The following article is likely hard to find; so I think it is good to post it here. From BrookesNews.Com:
Nazism is Socialism*
Friedrich August von Hayek
Monday 19 October 2009
Published in the spring of 1933
Incomprehensible as the recent events in Germany must seem to anyone who has known that country chiefly in the democratic post-war years, any attempt fully to understand these developments must treat them as the culmination of tendencies which date back to a period long before the Great War. Nothing could be more superficial than to consider the forces which dominate the Germany of today as reactionary in the sense that they want a return to the social and economic order of 1914.
The persecution of the Marxists, and of democrats in general, tends to obscure the fundamental fact that National “Socialism” is a genuine socialist movement, whose leading ideas are the final fruit of the anti-liberal tendencies which have been steadily gaining ground in Germany since the later part of the Bismarckian era, and which led the majority of the German intelligentsia first to “socialism of the chair” and later to Marxism in its social-democratic or communist form.
One of the main reasons why the socialist character of National Socialism has been quite generally unrecognized, is, no doubt, its alliance with the nationalist groups which represent the great industries and the great landowners. But this merely proves that these groups too, as they have since learnt to their bitter disappointment, have, at least partly, been mistaken as to the nature of the movement. But only partly because, and this is the most characteristic feature of modern Germany, many capitalists are themselves strongly influenced by socialistic ideas, and have not sufficient belief in capitalism to defend it with a clear conscience.
But, in spite of this, the German entrepreneur class have manifested almost incredible short-sightedness in allying themselves with a movement of whose strong anti-capitalistic tendencies there should never have been any doubt. A careful observer must always have been aware that the opposition of the Nazis to the established socialist parties, which gained them the sympathy of the entrepreneur, was only to a very small extent directed against their economic policy.
What the Nazis mainly objected to was their internationalism and all the aspects of their cultural programme which were still influenced by liberal ideas. But the accusations against the social-democrats and the communists which were most effective in their propaganda were not so much directed against their programme as against their supposed practice — their corruption and nepotism, and even their alleged alliance with “the golden International of Jewish Capitalism.”
It would, indeed, hardly have been possible for the Nationalists to advance fundamental objections to the economic policy of the other socialist parties when their own published programme differed from these only in that its socialism was much cruder and less rational. The famous 25 points drawn up by Herr Feder, one of Hitler’s early allies, repeatedly endorsed by Hitler and recognized by the by-laws of the National-Socialist party as the immutable basis of all its actions, which together with an extensive commentary is circulating throughout Germany in many hundreds of thousands of copies, is full of ideas resembling those of the early socialists.
But the dominant feature is a fierce hatred of anything capitalistic-individualistic profit seeking, large scale enterprise, banks, joint-stock companies, department stores, “international finance and loan capital,” the system of “interest slavery” in general; the abolition of these is described as the “basis of the programme, around which everything else turns.” It was to this programme that the masses of the German people, who were already completely under the influence of collectivist ideas, responded so enthusiastically.
That this violent anti-capitalistic attack is genuine, and not a mere piece of propaganda, becomes as clear from the personal history of the intellectual leaders of the movement as from the general milieu from which it springs. It is not even denied that many of the young men who today play a prominent part in it have previously been communists or socialists.
And to any observer of the literary tendencies which made the Germans intelligentsia ready to join the ranks of the new party, it must be clear that the common characteristic of all the politically influential writers — in many cases free from definite party affiliations, was their anti-liberal and anti-capitalist trend. Groups like that formed around the review “Die Tat” have made the phrase “the end of capitalism” an accepted dogma to most young Germans.
That the movement in more anti-liberal than anything else is closely connected with another important aspect of it, the anti-rational, mystical and romantic sentiment, which has been growing for years among the youth of Germany. The protest against “liberal intellectualism”, which was recently so strongly voiced by the students of the University of Berlin, was not an isolated aberration but a true expression of the feeling of great masses of the people.
It would be too long a story to go into all the different intellectual sources of the anti-rational tendencies in art and literature which have all converged, often to the amazement and consternation of their originators, in the Nazi movement. But it must be said that here again the main influence which destroyed the belief in the universality and unity of human reason was Marx’s teaching of the class-conditioned nature of our thinking, of the difference between bourgeois and proletarian logic, which needed only to be applied to other social groups such as nation or races to supply the weapon now used against rationalism as such.
How completely this Marxian idea has permeated German thought can be seen from the fact that, during the past few years, it has actually been promoted, as “sociology of knowledge”, to the rank of a new branch of learning. It is obvious that, from this intellectual relativism, which denied the existence of truths which could be recognized independently of race, nation, or class, there was only a step to the position which puts sentiment above rational thinking.
That anti-liberalism and anti-rationalism are so intimately bound up with one another is easy to understand, and is, in fact, inevitable. If rule by force by some privileged group is to be justified, its superiority has to be accepted for it cannot be proved. But what is less easily understood, though of immense importance, is the fact illustrated by German and Russian development that the anti-liberalism which, when confined to the economic field, today has the sympathy of almost all the rest of the world, leads inevitably to a reign of universal compulsion, to intolerance and the suppression of intellectual freedom.
The inherent logic of collectivism makes it impossible to confine it to a limited sphere. Beyond certain limits, collective action in the interest of all can only be made possible if all can be coerced into accepting as their common interest what those in power take it to be. At that point, coercion must extend to the individuals’ ultimate aims and ideas, and must attempt to bring everyone’s Weltanschauung into line with the ideas of the rulers.
The collectivist and anti-individualistic character of German National Socialism is not much modified by the fact that it is not a proletarian but middle class socialism, and that it is, in consequence, inclined to favour the small artisan and shop keeper and to set the limit up to which it recognizes private property somewhat higher than does communism. In the first instance, it will probably nominally recognise private property in general. But private initiative will probably be hedged about with restrictions on competition so that little freedom will remain.
Artisans, shop-keepers and professional men will, in all likelihood, be organized in guilds, like those of the medieval crafts, which will regulate their activities. In the case of the wealthier capitalists, state control and restriction of income will leave little more than the name of property, even while the intention of correcting the undue accumulation of wealth in the hands of individuals has not yet been carried out.
Even at the present moment, state commissioners have been put in charge of many important industries and, if the more radical wing of the party has its way, the same is likely to happen in many other cases. At the present time, when the National Socialist party has grown to such an enormous size, and accordingly embraces elements with very divergent views, it is, of course, difficult to say which views on economic policy hold the field, it will mean that the scare of Russian communism has driven German people unaware into something which differs from communism in little but name.
Indeed, its more than probable that the real meaning of the German revolution is that the dreaded expansion of communism into the heart of Europe has taken place but is not recognised because the fundamental similarity of methods and ideas is hidden behind the difference in the phraseology and the privileged groups. For the present, the German people have reacted against the treatment received from the community of democratic and capitalistic countries by leaving that community.
Nothing, however, would be less justifiable than that the nations of western Europe should look down on the German people because they have fallen victims to which, in this country seems a kind of barbarism. What must be realized is that this only the ultimate and necessary outcome of a process of development in which the other nations have been for a long time steadily following Germany, albeit at a considerable distance. The gradual extensions of the field of state activity, the increase in restrictions on international movements of both men and goods, sympathy with central economic planning and the widespread playing with dictatorship ideas, all tend in this direction.
In Germany, where these things had gone furthest, and intellectual reaction, which will now hardly survive, had been definitely under way. The fact that the character of the present movement is so generally misjudged makes it seem likely that the reaction in other countries will speed up, rather than weakened, the operation of these tendencies which lead in the direction in which Germany is now going. So far, there seems little prospect that the reversal of these intellectual tendencies elsewhere will come in time to prevent other countries from following Germany in this last step also.
*This memorandum may be found in the Hayek Paper, box 105, folder 10, Hoover Institution Archives.