[Marxism] Far Right

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Thu Jun 24 14:03:05 MDT 2004


In 1929, out of a German workforce of about 18 million (total population
would have been about 65 million or so), 3 million German workers were
jobless. By 1932 official unemployment had shot up to 6 million, so
basically, one in three German workers were jobless at that time.

So, the real context was one of massive social and cultural disintegration,
where large numbers of people were declassed and found their future was
wiped out - they lived only in fear and hope.

Berlin with a population of just over 4 million, had about 650,000 out of
work. Many of these unemployed people became supporters of the Nazi
movement; they had little to lose by it, and the recovery of national pride,
or admiration for strong, decisive people was definitely a psychological
factor in Hitler's bid to re-integrate German society. During 1929-1932, the
incomes of those still employed was also cut by half.

Hitler got workers back to work through his coalition with business people,
political plagiarism (borrowing work-creation ideas from other
organisations), dictatorial powers, stabilising the Deutschmark, foreign
loans, assassinations (including of some of his own supporters), violence or
threats of violence by stormtrooper thugs, sweeping legal changes (which,
among other things, leg-ironed the trade unions, and neutralised trade
unionists refusing to cooperate with the Nazis), elimination of the
political influence of his opponents, plundering social funds, and
plundering private property, etc.

By 1935, the number of unemployed had been drastically reduced to about 1.7
million or so, real wage levels had recovered somewhat, but mostly not to
their previous levels, and stayed basically constant up to the 1950s, a not
unimportant factor in the German Economic Miracle, which, assisted by
Marshall Plan aid, reached spectacular growth rates in real net output value
of over 20% per annum by 1950-51 (at that time, there were still several
million unemployed). (For a more in-depth study of the Marshall Plan, see
Gerd Hardach's book)

The dispute about the class nature of the Nazi or fascist movement doesn't
make much sense insofar as it was a mixed-class, populist movement,
comprising middleclass people, workingclass people, and lumpenised people as
well as a fraction of the haute bourgeoisie.

The basic objectives of the Nazi movement were anti-working class, but
insofar as Hitler was initially able to drastically reduce unemployment, he
was able to sustain support, including from workingclass people, and
increase his grip on political power. If he hadn't been able to reduce
unemployment, then it is likely that his movement would have split and that
he would have been thrown out of power, despite his gang of stormtroopers,
thugs and vigilantes even.

A part of the working class, particularly those in a more marginal position,
typically falls under the sway of alien ideologies, and the idea of the
working class as a politically homogenous force is simply false,
historically speaking. Nazi ideology may have had its source in the squeezed
or lumpenised middle classes and "petty bourgeois running amok" as Trotsky
puts it, but Hitler's imagery definitely aimed to appeal to the working
class.

On September 14, 1930 the combined Left vote dropped by 3 percentage points,
while the Nazi vote shot up by 700%. The Nazis went from ninth-largest party
to second-largest party. Subsequently they lost votes, but regained them in
1933. Leaving aside the workingclass supporters of the Nazi party, if the
Left vote was solidly working class, and considering the proportions which
voted neither Nazi nor SPD-KPD, this must mean that a fraction of the
working class, lumpenised or not, decided to defect from the socialist camp
and vote Nazi.

But just how big it was I don't know offhand, I would need to consult
specialist research - but it could well have been to the order of a million
voters. You can see basic voting stats here:
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1930-ger/elect.htm#a309
Analyses suggest blue-collar workers subject to unemployment or threat of
unemployment tended to vote KPD/SPD, and that the working poor, artisans,
shopkeepers, proprietors, professionals, small farmers, domestic servants
etc. tended to vote Nazi. In this sense, Trotsky's class-conscious "feel"
for the situation, supported by such evidence as he could gather in exile,
was basically correct. See for example gking.harvard.edu/files/naziV.pdf .
Of interest also: http://members.tripod.com/~american_almanac/woytins.htm

J.





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