by Jacob G. Hornberger
Whenever the subject of Adolf Hitler arises, it usually begins and ends with the Holocaust and World War II. That’s unfortunate because Hitler had another side, one that is similar to that of liberals and conservatives in America.
Consider Social Security. Hitler was as firm a believer in Social Security as American statists. Like them, he too believed that it was the duty of the government to take care of the elderly by providing them a retirement stipend.
I’ll bet that many Americans don’t realize that Hitler had a Social Security program before President Franklin Roosevelt foisted the program onto the American people as part of his New Deal in the 1930s. The German Social Security program actually originated during the regime of Otto von Bismarck, who was known as the Iron Chancellor of Germany. That’s why the U.S. Social Security Administration pays homage to Bismarck by including a bust of him on its website.
Hitler also believed that the state should provide healthcare to the citizenry. He would have loved Medicare and Medicaid but would have been felt that such programs just didn’t go far enough. He promised healthcare for everyone, not just the elderly and the poor.
Wouldn’t it be great if the mainstream press were to bring this up in the upcoming presidential debates? Just imagine a commentator asking: “President Obama and Gov. Romney, Adolf Hitler shared the same deep commitment to Social Security and government-provided healthcare that you two gentlemen have. How would you explain this? Would you say that Hitler had his caring and compassionate side — that he too loved the poor and needy, as you two gentlemen profess to do?”
Hitler, like Obama and Romney, also considered himself Germany’s job-creator-in-chief. Like them, he believed that it was the rightful duty of government to manage an economy, including by creating jobs for the citizenry.
One of Hitler’s primary means of creating jobs was to build and maintain a powerful military establishment within Germany. That’s also what Obama and Romney believe — that America’s vast military-industrial complex and overseas military empire is a grand way to reduce unemployment.
Government-business partnerships? Hitler loved them, just as Obama and Romney do.
Paper money and a central bank? Hitler ardently believed in them, especially as a way to stimulate Germany’s economy, just as Obama and Romney do.
When we closely examine Hitler’s overall economic philosophy, we find that it is the same as that of Obama and Romney and other American statists, including those in the mainstream press. Hitler’s philosophy can be summed up in a phrase he used in a letter he wrote commending Roosevelt on his New Deal programs: “The public weal before the private gain.”
Doesn’t that phrase reflect the philosophy of American statists? Isn’t that what their condemnation of Ayn Rand is all about? In the statist mind, the individual does not exist for his own sake. He doesn’t exist to pursue his own happiness. That’s selfish. Instead, for the statist, people’s personal interests must be subordinated to the common good — to the much bigger needs of the collective — to the greater good of society — or, as Hitler put it, to the public weal.
Given this collectivist mindset, how can it surprise us that Obama, Romney, Hitler, and other statists would support the welfare-state, managed-economy way of life? In their view, everyone’s income belongs to “society” and government has the rightful authority to forcibly seize it and redistribute it to those whom government officials feel need it more — such as the poor, the elderly, the bankers, the corporations, the auto companies, the farmers, the foreign dictators, and the other recipients of the government dole. The notion that people should be free to keep what they earn and decide for themselves what to do with it was anathema to Hitler and Roosevelt, just as it is to Obama and Romney and other statists. Like Hitler, American statists believe that a nation’s goodness is defined by the extent to which the government is forcing everyone to be good with its welfare-state programs.
That’s not all. Guess who inspired American statists to construct the biggest public-works project in American history — the Interstate Highway System. You guess right! Adolf Hitler’s autobahn system in National Socialist Germany was the inspiration for this giant socialist project here in the United States.
Public schooling? Hitler was a dedicated to the idea as American statists are. Like them, he viewed state schooling as a means of producing “good little citizens” — that is, people who loyally and “patriotically” defer to the judgment of their public officials in international affairs. Thus, just as Americans didn’t challenge President Bush’s WMD rationale for attacking Iraq, Germans didn’t challenge Hitler’s claim that Czech forces had attacked German troops, which Hitler used as his justification for invading Czechoslovakia.
The war on terrorism and the suspension of civil liberties? Just as the U.S. government’s assumption of emergency powers came after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Hitler’s acquisition of emergency powers came after the terrorist attack on the Reichstag. While Hitler’s emergency powers were supposed to be temporary, they lasted well past 10 years after the terrorist attack, just as the U.S. government’s emergency powers have. Hitler would have undoubtedly envied the extent of the U.S. government’s emergency powers — the powers to take citizens and noncitizens into custody as “enemy combatants,” to incarcerate citizens and noncitizens in military dungeons or concentration camps for life without trial or due process, try people with kangaroo tribunals (Hitler kangaroo tribunal was called The People’s Court), invade and occupy countries that had not attacked Germany, torture citizens and noncitizens into providing confessions and evidence, and assassinate citizens and noncitizens anywhere in the world.
Consider the following planks of the Nazi Party and ask yourself whether it conflicts with the political and economic philosophy of Obama, Romney, and other American statists:
We ask that the government undertake the obligation above all of providing citizens with adequate opportunity for employment and earning a living. The activities of the individual must not be allowed to clash with the interests of the community, but must take place within its confines and be for the good of all. Therefore, we demand: an end to the power of the financial interests . We demand profit sharing in big business. We demand a broad extension of care for the aged. We demand. . . the greatest possible consideration of small business in the purchases of the national, state, and municipal governments. In order to make possible to every capable and industrious [citizen] the attainment of higher education and thus the achievement of a post of leadership, the government must provide an all-around enlargement of our system of public education. . . . We demand the education at government expense of gifted children of poor parents. . . . The government must undertake the improvement of public health — by protecting mother and child, by prohibiting child labor — by the greatest possible support for all clubs concerned with the physical education of youth. We combat the . . . materialistic spirit within and without us, and are convinced that a permanent recovery of our people can only proceed from within on the foundation of "The Common Good Before the Individual Good ."
Needless to say, we libertarians have no reluctance about talking about the other side of Hitler. But then again, unlike liberals and conservatives and other statists, we also oppose everything Hitler stood for, not just the Holocaust and World War II.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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