Over at Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin wrote a book review that turned into an exploration of the socialist basis of Hitler’s Nazi party (Nazi=abbreviation for National Socialist German Worker’s Party). The article is great enough, but it’s the comments that really shine, with reasoned debate between socialists who deny Somin’s conclusions and non-socialists who support Somin’s conclusions. I wrote a comment that I think is worth reprinting here.
But I would also suggest that as a general principle, it is usually best to let the proponents of an ideology define that ideology. So, for example, I think it is important that the socialist’s definition of “socialism” typically emphasizes the collective ownership of the means of production, because I would suggest that we should defer to the socialist’s own definition of their ideology.
I strongly disagree. We do not have to let the proponents of an ideology define it. Let’s try to disprove the negative of your hypothesis with an example. There is a group of serial killers who wear pink and claim that their ideology consists of wearing pink, and that’s it. They claim that serial killing is only incidental to their way of life.
Would we take their explanation seriously? The negative of your hypothesis is that we do not believe their explanation. I don’t believe it. Nobody sane would. Serial killing is of much greater social weight than wardrobe choice. Negative confirmed. Therefore your proposition is proved false.
There is an old saying, perhaps you have heard it.
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.
We must judge ideas by their results, not by their intentions. There’s another saying you may know.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The intentions of true believers are not an accurate way to describe any ideology. Only results are. And results must be measured by factual information, not by prejudice or invective.
Results testing is the nature of conservatism, to use what has been proved to work and abandon those things that don’t. That’s why people tend to become conservative when they reach a point in their life where they do things that are existentially meaningful, such as getting married and having children.
Results testing on socialism and its cousins communism, Maoism, and Nazism, has proved that it doesn’t work, that it produces misery on a heroic scale, and in fact is the closest thing to human evil that is allowed by atheist atheology. I think that judging from the results, it’s high time that socialist ideologues dropped the socialist ideology and picked one with a better track record.
Will you? How long will it take?