The meaning of Nazism is regularly and erroneously limited to understanding it in terms of the ‘NA’ part of Nazism: its nationalistic and insistently racist appeal.
But the so-called ‘Socialism’ part of Nazism embraced a populist appeal to the unemployed, the increasingly impoverished and the downtrodden with the use of use of the jack-boot, while, at the same time, depending on the largesse of parts of the German ruling class.
The SA, who were arguable more ideologically influential than the SS in the formation and character of the Nazi Party at least up to 1934, in large part presented demands with an apparently ‘left’ appeal: against “money-grubbing financial capital” or large landowners and pro-nationalisation of banks, persecution of profiteers and the introduction of a capital tax.
But it was also the SA who were the street fighters well before 1933 to a degree which should not be underestimated: it was their mission to take over control of the streets, to terrorise the working class areas, left-wing organisations and meeting places. Their first task was to crush the organised working class and its militants.
Today, we are faced with a fascist movement which will still have its contradictions, where one faction is still geared towards parliamentary legitimacy, but where recent events reveal a recognition of the importance of occupying the street. We must not make the mistake of both the Social Democrats and the Communist Party (KPD) in early 1930s Germany whose leaderships did not focus on the growing threat posed by the Nazis.
We must not assume that today’s Nazis are not significant and can be ignored.
I’m not entering into the argument here as to whether a weaker working class movement leads to a different expression of the far-right. What matters is that we need to organise inside the unions for support for action against the ultra-right.
What we can see from the recent demonstrations is that Tommy Robinson et al recognise the importance of the street. That is why we now need to be out on the streets to stop Robinson, the different Football Lads Alliances and other Nazi or neo-Nazi groupings.
The pages of Public Reading Rooms are open for analysis and debate on how we meet the challenge of the rise of the far right. See all articles here… To join the debate, please send contributions to email@example.com.