Capitalism under the Nazis

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Tue Aug 5 12:41:34 MDT 2003

Check out e.g.  Daniel Guerin, Fascism and Big Business, and Charles
Bettelheim, L'Economie Allemande sous le nazisme. There is a lot of good
recent scholarship in German and English but I haven't read it thusfar.
Essentially the elements of fascist economy are the destruction of
independent trade unions, militarisation and arms industry, joint ventures
of the state and big business (strong dirigisme or the "strong state"),
currency controls, forced labour and slave labour, forced saving, shrinking
of civil consumption, and the financing of government and military
activities out of the plunder of social security and other social funds.
This reflects the radical inability of the market mechanism to integrate
people into society during a depression, and the resultant social
disintegration, which can only be forcibly resolved by the bourgeoisie in
this way. The roots of German fascism, generally speaking, resided in a
prolonged political stalemate between social classes, subsequent to the
first world war and the failed German revolution of 1919, i.e. the fact that
none of the social classes could provide the leadership and organisation
required for post-war social reconstruction and the halting of economic
decline. Indeed, quite a few of the early fascists were trade unionists or
socialists of one stripe or another. Whereas living standards of workers
re-employed subsequent to Hitler's accession to power did rise initially,
overall real wages stayed more or less constant from about the mid-1930s
until the late 1940s or even early 1950s. This was one factor in
precipitating the Wirtschaftswunder (German economic miracle), namely, a
subdued working class used to low wages, enabled a much higher rate of
surplus-value. For a critical examination of the Marshall Plan, see the book
on this by Gerd Hardach (in German).


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