Political Onomastics: What’s in a name?

Names are important.  They reveal much about the internal thought process and intentions of those who choose them.  Most people do not choose their own personal names; but the founders of philosophies and also parties, movements, and other organizations certainly must encapsulate in no more than a few words just who they are and what they stand for.  Consider these ten examples:

  1. Adolf Hitler, Germany:  National Socialism (Nationalsozialismus), emphasizing his synthesis of the national (i.e. ethnic) idea with the social one, by which he sought to destroy both Communism and Capitalism and build a country by Germans, for Germans, based on the German past and holding as its highest objective German posterity.  Full name of political party:  National Socialist German Worker’s Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP), so named to emphasize its foundation in the working-class (and renamed from simply the German Worker’s Party, after Adolf Hitler became party leader and gave it a new National Socialist doctrine).
  2. Benito Mussolini, Italy:  Fascism (fascismo), a very pointed reference to the Roman fasces with all their rich ancient symbolism.  Full name of political party:  National Fascist Party (Partito Nazionale Fascista), also highlighting the national ideal.  Later, after the King of Italy treated him to some royal treason, Il Duce founded the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana), so named to emphasize socialist ideals and distance itself from monarchism.
  3. Vidkun Quisling, Norway:  Nasjonal Samling (National Unity), so named to emphasize just that.  I also cannot help but notice the apparent homage of one great man to another in the initials NS.  (I give the Norwegian first here but English first elsewhere, per the oddities of common usage in English publications.)
  4. Léon Degrelle, Belgium (Wallonia):  Rexist Party (Parti Rexiste), an explicitly Catholic party named in reference to „Christ the King“—which continued a natural progression which started with Degrelle’s previous employment as a journalist for a Catholic periodical, Christus Rex.
  5. Corneliu Codreanu, Romania:  Legion of Michael the Archangel (Legiunea Arhanghelul Mihail), another Christian social movement which was very explicitly anti-Jewish.  According to Codreanu’s faith, Michael is the sword-bearing patron of justice, the scale-bearing archangel of judgment, and the godlike warrior-being who will ultimately defeat the Devil.  Who better to guard Romania against Judeo-Bolshevism?  The Michael motif is not only Christian, but was impressed by Christianity upon European culture, art, and literature.  Cf. the title Michael of the novel by a young Dr. Goebbels.  Codreanu’s group was also known as the Iron Guard, a self-evident declaration of unyielding strength in protection of Romanian national interests.
  6. Otto Ernst Remer, Germany:  Socialist Reich Party (Sozialistische Reichspartei, SRP), a post-War democratic political party which sought to rebuild from the ashes of Germany a new Reich founded on social ideals.  (Promptly banned in oh-so-free „liberated“ West Germany.)
  7. Oswald Mosley, Britain:  British Union of Fascists, self-explanatory to anybody who speaks English and has heard of Fascism.
  8. Francisco Franco, Spain:  Falangists, ultimately in the form of Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista, a name he inherited which referenced the falange (phalanx).
  9. George Lincoln Rockwell, America:  American Nazi Party, a name well-matched to his intentionally obscene „Hollywood Nazi“ act—a calculated publicity stunt which he himself characterized as requiring that he „deliberately sound at least halfway like a raving illiterate with three loose screws“.  (For those who have not noticed, I have a love-hate relationship with Commander Rockwell.  I admire his courage—but note inter alia that his undignified methods were from the start destined either to succeed all the way, or play straight into the hands of the Jewish spin-doctors.  Also, I cannot stomach his Americanism.)
  10. Dr. William Luther Pierce, America:  National Alliance, a name emphasizing persons united by the national ideal.  (Although I have never seen this said anywhere, I myself suspect that Dr. Pierce was also at some level ironically dereferencing his position against the WWII „Allies“.)  Also Cosmotheism, a new religious movement based on Dr. Pierce’s spiritual vision of the divine nature of the cosmos and man’s place therein.

Deliberately omitted from the foregoing are a plethora of other names which are simply variations thereupon, and/or represented groups which never achieved any historical significance.

Nine of those ten examples are without question dignified, thoughtful, and suitably impressive.  The other was intelligently selected to be impressive in a very different sense:  To draw attention by deliberately exploiting the shock value affixed to certain words.  As such, all these names reflect considerable care by the men who first chose them to symbolize their ideals, their faiths, the purposes to which they dedicated their lives—and in some cases, the passions for which they suffered the deaths of martyrs.

N.b. too that all the foregoing names are positive and constructive:  These names symbolize what the men who chose them were for, rather than what they were against—the ideals they wanted to build in practice, not the enemies they needed to destroy to achieve that.  The most common emphases are on national and social ideals, with an added mix of historical, religious, and military themes.

To be continued with an example of how a name can be unintentionally, ridiculously appropriate, when selected with far less apparent care.


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