But too often words can just as easily cause confusion, misunderstanding, and conflict among people in any society. One such word that keeps causing this type of confusion and conflict is "socialism." What does it mean, what forms has it taken, and why does it generate so much intellectual "heat" rather than "light?"
This has come up, again, in a recent article by Ronald J. Granieri, who is research director of the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, on why, "The Right Needs to Stop Falsely Claiming that the Nazis were Socialists" (Washington Post, December 5, 2020).
Denying that National Socialism was "Socialist"
He seethes with frustration that those he calls on the political "right" attempt to classify the German Nazi regime of the 1930s and 1940s as "socialist." Yes, the formal name of the Nazi Party was the National Socialist German Workers Party. But in his view, while the Nazis did impose an extensive degree of government intervention and control over the private sector, "their 'socialism' was at best a secondary element in their appeal."