After the events in Charlottesville where some people proudly marched with their swastikas and one of them killed a woman named Heather Heyer, people took a new interest in nazis. Who are those people? Didn’t we beat them 70 years ago?

One of the most common mistakes I see is people judging by the name of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and the fact that they were big on state authority, and deliberately trying to place them to the left of the political spectrum, since the right is good and holy and could never produce such monsters.

That is not true, and while National Socialism took ideas from both sides of the spectrum, you cannot really say they are leftists.

The first problem comes from the tendency to apply rigid modern-day definitions to 1930s Germany without taking into account what was the political climate of the time in central Europe. Especially when there were contemporary parties in Germany that you could easily label as socialists, such as SPD and KPD, and a political tradition of what socialism was. The SPD’s approach was that it would help bring the end of capitalism and enable a classless society. The Nazi party or NSDAP, on the other hand, drew inspiration from conservative responses to unconstrained capitalism, which were developed in German universities, advocating closer cooperation between the state and the economy to put a leash on the free-market capitalism that was viewed as a foreign ideology invading Germany. At the same time, it added their flair of race politics, in that it claimed that racial or cultural homogeny would snuff out petty socioeconomic issues IF the right state came to being in order to mediate that. Those ideas were not uniquely NSDAP’s, other parties advocated the same approach.