Why Nazis Weren’t Socialist – And What Socialism Is

Panel-09There’s a persistent attempt to distance from Nazism and Fascism on the right wing of politics, by seeking to associate fascism – and particularly Nazism – with the left. Specifically Socialism. This despite the fact that in virtually every regard Fascism and particularly Nazism are diametrically opposed to everything Socialism and Communism stand for.

It’s important to start from a base of understanding what these terms mean. Many people don’t.

Socialism

Just to be difficult, Socialism has two definitions. One within the context of Marxism, one as its own ideology.

Marxian Socialism: A transitional stage between Capitalism and Communism where the means of production are taken into the control of the state as a steward for social ownership until Communism can be enacted

Standalone Socialism: A political outlook centred around the principles of equal opportunity, egalitarianism, equality before the law, equality in rights, the state in a limited role of administrator and guarantor of equality and the elimination of systems of control (such as inherited power, corporate monopoly etc).

Communism

A social and economic structure in which no particular person owns significantly more than any other and in which everything is held in the common weal. Communism eliminates the state, with everything being held in common ownership and via cooperation. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

Fascism

Fascism is notoriously hard to categorise having common themes but no common doctrine. Features include:

  • Nationalism.
  • Hostility to democracy, egalitarianism and enlightenment values (logic, reason, evidence, free expression and enquiry).
  • The cult of the leader.
  • Strong identity and identarian symbols.
  • Tendency for violence.

Nazism

A form of fascism presented as a nationalist answer to international socialism. Nazism centred around German nationalism, racism, the definition of an Aryan elite, expansionist violence, lack of division between the state and the personal, corporatism, hostility to the labour movement in all its forms and conspiracy theories about Jews.

So, is Nazism Socialist?

Despite having the term in its name, no. Consider the traits of fascism and Nazism and compare them to the trait of socialism.

Egalitarianism? The Nazis stratified people by allegiance to the party and by Aryan bloodlines. There was no equality for slavs, Jews, Gypsies, gays or many other people with whom they found themselves at odds.

Limited state? The Nazis saw no separation between the state and the individual, or the nation. All were one. The state was unlimited and absolute and was not the guarantor of equality, but inequality and favoured parties.

Eliminating systems of control? While the Nazis did somewhat move against the old established order in Germany they set up new systems of control. Their embrace of Corporatism saw vested interests and big players controlling Germany. They brought in vicious secret police organisations and set up Aryan and Party elites.

The only respect in which the Nazis could remotely be considered Socialist was in their provision of a strong welfare state but ideologically this was because they saw the nation is one entity, not because of a sense of fairness and egalitarianism.

Anyone calling the Nazis a Socialist party, just doesn’t know what words mean, furthermore, you can also see that supposed ‘Communist’ governments were anything but.

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Religion Vs Not a Religion

A popular online dictionary defines religion, usefully, thus:

Religion: A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

So then. Is atheism a religion?

Atheism is a singular lack of belief in god/s.

That’s it.

It says nothing in and of itself about the cause, nature or purpose of the universe. Does not posit superhuman agency and has no devotional or ritual observances. In and of itself it says nothing about a moral code or the conduct of human affairs.

Is ‘being in a relationship with Jesus’ a religion?

As such you believe god is the cause of the universe and that by nature it is a creation with the purpose of testing mankind for his worthiness of access to a supernatural afterlife. You consider it the creation of a superhuman agency and you most likely pray and observe religious holidays in the manner determined by your faith. You believe, laughably, that the Bible contains a moral code for the conduct of human affairs.

That IS a religion. Christianity.

Other things that aren’t religions:

Science: A process of evidence gathering and testing to approach a usefully objective understanding of the universe.
Secularism: The singular belief that church and state should be separate.

Mo Plus, Mo Problems

x0dvjr.jpgNot wanting to obsess, but not wanting to slacken off on the pushback that currently seems to be happening with reference to Atheismplus, here’s some more on the issues with it. Some of this is grounds I’ve covered before so I’m not going to be too wordy. I’m going to try and keep things relatively short and sweet.

There’s a couple of posts over on the Atheismplus forums that have been referenced to me and these posts constitute the establishment of a dogma.

This one contains canned responses to typical objections. Not responses that address the objections or concerns but rather, like linking to Derailing for Dummies or Feminism101 (or in the case of creationists endless Youtube videos) seems intended to keep you busy and dismiss you.

This one contains links to a glossary of terms used by Atheismplus, some of which are fine, some of which are deeply problematic. Communication is only possible where meaning is agreed upon and merely insisting that a term must carry a particular meaning in a debate isn’t especially helpful.

I’m referencing these as I talk

Naming Conventions

The problem with the name ‘atheismplus’ is that the kind of people who are part of atheismplus are exactly the kind of extremists that critics of atheism often claim we all are. They lend meat to the bones of the lie that we’re all whacked out hippies. It is vital to differentiate atheism and its causes and interests from other issues. This confuses, divides, reduces the number of people who feel able to participate etc. A+ gives atheism a bad name and provides aid to its enemies.

Privilege as Original Sin

The objection to this observation is hollow. The concept of privilege is akin to original sin, save perhaps worse, since it isn’t seemingly presumed to apply to everyone. ‘Heaven’ help you if you should be white, straight and/or male. You’re the ‘oppressor’ whether you do anything to oppress or not. ‘Check your privilege’ is a dismissal such as would not be tolerated in the other direction. It devalues a person, denies their empathy and ignores – without bothering to check – any instances of oppression they might have had in their life. It also dismisses the possibility that someone both HAS checked it and STILL disagrees with you. It doesn’t give you greater opportunity to help others, it puts you off even trying to help people who are judgemental arseholes.

Never Seen it, It Doesn’t Happen

It is not skeptical to believe a thing without evidence for a thing. If A+ people are going to claim a thing, they need evidence for that thing. Just as we would demand of theists. Insisting someone is blind if you present poor evidence that is rejected is, again, similar to theism. “The fool says in his heart there is no Patriarchy.”

I don’t think X is a Problem

X may or may not be a problem. That I don’t find it to be one doesn’t mean it isn’t, that you find it is a problem doesn’t mean it is. Again, we need evidence. If someone has a phobia of spiders and freaks out upon seeing a perfectly harmless house spider then there isn’t really a problem with spiders. Their reaction is irrational. Spiders don’t suddenly become a major issue for everyone because you’re phobic of them.

Discrimination is Illegal, so there’s no discrimination

Legally there isn’t. There may be on a personal level but that generally takes at least a generation to change. It can’t hurt you anywhere the law can protect you and it doesn’t really help to be impatient about it. The fight is won, the peace is being negotiated.

Everyone is Oppressed in their own way

Yes, they are. To different extents in different situations in different ways. The death-camp for gay people thing is more than a bit disingenuous but to take a different example gender and race do get oppressed by others in different contexts and situations. That some outlier advocates something loopy doesn’t make that go away. That X is worse than Y doesn’t make Y OK. (Dear Muslima…)

What About teh Menz?

If feminism were about equality it might be called egalitarianism. It’s not. It’s concerned with areas in which women are behind men. It is not concerned with areas in which women are ahead of men or in which men are behind women. There are no feminist campaigns about unequal sentencing in courts, for example. There are no feminist campaigns trying to push for higher male custody in divorce proceedings. Men and women have different problems, yes, absolutely, but that’s why feminism is unsuited to tackle them and is disinterested in them.

‘Patriarchy hurts men too’ is not only paradoxical (if it hurts men, how can it be patriarchy?) but insulting and demeaning. Implying that men deliberately set up a society to hurt themselves while simultaneously oppressing women. That would be a frighteningly incompetent state of affairs.

This is further compounded by the vicious and virulent hatred shown towards men’s groups that do try to address mens issues. Feminists don’t seem to want to even allow men’s issues to be addressed.

Schroedinger’s Rapist

Why the problem with this cannot be seen I don’t know. This concept is prejudice pure and simple. It is akin to expecting any black man you meet on the street to be a potential mugger. Framed that way hopefully nobody would see such prejudice as acceptable, even though a vague attempt at a rational argument for it could be made based on statistics (though that would ignore court/police prejudice and socioeconomic data). Further, this seems to be expecting to force a change in behaviour on men, men who are the victims of this prejudice. This is victim blaming. For groups that fight so hard for women not to be judged and to allow them the freedom to exist without modifying their behaviour (slutwalk, Don’t Be That Guy etc) this is base hypocrisy.

Meaning of ‘Man’

Given the misunderstanding of this as a gender pronoun I don’t think more’s needed here.

Mean Jokes

Humour often relies on a ‘shock’ payload. If you think it is always genuinely reflective of a person’s real views and is intended to be (or is) hateful or hurtful then you’re likely experiencing a sense of humour failure. For everyone of hypersensitivity there is someone else who can take a joke or engages in self-deprecating humour of this type. Humour is too valuable to discard.

A+ is Divisive

It is. At least we were all unified in our atheism before, the thing that mattered universally to all of us. A+ splits that unity. It also discards skepticism. It seems to me that A+ puts the cart before the horse. Its members seem to have been atheist not because of logic, reason, evidence and skepticism but rather because atheism aligned with their pre-existing other values such as opposing restrictions on abortions (religious basis), secularism, resisting religious oppression of LGBT people etc.

Us Vs Them

The problem in this section is the presumption that the only people who could possibly disagree are a) theists or b) bigots. It is possible to disagree with Atheismplus without being a bigot, just as it is possible to disagree with Josef Stalin while still being a Communist. or President Obama while still being a democrat. This illustrates very much the Us Vs Them that so concerns a lot of people. Many atheists are broadly on board with what are CLAIMED to be the A+ goals, just not with A+ itself due to its dogma, lack of skepticism etc.

Free Speech

A+ advocates, and other SJ extremists, narrowly define censorship as government censorship. Not everyone agrees with so narrow a definition and as such A+ in many of its actions and policies trips that ‘trigger’ for a lot of people.

First World Problems

Dear Muslima was both right and wrong. There are other priorities but that doesn’t mean other things aren’t also bad. Of course, we’re talking about Elevatorgate which was NOTHING AT ALL so anything whatsoever is a bigger problem than no problem. Still, given the dismissal of mens issues, prejudice towards supposed privileged groups etc this – again – smacks of hypocrisy.

The Dictionary

I’ll get to that in a moment. As mentioned before though, clear communication is important. A+ engages in many redefinition fallacies in order to try and avoid criticism. Redefining Free Speech (see above) is only one example.

Educate Me

Two problems with this. 1) Presuming people need educating. We may well be aware of your claimed issues etc and reject them. 2) Not doing so when asked.

When confronted with a creationist spouting BS about evolution we will, generally, make the effort to show them what is wrong with what they’re saying. Point out the misrepresentations etc. We do this because we want to change their mind and give them accurate information. We want to actually affect some sort of change in their behaviour.

Not wanting to inform people or change their behaviour suggests an addiction to the power and privilege of victim status, rather than actually wanting to fix the problem.

Glossary Issues

*ism – A+ and SJW types narrowly define *ism in the context of institutional oppression. Most people do not. The plus-power designation excuses SJW bigotry against ‘oppressor’ groups while ignoring equally outrageous prejudice on the part of the putative ‘oppressed’. We don’t reject your version without reason.

Benevolent *ism – This is ironic given that special treatment is often what is called for by SJ types. Equality is being treated as badly as everyone else.

Colourblind Racism – This makes no sense. The end goal, is it not, is to treat people as people isn’t it? For the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin? Colourblindness in the context of race, then, would seem to be the goal. Not perpetuating stereotypes, even if they’re different stereotypes to the usual.

Condesplaining – Use that instead of the *ist terms like ‘mansplaining’ etc which only make you seem like hypocrites.

Confirmation Bias – Glass houses and stones spring to mind for some reason.

Feminism – If you think modern feminism is about equality, you’re not paying attention. Be egalitarian.

Gender Essentialism – It seems rather foolish to presume that there aren’t differences. There are. Equal treatment and opportunity is not the same thing as homogeneity. You need to do more than just dismiss science just because you don’t like the implications. This is also true with ev psych. See confirmation bias above.

Kyriarchy – It was my understanding that this was a better term than patriarchy since it acknowledged that everyone was pressured in different ways by society and thus it made more sense. Calling it an extension of patriarchy undermines that progress.

Misandry – Well done for acknowledging its existence. Poorly done for thinking its not institutional.

Misogyny – This means hatred of women. Hatred of women is, at least not in the west, institutionally enforced. The term seems overused and to be used in instances where women are actually being placed on pedestals, given special privilege or treated with benevolent sexism. These may be patronising, but they’re not hate.

Prejudice – This definition again confuses the *ism point. *ism IS prejudice.

Reverse Racism – Of course reverse racism doesn’t exist. It’s just racism and it can be inflicted on whites as much as anyone else.

Safe Space – Translation: Echo chamber. Doubtless there is a need for safe spaces but these should probably be within a movement, rather than the movement itself. Ideas NEED questioning and examination.

Tone Argument – Another hypocrisy since it is used to excuse slurs, aggression and lack of backing on the part of SJ types: “Shut the fuck up dudebro!” while also being used to shut down, ignore or block people on the other side of the argument who should equally have the right to lose their temper.

Trigger Warnings – Pointless, useless ‘headers’ to posts that do nothing to protect anyone but show off how ‘right on’ and concerned you are. If people were that sensitive, the warning would trigger them.

Woo – …like patriarchy.

Why Atheism Isn’t Illogical, a Rebuttal for ToAtheists

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This is a reply to the article ‘Why Atheism is Illogical. Part One: Atheism is a Belief and a Truth Claim’. Which was written by @ToAtheists from Twitter.

There are another two parts to this article but I consider that a refutation of the first article renders a refutation of the second two redundant.

This is an interesting ‘attack’ on atheism, given that it comes from a philosopher rather than a member of the religious community. Nonetheless, and somewhat disappointingly, it falls afoul of many of the same problems that religious attacks upon atheism do. Most especially not understanding what atheism is and what it does – or doesn’t – claim.

The author says, at the beginning of their article:

” I found rather quickly that the structures of religious belief are duplicated in atheist belief. But this lead to the fascinating question of why atheists try to deny this basic fact which in turn opened up the realization of how atheism is an inherently illogical belief, even more illogical than religious belief. So, this work in progress is attempting to understand why and hopefully establish a theory with the power to explain atheist belief.” – ToAtheists

In my opinion this presents an immediate bias and a conclusion before the subject is even examined. It is also manifestly incorrect.

The most inclusive definition of atheism is this:

“Either the lack of belief that there exists a god, or the belief that there exists none…” – Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, 2008

The ‘lack of belief that there is a god’ also called ‘weak’, ‘soft’ or ‘agnostic’ atheism is not a belief but, rather, the absence of one. While it has the counterpart of ‘strong’, ‘hard’ or ‘gnostic’ atheism I can’t say that I have ever met a person – even Richard Dawkins – who would describe themselves thus.

Speaking for myself, I am certain – on the basis of logic, reason and evidence – that certain definitions of the god claim absolutely do not, indeed cannot, exist. So I am a Gnostic atheist with regard to, for example, the literalist version of the biblical god. However, we are not talking about me, or Dawkins, or Harris, or Dennett or anyone specific but rather atheism as a whole which, at its most inclusive is simply the lack of belief in god/s.

By this definition even a newborn child, unexposed to the dogmas and indoctrinations of religion, or even the very idea, is an atheist, albeit a passive one.

“Theism is the belief that the proposition God Exists (GE) is true. Theism is a truth claim for GE since, for any proposition P, to believe P is to take P to hold in the actual world. Beliefs are active assertions that a state of affairs is true in the actual world. To believe something is to believe that it is true and it is the height of irrationality to believe something yet think it is false, or to not believe something yet think it is true. The proposition GE is an existential proposition (the question of existence) and such propositions are different from propositions such as “democracy is the best political system.” All existential propositions are binary: necessarily either absolutely true or absolutely false. You can’t be a little pregnant or kind of dead, you either are or you are not. The existential proposition GE is objectively either true or false in the actual world and if it is false then its negation is necessarily true.” – ToAtheists

All agreed so far. With the note that the idea of god/religion can exist – and do harm – without the god proposition being true, real or actual.

“To deny any existential proposition is to necessarily assume its negation, for example, you must say that the Loch Ness Monster either exists or does not exist, there are no other options for you to choose. The negation of GE is the proposition God Does Not Exist (Not-GE). Rational beings either believe that GE is true, believe that GE is false and thus necessarily believe Not-GE is true, or say they do not know, claiming neither. The first position is Theism, the second Atheism, the third Agnosticism. Atheism is to deny that the proposition GE is true and thus to necessarily assume Not-GE is true. To withhold assent to both GE and not-GE—assert that one does not know—is agnosticism. It is necessarily the case that unless one claims ignorance, agnosticism, then one is assenting to either GE or not-GE—logical use of language prevents other possibilities.” – ToAtheists

More definitional problems here and more lack of understanding of what atheism is.

A denial rather assumes that there is a case for something in the first place. Since we’re talking in generalities we can’t really argue the finer points of the arguments ‘for’ and against a particular god definition. When such arguments are presented what is produced as a counter is a refutation, rather than a denial. Pointing out problem, fallacies etc in arguments is not denial – though apologists will often claim it is – it is refutation.

There is a difference between ‘I do not believe in god’ and ‘I believe god does not exist’. Of course, sometimes we say these things interchangeably because we’re only human and the long form of the statement is, frankly, the kind of tiny difference that only means anything to philosophers.

If I say ‘god does not exist’ it is, for me, shorthand for:

“I do not believe a god exists, I see no evidence for one and so, while one MAY exist I am forced by the burden of proof, my own scepticism and better explanations for god claims (science and naturalism) to hold the negative position. I will change my mind if evidence comes along that is sufficiently convincing and overturns everything else I have considered in coming to this point.”

Which I’m sure we’ll all agree, is a bit too much of a mouthful for day to day conversation and better summed up as ‘God does not exist’ or ‘I do not believe god exists’.

This burden of proof is the same principle we use in Western courts where we hold the position that someone is ‘innocent until proven guilty’. We suspend judgement, but assume the negative, as the only safe, rational and logical position unless someone’s guilt (or in this case god’s existence) can be proven beyond any and all reasonable doubt.

Another example of this suspended judgement would be the claim that a human being can fly, unaided. In case you are wrong it does not make sense to proceed as though the claim is absolutely true. We would suspend judgement and not throw ourselves from the top of multi-storey car parks flapping our arms until we were sure. Even then it would make sense to try taking off from the ground, just in case.

Agnosticism and atheism are not incompatible. As I briefly covered above, the ‘weak’ atheist position can also be called the agnostic atheist position, and is the most common one.

  • Gnosticism/agnosticism is a claim of knowledge (gnosis).
  • Theism/atheism is a claim of belief (with or without belief in god).

Thus an agnostic atheist is one who does not claim to know, but does not believe that there is a god.

“When someone says “I am an atheist” that atheist is claiming that (1) GE is objectively not true (god does not exist), (2) the atheist believes GE is not true, and (3) the atheist is in a satisfactory relationship with the truth value of GE to claim 1 and 2. (All of this is also true for the theist and their claims for the truth of GE.) Atheism is a term that encompasses these three claims that are necessary equivalents to the statement, “I am an atheist.” Atheism is the belief that GE is false, meaning the belief in Not-GE, which means atheism is a truth claim for the proposition Not-GE.” -ToAtheists

Again, a restatement of the base misunderstanding and, alas, repeated assertion does not make something true. When an atheist says ‘I am an atheist’ they are only saying that they do not believe in god. Nothing more. They are not saying they absolutely and definitely know that no god exists just that they do not believe in one. This is the only ‘truth claim’ in the statement, the only assertion, that we do not believe.

Some religious apologists will try to argue that ‘deep down you really do’, which gets tiresome and honestly I’m not sure if there is a way to absolutely prove that we do not believe any more than its possible to absolutely prove that someone does believe. I’m fairly certain fMRI scans could produce some evidence of different brain structures and responses that would support it, but honestly I don’t know.

“One objection some atheists make to this is to say that the Atheist makes no claim but simply does not believe the claim GE. That this objection is absurd is easily seen when we ask if one can disbelieve claim GE while holding that GE is still true. This would, of course, be nonsense. If someone where to say “I do not believe it is raining but it is raining” we immediately see the contradiction.” – ToAtheists

To restate the example in the form of the actual atheist position: “I do not know if it is raining, but I do not believe that it is.”

And whether a-precipitationism or atheism the reasons for holding that position may be varied, from a simple absence of evidence for rain to having read the weather forecast that morning or having looked out of the window and seen no sign of rain.

Of course ‘it is raining’ is a rather mundane, ordinary and normal claim compared to the one ‘god exists’ which is an extraordinary claim, requiring extraordinary evidence.

“It cannot be the case that atheists do not have a belief. It is not the case that they are simply entertaining a certain state of affairs, for example, imagining there is no god. (Though some philosophers contend, with some neuroscience findings backing them up, that imagining a proposition equates to a belief.)” – ToAtheists

Atheists may have many beliefs, atheism – however – describes the absence of one, particular belief.

I can imagine the existence of a unicorn, dragon or a trio of saucy maids of easy virtue laying in my bed. This does not mean I believe any of them to be true. I may not be a philosopher but as a writer and a game designer I am intimately familiar with the imaginary and the capacity of human beings to suspend disbelief while still not considering the things they imagine to be real, true or actual. This is the essence of play, escapism and many forms of recreation. From this perspective, god belief is a failure to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Why this is considered a problem for D&D or Grand Theft Auto but not for Christianity or Islam I do not know.

““I have made the judgment that there is no god.” (Not-GE) So anyone who calls him or herself an “atheist” is either committing to a belief or being dishonest in their self portrayal. For the atheist to claim that atheism is not a belief is intellectual dishonesty.” – ToAtheists

To return to the jury analogy, a jury returns a ‘not guilty’ verdict if they are unconvinced of the guilt of the person on trial. In some jurisdictions it is also possible to render a ‘not proven’ verdict and this is probably a much better analogy for the broadest conception of the atheist position.

“That atheists believe that Not-GE is true is obvious in and beyond their embrace of the term atheism. The term is used by atheists to differentiate themselves from believers, a differentiation only desired if they reject what the believers believe; rejection equates to saying the believers in GE are wrong which is the assertion that the negation of the belief in GE (i.e. – Not-GE) is true. The derisive assertions of Atheists that religious believers believe in “fairy tales” and are “irrational” are assertions that religious belief is wrong. No sane person asserts that a belief is wrong without believing the opposite is correct, so to criticize GE prima facie is to assert Not-GE.” – ToAtheists

More problems here. Whether holding a position is rational or not depends on the evidence for it, NOT whether it is true or not. It is also possible to hold correct beliefs for the wrong reasons. Science in particular is very good at rooting this out and revising when there are issues. It was believed, for example, that bad smells caused disease for a very long time. To an extent this was true in that a bad smell (excrement, rotting meat) was often indicative of the presence of germs and toxins and so avoiding them made sense and would contribute to greater health. It’s the germs though, not the smell (or demons).

Atheism is just a statement of personal lack of belief in a deity. Atheists may or may not engage in anti-theism or counter-theism arguments but such is beyond the scope of basic atheism, which is our sole concern at this juncture.

Honestly, the rest of this article, and what I have read of the next two, is just the continued restatement and attempted justification of the same base misunderstanding over and over again. I would be repeating myself so this is as good a cut-off point as any.

To summarise:

Atheism, in the broadest and most inclusive of terms, is the personal statement that one does not believe in god/s. The only truth claim in it is that the speaker lacks belief in this proposition. Not that the proposition does not exist, just that they do not believe it. Once we move beyond that we’re into areas other than and in addition to ‘simple atheism’ and more specific argumentation. Such arguments and discussions are worth having, but they’re more than ‘simple atheism’.

A Basis from which to Start

For communication to be effective everyone needs to agree on what the terms being discussed mean.

To that end I am going to give my baseline, working definitions for ‘Atheism’ and for ‘Faith’. These are complicated by other factors but we’ll keep them absolutely as simple as possible at this point.

Atheism: Nothing more than the personal, positional statement ‘I don’t believe in god/s’. This may be for many reasons and exists to various degrees but all Atheism is, in and of itself is that. ‘I don’t believe in god/s’.

And then, at least in terms of religious/supernaturalist discussions…

Faith = (Belief – Evidence)

These are the bases upon which discussions and posts on this blog will build and continue.