Why are the worst mass murderers from the left?
The worst mass murderers from the twentieth century and possibly for all time were Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Hitler - all left wing dictators.
Did I say Hitler? I think that most people would not object to my calling Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot left wing dictators. But Hitler? Many people think of him as a right wing dictator but that is not correct. Why is Hitler a creature of the left?
To begin with, the Nazi party stands for the German Workers' National Socialist Party. Hitler claimed in a speech on May 1, 1927:
"We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions."
The Nazi Party campaigned on a recognisably leftist platform. Here is an excerpt from the 1920 Nazi party manifesto:
"10. The first duty of every citizen must be to work mentally or physically. The activities of the individual may not clash with the interests of the whole, but must proceed within the frame of the community and be for the general good.
Therefore we demand:
11. That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished.
12. Since every war imposes on the people fearful sacrifices in life and property, all personal profit arising from the war must be regarded as a crime against the people. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits whether in assets or material.
13. We demand the nationalization of businesses which have been organized into cartels.
14. We demand that all the profits from wholesale trade shall be shared out.
15. We demand extensive development of provision for old age.
16. We demand the creation and maintenance of a healthy middle-class, the immediate communalization of department stores which will be rented cheaply to small businessmen, and that preference shall be given to small businessmen for provision of supplies needed by the State, the provinces and municipalities.
17. We demand a land reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to confiscate from the owners without compensation any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land."
The party manifesto does not call for free market capitalism. Calling for nationalization, confiscation of land are things that Socialists or Communists call for. Of course, you can say that Hitler or any votrepreneur (politician) will say anything to gain power. His rhetoric gained him the support of mostly lower income and middle income Germans. Ultimately, its what he did that counts. Action speaks louder than words. So what did Hitler do when he came to power?
Hitler took over control of nearly all means of production like a good Socialist or Communist would. He did not nationalize all assets of production like what Lenin or Mao did. The nominal ownership was left in private hands. But the substance of ownership passed to the state.
This is explained in an article by George Reisman writing for the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Drawing on the writings of the great economist, Ludwig Von Mises, Reisman explained why Nazism is Socialism and why Socialism leads to totalitarianism.
When Hitler took power in Germany, the "owners" of assets of production (eg factories, farms etc) had every major economic decision decided for him by the state. The state (or some central planning bureaucrat) told you how many workers you must employ, how much to pay them, how much to charge for your products and services and how much dividends the owners get. The government also practiced wage and price controls in 1936.
(The government had to impose wage and price controls because of the runaway inflation as a result of increasing of its money supply to fund its huge programs of public works, subsidies and rearmament. To keep the people happy, he gave them cheap subsidised holidays to the Alps and the Canary Islands. )
When your rights to your "property" such as a factory or farm or rental apartments etc are so eroded, the state effectively owns them. You are "owner" in name only. Thus I would put the Nazi party left of say the British Labor Party but right of the Communist Party of Soviet Union.
Since Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin were people who claim to be Socialist or Communist, is there something in Socialism that leads to totalitarian government?
The answer is a yes.
I will sum up the arguments. Firstly, Socialism calls for state control of all means of production. This means that all workshops, farms, factories etc are to be controlled by the state. What to produce and how much will be centrally planned.
The state will decide what to produce, how much to produce and sell at what price. It has no way of telling what consumers want. In a capitalist economy, all these questions will be settled by the market as each individual pursues his own self interest. If a product is in demand, then its price will go up.
Other independent producers will see a profit opportunity and increase production for the product. As production increases, the price will drop. In a command economy the bureaucrat decides all this.
Since prices are controlled, shortages or gluts will be the result since it is hard for the bureaucrat to get it exactly right. That is why in the former Soviet Union, you end up with long queues - which is an unproductive way of spending your day. The Soviets also sold staples like bread very cheaply. The result was wastage as people fed the bread to their pigs.
Of course, there will be people who want to sell at a higher price than the officially sanctioned prices so as to gain a larger profit. So to enforce the system, the state will have to make it a crime. This means that they will employ an army of spies to detect black market activities. People will fear one another for anybody could be a spy. Even your girl-friend might be a spy.
Punishment for profiteering is severe since a fine would merely be regarded as a business expense. Since a jury is unlikely to send a man to the firing squad for selling a bar of soap at a higher price, you need state appointed judges to do the dirty work.
The result is a complete loss of freedom. To enforce Socialism then you need a totalitarian system where everybody is suspicious of everybody else and power is concentrated at the top. This was what happened in Nazi Germany and the United Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
Once the state has so much control over the lives of its people, all sorts of nasty things can happen - including mass murder. That is why the worst mass murderers of the 20th century were all creatures of the left. The more concentrated the power, the more abuses are likely and Socialism has a tendency to concentrate power.
This has not fortunately not happened in any western democracy even those which are run by parties that call themselves Socialists. But the tendency for greater state control over your lives are always there. Its just embedded in Socialism.
For example, in the year 2000, France's leftist government of Lionel Jospin created the Department of Work Police. The Work Police will catch people who work too hard! (2)
At a time when countries try to compete to by working harder, the French Socialists wanted to do the opposite!