist theory. He wrote countless socialist tracts and articles that both examined and translated socialist literature. In 1911, he became the editor of La lotta di classe (Class War), which served as a mouthpiece for the Italian Socialist Party. In 1912, he attended a Socialist congress.

Leading socialist Olindo Vernocchi said, “From today you, Benito, are not only the representative of the Romagna Socialists but the Duce of all revolutionary socialists in Italy.” This was how he received the nickname Il Duce, literally “the leader.” He was the Duce of Socialism!

Leda Rafanelli, an anarchist intellectual, wrote “Benito Mussolini…is the socialist of heroic times.”

Mussolini joined the formal leadership of the Italian Socialist Party and became editor of its paper called Avanti! , which would become socialist gospel for a whole generation of socialists. Lenin would comment approvingly of Mussolini’s efforts in Pravda.

Mussolini’s break with strict, dogmatic socialism would begin with the outbreak of World War I. His support of the war contravened the principle of international solidarity and the elimination of national borders (nationality itself to be precise). He saw it as a practical necessity, but he received a backlash from hardline believers. He responded, “You hate me today because you love me still. Whatever happens, you won’t lose me. Twelve years of my life in the party ought to be sufficient guarantee of my socialist faith. Socialism is in my blood.” Again, he countered, “You think you can turn me out, but you will find I shall come back again. I am and shall remain a socialist and my convictions will never change! They are bred into my very bones.”

Mussolini did not move to the right or radically change his political philosophy. He merely rejected one tenet of orthodox Marxism: class must come before nationality or any other group identity. “I saw that internationalism was crumbling,” Mussolini later observed. “The sentiment of nationality exists and cannot be denied.” He thought it was “utterly foolish” to believe that class consciousness could trump national loyalties and culture. Thus was born national socialism, a modification from traditional socialism only in the sense that it was less ambitious in scope and recognized that the natural power of nationalism could be harnessed as a means to socialist ends. Thus Mussolini said that its was “necessary to assassinate the Party in order to save Socialism.” It was this little heresy that would divide Europe’s socialists. And the Italian people would choose national socialism (fascism) over international socialists and communists.

And thus Mussolini came to power as a very popular dictator. He proceeded to create a totalitarian state (a term that he coined) as communism requires: “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” There was hardly a difference between it and the Soviet Union with regard to policy. The State would control everything and had the final authority.

Before his death, he selected a socialist journalist to record some of his last thoughts and wishes: “I bequeath the republic to the republicans not to the monarchists, and the work of social reform to the socialists and not to the middle classes.”

Hitler: Man of the Left
Hitler wrote approvingly of Italian fascism in Mein Kampf: “The appearance of a new and great idea was the secret of success in the French Revolution. The Russian Revolution owes its triumph to an idea. And it was only the idea that enabled Fascism triumphantly to subject a whole nation to a process of complete renovation.” He realized the necessity of having an idea that would arouse the masses.

For years historians have tried to portray Nazism as the polar opposite of Communism. The role of industrialists has been exaggerated while the clear and substantial socialist aspects of Nazism have been ignored or downplayed. Nazism did not destroy the communist Left in Germany; it merely replaced the communists on the Left side of the spectrum in Germany. The fact of the matter is that the working classes (the bloc that typically supported the communists) comprised a substantial part of the Nazis electoral base. German Nazism and Italian Fascism were both populist movements that attracted support from all levels of society. Moreover, the industrial sector came to support Hitler much later than the working masses. Businesses hopped on the band wagon when they saw it was in their best interests.

Like any good leftist, Hitler was a revolutionary and exploited anti-capitalist rhetoric in his rise to power. He despised the bourgeoisie, traditionalists, aristocrats, monarchists, and all believers in the established order. Because he wished to remake German society entirely, he was no conservative! He wrote in Mein Kampf, “Either the German youth will one day create a new State founded on the racial idea or they will be the last witnesses of the complete breakdown and death of the bourgeoisie world.” He rejected traditional Christianity; he wanted to revive Germany’s so-called pre-Christian authenticity, or in other words, to create a modern paganism. He was well read in German mythology and pseudo-history. His idols were Georg Ritter von Schonerer and Dr. Karl Lueger.

He rhetoric mirrored Lenin’s: “Our bourgeoisie is already worthless for any noble human endeavor.” Once he was entrenched in power he clarified his opposition to communism thus: “Had communism really intended nothing more than a certain purification by eliminating isolated rotten elements from among the ranks of our so-called ‘upper ten thousand’ or our equally worthless Philistines, one could have sat back quietly and looked on for awhile.” Hitler didn’t disagree with the German communists in principle or policy, especially with regard to economics; he was enraged at their undermining of Germany with strikes during WW I and antiwar mobilization. He thought they were part of a coalition that had stabbed Germany in the back. Indeed, Hitler often spoke with grudging admiration of Stalin and the communists. Hitler studied Marxism, which both fascinated and repulsed him, appreciating its ideas but becoming utterly convinced that Marx was the architect of some Jewish plot.

Hitler entered the Nazi Party because of a talk given by Gottfried Feder entitled “How and by What Means is Capitalism to be Eliminated?” The party stood for everything he believed in, and thus started his career as the party’s best salesman. The Nazis campaigned as socialists.
What exactly did the party stand for? Its platform included:

“We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to sustain the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.” Sounds like nanny state liberalism.

“Abolition of unearned (work and labor) incomes. Breaking of rent-slavery.” Can you say death tax and rent control?

“We demand the nationalization of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).” That doesn’t sound free market.

“We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries” Hmmm, a “windfall” profits tax?

“We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.” Sounds like FDR’s Social Security, no?

“The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program…. The comprehension of the concept of the State must be striven for by the school as early as the beginning of understanding. We demand the education at the expense of the State….” Sounds like a government monopoly on the schools. Isn’t that what Democrats are for?

“The State is to care for the elevating national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.” Hmmm, you think Hitler would have banned trans fats?

“…a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: The good of the state before the good of the individual.” This is what liberals mean when they say “the common good.”

“For the execution of all of this we demand the formation of a strong central power in the Reich.” Centralization of power in the national government? Does that sound right-wing to you?

Read the platform for yourself. There is nothing conservative about it.

Racism was not an element of fascism originally in Italy. Anti-Semitism was an innovation of Hitler’s. Mussolini considered it a silly distraction. But Hitler’s identity politics was powerful and successful (hmmm, which modern American political party practices identity politics?). Of course, anti-Semitism is by no means a right-wing phenomenon. We should not forget that Stalin and Karl Marx himself hated Jews. Jews were seen (and are still seen today to some extent) as the archetypal capitalists. Thus it was only natural that the Left, including Hitler, should hate them!

Nationalism isn’t inherently right-wing at all either. Consider Stalin, Castro, Arafat, Hugo Chavez, Che Guevara, Pol Pot, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. The only reason nationalism came to be seen as right-wing is because the communists, who were internationalists, labeled the fascists as right-wing. Why the heck should we be adopting the political lens of communism in order to find out what fascism really is?!

Nazi ideologist Gregor Strasser was straightforward about it: “We are socialists. We are enemies, deadly enemies, of today’s capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, its unfair wage system, its immoral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and their money, instead of their responsibility and their performance, and we are determined to destroy this system whatever happens!”

Hitler dedicates an entire chapter in his Mein Kampf to how the Nazis can appropriate socialist and communist imagery, rhetoric, and ideas to attract leftists to the party. The Nazis made use of the color red deliberately: “In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man.”
Hitler would often exaggerate his identity as an “ex-worker”: “I was a worker in my youth like you, slowly working my way upward by industry, by study, and I think I can say as well by hunger.”

Fascism and communism are kindred spirits. As communist ideologue Karl Radek noted, “Fascism is middle class Socialism….”

(Reference Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg)

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