Sparked by the comment:
You know, the more I've learned about Adolf Hitler, the less he resembles any sort of conservative, and the more he resembles the far left. He was a vegitarian, an atheist, an intellectual, an artist, a revolutionary, and dreamed of a return to a past utopia when people (or Arayans, at any rate) were truly free. The classification of him, and other reactionaries, as conservative smacks of intellectual dishonesty.
He wasn't far left, he was most definitely far right. What he has in common with your list of "hard lefties" is he was a socialist. Before WWII, there were two kinds of socialism... right and left. The right-wing socialists wanted power to coalesce into the hands of a strong central state, controlled by a select and elite group of people who would keep the common folk's (technically, the proletariat's) best interests in mind while governing without their input.
Left-wing socialists see the state as an oppressive construct foisted on the proletariat, and wish to destroy it thereby allowing power to be wielded by the people themselves as expressed through various theoretically self-forming collectives.
The right wing of socialism is commonly considered to have been destroyed by WWII. Left-wing socialists were conceded the field and have run amok and essentially unopposed since then. Never the brightest bulbs in the bunch, these utopians, when given access to the levers of power, were directly responsible for the abattoirs of the late 20th century.
In my own opinion, right-wing socialism was not destroyed but was instead forced underground. To me, the various governments of continental Europe and Japan, most especially those of Germany, France, and Japan, very strongly represent models of right-wing socialism. True, they have been softened a bit with a veneer of democracy, but close observers of these societies will always comment that power is wielded most often by unelected bureaucrats with only a vague understanding of what the people of their countries really want.
The reason why we do not clearly understand this distinction is to me obvious. Now utterly dominated by nihilistic left-wing socialists, the "soft sciences" of western academia have renamed right-wing socialism "fascism" because it is a) a poorly defined term into which everything bad about the right can be dumped and b) it removes a real and to them dangerous stigma to their hallowed and cherished leftist brand of socialism.
If the 20th century has proven anything it is that socialism of any sort, be it right, left, or the newly minted Islamic kind, is easily the greatest danger to humanity that has ever existed. Hyperbole? Hardly. Societies ruled by the various forms of socialism have probably killed more people in the past century than were killed at the hands of Christians in the previous two thousand. A papal legate may have consigned thousands of innocents to the flames with his comment, "let God sort them out", but this is nothing compared to the millions who have been starved, gassed, beaten, shot or simply worked to death by the likes of those who have substituted the state or some vague secular ideal in His place.
This all has a great deal to do with why I fear our current crop of religious "righties" far less than I do our current crop of secular "lefties." A right-winger may secretly want to force you into a church and consign the most unreasonable of your friends to the flames because they can’t keep their mouths shut and their pants zipped, but it takes a left-winger to starve your entire town to death in a camp for thinking the wrong thing.
Hanging onto a set of discredited beliefs like socialism is one thing. Humanity’s capability for delusion in the quest for radical egalitarianism long predates the plea of, “can’t we just all get along?” It’s something different altogether to be so myopic as to cover up the tendency of those beliefs toward genocide just to give them “one more try.” That those on the left continue to do so, and in such a garishly naïve fashion, is why I fear them.