Instigator / Pro

Adolf Hitler was Left Wing


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Round 1: Arguments
Round 2: Rebuttal of opponent's Round 1
Round 3: Rebuttal of opponent's Round 2

Round 1
First, we need to define left-wing.

left wing
/ˈlef(t) ˈˌwiNG/

  1. 1.
    the liberal, socialist, or radical section of a political party or system.

Now to define liberal, socialist, and radical.



  1. 1.
    open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values.
Did Hitler discard traditional values? He certainly did, trying to discard old German values? He did, being a pantheist he rejected Christianity.

Although he wasn't a complete liberal, he definitely did take ideas from the ideology.

But alas, there is a secondary definition to the word "liberal", and this one is very important.

Politically, it means one who wants the government to step in and make social and political change
The big government trend would be one that defines all left wing ideologies.



  1. 1.
    a person who advocates or practices socialism.



  1. a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole
Did Hitler seize the means of production. No.

But this does show another big government trend.



  1. 1.
    (especially of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.
Did Hitler make a fundamental change? You betcha he did. He changed it to a big government.

And thus we can define left-wing in this sense: The bigger the government, the more left wing.

What is Nazism? It's a combination of fascism and racism.

What is fascism? Authoritarian big government.

And thus, Hitler, taking aspects of other left-wing ideologies, created Nazism, a new left-wing ideology. Left-wing because of its big government.
“The keyword here is BLACKWHITE. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to BELIEVE that black is white, and more, to KNOW that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.”

-George Orwell, 1984 [1]


Star Trek:TNG “Chain of Command” [2]


Burden of Proof:  PRO has failed to set any burdens for proof. Wikipedia advises: 

“When two parties are in a discussion and one makes a claim that the other disputes, the one who makes the claim typically has a burden of proof to justify or substantiate that claim especially when it challenges a perceived status quo. This is also stated in Hitchens' razor. Carl Sagan proposed a related criterion, the Sagan standard, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". [3]

PRO is both instigator and extraordinary claimer in this particular so BOP is entirely PRO’s.

Bona Fide: This participant is proceeding on the assumption that PRO’s argument is made in  good faith. We are here relying on traditional definitions of words and well-established meanings within the study of political philosophy.  To that end...


ADOLPH HITLER: was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934.  During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.” [4]

LEFT WING:  We need to toss out PRO’s definition of left wing as entirely inadequate.

OBJECTION #1:  Wrong part of speech. 

Syntactically, we are discussing whether a defined attribute applies to Adolph Hitler, we are modifying the proper noun Hitler and so we need the adjective form of LEFT WING, not the noun.

OBJECTION #2: No citation.

OBJECTION #3:  Overly brief, incomplete.

OBJECTION #4: Poor definition. 

A proper definition sets the outlines of the term's meaning: left-wing does mean this, does not mean that.  The outlines set by PRO are misleadingly fuzzy. Yes, most socialist thinking is leftist but socialism does not particularly define the set of left-wing thought.  In fact, the term “left wing” precedes the term “socialism” by several decades, so “left wing” has a well-defined meaning before the annexations of socialism and can’t be satisfactorily delimited by simple use of that word.

Use of the word “radical” is particularly problematic.  Radical, from the same Latin stem for “root” that gives us “radish” just mean “grassroots”- change from the bottom up,  as opposed to from the top down.

From French radical, from Late Latin radicalis (“of or pertaining to the root, having roots, radical”), from Latin radix (“root”); see radix.

radical (comparative more radical, superlative most radical)
  1. Favoring fundamental change, or change at the root cause of a matter.
    His beliefs are radical. [5]
If radical always, only indicates left-wing then the term “radical right” should prove irresolvable, oxymoronic. 

But that just isn't the case.  “Radical Right” is just as indicative of far right politics as “Radical Left” means extreme left. [6]  Since we know of many radicals who are in no way left wing, use of this term to indicate the set of all “left-wing” people or politics introduces an unacceptable biasing of the spectrum: any undesirably radical right-wingers are dismissed as leftists. 

In fact, that very dynamic is at the heart of the Right's case for rejecting Hitler: because Hitler has tainted all right-wing politics going forward, Hitler must now be re-defined as non-Right to improve the perception of the right wing.  So, we need a more descriptive adjective with less inherent bias. 

Wikipedia offers the following:

LEFT WING politics "supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy.  It typically involves a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.  The term left-wing can also refer to "the radical, reforming, or socialist section of a political party or system". [6]

CON prefers Wikipedia's definition because while it notes the presence of radical or socialist elements in the left-wing in accord with PRO,  “left wing” is properly defined first and foremost as the set of people who prioritize equality and liberty.

LIBERAL: PRO’s definitions for “liberal” are likewise inadequate to any good faith understanding of the term.

OBJECTION #5: No citation for first definition.

OBJECTION #6: Poor definition.  The first offering is not a political definition of the word liberal.  Since we are defining a political term why not use the specifically political context? uses PRO’s definition but clearly points out a different meaning in political context:

  • Willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one's own; open to new ideas.
    ‘liberal views towards divorce’
  • 1.1 Favourable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms. ‘liberal citizenship laws’
  • 1.2(in a political context) favouring individual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform. ‘a liberal democratic state’[6]
(We are talking about liberal as in Liberalism, not liberal as in foot-loose and fancy free.)

But also liked PRO’s unserviceable definition of  “left-wing,” so let’s look at PRO’s second definition, which finally does includes a citation but not to a dictionary entry.  The citation takes us to an article about the polysemy of the word liberal. That entry offers readers some wisdom about use of the word liberal:

“Even with a highly polysemous word such as liberal we can usually figure out contextually which of its many possible senses is meant. However, when the word takes on multiple and closely-related meanings that are all related to politics, it can be rather difficult to tell one from another. These senses can be further muddied by the fact that we now have two distinct groups who each feel rather differently about some of the meanings of liberal.” [7]

PRO and CON's shared objective ought to be to employ the definition that serves as the most relevant to our topic.  In the case of the Mirriam-Webster entry,

PRO has skipped past a full 13 senses of the word and pulled from the English Language Learners definition for the word liberal, which indicates a deliberately over-simplified definition for this essential word. [8]

CON wonders why PRO would skip past the very apt and relevant sense No. 6b.

"especially : of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives"

Both of PRO’s definitions are little too cherry-picked to suit a more generically political understanding of the word, so CON recommends we rely on Wikipedia’s more fulsome definition of political Liberalism:

LIBERALISM is "a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law.  Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support limited government, individual rights (including civil rights and human rights), capitalism (free markets), democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion." [9]


OBJECTION #7: No citation


OBJECTION #8: No citation

RESOLUTION: Adolph Hitler was left wing

For the purposes of this resolution, PRO must demonstrate that Adolph Hitler’s prose and political policies from 1933 to 1945 reflected a philosophy of social equality and egalitarianism, championed the disadvantaged, and opposed the institutions hierarchy in German Society.  If PRO fails in this regard (as any honest appraisal of history demands), CON wins this debate.


PRO’s argument is entirely semantic.  PRO does not attempt to show that Hitler praised left wing values or demonstrated left wing virtues or extolled left wing thinkers or enacted left wing legislation because such a demonstration would not be possible.  PRO’s case depends on finding a sufficiently undetailed and ambiguous definition for the words “left wing” and “liberal” and then shoe-horning Mr. Hitler into a supersoft one-size-fits-all slipper of implications.


P1:  Liberals discard traditional values
P2: Hitler rejected Christianity
C1: Therefore, Hitler was a Liberal
OBJECTION #9: Non-sequitur

Pro’s first premise suffers from poor sampling.  Yes, Liberals sometimes discard traditional values- but then so do non-liberals, so does everybody.  

Let's apply the same syllogism to some non-liberal by way of example:

P1: Liberals discard traditional values
P2: Donald Trump rejects the tradition of Presidential respect for all dead American war heroes.
C1: Therefore, Donald Trump is a Liberal
or even

P1:  Liberals discard traditional values
P2: The City of Aspen, CO rejected the traditional Independence Day fireworks display in favor illuminated drones.
C1:  Therefore the City of Aspen is Liberal.

OBJECTION #10: P2 is only half true.

Hitler never publicly rejected Christianity.  As PRO’s own source confirms:

"In 1933, Hitler publicly promoted the German Christian candidates in the Protestant Church elections, giving encouragement to those who hoped for an amalgamation of Christianity and Nazism." [10]

Hitler’s private rejection of Christianity doesn’t much apply to Hitler’s public identity:

Hitler viewed the church as an important politically conservative influence on society, and he adopted a strategic relationship with it that "suited his immediate political purposes".  In public, Hitler often praised Christian heritage and German Christian culture, though professing a belief in an "Aryan Jesus" who fought against the Jews.” [11]

Since Hitler’s place on the left-wing/ring-wing political spectrum is a political, and therefore very much public, attribute, speculation about Hitler’s closet irreligiosity fails to serve as evidence.

OBJECTION #11: P2 half true part 2

The tradition of Pantheism espoused by thinkers like Spinoza was actually quite popular in Hitler’s Germany:

“Nowhere was the ambiguous intellectual, cultural, and political legacy of Spinoza more deeply felt than in Germany, especially in the tumultuous period before and during the Weimar Republic.” [12]

Hitler's contemporaries didn't see Pantheism as a rejection of Christianity so much as a rejection of a personally engaged, anthropomorphic God. 

Albert Einstein wrote:

"We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza's Pantheism. I admire even more his contributions to modern thought. Spinoza is the greatest of modern philosophers, because he is the first philosopher who deals with the soul and the body as one, not as two separate things." [13]

So PRO’s attempt to define Hitler as "Liberal by deduction" here is both fairly faulty and fairly false.


"The big government trend would be one that defines all left wing ideologies."

OBJECTION #12: Manifestly false. 

Pro's statement represents the opposite of the truth by definition:

The idea of a limited government is one that was pioneered by classic political liberalism and free market liberalism, though politicians and economists differ on the exact parameters.” [14]


"Liberals typically believe that government is necessary to protect individuals from being harmed by others, but they also recognize that government itself can pose a threat to liberty. As the revolutionary American pamphleteer Thomas Paine expressed it in Common Sense(1776), government is at best “a necessary evil.”  [15]


“In political philosophy, limited government is where the government is empowered by law from a starting point of having no power, or where governmental power is restricted by law, usually in a written constitution. It is a key concept in the history of liberalism. The United States Constitution presents an example of the federal government not possessing any power except what is delegated to it by the Constitution — with the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution making explicit that powers not specifically delegated to the federal government are reserved for the people and the states. “ [16]

Left vs Right in politics means

the commons vs the aristocracy,
the people vs. the propertied,
civil rights vs. divine right.

PRO also gets it wrong by stating that Hitler did not seize the means of production. 

Nazis didn’t fail at Socialism because they failed to seize control of industry; Nazis failed at Socialism because the Nazis did not represent German society.  

Hitler may have privatized some state industries, but all corporate control was centralized under Nazi Party membership or affiliation which ultimately centralized under Hitler's personal dictatorship.  Philips, Volkswagen, Siemens, IG Farben, Krupp, Daimler-Benz, indeed all of German industry was commandeered by the Nazi Party and re-directed to the purposes of war and enslavement of the underclass.  Definitionally, the means of production can’t be controlled by the people without some kind of democratic representation. Definitionally, a dictatorship does permit the people control of their own industry. [17]


P1:  Radicals make fundamental changes
P2: Hitler made a fundamental change (ex. Big govt.).
C1: Therefore, Hitler was a radical.
Since CON has demonstrated that neither radicalism nor big government are indicative of leftism, CON considers PRO’s CONTENTION #3 irrelevant to thesis.  This argument needs no refutation.


What is Nazism? It's a combination of fascism and racism.

OBJECTION #13: oversimplification.

PRO never connects this argument to the resolution so there’s not much to refute here.  By way of clarification, CON offers this definition of Nazism:

NAZISM is “the ideology and practices associated with the Nazi Party….in Nazi Germany, and of other far-right groups with similar aims.  Nazism is a form of fascism and showed that ideology's disdain for liberal democracy and the parliamentary system, but also incorporated fervent antisemitism, anti-communism, scientific racism, and eugenics into its creed... Nazism rejected the Marxist concepts of class conflict and universal equality, opposed cosmopolitan internationalism, and sought to convince all parts of the new German society to subordinate their personal interests to the "common good", accepting political interests as the main priority of economic organization.” [18]


Let’s remember that CON has no burden of proof in this debate.  CON does not need to show that Hitler was right wing or adhered to any particular ideology, just that PRO is in error when PRO calls Adolph Hitler left wing.


The left-right political spectrum is a system of classifying political party ideology, but totalitarian dictatorships like Hitler’s invalidate the authority and meaning of party politics.  Therefore, left-right classification does not apply to dictators like Hitler.  

Hannah Arendt writes:

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.” [19]

Looking for an ideological core in any totalitarian government rather misses the point.  No legitimate ideology justifies the subjugation of all to one man’s will.


Hitler’s public speeches characterized the Left as the enemy of Germany and the Right as the salvation of Germany:

“There are only two possibilities in Germany; do not imagine that the people will forever go with the 
middle party, the party of compromises; one day it will turn to those who have most consistently 
foretold the coming ruin and have sought to dissociate themselves from it. And that party is either the 
Left: and then God help us! for it will lead us to complete destruction - to Bolshevism, or else it is a 
party of the Right which at the last, when the people is in utter despair, when it has lost all its spirit and 
has no longer any faith in anything, is determined for its part ruthlessly to seize the reins of power - that 
is the beginning of resistance of which I spoke a few minutes ago.” [20]


Hitler consistently suppressed the left wing of German government.

  • After the Reichstag Fire, Hitler compelled Hindenburg to suppress the Communists and arrests 4,000 leftist politicians.
  • To ensure that the Day of Potsdam went his way, Hitler arrested all Communist representatives and prevented the leadership of the Social Democrats from voting.  
  • Only the left opposed The Enabling Act that made Hitler dictator. Five weeks later, all German labor unions were dissolved and the Social Democratic party outlawed.  Five weeks after that, the Nazi party was the only legal political party in Germany.
  • The next year, the Night of the Long Knives purged Ernst Rohm and the last of the Nationalist Socialists (SA) from power. [21]

Wikipedia states:

The left–right political spectrum is a system of classifying political positions, ideologies and parties, from equality on the left to social hierarchy on the right.”  [22]

Hitler didn’t just endorse social hierarchy: he codified an entirely new social hierarchy in “Mein Kampf” and then forced an entire nation to live by it.

Hitler didn’t just despise the notion of equality, he stripped whole classes of people of any human rights- Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Blacks, Roma, union leaders, Socialists, Gays, the physically or intellectually disabled, and so forth. 

Using any ordinary understanding of the left wing/right wing spectrum in party politics, Hitler's public policies and philosophy of governance stand about as far from the left wing as might be imagined.

Thanks to Pro for this excellent topic.  I look forward to Pro's replies in R2.

Round 2
I don't have the time for this. I hope to redo this debate, butI concede.
Thanks to Mharman for concession.  Extend all arguments to R3.
Round 3
PRO has conceded this debate so I'll just extend all arguments.

Thanks to voters for their kind consideration.