Current Events, Politics/Economics

Historical Amnesia at Charlottesville

Everyone is aware that neo-Nazis were in Charlottesville earlier this month to protest the removal of a Confederate sculpture. Also among the ranks of protesters were members of the Alt-Right. Though it is commonly believed to be the case, the terms Nazi and Alt-right are not synonymous. The Alt-Right is multifaceted, just like any other ideological movement.


When violence inevitably broke out, all fingers pointed towards the Unite The Right (UTR) attendees holding tiki torches. Due to the tunnel vision of major media outlets, it seems that everyone in the mainstream has failed to condemn the violent leftist factions. The violence of one of the opposing parties, communist flag wielding Antifa members, remains virtually unacknowledged as problematic. Antifa, asserting their violence is honorable because they aren’t demanding national homogeneity and racism, has claimed the moral high ground over the neo-Nazis. Both violent groups have a serious case of historical amnesia, and their intellectual deficiencies need to be addressed.

Neo-Nazis and Nazism

Immediately after the conclusion of the Second World War and the Potsdam Conference, Germany was divided by the major allied powers. A gradual course of denazification began to return the country to normalcy, prevent a last-ditch guerrilla campaign, and avoid the atrocities of the Third Reich from ever occurring again. Nazi regalia was removed from state buildings (those that weren’t destroyed), propaganda was censored and destroyed, Germans began filling out questionnaires to help their occupiers determine their culpability, and the Nuremberg Trials were conducted to bring justice to those accountable for both war crimes and crimes against humanity. This denazification process did not, however, completely eliminate Nazism and Nazi-sympathy, as we have seen. Even in 1945, many German citizens rejected the possibility of the Holocaust, claiming the exploit to be logistically impossible or too horrific to have possibly occurred. All of this destruction, World War II and the Holocaust, was carried out in the name of pan-German nationalism and made possible through the power of a totalitarian State.[1]

As previously suggested, Pan-German nationalism motivated Adolf Hitler and the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist GERMAN Workers Party). The actions of the Nazi party had nothing to do with the creation of an explicitly white nation. Even though ethnic Germans have white skin, it’s important to realize that the Nazis regarded the Untermensch (non-Aryan) nations as inferior to themselves. Equally imperative for readers to understand is that the qualities which defined Hitler’s ‘pure’ Germans – the infamous Aryan physical traits of tall individuals with blond hair and blue eyes – are more consistently found amongst inhabitants of the Netherlands and in Scandinavian countries.[2] All of these neo-Nazis brandishing swastikas and chanting “Sieg Heil” and “Heil Hitler” while promoting white nationalism are glorifying a totalitarian dictator whose war aims, flawed understanding of race, and practice of economic socialism was responsible for the deaths of millions of white Europeans. Stalin is the only dictator that has killed more white people than Adolf Hitler.

Antifa and Communism

While the masked members of Antifa thought they were violently punching the hate out of neo-Nazis at Charlottesville, they too were hypocritically waving the emblems of mass murdering socialists. Communism is often expected to be an international phenomenon where the proletariat classes reject the war drums of their bourgeois overlords and rise to take over the means of production. All of the communist countries of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, however, were and are nationalist. At the outbreak of the First World War, many proclaimed socialists like Benito Mussolini, urged involvement and enlisted to fight in the fight between nation-states. The disruption of nationalism within Marx’s theory of history is not unfamiliar to Marxist academics. Benedict Anderson, the author of Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism asserts, “that nationalism has proved an uncomfortable anomaly for Marxist theory.”[3] Eric Hobsbawm, another prevalent Marxist Historian, also notes “Marxist movements and states have tended to become national not only in form but in substance, i.e. nationalist” and that “there is nothing to suggest that this trend will not continue.”[4]

One needn’t search far to find an example of deliberate ethnic cleansing within Communist countries. Both Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin employed “the national question” in ways that furthered their own agenda.[5] Stalin, though he himself was Georgian, promoted Russian nationalism and deliberately forced starvation upon, murdered, and deported members of nationalities he deemed dangerous to the industrialization process of the Soviet Union. In particular, Stalin’s deadly process of dekulakization (Kulaks are Soviet peasants) and the resulting Ukrainian Famine, according to historian Timothy Snyder, “was at first glance a class terror,” but was often concentrated “against ‘nationalists.’”[6] Given the nationalistic violence of the Soviet Union alone, it’s hard to take seriously any of these violent Antifa members waving USSR flags and wearing hammer and sickle t-shirts to attack promoters of white nationalism. Just like the Nazis, the communists have their own historical baggage when it comes to nationalistic violence.


It seems odd that the crimes of the twentieth-century totalitarian regimes need to be constantly repeated to those who would invoke their violent and dangerous philosophies. If people would spend more time reading about the past rather than trying to relive it or run from it, then the violent extremism found at Charlottesville may not have occurred. Until then, individuals can expect the irrational and historically illiterate violence of Charlottesville to continue.



[1] Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harvest Book, 1968), 227.

[2] James Wilkinson and H. Stuart Hughes, Contemporary Europe: A History (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc., 2004), 225-226.

[3] Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Versa Press, 2006), p. 3.

[4] Eric Hobsbawm, “Some Reflection on ‘The Break-Up of Britain,’” New Left Review, 105 (September – October 1997), 13.

[5] Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (New York: Basic Books, 2010), 11.

[6] Snyder, Bloodlands, 85.

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