[Marxism] RE Did Nazi rule benefit the German people

robert montgomery ilyenkova at gmail.com
Thu Dec 21 11:34:06 MST 2006


In his reveiw of Aly's, "Hitler's Beneficiaries" in The nation,
Richard Evans notes:

"Nazism preached equality, but as with so many aspects of Nazi
rhetoric, the reality was very different, and to speak repeatedly, as
Aly does, of the Nazis' "socialism" is to mislabel what is better seen
as populism; real socialist regimes were very different in their basic
political thrust, and few things in this book are less convincing than
its attempt to show that the Third Reich was a genuinely
redistributive regime that robbed the rich to pay the poor."

This is pretty good but there has to be a better term than populism--
Perhaps despotic corporatism.
For an extended recent argument that the Nazi economy was far from
redistributive see R.J. Overy's neat 76 pg book The Nazi
Reconstruction of the German Economy. Overy argues that Nazi economic
policy was to reduce consumer demand, not to expand it. He goes
against the grain in arguing that the Nazi economy was the opposite of
a Keynesian one.  It was politically structured by Schact to channel
income into forced savings-- specifically into the accounts of the
giant cartellized monopolies. Though initial outlays did put the
unemployed to work on infrastructure like highways, the routing was
always directed to the advantage of the iron, steel and chemical
giants. And after 1936 the huge influxes of Mefo bills were funneled
into the war production sector. Of course the income transfer was made
possible, firstly by smashing the trade unions and their political
parties and incorporating the entire workforce by legal diktat into
the corporatist Nazi Labor Front (along with thier bosses!). Secondly,
savings banks were eliminated or bypassed and all deposits transferred
directly into commercial bank ledgers to serve as collateral for the
influx of MEFO bills (actually I remember this from Otto Nathan's book
published in the early 1940s). By 1936-37 Schact was so convinced that
the conversion to total military production would trigger
hyperinflation that he resigned as economic czar. The direct seizure
of Czech capital assets and eventual total war was the answer to these
fears.

As far as popular support for the regime is concerned it has always
seemed a matter of simple logic that once the social institutions
through which people mediated their personal identities were destroyed
by legally sanctioned violence, allegiances would be free floating and
up for grabs by those with the monopoly of violence and communication.
I would call this a form of coerced consent to overwhelming power.
Those who call it personal affirmation of the regime need to point to
quite a bit more than displays of mass Fuhrer enthusiasm or workers
having a good time on a Kraft durch Freude junket to the
Meditteranean. BTW they didn't motor along the Autobahn since few
outside the privileged classes actually could afford those
Volkswagens.
RM




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