How the American Nazi Party Explains U.S. Politics


This week, the American Nazi Party registered its first lobbyist in Washington, D.C. The single lobbyist, John Bowles, represents the South Carolina-based organization and is a former presidential candidate, standing in the 2008 election. The reactionary response to this news is to start debating the menacing rise of the far right in the U.S. and attempt to draw parallels with far-right extremism in Europe. However, Nazism as an ideology is ultimately a self-defeating endeavour and its contradictions highlight some of the major weaknesses in the more acceptable ideologies which rule our lives in the modern world.

Amongst its many distinguishing features, perhaps the ideological goal most associated with Nazism is its identification of the Jewish race as the cause of many of the problems of the modern world. Yet, it is not the individual Jew with whom the Nazi is in conflict, but rather the conceptual Jew which the individual represents. A person who identifies themselves as a Nazi is unlikely to be concerned about the physical, observable actions of a Jewish individual but rather the unobservable, non-corporeal behaviours the Nazi believes the Jew participates in (controlling society, avarice, magic etc.). Consequently, the actions of Nazism against the physical Jew only serve to strengthen the conceptual Jew of their prejudice. Of course, people of the Jewish faith are not a threat to society and their presence or absence will not affect the outcomes of public policy. The result being, in a state dominated by the Nazi ideology, where Jewishness is supressed or even exterminated, as the number of corporeal Jews decreases and the societal problems persist, the Nazi must allocate more and more blame to the conceptual Jew. In the mind of the Nazi, the conceptual, unobservable Jew (the "real" threat) becomes increasingly powerful despite their efforts to eliminate corporeal Judaism.

A similar pattern can be observed in the contemporary faith in neo-liberal economics (not that there are any similarities between capitalism and Nazism, simply that ideology behaves consistently in both cases). The neo-liberal capitalist believes that the more capitalism is allowed to act by itself, without government interference, the more successful it will be. The capitalist blames the failure of the capitalist system (recessions, depressions, price bubbles etc.) on the actions of those who "interfere" in the economy. Consequently, it is the goal of the capitalist ideologue to eliminate those organizations or beliefs they see as distorting the system (the Departments of Commerce, Education and ... the other one. Oops). Yet, when capitalism continues to fail they must assign more and more blame to an ever decreasing group of corporeal agents. More power is transferred to the conceptual "opponents" of capitalism and ultimately the ideologue only manages to generate a perception of their own impotence as their ideological quest empowers their non-corporeal enemies.

Even the most extreme and implausible ideology shares common features with those belief systems which govern our everyday lives. The politics of assigning blame must ultimately result in self-destruction as individuals try to leverage the realm of perception to support their desired power structure. Ultimately, John Bowles and the American Nazi Party pose much less of a threat to our society than the ideology of blame which we encounter every day.