August 07, 2013

Tony Greenstein on Hirsh on Hitler

Tony Greenstein left a comment on my previous post, Hirsh on Hitler, and went on to do a very informative post of his own which I reproduce here:

David Hirsh – the Fake & Ignorant 'Leftist'

Apparently the Nazis were anti-nationalist, left wing univeralists!

Apparently David Hirsh, vehement figurehead of Engage and fierce opponent of all boycotts of Israel, is a leftist!  Well for 'socialist Zionists' he might be but by most other peoples' definition he is a conservative imperialist.
Hirsh pontificating about things he knows nothing about
I first saw this article on Jewssansfrontiers  and I posted the comment beneath.  Although I haven’t posted for some time, I couldn’t resist the temptation to deal with the pretend academic Hirsh, who went down with Yale’s Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism, which was deemed by the authorities to be more concerned with political advocacy than scholarship.   Even as ardent a Zionist as Prof. Deborah Lipstadt, of Daving Irving v Penguin fame, wrote in an article ‘How To Study Anti-Semitism’  that:
‘The university defended itself against charges of having succumbed to Muslim pressure by listing the Jewish studies courses taught at the school and stressing its extensive library holdings in the field. (Yale, admittedly, does have an excellent Jewish studies program, and its libraries have one of the best collections in Jewish studies world-wide.) …
There is, however, another side to this story. Apparently, there were people on the Yale campus who were associated with YIISA and who were eager to have it succeed. These friends of YIISA counseled the institute’s leadership that some of its efforts had migrated to the world of advocacy from that of scholarship. They warned YIISA that it was providing fodder to the critics’ claim that it was not a truly academic endeavor.
The anti-nationalist socialist surrounded by Israeli flags!

I have twice participated in YIISA’s activities. I gave a paper at one of its weekly seminar sessions on Holocaust denial and attended its conference last August. While serious scholars who work in this field gave the vast majority of the papers  - They were passionate and well argued. But they were not scholarly in nature.
Two lessons can be drawn from this imbroglio. First, there is a real need for serious academic institutions to facilitate and encourage the highest-level research on anti-Semitism….
Second, this struggle also demonstrates the necessity of differentiating between those who do advocacy and those who do scholarship. Both are critical — but entirely different — endeavors.
The horrors that Ford found so appealing
 But I digress.  In his talk Hirsh  argued that:
'The Nazis are usually thought of as right wing.  But in some ways, they were also similar to the left.  They were radical, they wanted profound change.  They didn’t like nationalism, they had a global programme for changing the whole world.  They were hostile to British and American imperialism and democracy.  They put their big political ambitions before the ‘pursuit of happiness’.  Hitler claimed to be the universalist and he said it was the Jews who wrecked society for everybody by following only their own selfish interests.

But by and large, the left opposed Hitler and his antisemitism….
When Israel was first established, it was supported by most people on the left.  They liked the socialist experiment of the kibbutzim and the Labour Party which ran Israel in its first decades.  They admired Israel as an anti-imperialist movement which defeated the British.  They supported Israel as the underdogs, the survivors of the Holocaust.
The Nazis were univeralists, who ‘were not so much right-wing as radical had a global programme for changing the whole world.  They were hostile to British and American imperialism and democracy’ Whilst conceding that ‘’by and large, the left opposed Hitler and his antisemitism.’

Some of this is just pig ignorant and shows how Hirsh is a master of the superficial and unacquaintted with the history of the Nazi Party.   Calling anti-Zionists 'anti-Semites' is the limit of his knowledge of racism.  As an example of Hitler's opposition to the British Empire one could quote from Mein Kampf:
Germany should not try to take advantage of turbulence in the British Empire, and link its destiny with racially inferior oppressed peoples.  An alliance with Russia against England and France was no substitute for an alliance with England.  An alliance with England and Italy would give Germany the initiative in Europe (Mein Kampf pp. 601-7)….
Inmates of Auschwitz
It is remarkable how, up to two decades later, Hitler’s views had changed very little since the publication of Mein Kampf.  He was to retain this opinion of Britain until he realised that it would not grant him the free hand in Eastern Europe which he craved, and even then, he repeatedly stressed his ambition to come to terms with Britain.  During the Second World War, the last pre-war British ambassador to Berlin, Sir Neville Henderson, wrote that Hitler “combined … admiration for the British race with envy of their achievements and hatred of their opposition to Germany’s excessive aspirations” [Failure of a Mission, Sir Neville Henderson, p.266]

Hitler repeatedly remarked to Albert Speer that the English were “our brothers.  Why fight our brothers?” [Albert Speer: His Battle with the Truth, Gitta Sereny, p.218]

The idea that the Nazis were universalist is laughable.  Hitler consistently talked of the German Volk (people) and saw everything from that absurd perspective.  Jews and the mentally handicapped were not of course part of his racial comradeship.  He was not so much a supporter of German nationalism, as per the Equality, Fraternity and Liberty of the French revolution, as a nationalist.  These sentiments were codified in the 1935 Nuremburg laws.  In this he was one with the Zionists who also derided the 'assimilationists' and the idea that you could be a German Jew as opposed to a Jew residing in Germany, witness the obsession with a Jewish demographic majority in Israel.  There were no ideas or principles that the Nazis had that could be applied world-wide and nor did they make any such claim.  Unless of course world conquest is a form of universalism!

Ford too was a socialist

As for being ‘left-wing’.  Only particularly stupid conservatives makes this claim.  He was funded by the Iron and Coal barons such as Thyssen and Emil Kordof and the other leaders of German heavy industry in particular.  He was  put in power by the German military, led by President Hindenberg.  One of his first acts was the abolition of the unions and its replacement by the German Labour Front led by Robert Ley.  Its purpose was not to organise workers and strikes (which were made illegal) as to spy on workers and ensure they did not form new unions.  A strange form of socialism. The fact that people like Henry Ford supported Hitler, until a Jewish and trade union boycott forced him to distance himself from the Nazis, should tell Hirsh something.  Then again he probably didn't know of the use Ford made of his newspapers such as The Dearborn Independent from 1921-27.  
The American Jewish Historical Society described the ideas in the paper as "anti-immigrant, anti-labor, anti-liquor, and anti-Semitic.  In Henry Ford, Adolph Hitler's Inspiration For Treatment Of Jews - How Henry Ford Helped To Create Auschwitz that Hitler talked of how "I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration" - Adolph Hitler, 1931.   Hitler even had a picture of Ford on his wall.  Perhaps Hirsh considers Ford too as left-wing?

On 30 July 1938, Ford celebrated his 75th birthday by receiving the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the most important honor that Germany might offer a non-citizen.   He received the award -- a golden Maltese cross embraced by four swastikas -- in his office, joined by the German consuls from Cleveland and Detroit. 

A longtime admirer of Ford's, Adolf Hitler sent a personal note of gratitude to be delivered at the ceremony. Signed on July 7, the parchment scroll warmly thanked Ford for his "humanitarian ideals" and his devotion, along with the German Chancellor, to "the cause of peace." No doubt Ford too was a universalist!

Hitler was also an imperialist, not something normally associated with socialism.  The 'socialist' part of his ‘national socialism’ was a sop to the plebeian element in the Nazi Party, around the SA stormtroopers, who believed that the Jews were the embodiment of capitalism and once they were got rid of then they would take control of industry, the ‘second revolution’.  The Night of the Long Knives settled that particular dream when Ernst Rohm and the unofficial leader of the Nazis ‘left-wing’ Gregor Strasser and hundreds more were murdered at the behest of the Army and the capitalists in June 1934.  Hitler believed in elites, not just racial, but within the Aryan nation, with capitalists and the leaders of industry and finance being at the top of the racial ladder. 

Left wing?  Not unless your definition of socialism includes Israel and the Kibbutz.  But then Hirsh does see the Kibbutzim as socialist rather than as stockade and watch tower settlements, the outposts of the future Israeli state.  A socialism that excluded the Arabs from membership, in other words ones of racial exclusivity is Hirsh's idea of socialism!

David Hirsh was the leader of the Engage group of Zionists who in 2005 decided to oppose the Boycott of Israeli universities.  Engage was later found to be partly funded by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who are anything but leftists – fake or otherwise.  No doubt the Israeli state contributed to the financing of Engage.

Hirsh is someone who gives lectures about subjects he knows nothing about.  He is a junk academic dealing in cliches and trivia.  Anyone acquainted with Mein Kampf would know of Hitler's oft-expressed comments that he was an admirer of the British Empire and explained how one must never align oneself with those whose countries were under colonial domination.  It was simply that he wanted to replicate it in Eastern Europe.  For example he gave no support to the General Strike and Arab rebellion in Palestine from 1936-9. 

The rest of Hirsch's points such as universalism have been dealt with above and of course Hirsh compared the left and the Nazis whilst denying that the Nazis were right wing.  That I suppose is why on May 2nd he abolished all unions and sent socialists and trade unionists to Dachau.  That is why the Nazi party was given massive support by the capitalists, especially the Iron and Steel barons of the Ruhr.  And oh yes, the old Prussian army generals who put him in power did so because Hitler was such an ardent socialist!!

What Hirsh does is betray his own ignorance of the development and politics of the Nazi party and also the function that anti-Semitism played within it.

That is not to say that Hitler wasn't contemptuous of the conservative parties (DNVP, DVP, Centre Party).  They were gentle folk who would never win over the workers, whom they despised.  They were unable to work amongst the masses and they even purported to believe in democraacy.  In that he was right.  The Nazis organised their plebeian followers and the lumpen proletariat whereas the Conservatives confined their work to the middle classes and rich.  What the industrialists and army feared came to pass.  In exchange for attacking the left, outlawing the KPD (Communists), abolishing the unions they made a deal with the devil.  They surrendered political power to the Nazis and Thyssen ended up in a concentration camp and the army leaders of the attempted putsch were hanged with piano wire.  It was an experience the bourgeoisie are not keen to repeat.

One can only suggest that Hirsh go back to school!

Tony Greenstein
Got to admire Tony. I suppose anyone can find the time to do a good bit of debunking but who has the patience?

I should mention that out of 33 comments to Hirsh's post not one criticised the compliment he paid to the nazi regime.


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