Until Herschel’s discovery of Uranus in 1781, it was considered a matter of certainty that there were six planets. But the fact that everyone knew this to be true did not make it so. In like manner, college students and other insufferable connoisseurs of all human wisdom “know” that the historical Nazi Party epitomizes the extreme right-wing.

It is informative to first note an academic definition of communism: “A social, political and economic system characterized by the revolutionary struggle to create a society which has an absence of classes, and the common ownership of the means of production and subsistence and centralized governmental control over the economy.”

And yet, the definition of its supposed opposite, by the same academic source, is rather different. “Nazism: The ideology and policies of Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Worker’s Party from 1921 to 1945.” Isn’t it a strange sort of opposite that claims to be a socialist worker’s party, as opposed to, well, a socialist worker’s party?

Consider 13 of the most relevant points from the Nazi Party’s 25-point program of 1920, its Munich manifesto:

7. We demand that the State shall make it its first duty to promote the industry and livelihood of the citizens of the State.

10. The activities of the individual must not clash with the interests of the whole, but must proceed within the framework of the community and must be for the general good.

11. Abolition of incomes unearned by work. Breaking of the thraldom of interest.

13. We demand the nationalization of all businesses which have been amalgamated.

14. We demand that there shall be profit sharing in the great industries.

15. We demand a generous development of provision for old age.

17. We demand a land reform suitable to our national requirements, the passing of a law for the confiscation without compensation of land for communal purposes, the abolition of interest on land mortgages, and prohibition of all speculation in land.

18. We demand ruthless war upon all those whose activities are injurious to the common interest.

20. The schools must aim at teaching the pupil to understand the idea of the State. We demand the education of specially gifted children of poor parents, whatever their class or occupation, at the expense of the State.

21. The State must apply itself to raising the standard of health in the nation …

23. We demand legal warfare against conscious political lies and their dissemination in the press. In order to facilitate the creation of a German national press…. It must be forbidden to publish newspapers which are damaging to the national welfare.

24. We demand liberty for all religious denominations in the State, so far as they are not a danger to it. The Party … does not bind itself in the matter of creed to any particular confession.

25. That all the foregoing requirements may be realized we demand the creation of a strong central national authority; unconditional authority of the central legislative body over the entire Reich and its organizations in general;

These supposedly right-wing extremists were calling for national health care, social security, state-run schools, communal land development and centralized government control. They were determined advocates of gun control. And if they did not believe it took a village to raise a child, they were certainly enthusiastic about public youth programs. And then there were the complaints about vast conspiracies in the private press. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

While some argue that the National Socialists became “conservative” as a result of their rapprochement with the great German industrialists following the final defeat of the Strasser wing of the party in late 1932, this conveniently skates over the fact that a) the 12 years concerned represents half of the Nazi Party’s lifetime, and, b) Many elements of the avowedly socialist 1920 program were retained after 1933 when the National Socialists took power. Once in power, Vladimir Lenin, too, made capitalistic compromises with his New Economic Program, but this somehow never caused him to be defined as a man of the Right.

The National Socialists were not as radically left as the Soviet Communists, nor are most American Democrats as far left as were the National Socialists. But an examination of their ideological cores reveals the undeniable philosophical kinship between these three parties of the Left.

Perhaps the Democratic Party should consider a new battle cry should their most famous face decide to enter the presidential race in 2004. Sieg Hillary!

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.