Yes, Virginia: Hitler really was a socialist

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Much hay has been made of late regarding a decades-old debate as to whether Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were socialists.

On the face of it, the argument may seem ridiculous. … After all, the name of the party was National Socialist German Workers' Party. For some, it should be as simple as that. They called themselves socialists, so they were socialists.

However, proponents of the idea that Hitler and the Nazis were diametrically opposed to socialism point out numerous reasons that this simple explanation is, by itself, insufficient, and in fact can point out several facts, which clearly demonstrate that the Nazis were socialist in name only, but not in ideology.

As is generally (and gloriously) true, the truth behind this debate is extremely nuanced and takes effort to discover. But it is very clearly there.

RELATED: Hitler's Quest for the Holy Grail? New Book Explores Nazi Obsession With the Occult

For those of you looking for the Cliff's Notes version, here is the answer: Yes, Hitler and the Nazis were socialists, for the simple reasons that they were staunchly anti-capitalist and believed that the means of production in their society should be controlled by a centralized state power. That is very clear from their writings, their words and their actions. Done and done.

Much hay has been made of late regarding a decades-old debate as to whether Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were socialists.

On the face of it, the argument may seem ridiculous. … After all, the name of the party was National Socialist German Workers' Party. For some, it should be as simple as that. They called themselves socialists, so they were socialists.

However, proponents of the idea that Hitler and the Nazis were diametrically opposed to socialism point out numerous reasons that this simple explanation is, by itself, insufficient, and in fact can point out several facts, which clearly demonstrate that the Nazis were socialist in name only, but not in ideology.

As is generally (and gloriously) true, the truth behind this debate is extremely nuanced and takes effort to discover. But it is very clearly there.

For those of you looking for the Cliff's Notes version, here is the answer: Yes, Hitler and the Nazis were socialists.

For those of you looking for the Cliff's Notes version, here is the answer: Yes, Hitler and the Nazis were socialists, for the simple reasons that they were staunchly anti-capitalist and believed that the means of production in their society should be controlled by a centralized state power. That is very clear from their writings, their words and their actions. Done and done.

Now, for those of you looking for a more complete and nuanced analysis of the topic, please consider the following thoughts:

With a recent article in Vox as case-in-point, those who believe that Hitler and the Nazis were not socialists will generally put forward some version of the following arguments:

  • 1. The Nazis did not preach or practice pure, "classical" socialism, so they weren't socialists.
  • 2. The Nazis were not the true Socialist party in Germany — there were already socialist and communist political parties in Germany — when they adopted the term "socialism."
  • 3. The Nazis were fascists, not socialists. Everyone knows fascism is right wing, socialism is left wing.
  • 4. The Nazis only adopted the title of "socialist" for political reasons, not ideological ones.
  • 5. The Nazis were staunchly anti-communist and anti-Marxist, therefore they couldn't have been socialists.
  • 6. The Nazis were racists and nationalists, so they couldn't have been socialists.
  • 7. The Nazis did not seize all private property and money, so they weren't socialists.
  • 8. Hitler was only interested in power, in being a dictator, not in socialist principals of peace and love and equality…

I'll address each of these in turn, but the above arguments and themes all miss a central and critical reality … and demonstrates a lack of critical thinking as well.

What's missing from the simple question of "Was Hitler a socialist?" is this: When do you mean?

It's a vital component of any coherent discussion, for two reasons.

First, because when examined over a timeline it becomes perfectly clear that yes, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party was an extremely, very clearly socialist-aligned organization at the time of their founding. One could argue that over time the specific manifestation of Nazi-socialism did drift away from what is today viewed as "classical"' or archetypal socialism (also a misnomer, which I'll cover shortly) and toward a nationalistic, "Germanified" socialism. During the build-up to war, it then morphed further into economic-statist policies of fascism and eventually a fascist-dictatorship.

Second, it's vital to note the shift and migration "from" socialism "to" a dictatorship because this is almost always what ends up happening when socialism, communism and/or Marxism implemented in any country (as evidenced by Germany's Hitler, the Soviet Union's Joseph Stalin, China's Mao Zedong, Cuba's Fidel Castro, Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro, etc).

Marxist-collectivist systems devolving into brutal dictatorship with some elements of Marxist-philosophy remaining is the norm, not the exception. I'll leave what that says about Marxism to your own judgment.

So, with that said, let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start), and review the historical record:

1. The Nazis did not preach or practice pure, "classical" socialism, so they weren't socialists.

Statements like this one are generally followed with quotes from Hitler or some other Nazi leader saying something negative about socialism, or examples of a policy like leaving most manufacturing in private hands as proof that the Nazi Party wasn't a socialist organization. But generally, those quotes and those policies were from much later in the Nazi-Germany saga.

What is conveniently ignored is the fact that Hitler joined the German Workers' Party in 1919, when he was 30 years old. Six years before he wrote "Mein Kampf," and 14 years before he was appointed chancellor of Germany.

So, at the time the political party was formed, what did it espouse and believe? And what did Hitler espouse and believe?

History is abundantly clear on this. As we know from "The Coming of the Third Reich"by Richard J. Evans, we know because Hitler joined the German Workers' Party, a party he'd initially been ordered to spy on and join by his Germany Army Intelligence handlers. It's key to note that the original name of the group was the German Socialist Worker's Party (italics mine), but party-supporter and journalist Karl Herrer recommended against including the word "socialist" because it might be confused with another local political party (the Social Democratic Party of Germany) and might make it more challenging to gain the support of his middle-class newspaper subscribers. Subsequently, the name was shortened to German Workers' Party. Author F.L. Carlsten makes that clear in his book, "The Rise of Fascism."

Hitler joined the party and within a few months had risen to a level of authority. Having spoken publicly for the first time at a party meeting just weeks after joining, by early 1920 he was appointed chief of propaganda, a period of party history covered in excellent detail in "The Rise and Fall of Nazi Germany" by T.L. Jarman.

As the party grew in prominence, Hitler believed they needed a public manifesto that clearly articulated the party's political beliefs and platform. He, along with party founders Gottfried Feder, Dietrich Eckart, and Anton Drexler, wrote a manifesto titled, The National Socialist Program. As explained in William Shirer's seminal, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich"(a work every American should read), on that same day, the German Workers' Party changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Hitler arranged a public meeting at a large Beer-Hall and personally read the manifesto aloud to more than 2,000 attendees, receiving ever increasing applause as he continued.

You can review the entire 25-point plan here, and yes, it is a platform that is filled with anti-Semitic and nationalist themes, but a review of several of the key points of the manifesto are important to understand their political beliefs as they orient around socialist and Marxist philosophy.

"…We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens…"

"…The first obligation of every citizen must be to productively work, mentally or physically..."

"…The activity of individuals is not to counteract the interests of the universality [the state], but must have its result within the framework of the whole for the benefit of all..." [italics mine]

"…We demand the Breaking of debt (interest)-slavery…"

"…In consideration of the monstrous sacrifice in property and blood that each war demands of the people, personal enrichment through a war must be designated as a crime against the people. Therefore, we demand the total confiscation of all war profits…"

"…We demand the nationalisation of all (previous) associated industries..." [italics mine]

"…We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries…"

"…We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare…"

"…We demand the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation…"

"…We demand the immediate communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low cost to small firms, the utmost consideration of all small firms in contracts with the State, county or municipality…"

"…We demand struggle without consideration against those whose activity is injurious to the general interest. Common national criminals, usurers, profiteers and so forth are to be punished with death…" [italics mine]

"…We demand substitution of a German common law in place of the [existing] Roman Law serving a materialistic world-order…"

"…The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program, to enable every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education…"

"…The comprehension of the concept of the state must be striven for by the school as early as the beginning of understanding…"

"…We demand the education at the expense of the state of outstanding intellectually gifted children of poor parents without consideration of position or profession…"

"…The state is to care for the national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young…"

"…We demand legal opposition to known lies and their promulgation through the press… Publications which are counter to the general good are to be forbidden… We demand legal prosecution of artistic and literary forms which exert a destructive influence on our national life and the closure of organizations opposing the above made demands…"

"…a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: "THE GOOD OF THE COMMUNITY BEFORE THE GOOD OF THE INDIVIDUAL." [All CAPS theirs in the original document]

"…For the execution of all of this we demand the formation of a strong central power… Unlimited authority of the central parliament over the whole Reich and its organizations in general…"

"…The leaders of the Party promise, if necessary by sacrificing their own lives, to support by the execution of the points set forth above without consideration…"

I apologize for the length here, but this was their "Declaration of Independence", and the length to which they spoke of these beliefs is strong evidence of how important these ideals were to them and their platform. That Hitler would dedicate the bulk of his written manifesto for his party to these indicates they were more than just a convenient political tool.

It's also worth noting that according to the US Holocaust Museum, the National Socialist Program remained the platform of the Nazi Party until Hitler's suicide in 1945, although clearly some of the specific tenets were ignored as the Third Reich matured and entered its "war" phase. In fact, we know from Big Business & Hitler, in 1924, party co-founder Gottfried Feder proposed an expanded 39-point plan that would include accommodation for Industrialists and large landowners with the National Socialists, but at the 1925 Bamburg Conference, then party leader Hitler refused to make any changes, stating that the manifesto was "inviolable" and would never be changed. Even after coming to power and declaring himself Dictator for Life, Hitler never modified a single word.

The point is that the original German Workers' Party as well as the National Socialist German Workers' Party, from its earliest roots, absolutely believed in and ran on many traditionally "Socialist" ideals, such as subordinating the individual to the "common good" and "the State."

Arguments as to whether the Nazi Party was "right wing" or "left wing" is what confuses most modern pundits and scholars.

Arguments as to whether the Nazi Party was "right wing" or "left wing" is what confuses most modern pundits and scholars. They clearly were nationalists, socialists, anti-capitalists and statists. Placing them on modern "right vs. left" political spectrum is an entirely different debate, and largely a semantic one. Whether they have more in common with the modern U.S. "right" or "left" is in the eye of the beholder.

2. The Nazis were not the true socialist party in Germany, there were already socialist and communist political parties in Germany when they adopted the term "socialism."

It's completely true that there were already socialist and communist political parties in Germany. Socialist parties had sprung up and gained popularity in Europe both before and during World War I. Russia had collapsed into a communist revolution during World War I, and there were communist political parties and organizations throughout Germany and Austria who had proven, friendly ties to the Russian communist parties responsible for the Russian revolution.

But the presence of other parties does not in any way indicate that Hitler's party wasn't also socialist. Just as today in America there are democratic socialists, socialist, Green Party and Communist parties, does not mean that I couldn't start up a new flavor of socialist political party tomorrow.

What is clear is that the founders of the Nazi Party did want a very different type of political party, one that was highly nationalist and one that sought an ethno-German racial ideal. In fact, as detailed in the already cited "The Rise and Fall of Fascism," the reason that Anton Drexler and others founded the National Socialist German Workers' Party in the first place was their rejection of the existing Social-Democratic Party and Communist Party's lack of nationalism. Hitler's flavor of socialism was staunchly anti-Bolshevik and anti-Semitic and he spoke against "Jewish-Marxism" and communism, as did key party leaders Alfred Rosenberg and Rudolph Hess. Existing socialist and Marxist parties were too globalist for them – they were after a purely ethno-German socialism.

3. The Nazis were fascists, not socialists. Everyone knows fascism is right wing, socialism is left wing.

Without turning this into a purely semantic debate, applying the modern "U.S.-centric" idea of the right vs. left political spectrum to political, economic and social philosophies such as socialism or fascism is truly an apples vs. Legos idea.

Of course, the origins of "right" vs. "left" political spectrum likely dates to the French Revolution and had to do with which side of the King's throne courtiers and lords were seated. At that time, those Loyal to the King were on the "right" and those who favored the people's independence and Democracy would be on the "left" …but clearly today's modern conservatives and libertarians would not support rule by a monarch or dictator, whether his name was Louis, Washington or Trump.

This is a key part of why there is so much cognitive dissonance for today's self-avowed socialists when someone dares to point out that Nazis were socialists and did support many socialist ideals. Nazis were also nationalists, were anti-immigration, often xenophobic and pro-militarism. Those are traits they associate with today's modern far-right.

As Jane Carlson points out in her recent Vox article, trying to put German-Nazis of 1930 on our modern U.S. political spectrum is a troublesome exercise. For our purposes, we'll simply note that the policies and platform of the early Nazi Party clearly aligned to socialist theory of the time, simply modified to fit the Volkish German tastes of the time.

Furthermore, claims that Hitler and the Nazis were fascists, not socialists, is again an inherently anachronistic view of events. It also clouds the issue of fascism and socialism, painting them as polar opposites on the political spectrum, when, in fact, they were close bedfellows in the 1920s.

Fascism didn't come to the Nazi Party and Germany until late in the 1920s or even early 1930s. Certainly there are no contemporary media references to the National Socialist German Workers' Party as "fascists" during the era of the party's founding in 1919, at the time Hitler wrote and presented the National Socialist Program in 1920, leading up to the Beer-Hall Putsch in late 1923, during Hitler's incarceration in 1924 and even leading up to the elections of 1928 and 1930.

During that entire era, no paper, across all of Germany, Italy, England or America can be found that refers to Hitler or to the National Socialist party of Germany as a "fascist" party. They were referred to as the national socialists or Nazis, a name meant to be a pejorative. It's also noteworthy that in his book, "Mein Kampf," Hitler did not refer to himself as a fascist or even use the word a single time.

It wasn't truly until the elections of 1932 that "fascism" could truly be applied to the policies espoused by Hitler and other Nazi politicians who held seats in the German Parliament. By then, it had been nearly a decade since Benito Mussolini, the publisher of a Socialist newspaper for more than six years, founded his own version of a violent nationalist-socialist party within Italy: fascism.

Fascist political ideology was the brainchild of another Marxist, a man named Giovanni Gentile. Gentile was an Italian intellectual and student of Marx, but whose criticism of the standard socialist model was based on the idea that the human mind was insufficiently pure to make communal socialism practical for industrial countries. As such, he advocated for a hybrid of a strong-centralized government with total authority (lead by intellectuals and experts) but leaving direct ownership of industrial production in the hands of the business elite. A Socialist-Corporate state.

Mussolini had seen in World War I, his countrymen were no longer fighting for some grand, socialist utopia as they had been toward the outset of the war. By the end of the war, they were fighting for their country. Under the tutelage of Gentile, he morphed that nationalist passion into fascism, but it was not a far-right movement. Mussolini referred to himself as a socialist in his own diary just 12 days before his capture, and it's worth noting that the party he was head of at the time of his capture was called the Italian Social Republic.

By the time Hitler had been named chancellor in 1933 and dictator in 1934, it would have been fair to start thinking of Nazis as having fascist ideas.

Hitler, seeing the success of Mussolini in Italy in the 1920s and wishing to curry favor with the Italian leader to help reinforce his southern flank, developed a warm and open relationship with him. By the time Hitler had been named chancellor in 1933 and dictator in 1934, it would have been fair to start thinking of Nazis as having fascist ideas. But even as late as 1937, Winston Churchill was still making speeches and writing essays about the "two" great "creeds of the Devil" in socialism and fascism, as threats faced by Britain.

The real difference between communists, national socialists and fascists is simply this: Communists are the international workers party and fascists are the national workers party.

In the end, it's reasonable to look at Hitler's adoption of some tenets of the fascist political-economic system of an authoritarian-central government but leaving private ownership of some industries as an indication that Hitler was not, in the end, a "perfect" socialist. But, as you'll learn below, that notion is itself, nonsense.

4. The Nazis only adopted the title of "socialist" for political reasons, not ideological ones.

As we have already cited from Carlsten's "The Rise of Fascism," the opposite is actually true. Anton Drexler had originally wanted to include socialist in the party's title, but its primary "publicist" at the time, Karl Herrer, had objected — not because they were opposed to socialist ideas, but because it would make it difficult to stand apart from the already existent Social-Democratic Party, and because it would make it more difficult to appeal to middle class readers of his newspaper.

In fact, as author Robert Spector covers thoroughly in his book, "A World Without Civilization," Drexler and others went out of their way to publish articles clearly delineating between Marxist-socialism and the German-socialism they intended to create, which would be a massive social-welfare state that would provide aid only to true ethno-Aryan Germans.

The ideals of the Nazi leadership were absolutely and significantly focused on German nationalism, anti-Semitism, racial purity, etc. It's also fair to say that Hitler's personal ideology and goals were built around German-idealized delusions of grandeur, and less around the philosophical tenets of socialism.

But a fair assessment of the progression of Nazi Party socialist doctrine cannot start in 1933 when Hitler became chancellor or 1938 when he invaded Poland. A more fair assessment might to be say that Hitler and the Nazis wanted to create a 1,000-year German Reich and a pure ethno-German race, and they were also socialists. More pure socialists when they started in 1919 than when they finished in 1945? Yes, certainly if our goal here is to measure Hitler against some 'perfect socialist' yardstick, then it might be fair to suggest that, by the end, he was less of a socialist than he was at the beginning.

But as I've already pointed out, the same could be said for virtually every socialist leader of all time. They all started with grand socialist ideals, tried them out, found that they didn't seem to work to achieve any practical real-world goals, so instead they became a tyrannical dictator wielding violence, torture and autocratic rule to maintain their vision. Ask Mao, ask Stalin, ask Maduro, Ask Xi, ask Castro, ask Che, ask Minh, ask Lenin…Hitler was just a me-too.

5. The Nazis were staunchly anti-Communist and anti-Marxist, therefore they couldn't have been socialists.

The idea that being anti-communist or anti-Marxist indicates one couldn't be a socialist is an anachronism, especially for post-Great War Germany. Let's not forget that Russia and Germany had fought ferociously during the war, including clashes before and after the communist revolution. Many Germans strongly blamed Germany's surrender at the end of World War I on communist sympathizers and/or spies within Germany, especially Marxist-Jewish political leaders, intellectuals and writers.

Leaders of the early Nazi Party, in particular, viewed the Treaty of Versailles not so much as a surrender to Western powers but as a surrender to international "Jewry", both the capitalist-Jews from America and England as well as the communist Jews from Russia. As Shirer points out in "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," Hitler and other Nazi leaders frequently referred to being "stabbed in the back" by communist-Jewish elements in Germany and Austria.

As such, as we learned from Roger Griffin's epic work "Fascism," the anti-Marxism present in the early Nazi Party was strongly anti-Bolshevik, or, said more plainly, it was "anti-Jewish Russians and Germans who betrayed at the end of World War I and who profited from the war."

Recall as well that communism is merely one manifestation of Marxist political philosophy … one that could progress out of a Socialist foundation. Even today, communists and socialists can have lively debates on the topic, one rejecting or point out logical flaws in the "purity" of the other on the scale of Karl Marx's idea of "perfect" socialism. (Marx never really had such an ideal, see below).

The point is, the fact that Hitler was feverishly and passionately anti-Marxist (because he was massively anti-Semitic) and anti-communist doesn't indicate he wasn't some form of socialist.

6. The Nazis were racists and nationalists, so they couldn't have been socialists.

I would have hoped I didn't have to go too deeply into this topic, but many people seem to make some form of this argument.

The disconnect here is that most people today associate left-leaning or socialist-aligned politics to be also "globalist," for open borders and pro-immigration. On the other hand, many people associate right-leaning and even "conservative" groups with anti-illegal-immigration and "America-first" policies.

Again, let's not start a semantic debate about modern policies of those on the right vs. those on the left and whether one or the other group is more or less racist than the other (let's do that on Twitter instead!); for our purposes here, what is key to point out is that Marx himself was a fairly racist bloke, who wrote an essay in 1844 titled, "The Jewish Question" (wonder where Hitler got that?):

" What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money. … Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist. Money degrades all the gods of man—and turns them into commodities. The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange…The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant, of the man of money in general."— Karl Marx, The Jewish Question, 1844

In a letter to co-creator of Socialist doctrine, Friedrich Engels, Marx wrote:

"It is now completely clear to me that he, as is proved by his cranial formation and his hair, descends from the Negroes who had joined Moses' exodus from Egypt, assuming that his mother or grandmother on the paternal side had not interbred with a n—–. Now this union of Judaism and Germanism with a basic Negro substance must produce a peculiar product." — Karl Marx, Letter to Friedrich Engels, 1856

Many seem to believe that today's democratic socialism is inherently and not racist universally (unless perhaps, you happen to be a Jew … or maybe a white male, at least in some of the more vehement circles), so the fact of Nazi racism demonstrates simply that they could not have been socialists. But the socialism of the Nazi era was generally not-free of the every-day racism that was pervasive throughout that era.

To be sure, the Nazis were perhaps the most racist, anti-Semitic socialists who ever existed, but their racism, just like their nationalism, doesn't erase their socialism.

Furthermore, while socialism is not inherently racist, socialism and racism have been happy bedfellows numerous times.

One of the key and so-often-present-it-seems-to-be-required components of socialist movements is the presence of a bogeyman. An enemy of the people, or, in the case of Germany, the "volk."

In today's Americanized version of socialism, the bogeyman is the Gordon Gekko from "Wall Street,"Oh, wait, we have a more modern caricature of the same profile: Donald Trump. A self-made, unapologetic billionaire capitalist, flaunting both his wealth and ego across every TV screen and Twitter-feed 24/7.

For today's democratic socialist, that is the bogeyman. The rich (generally white) capitalist male who has more than his neighbor and doesn't feel bad about that.

Anti-Semitism and versions of socialism have often gone together because of the anti-capitalist and anti-wealthy-person ethos at the heart of Marxist ideology.

Hitler's bogeyman was also a banker — the Jew. Anti-Semitism and versions of socialism have often gone together because of the anti-capitalist and anti-wealthy-person ethos at the heart of Marxist ideology. Because Jews have tended to be industrious and have accumulated wealth, the Jewish people have been hated by many socialist and fascist groups throughout history. Socialist and totalitarian regimes in the Middle East also hated Jews, long before the founding of Israel after World War II.

In fact, after meeting with Hitler in the 1940s, Muslim regimes in Turkey and Syria planned on building Polish-styled death camps in the Middle East. During the war, Hitler also invited the creation of an entire Muslim division of Waffen-SS, such was the alliance between Islamic-Marxism and the National Socialists, all oriented around the anti-Capitalism and anti-Semitic ideals of Marxism.

As Richard Pipes detailed in "Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime,"Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin also implemented anti-Jewish (themed as anti-capitalist) programs in Russia and the USSR after the Communist revolution. Lenin ordered the Jews to be sent to the front lines of combat in battle, and ordered that no Jew should be given high-ranking administrative positions in government, as was detailed in "Time of Darkness: Moscow"by the great Russian political reformer and historian, Alexander Nikolayevich Yakovlev.

The argument that it is fascism that was the birth of Hitler's anti-Semitism also fails to hold water. Mussolini founded the fascist movement in Italy and had seized control of the Italian government well before Hitler's SS had started harassing Jews, but Mussolini protected Jews in Italy from persecution (as long as they swore political loyalty to him), until much later after his country was under Allied attack and he had to beg Hitler for German troops to fight off the Allied advance.

To this day, even in America, democratic socialists struggle with elements of anti-Semitism in their own ranks, because Jews are still being accused of hypnotizing the world via money by democratic socialist members of the U.S. Congress.

No, socialism is not inherently and always racist. But neither is socialism free from racist ideology, if that racist ideology serves as a bogeyman, any enemy of "the people" who is preventing the utopia of equality. Hitler's enemy of the "volk" was the capitalist, banker Jew, sucking the life out of his precious Fatherland. For freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), it's the un-woke white male, driving an SUV and drinking single-malt while hunting deer from a tree stand, making the world unsafe for women, children and minorities. Both were self-ascribed socialists. Both racist, too.

Racism isn't always about "race" either. The point is about dehumanization as a means to classify the enemies of "The People." In addition to murdering six million Jews, the Nazis killed additional millions of gypsies, homosexuals, blacks, Christians and Slovaks. Hitler and the Nazis used dehumanizing language to describe all of them… . Jews just happened to be his favorite target. But the techniques used by socialist were universal. Marx referred to capitalists or the bourgeoisie as "parasites" over 120 times in books, essays and speeches.

As recently as this past year, National of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan referred to Jews as "termites"… although luckily Chelsea Clinton was kind enough to write an article for the online progressive magazine,"Forward," politely correcting him and implying, emphatically, she'd never met a Jewish termite.

Today's democratic socialists are using the same techniques. How many times have Trump supporters been called "sub-human" or a "Basket of Deplorables"? Marxism requires an enemy of the people, but when push comes to shove, people don't like to kill other people. So, the enemies must be made sub-human in order to justify the "purging" and "liquidation" that must necessarily follow. What will Sen. Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez do when wealthy, white males won't go along with their gun and SUV confiscation schemes required under their green-collectivist state? The Weather Underground boldly let us know back in the 1970s, when they issued a news releaseclaiming that in order to bring justice to the U.S., up to 25 million white people would have to die.

Today, the Chinese Communist Party is rounding up Christians, Muslims and Uigars, placing them in concentration camps and re-education camps. More than 35 percent of the current Chinese population has been relegated to digital and travel-restricted ghettos, because their social-trust score is below Communist Party standards. Hitler had to go through the trouble of rounding Jews up and moving them into ghettos. Today, Chinese leader Xi Jinping does it with the help of Facebook and Google.

All part of creating the socialist utopia Marx dreamed would destroy the unfair inequality of capitalism.

Dozens of classical stars of the socialist firmament were ardent racists. Margaret Sanger, socialist and anti-black advocate…sorry, pro-black-abortion advocate. Bernard Shaw, famous socialist, was first to dream up and write about using gas chambers to 'gently, humanely' remove those societies that was determined to no longer have a productive use. " Sir or madame, please kindly justify your existence." Both Shaw and Sanger are still widely studied and celebrated by socialists today.

Perhaps a final lesson here can be learned by examining the ideology of Richard Spencer, self-proclaimed racist and white supremacist, and therefore branded by the media and political elite as a right-wing extremist. However, Spencer also rejects the U.S. Constitution, is pro-universal health care and pro-free (segregated) college education, and in favor of government-funded abortions. Most of the National Socialist program themes Hitler wrote about, he'd embrace in total. And he's a right-wing extremist? Take away just his virulent racism, he'd be a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, espousing purely leftist ideologies.

Hopefully you are getting the wider picture. Socialism doesn't guarantee racism, but neither does it offer any sort of protection from it. To claim otherwise is willful blindness to history.

7. The Nazis did not seize all private property and money, so they weren't socialists.

Again, it's vital to review the overall timeline of Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers' Party from the early and perhaps idealistic days of 1919 all the way through the fall of the Third Reich in 1945. For most of the 1920s, Hitler and the Nazis held little by way of political power through which they could have seized anybody's property, but that doesn't mean they didn't advocate for doing so, first in their National Socialists program cited extensively above, but numerous times after that. They did, after all, seize substantial privately owned property in Germany as well as conquered lands, including thousands of businesses, farms and bank accounts.

The fact that they focused first on Jewish businesses is irrelevant to the fact that private property was seized and transferred to the ownership of the state. The fact that Jewish property was at the top of the list of whom to target doesn't make it less Marxist or socialist to do, any more than it would be less socialist to target rich white males, as is currently being proposed by Bernie Sanders and others on the far left. Who you're targeting for confiscation schemes should be a moot point.

It's key to recall who Hitler and the Nazis were. They were socialists by way of economic policies, but staunchly nationalist and staunchly anti-Semitic racists who believed in a German super-race that could only be realized by way of physically purging inferior peoples and blood and by "reclaiming" lands stolen from their rightful Aryan-ancestors. Eric Kurlander powerfully and skillfully provided that history in "Hitler's Monsters," another book every American should read to fully understand the Nazi era.

It is true that once the Nazis came to power and started down their twin paths of political dominance within Germany and military conflict with external forces, Hitler's pragmatic side certainly overwhelmed any traditional or "classic" socialist ideals he may have once held. Surely after the powerful success he'd seen Mussolini seemingly achieve in Italy under fascism, the idea of communal socialism wouldn't have seemed the most efficient way for him to achieve his vision of a blood-pure and massive German super-state.

Note that the Nazis did nationalize dozens of industries and, by law, did have total centralized-control over the means of production … business owners and manufacturers had ownership of their property and factories in name only once the Waffen-SS and stormtroopers were fully in power. So, in his own way, Hitler did achieve Karl Marx-vision of control over the means of production by an all-powerful state. For Hitler, that state was simply imbued in him, instead of in a democratically elected central committee. Hitler's rejection of the authorities of labor unions or of workers' councils shouldn't, then, be viewed as anti-socialist. … Hitler was not in favor of giving any other person or group any authority over his own. Coincidentally, President Xi of China just recently declared himself dictator for life. History seems to love to recycle these themes, no?

Hitler was a pragmatist. He saw the favor of the German aristocracy and wealthy manufacturers (if they were not Jewish) as key to achieving his vision for the Third Reich.

Hitler was a pragmatist. He saw the favor of the German aristocracy and wealthy manufacturers (if they were not Jewish) as key to achieving his vision for the Third Reich. The fact that this meant not being a "perfect" socialist may have occurred to some, but certainly not to him.

8. Hitler was only interested in power, in being a dictator, not in socialist principals of peace and love and equality.

Before I dispense with the peace and love and equality BS … look, a study of Marx is a study about inequality! Marx was a racist, class-warfare-monger whom the average democratic socialist in America today would wholly reject from their social circles and political party.

So, I won't argue this last one, it's just beyond discussion. Socialism isn't nice and peaceful and filled with love and equality. Just stop it. Please pick up a history book and get back to me when you're ready to have a real conversation.

Yet, one final point should be made:

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT "MARXIST" SOCIALISM!!

From the time Marx wrote "The Communist Manifesto" in the 1850s until his death in 1883, Marx never once espoused any version of "perfect" Socialism. As socialist professor Philip Gasper pointed out quite correctly in his 2005 book, "The Communist Manifesto: A Roadmap to the World's Most Important Political Document":

"Marx and Engels never speculated on the detailed organization of a future socialist or communist society. The key task for them was building a movement to overthrow capitalism. If and when that movement was successful, it would be up to the members of the new society to decide democratically how it was to be organized, in the concrete historical circumstances in which they found themselves."

So, for Karl Marx, the "father" of socialism, there is no thing as perfect, idealized, "do it this way or you're not a socialist" socialism.

The primary goal was building a movement to overthrow capitalism. In that Hitler and the Nazis viewed Jewry as capitalistic (as did Marx), it's very likely that Marx would have found them to be wonderfully and perfectly socialist. He did exactly what Marx advised: Take what you got and organize your own brand of socialism against the "concrete historical circumstances" in which they found themselves.

The very statement that "Hitler was not a socialist" by some imaginary perfect socialist checklist is itself a ludicrous notion. Marx never created one, it's only via the magic of a modern veil of anachronistic imagination that one can create such a yardstick by which to make such a claim. And so, we're back where we started, according to Marx himself: The Nazis, including Adolf Hitler, called themselves Socialists. The claimed an all-powerful centralized state power as having authority over the means of production. As such, they were socialists, by Marx' own definition.

In the end, the story follows the Occam's Razor theorem to the "T"…

A younger and idealistic Hitler returning from the Great War believed in and espoused many socialist ideas and political ideals and got together with a bunch of other young people also espousing socialist ideas. As he grew older and gained more political power, he found that those socialist ideas weren't much use when it was time to actually accomplish anything in the real world, so he did what all socialist rulers eventually do — he claimed power by force and used violence to try to achieve his political ends, killing millions of people along the way, all the while still calling himself a socialist. And Marx slept soundly in his grave.

Socialism is the building block that undergirds all forms of modern totalitarianism. But it should never be confused with a large welfare-state safety net. Charity and safety nets can be and should be created for those who cannot fully take care of themselves. As individuals, we have a responsibility to take care of and protect the weakest among us. If we fail to do this we revert back to the laws of the jungle, that leaves its weakest behind for the good of the "pride." Safety nets when done right are uniquely human and humane as still look to help individual.

The human "pride" knows that what ennobles man is that we refuse to leave the weakest behind to be eaten and we certainly could not call ourselves a noble species if our stated goal was to not only leave the weak behind, but to set out to purposely kill any group deemed "inferior" or slowing the pack down. A true safety net empowers anyone that has been kicked to the ground to stand back up. It gives them a hand up as an individual — while they regain their footing.

Socialism at its root is and always must be about the collective. Collective "injustice" in all of its forms. In opposition to a "safety net" for individuals, socialism looks for "groups" of victims and groups of villains. Socialism is at its heart a system that dismisses rights of the one for the gain of the many. Once those the in-group deems vermin, cockroaches, greedy, privileged or problems — anything is justifiable to provide "social justice" to the collective.

In western society, traditional western liberalism stand against the collective mob and as a protector of the individual. Once one understands why socialism is defined as a "stepping stone," you will begin to understand why the story usually ends in mass graves of enemies or starvation. Create a collective at the expense of the individual and it becomes a playground for those who seek power and riches at any cost, justifying every evil they commit in the name of the collective they are supposedly defending.

So yes, Virginia, Hitler really was a socialist. Tragically, a very successful one.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!

Ryan: Elizabeth Warren does the Wing Ding

Photo by Sean Ryan

Two thousand people yipped and howled as Elizabeth Warren bounced onto the stage like it was a stairmaster and she was a gym rat.

Sold out. Maximum capacity. Whole place writhing, all 30,000 square feet, with tight rows of folding chairs like checkers on the dancefloor big as a Walgreens.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Under the disco ball that hung from the dark blue ceiling, the crowd screamed like Warren was Led Zeppelin and the year was 1970, when really she was a 70-year-old Senator and this was a fundraiser called Wing Ding, in Clear Lake, Iowa, at the Surf Ballroom, where Buddy Holly spent the last few cold hours of his life.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Warren did not stand behind the podium like Biden or Bernie Sanders.

She was a yoga grandma! A rapping pastor! A beat-boxing cop! An energetic manager! A cat who thinks it's a puppy!
It was like she needed to move around the stage and wave her arms and fire up the congregation or else the floor would belch into lava.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Iowa would work its magic on Warren. By the end of the weekend, she emerged as a top contender, a position she'd maintain with alacrity, then build on.

In her turquoise blazer and her shoes-that-meant-business, she strolled out to the edge of the stage and gave her speech like a natural-born specialist of hootenanny.

Only thing missing was The Who's "Teenage Wasteland," or, better yet, that "Sail away, sail away, sail away" song by Enya.
Warren was a car commercial, the kind directed at Millenials, with plastic indie rock and a phony "who gives a shit" vibe. She was expensive cheese from right around the corner. She was Nancy Sinatra, but without Lee Hazelwood.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Voice like a stack of hay catching fire, she made promises. She riled the crowd. And it was an odd sight, the way these meek folks attempted to get rowdy. The way they grimaced and writhed, it was like seeing the reclusive kid volunteer to be the mascot.

It was like they were trying to match the intensity of Trump rallies. No politician has been able to do that so far. The man fills arenas, for God's sake. And his supporters wait for hours outside hoping to get inside. Then he makes them wait. Let's the place get feverish.

Until people are so psyched that they literally cannot remain seated, and they stand their eagerly for thirty minutes, gasping every time a song ends with the hope it means he has arrived.

The Wing Dinger — God bless them — just didn't have that dragon energy, that ravenous devotion. Have you ever seen that show "Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job"? The people in the ballroom were hyperventilating and spazzing like characters from Tim & Eric. The whole occasion would have been a pickpocket's dream.

Variously, they bulged and shuffled and freestyled to themselves. Who gave the kids sugar cookies at the Baptist youth sleepover? You know they can't handle it, you know they get twitchy, so manic it's almost violent.

And that fed Warren, revved her manic engines.

Full speech: Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding www.youtube.com

If this had been the 1980s, I would have suspected everyone there had spent all day railing cocaine. And Warren would be the Sly Stone of the event, guarding the vault full of drugs.

If only she could have pulled out a guitar and played AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" or performed a duet with a cat on a keyboard. My dad and I had arrived late, and both of us struggled to relax our eyebrows because this scene was unbelievable. It must have been especially odd for my father, who emigrated from Ireland at 33.

And right now he was frowning because it was so loud in there.

As Warren shouted into a handheld mic, my dad turned to me, almost upset, "Who is she?" he asked, but before I could answer, he said, "I do not like that woman."

*

When Warren was 12 years old, her father suffered a debilitating heart attack.

He didn't die, but he wouldn't be able to work for years.

The medical bills got so bad that Warren'sfamily nearly lost their home. The car was repossessed. Those were gritty, emaciating days.

Her older brothers joined the military. Her mother got a minimum wage job at Sears. And, at 13, Warren started waiting tables.

She grew up in Oklahoma, where I myself was raised, so I can tell you that it is the Cinderella of States. My personal favorite. At night, the stars croon down over you like they are checking on their infant in its crib and you are that infant. Much like Iowans, people from Oklahoma tend to be kind, and patient, and wild like Americans ought to be.

*

When Warren was growing up, Oklahoma was a Blue State. Her family wasn't Republican. And, these days, Warren is considered a progressive.

But her worldview has evolved over the past few decades.

Photo by Sean Ryan

As a girl, she had seen the effects of bankruptcy firsthand. But her early conclusions led her to personal responsibility. After all, she had taken a job at 13 to help pay her dad's medical bills.

One of Warren's former students, told reporters that, "What changed [Warren's ideology] was the stories of ordinary people filing for bankruptcy. That speaks really well of her that she was presented with information contrary to her worldview and adopted it."
Before that, she leaned right, politically. Or, in the words of one of her best friends growing up, "Liz was a diehard conservative in those days."

Another friend called her an "ice-cold Republican."

A colleague at the University of Texas in Austin, where she worked in the early 1980s, said that "Liz was sometimes surprisingly anti-consumer in her attitude."

Another colleague said "I remember the first time I became aware of her as a political person and heard her speak, I almost fell off my chair. She's definitely changed. It's absolutely clear that something happened."

Until 1996, when she was 47 years old, Warren was a registered Republican.

And I do not mean this in a snarky way. Opposite. It's admirable when people undergo personal change. We have to. It's a matter of survival. A person who never evolves is blinded by hubris and destined to fail.

Longtime Warren collaborator Jay Westbrook has told reporters, "It drives me crazy when she's described as a radical left-winger.

She moved from being moderately conservative to being moderately liberal. When you look at consumer debt and what happens to consumers in America, you begin to think the capitalist machine is out of line."

At some point she got pregnant for the first time, setting in motion a series of events that may have involved discrimination, or may have been a fabrication she has since used in stump speeches as a heart-tugging anecdote.

As far as controversies go, it's as goofy and PG-rated as her onstage persona.

Who cares if she lied for the sake of a story and the benefit of victimhood? Trump lies constantly. Politicians lie constantly. It's part of the reason public trust in government has sunk lower than ever before.

No, it's not morally acceptable that politicians are habitually dishonest. But the outrage aimed at Warren isn't actually about that, is it?

*

Warren won state debate champion in high school. Shortly after graduating, at 19, she married Jim Warren, a mathematician who worked for IBM, then NASA.

The two dated when Elizabeth was 13 and Jim was 17. Warren chose marriage over a full-ride to the prestigious George Washington University.

Three years later, she gave birth to her first daughter. You can find the picture of her in the hospital bed, surrounded by white sheets, her eyes an oceanic blue, glowing as she holds her baby for the first time, a technicolor sash around her left shoulder.

She focused on being a mom for two years, then put herself through law school at Rutgers. At her graduation, she was eight months pregnant. Most airlines won't allow women so close to their due date.

After ten years of marriage and two children, her husband divorced her.

Warren hadn't expected it. One night, she asked her husband, "Do you want a divorce" and he said yes, even though she'd been asking in that, "Something's wrong but surely things aren't so bad" kind of way.

Imagine the enormity and disbelief she must have felt as her husband said he'd be leaving her. The kind of moment that gives a person vertigo.

Warren tried to revive the marriage, but her husband had given up. Before long he moved out, quit smoking, got super into dancing, then remarried.

Politicians tend to mention tragedies only as evidence for a policy stance. Or occasionally these stories will appear in a candidate profile. Or you can read the ice-cold Encyclopedia version.

I always wonder about the desperation people suffered in those moments that must have seemed so long, the quiet after bitter words or desperate outbursts. The enormity they must have felt.

In moments of trauma, we become intensely aware of the noises and smells and colors and momentos around us. What was the first object Warren noticed after hearing her husband say, "Yes"?

She has since said that she and Jim never really fought. That she didn't blame him for leaving. But that they just didn't work out. "I can't imagine anybody putting up with me over long periods. It's why I can never be cranky about Jim. I get it."

Still, a marriage has to be fairly bad for a couple with young children to divorce. But even an amicable divorce is devastating. It marks the death of a love that had once been good enough and deep enough for two people to bind themselves together, if only by law.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Now, Warren was a single mother. Surely, at times, that was lonesome. She must have felt moments of intense waywardness.

There must have been anxious nights, lonely mornings, swarming with memories about life as it was, all those plans for the future that must feel so naive in hindsight.

Warren's quirkiness has made her an easy piñata for her rivals.

But I just think about her, alone in a room, folding clothes or staring off, blinking and slouching there alone, and I feel disgust for politics as a bloodsport.

What do rancor or invective get us in the end? A winner who trounced a loser? What is the human cost? Not just for the people being targeted, but for the world as we'd like it.

Why isn't it enough to disagree with an opponent? Why does there have to be humiliation?

And if it's wrong from one politician, it's wrong from them all.

A person can't decry the abuse that President Trump faces — which is daunting in intensity and volume — then cheer him on when he's doing the same exact thing.

Somebody is going to have to take a slap or two to the face and not react, but it would accomplish far more than a vitriolic comeback.

At this point, three years into Trump's Presidency, there was no way to tell who started it and who was just reacting, so everyone involved in the fight was guilty.

In other words, people could no longer blame Trump for how the selfsame persona they had taken in response.

To quote Morrisey, "It's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate. It takes strength to be gentle and kind."

When the ram charges straight for you, all you have to do is take a step to the left or the right and off the angry bastard goes, headfirst into the ground. Do that a few times and you'll get more support than you might expect.

Which, I'm not saying to never fight. Conflict is healthy. Passivism can be worse than violence. To fight is to live honorably. But only if justice is the reason for fighting.

If the ram is coming at you because it wants to silence or control you, grit your teeth, chalk up your horns, lower your head, and go to battle. Courage and morality are vastly different than bravado and self-righteousness.

As Tolstoy wrote in his novel War and Peace, "If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war."

*

Two years later, Warren married Bruce Mann, a law professor. They've been married ever since.

For nearly three decades, she taught law, mostly at Harvard.

Then, she shifted to politics. In 2008, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appointed her to a congressional panel. Two years later, she became a special advisor to Barack Obama, who had selected her as special adviser to the Treasury secretary, but stopped short of nominating her as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Shortly after, she resigned. A month later, she announced her Congressional bid, which gained momentum after her speech at that year's Democratic National Convention.

In 2013, she was elected senior Senator of Massachusetts after beating Republican incumbent Scott Brown with 53 percent of the vote. She would go on to win a second term in 2018, this time with 60 percent.

Every candidate has a stain. Warren's happens to have led to mockery. For years, she claimed Native American heritage. For many of the right, it was yet another example of the left's allegiance to identity politics.

The left was more concerned with the way the issue come to attention to begin with, after remarks President Trump made during an event honoring Navajo code talkers. As has become the norm, many of the country's leading news outlets ran scathing anti-Trump op-eds that they labeled as hard news.

In other words, opinion was being packaged as fact. In other words, propaganda. Like the passive-aggressive tone of this Washington Post article.

Which is certainly not the right way to handle injustice. And is certainly not journalistically sound.

Once again, the media's blatant disdain of Trump only served to further empower him. Gave him more proof of fake news. And allowed him to justify, in the eyes of his followers, the repeated use of the Warren's nickname.

Worst of all, it widened the distance between the news media and the portion of the American public they'd long ago lost access to.

Likewise, conservative news outlets pounced with an air of, "See? I knew it all along?"

And responded with a different version of the same aggression used by the media. Outlets like FoxNews played up their masterful victim narrative, the idea that the mainstream media has a stranglehold on America, despite the fact that FoxNews has long been the dominant news source of the mainstream media they claim to be a victim of.

Photo by Sean Ryan

This feedback loop played out until Elizabeth Warren's genetics became a national conversation.

Last year Warren released a DNA test that revealed sher to be only between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native America. Fellow democratic candidate Corey Booker — a Senator from New Jersey — has more Native American DNA than Warren. And, unfortunately for Warren, the nickname that President Trump gave her gained more power.

During an interview on MSNBC, Warren said, "It is deeply unfortunate that the President of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur. Donald Trump does this over and over thinking somehow he is going to shut me up with it. It hasn't worked in the past, it isn't going to work out in the future."

In a bizarre twist, Warren's ex-husband was a pioneer in the field of genetics and helped make the technology accessible to the public when he co-founded FamilyTreeDNA, which sells genetic testing kits.

*

Across the street from the Surf Ballroom, 300 yards from the entrance, a Trump 2020 sign the size of a front door glared out, impossible to avoid.

Photo by Sean Ryan

It's a power play in line with Trump's own combat style — which, again, there's nothing wrong with a good fight, even if there is some dirty fighting, but why did it have to be all of the time? And why had everyone joined in on it?

*

Warren began her presidential campaign on Febraury 8, 2019, with a rally in Lawrence, Massachusetts, at the site of the 1912 Bread and Roses textile strike, a two-month-long standoff that led to 296 arrests.

Three people died, an Italian immigrant, who was shot in the chest. A Lithuanian immigrant who was beaten to death for wearing a pro-labor lapel pin. And a Syrian boy who was bayoneted in the spine.

The strike takes its name from a James Oppenheim poem.

"As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,For they are women's children, and we mother them again."

*

As Warren drove her speech to a close, Kamala Harris paced down the long ramp by the side of the stage, then walked through a curtain that divided the hallway from backstage, then into the crowded ballroom, immediately surrounded by cameras, lights, hands, selfies.

Ten feet behind the curtain, Joe Biden shifted at the side of the stage, chatting with several people in brand-new Biden 2020 shirts, and waiting to go on.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Each candidate had 10 minutes or so, which Biden, like most of the other candidates, would use to insult Trump and fumbled through his "President's words matter" speech, two days after his "poor kids are just as talented as white kids" comment, and I wondered if everyone else found the irony as hilarious as I did.

Now Warren was pounding her fist.

The already hysterical crowd became even more incensed with each of her words. It was the first moment I realized that Warren actually had a shot at winning the nomination.

*

Of all the towns we visited while in Iowa, Clear Lake was the most puzzling. It didn't feel like the rest of what we'd seen. It didn't resemble any other town in the country, far as I can say. Just a general ideal for "lovely American town."

Maybe Clint Eastwood's Carmel, California, or the wealthy part of Charlotte, North Carolina, or the gorgeous shaded Rice Village neighborhood of Houston, Texas.

Warren shuffled offstage and shook hands with Biden.

Then cue the Bruce Springsteen song. And somebody hurry up and push the button that activates Biden's facelift.

"The words that Presidents speak matter," said Biden. And some of the crowd were hearing him say it for the first time.

Warren gabbed with a lady in a floral dress backstage. They held hands like sisters. After a minute or so, she vanished backstage. Then the whole gig was finished. Closing time had come.

Andrew Yang hung out in the lobby after all the other candidates left. He took selfies. Talked policy. Behind him, young people in Yang 2020 shirts and hats that said "MATH" handed out Yang money.

He hugged. He laughed.

People puttered out of the Surf Ballroom in no sort of hurry, giddy in their candidate t-shirts, ready to effect change, to dethrone Trump.

The air had a gentle sway, tilted by a northern cold that felt winter-like, especially for August.

Right as the last big group of Wing Dingers walked out of the Surf Ballroom, a small car drove by, windows down, packed with young men who kept shouting, "Vote for Trump, baby!"

Then, stalled at a stop sign, the driver revved the engine and spun the tires, and as it sped off, one of the guys in the back seat shouted "Trump 2020, bitches."

New installments of this series on the 2020 elections come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

He may not be a super hero like he plays in the movies, but Chris Pratt is proving once again why he's a hero to so many. The silver screen protector of the universe announced on his Instagram page a contest that will benefit the Brain Treatment Foundation, who is a partner of Mercury One that does amazing work with veterans. The Brain Treatment Foundation specializes in helping combat veterans who are suffering from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The contest asks fans to donate $10 to the foundation for a chance to win a trip to drop in on the Guardians of the Galaxy star on the set of his new film Tomorrow War.

Watch his video below to hear all the details.


Ryan: The Ascent of Kanye West

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Apollo, god of poetry, light, prophecy, dance. Star of Greek mythology, rivaled only by Zeus, his father. God of justice. God of purification, knowledge, healing. God of the Sun. But most of all, god of music. So they called him the Leader of the Muses.

And on a bright Sunday morning midway through November, at the tail end of a decade, Kanye West looked out at the congregation of Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, a 16,000-seater originally built for the Houston Rockets, and said, "Jesus has won the victory: Now the greatest artist God ever created is now working for him."

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye's newest album, Jesus Is King, had been out for three weeks, and like every Kanye album, it was controversial, as adored as it was unaccepted.

Critics had shown a mostly tepid response, but nobody could tell if their disinterest was genuine, or if it was politically motivated.

After all, for the past year, Kanye had once again managed to penetrate the epicenter of American society. The last two Presidents had literally shamed and cursed Kanye, but, still, who could've guessed he would befriend this one?

Photo by Caroline Ryan

The week after Kanye's Olsteen appearance, at the House impeachment hearings, as the entire country watched and listened, Congressmen and diplomats would mention longtime Kanye collaborator A$AP Rocky no less than five times, in casual reference to the Kardashians and the deal between Trump and Sweden, struck at the urging of Kanye West.

Meanwhile, Jesus is King became the ninth consecutive Kanye album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 — a feat he shares with Eminem and The Beatles — and the sixth time in the 2010s alone. And, to be fair, his only studio album not to debut at number one was The College Dropout, his first, which went triple platinum and earned the third-most Grammy nominations in one night, winning Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song with "Jesus Walks."

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Jesus is King was also the first record ever to top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, Rap Albums, Christian Albums, and Gospel Albums simultaneously. All eleven tracks charted on the US Billboard 100, joining the other 96 Kanye songs to have landed on the Top 100.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

This album was different, and not just because of Kenny G. For the first time, Kanye was not a god or a self-destructive fallen angel. He was a father, a husband, a son, and, most important, a man full of belief, with his hands outstretched, surrounded by a choir.

"I remember sitting in the hospital at UCLA after having a breakdown," he told the congregation, "and there's documentations of me drawing a church and writing about starting a church in the middle of Calabasas."

That night, following an afternoon of ice-skating at the Galleria, Kanye returned to Lakewood Church and performed a concert. Imagine hearing a his electro-gospel opera in an arena designed, acoustically, for professional basketball games. Only better, because everything had been padded. With LSD graphics on the swirly blue carpet.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When we experience art, it changes us.

So there I was, four rows from the stage, crying in front of FoxNews. Because Kanye had brought his Sunday Service choir with him, and they were singing "Ultralight Beam," one of the few perfect songs ever made, a song that played during my wedding ceremony, the song my daughter, God willing, will be born to, a song I have never once listened to without at least tearing up.

“Jesus Is King" A Sunday Service Experience at Lakewood Church with Kanye West youtu.be

"This is a God dream, this is a God dream. This is everything."

Kanye was the only person onstage dressed in his own clothing, a neatened blazer. The choir were draped in grey, like holy silhouettes.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

So who cares about FoxNews and their snotty reporters in their shoulder-padded blazers. The rest of us had drifted into the immediacy of it all. And I wasn't about to play stoic journalist here. I wasn't a reporter first and a human or an American later.

The choir zigzagged on the loft flanking the stage. Each of them had a headset microphone, like Garth Brooks.

God only knew how they sang so perfectly. How did they project their voices like that? More beautiful than anything we had ever heard, more beautiful than water.

After "Ultralight Beam," it was "Every Hour," the mesmeric opening track of Jesus Is King.

Sing every hour, Every minute, Every second, Sing each and every millisecond, We need you

Every Hour youtu.be

The performance felt all the more sacred because this was church, where people gathered to lose themselves, to sing as a chorus, to confront who they really are.

Across the street, one protestor stood hollering.

Meanwhile thousands of people waited at the entrance, giddy to get in. They would join us in no time. Soon, they would fill every seat in this church.

*

That morning, Kanye told Olsteen,

"It's like the devil stole all the good producers, all the good musicians, all the good artists, all the good designers, all the good business people and said, 'you gotta come over and work for me.' And now the trend, the shift, is going to change."

Jesus Is King was the result of a new cultural and artistic movement that more or less started with 2016's Life of Pablo, Kanye's closeted gospel album. Which was a surprising departure from 2013's Yeezus, with its tangled social commentary and fashionable solipsism. And that drum sound, the one every half-decent producer has spent the last six years failing to emulate.

The 2010's saw him grow more cerebral. He even teased a book of philosophy titled Break the Simulation.

Then, in 2018, he released Ye, the second of five albums in a Kanye-produced series, all recorded at his Wyoming studio. In keeping with the criticisms of hip-hop he voiced on "Ye vs. The People"

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye eschewed many of the themes he'd embraced for so long, replacing them with meditations on mental illness, fatherhood, suicide, love, and addiction. The album's working title had been "LOVE EVERYONE."

On "I Thought About Killing You," he raps,

The most beautiful thoughts are always beside the darkest.

The title "Ye" is not just the diminutive of "Kanye."

As he said in an interview

I believe 'ye' is the most commonly used word in the Bible, and, in the Bible, it means 'you,' so it's [saying] "I'm you, I'm us, it's us." It went from being Kanye, which means the only one, to just ye – just being a reflection of our good, our bad, our confused, everything, that I'm just more of a reflection of who we are, just as beings.

Philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer wrote that

All individuality is a manifestation of universal life, and hence everyone carries a tiny bit of everyone else with him, so that divination is simulated by comparison with oneself.

In the months following the release of Ye, Kanye would live out this idea, and build his own movement, a reflection of who we are, then begin his church in Calabasas.

*

At 10:30 that morning, the three of us — Samantha Sullivan, my wife Caroline, and me —- strolled into the arena and claimed seats in the media section.

That place resembled the inside of an ant colony. We were three ants.

The service began with errorless music, then shifted into a quick, stirring message by Osteen, who always seemed to appear onstage from nowhere, privvy to the kind of big-money stage tricks you find at a Shania Twain concert.

The entire place and all the Jumbo-Trons and all the people, it all had a cinematic presence.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

A preliminary giddiness spread through the room. Then, Kanye emerged, there on the stage, and the place erupted.

A man in a "Jesus is King" shirt danced around his seat.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Everyone took their seats, but one man standing in the crowd shouted affirmations. "Speak truth my brother," he shouted.

The man shouted several more times, then Kanye politely told the guy to hold off on the support because it wasn't helping, because Kanye needed relative quiet to capture and release his flow.

The ceiling glowed in skittish purple.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye described the corrupting force of the media. A chill came over the room. Behind him, the unapologetic blue of Jesus Is King.

It was my first encounter with Joel Osteen, and I was surprised and somewhat baffled to find him likeable, based on everything I'd ever heard about the man.

Kanye said as much, that Osteen is nothing like the version of Osteen many people have broadcast.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Osteen laughed, "When you've got Kanye defending you, you've made it, man."

Rays of light danced through the arena. I'm talking Pink Floyd light show levels.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

With 21 Grammys, Kanye is tied with Jay-Z as the most decorated hip-hop artist of all time.

Osteen asked Kanye what he would say to his younger self, if he could go back in time.

"You know, it's nothing I can say to the younger Kanye through words," he said. "I could speak to the younger Kanye through music."

*

Osteen played the middle section of "God Is," arguably the focal point of the album.

And Kanye danced and rapped along with it. And the surreality of the situation was daunting. Was that really Kanye West up there? with Joel Osteen? dancing to his gospel song?

Six or seven years ago, I saw Kanye a mile away at the Toyota Center — coincidentally, the current home of the Houston Rockets — for his and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne tour. It was a much different experience than this.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When Kanye finished, the media flooded out. As did a quarter of the people in the congregation. This bothered many of the regulars.

Security and ushers yanked big grey mop buckets from cabinets, and dispersed them down aisles, and money music played.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Then the time for prayer. Prayer leaders lined the walls and pews. And anyone could walk over to them and pray. Men and women clung to strangers, crying sometimes, hugging. Holding hands, whispering phrases.

*

One of the media coordinators pulled us out of the sermon, led us through passageways and elevators, past classrooms and security guards, through a black sheet, then behind a barricade.

This is where all the media had rushed off to like old folks trying to get the best seat for bingo.

Each news outlet was allowed one question.

After 15 minutes, the energy changed and you could tell they were near.

Then, Kim Kardashian-West was walking our way, holding her daughter's hand, followed by Kanye, who was followed by Osteen.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

"Nice tags," Kanye said, referring to my "GOOD" necklace.

Then:

Brief interview with Kanye West and Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church, Nov. 17 in Houston, TX www.youtube.com

Some of the outlets asked more than one question, but that was on them. They were the ones sinning in church.

*

As Kanye and Olsteen shuffled away, down the line of journalists, I said hello to a small crew from FoxNews as they packed their equipment.

"We're from TheBlaze," I said, smiling. To which they sneered and glanced at one another then got back to their conversation.
Samantha rolled her eyes and the three of us wandered around for an exit.

"Did we just get stiff-armed by Fox News?" Said one of us. "I didn't think they were allowed to look down on anybody."
"I've had that with people from Fox on several occasions," one of us replied.

"I mean, I thought I was doing them a favor a favor by acknowledging them. Nobody else does."

Then it happened again, a few minutes later, this time with someone we had worked with, someone who knew us.
You bet we were salty.

Bad as it felt to be judged like that, it was good to be underestimated. A relief. It meant we could perform without anyone caring or watching.

They had no idea who we were or what we were really doing. Good.

*

In November 2007, Kanye's mother died during a routine surgery. He and his mom, Dr. Donda West, had always been incredibly close. She raised him alone, after Kanye's father left, when Kanye was three.

A few months later, his engagement with Alexis Phifer abruptly ended.

He was 30 at the time.

Oddly, this tragic sequence of events would cause the birth of auto-tune in rap. Broken-hearted, Kanye wanted to sing. So he ran his voice through a vocoder.

Kanye's album 808s & Heartbreak, which like Jesus is King has no curse words, shoved music ahead at least two decades, into a world of synth-driven robotic R&B/Rap love songs belted out in janky auto-tune. That description doesn't sound ridiculous today. But that's only because Kanye eschewed the stale hip-hop of the early 2000s and reinvented the genre, something he has accomplished with every album.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Then, he went on tour. But he never took off any time following his mother's death. And, by the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, he'd fallen to what he calls his sunken place.

He and then-girlfriend Amber Rose brought a bottle of Hennessy with them to the award show. They took slugs in the limo. Then on the red carpet.

When Taylor Swift won the award for Best Female Video, Kanye stormed the podium, sunglasses on, and grabbed the microphone, said "Imma let you finish," then let everyone know the award should've gone to Beyoncé, for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."

He was kicked out immediately. He tweeted, "Everybody wanna booooo me but I'm a fan of real pop culture... I'm not crazy y'all, I'm just real."

Followed by an apology. Then a few days later, during an appearance on debut episode of "The Jay Leno Show"

Leno asked Kanye, "What do you think [your mom] would have said about this?"

That hit Kanyelike a punch to the jaw. He teared up, froze.

He publicly apologized to Swift. Several times.

But it did little to quell the blowback. Once again, it felt like the entire nation hated Kanye. Compounded by a hot-mic recording of Barack Obama — the country's first black President — calling Kanye a jackass.

So the embattled Kanye retreated to Hawaii to record a masterpiece, 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

*

"We are a Christian country," Kanye said at one point, to uproarious applause.

The vast majority of Americans, 90 percent, believe in a higher power.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

And America has the largest number of Christians in the world, with roughly 167,000,000, comprising 65-to-70 percent of the population. But that's down from 80 percent, as part of a downward trend over the last two decades.

The percent of Americans who attend a religious service of any kind — church, synagogue, or mosque — is even lower, less than half.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

One political scientist blamed the public's growing distrust in institutions. Another blamed conservatives. A writer from New York Magazine took it a step further.

Meanwhile, David French.

As always, the issue is far more nuanced than either side will admit.

Somehow, in the last twenty years, church and religion had become not just uncool, but slightly villainous.

All day, every time I looked around — at people singing, at people dancing, at people crying in joy or in the relief and recognition of their pain — I thought, "How could this ever be a bad thing?"

Photo by Caroline Ryan

I had spent my life going to concerts, had seen Kanye West numerous times, and this was something other than a concert, and unlike anything I'd seen from Kanye. It was also more than just religious or spiritual.

A family of strangers in a city of 6 million, in a world of 7-and-a-half billion, broadcast live, led by a man who fought off the devil in front of us for years. Who struggled with life just like we do, only we could nitpick through the one-way mirrors of our phones and our TVs.

But, now, he had been baptized in public.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Some people were still negative about Kanye's recent faith, especially Christians. As Kanye raps on "Hands On"

What have you been hearin' from the Christians?
They'll be the first one to judge me
Make it feel like nobody love me

Consensus was, they couldn't believe him. As a Kanye fan since I was 13, I can tell you that he is genuine. It's really his only setting. Plus, his spiritual transformation has been building for quite some time.

*

By the time we returned to Lakewood that evening, the sky had turned dark blue, and frantic with airplanes.

The sidewalks around the arena overflowed with people. Police cars jutted out in crooked lines to block entrances or exits, the strobe of red-white-blue whirling onto pedestrians' faces.

Across the street, facing the giant arena, a man with a bullhorn ranted about the evils of sinful music.

Earlier that day, sheepish protestors had occupied the spot, holding red poster-sized letters that spelled out "I M P E A C H." There were only four of them, though, so they had to double up and share, and sometimes the "H" slanted down or the "I" slipped loose.

"Impeach Kanye?" one of us said, laughing.

"Kanye 2020," shouted someone.

The air was electric. People bounced when they stepped, or walked faster than normal, or turned oddly as they spoke like a third-year professor.

They sang along as they passed traffic-jam cars, most of which were blasting Kanye.

A chorus of police whistles and the usual rumble of semi-trucks passing on US-59. Just down the street, porn shops and strip clubs and a Ferrari dealership. Immediately Southwest, the Mahatma Ghandi District. West, the Galleria, home of the opulent Galleria mall, where Kanye and Kim and family gone ice-skating earlier.

Inside the arena, a different world, low-lit and glowing. A dreamscape of lambent crimsons and violets, a deeper, warmer, slower take on the lights atop the police cars outside. Globular squares of blue were arrayed along the ceiling.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When the musicians emerged to their instruments, the arena was still half-empty. The show had already been delayed 40 minutes. The demand to get in was so ferocious that the security gate was jammed up like a glass Ketchup jar.

Then, like spirits, men and women drifted onstage in all-grey uniforms and matching hats that looked like they should say "VIETNAM VETERAN" but actually said "Sunday Service."

Every single member wore brand-new grey YEEZY Boosts.

From the start, the performance was cinematic, a sort of new-world opera sung by a chorus of young American muses with nose rings or gold chains or dreadlocks or pink hair.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

From the huddle, a young man rose, and began reciting a poem. It was the invocation of the muse.

Gadamer wrote that poetry "becomes a test of what is true, in that the poem awakens a secret life in words that had seemed to be used up and worn out, and tells us of ourselves"

*

After a whirling rendition of Carl Orff's "O Fortuna," the choir began "Ultralight Beam."

They let the song spread. It grew enormous.

The air swirled as the song widened.

Kanye waited out of view, then appeared without ceremony.

A collective gasp when people recognized the melody of Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed." Which sounds like a dream already, with all that wilderness.

So it was even stranger when the song morphed into SWV's "Weak," a skating rink anthem written by Charlie Wilson of the GAP Band. A classic.

The choir were their own countervailing force. Yet they also connected us to the drama of the performance.
Looking back, I wish I could live in those moments forever.

*

Then came their cover of "Father Stretch My Hands" by Pastor T.L. Barrett And the Youth for Christ Choir.

Father Stretch My Hands www.youtube.com

Kanye has paid homage to Barrett's track on two different songs, from two different albums.

It was his prayer.

Pastor T.L. Barrett, a man who's lived an exciting and at times difficult life, only to become a Pentecostal preacher on Chicago's south side, and form a choir of 40 teenagers from his weekly choir practice.

If you dive into Barrett, you'll better understand what Kanye is doing.

*

Ten seats from Kim Kardashian-West, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX) stared ahead in a neat grey suit, occasionally poking at his phone and blasting people on Twitter.

Which means there were at least two people in the building who have appeared on Saturday Night Live.

There were other politicians, including Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick. And even more at the earlier service. You could tell they were politicians the same you can tell a vegan burger from a real Whopper. Several times, Kanye held up his phone up and read the words from his newer songs.

Like "Selah," which built into "Hallelujah"s at the end, intoxicating and perfect, like being sucked into an undertow. Which led into "Follow God," a continuation of "Father I Stretch My Hands."

Kanye uses the image of stretched hands to express his own submission and the process that leads to his healing. As a reference to John 21:18

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.

But the song is also about Kanye's literal father, and an argument they had. Then, under it all, he adds a sample of "Can You Lose By Following God" by Whole Truth. He ended the song with his Kanye shriek, somewhat confusing and abrasive with a choir present.

Then — something I did not expect. The thumping bass of Cajmere's "Brighter Days (Underground Goodie Mix)."

And now this was cosmic gospel.

It felt like a rave. Have you been to a rave? It's people dancing, taking MDMA. That is what it felt like.

Flourishes like that were part of Kanye's genius. No other gospel performance would dare. You won't find that kind of diversity at any other hip-hop show, either. The acoustic instruments, the choir. Maybe during a set by electronic musicians like Moodyman or DJ Koze. But, no choir. Yet here Kanye was, at Joel Osteen's church, blasting classic techno.

Oddly enough, though, the most popular song of the night was "Closed on Sunday," Kanye's ode to Chic-Fil-A.

Everyone in the arena knew the words. So then there were two choirs, in a dialogue. I didn't think it was possible, but the collective harmony got even more intense and engulfing than it had all night. So much so that the house speakers started to peak in one corner of the arena.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

The Ancient Greeks were the first to use a chorus. In the 5th Century B.C., 50 actors would gather in the orchestra pit and sing in unison, commenting on the action of the play, describing scenes to the audience. They were a collective force. They represented one character, who was able to connect the audience to the characters and events onstage.

Kim Kardashian was front and center filming with her phone, as two of the West kids jumped around on the trippy blue carpet.

The performance was nearing its end, and suddenly Kanye was dressed like everybody else in the choir. Grey Yeezy kit and the Sunday Service hat. His transformation. From Kanye West to Pastor Ye, stretching hands.

Then, he was gone.
One by one, the choir began fluttering off the stage, to the Clark Sisters' "You Brought the Sunshine."

Half were gone, when I noticed the singer with braided hair crying. With every exhale, she collapsed her hands into the floor. Let them fall like tired flowers. Arrayed in fitful blue. She gasped. She heaved her shoulders like a wingspan. For a moment it was like she would actually take flight.

A security guard peered over the railing from above the stage. He looked like God.Symbolically, he was.

New installments of this series on the 2020 elections come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com