That good old word doesn’t mean what it used to.

From Facebook, where an idiot tries to conflate Nazis and modern conservatives by stating as apparent fact

Nonetheless, in the early 20th century, Nazis and Communists loathed each other, and Naziism [sic] was almost universally perceived in Europe to be a far right movement.

The party included both some conservative figures (or so they proclaimed themselves) such as Himmler although Goebbels was more lefty.

Hitler did not consider himself to be either conservative or liberal.

Most historians still treat Naziism [sic] as ultra-far-right, and Communism as ultra-far-left.

This is so wrong, it makes me weep.

The main problem with calling Nazis conservative in the 21st century — or even in the last half of the 20th century — is that the definition of conservative has changed since the Nazis were defeated in 1945.

We on the right used to be known as liberals, because we were about liberal (small, freedom-oriented) government that preserved the rights of the people. The progressive socialists appropriated that good old term back in the ’50s and turned it into a by-word for government overreach and the subjugation of personal liberties into a welfare state where everyone would be equally poor (except for the elites at the top).

If a conservative today reads Hayek, for example, he can easily become confused because Hayek constantly refers to “liberals” and “liberal government”. That’s because Hayek was writing on the very cusp of the definitional change, when those who believed in small government, widely-defined rights, and personal freedom were still considered “liberal”.

Nazis, in their day, might well have been considered “conservative” because conservatives in their day were generally the people who opposed progress and preferred limited freedoms and rights for the masses. Conservatism meant “we don’t want change”, and for Nazis, all of the changes made since the First World War — particularly the secularization of the Jewish population and its integration into German society — were unacceptable changes. Thus the reaction, when Weimar finally failed, was to blame everything on those changes, and ultimately on the Jews.

Unfortunately, it is far too late for classical Hayekian liberals (whom we today call conservatives) to reclaim that noble word “liberal” from the progressives who have turned it into little more than a watchword for oppression.