Nazism is an Extreme Ideology, Socialism Isn’t
I am afraid I did not do a very good job writing my article if your take away from my story was that I was somehow justifying Stalinism. That implies I think Stalinims was okay and that the means justified ends. I always champion democracy over tyranny.
The whole point of my story, was in fact to reject the idea that socialism is an extremist ideology, the way nazism and fascism is extremist. It was what I tried to painstakingly show with my examples, that stalinism was not an intrinsic outcome of socialism. Socialists tend to believe in equality, helping people and sharing. That is very different from Nazis which is about the idea that some kind of people are inferior to others and need to be removed from society, if necessary by violence and murder.
There are democratic versions of socialism, while there are no democratic versions of fascism and nazism. Getting this point across matters, because it matters to our present day political debate.
When people on the right spread fear about candidates such as Bernie Sanders, by implying that he is somehow going to lead America towards Stalinism or some kind of communist dictatorship, then that is big problem. It is a dishonest argument, which unfortuntately many people fall for. I am making the case that socialists within democratic systems have a long tradition of NOT doing anything like that.
However we do know that is not the case for fascist and nazi ideology. These ideologies have repeatedly turned liberal democracies into horrible dictatorships. That is why for people who believe in democracy, the concern ought to be directed towards people such as Jair Bolsonaro of Brasil, Viktor Orbán of Hungary and to a lesser extent Donald Trump.
Many others could have been mentioned but Donald Trump in particular is important. Not because he is the worst one. He is not by a long shot, but because he leads the world most powerful and influential nation. No matter how dystopian Viktor Orbán makes Hungary, it will have minor influence on the world. However only a mildly fascist America would have a profound effect on the whole rest of the world.
I am not claiming Donald Trump is a fascist. He clearly has some shared beliefs with fascism, however the primary problem is how he enables nazis and fascists. Equating the far left and the far right is a dangerous thing. It is what gave us Fascists in Italy and Nazis in Germany. By themselves communism and nazism tends to be fringe believes. In Germany, what made the Nazis gain power was that conservatives started fear mongering about socialists. The Nazi party was at one point bancrupt and essentially a failed political movement. It could have stayed that way if not for conservatives and the rich elite. Out of fear of socialism, they got together and gave huge financial donations to the Nazi party to raise them up again. These people where not Nazis themselves but saw utility of Nazis in the fight against socialism.
We see the same problem happening today when people equate far left organizations such as Antifa with Nazis and Fascists. I don’t condone Antifa, but I also realize they are not dangerous in the way Nazis and Fascists are.
To understand the difference it helps to read about how these groups fit in to the political landscape of what became Nazi Germany. Antifa and Brownshirts where duking it out in the streets, but it was never either group that actually took political power. The brownshirts were useful thugs for the Nazi party to spread chaos and further their cause.
Antifa is not really useful for the political left. They are more of a liability than a benefit. Nazi thugs on the other hand are useful for the far right. Chaos in the streets allow far right ideologies to presents themselves as proponents of law and order. They can be the strongmen who bring the oder that citizens crave. We see how a crime wave in Brazil propelled Jair Bolsonaro to power. Steve Bannon is a good example of a man employing this sort of strategy. He always tries to forment chaos because he knows his side benefits.
The “muslim ban” was a good example. Rather than doing it gradual and prepare people for as little disturbance and problems as possible, he intentially made it happen in a chaotic way, because he wanted to create outrage among liberals. Joseph Goebbels followed much the same strategy of constant provocations to fire up his opponents. Nazis thrive on chaos. They know in chaotic world, people will seek strong men like them.
I have a personal reason to care about this because my countryman Anders Behring Brevik, one of the worst terrorists of modern times used exactly the same strategy. He blew up the government building in my city, Oslo, and massacared 69 youths on the Island of Utøya. His articulated strategy was to fire up the left, so that leftist attacks on the right would radicalize the Norwegian political right. He understood like the German Nazis that most conservatives are not Nazis and Fascists in their heart. He understood that to bring them over you need to make them fear and hate the other side.
Fortunately he mostly failed in this, as the Norwegian political left did not take the bait. However the later migrant crisis seems to have done a lot of what he failed to do. It made a lot more people become sympathetic to his side.
I hope I did not elaborate so much, that my whole point got lost. I am just trying to give you an insight into how I got to see it as important to warn specifically against the far right. Part of understanding the ability of the far right to rise, relies on their ability to fear monger about the left. It is only through fear of the left they can actually capture the moderate right to their side. That is why setting the record straight on socialism vs nazism is so important IMHO.