Thursday 30 August 2012

Explaining the economic success of Nazi Germany

This is an article that you will struggle to understand if you are a reactionary anti-fascist. There is nothing wrong with being an anti-fascist, but being reactionary about it prevents the development of a more comprehensive understanding of the subject.
One thing that cannot be denied is that what happened in post-Wiemar Germany was an economic miracle. During the inter-war period the German state recovered from one of the worst bouts of hyperinflation in economic history to become a global super-power in a matter of years. In less than a couple of decades Germany climbed out from the post-war economic ruins to become a super-power strong enough to invade and occupy vast swathes of central Europe and create a precursor to the Eurozone, with the Nazi Reichsmark currency providing direct backing to the currencies of the numerous Nazi client states.

The question to ask must be; "how did Germany go from a state of hyperinflation, mass unemployment and unsustainable debt, to a global super-power in such a short space of time?"

From an economic point of view, the answers are quite obvious. The German state intervened in the economy to create near universal employment and maximum productivity. This level of productivity was achieved through massive investment in research, technology and science as well as through the implementation of massive infrastructure improvement and industry modernisation projects.

There is one huge problem with the Nazi economic miracle: The fact that subsequent generations of politicians have fixated on a lot of other stuff to provide their explanation for the rise of Nazi Germany: Modern politicians seem to have concluded that it was the state propaganda, the scaremongering and scapegoating (that soon morphed into full scale genocide), the military industrial complex,  the warmongering, the contempt for international law, the anti-democratic political system, the brutal oppression of dissent and the utterly compliant media that made inter-war Germany so powerful, when it is spectacularly obvious that the German economic miracle was actually built upon foundations of macroeconomic planning, high employment, investment in infrastructure and a goal of achieving maximum productivity.

A cursory look at modern politics shows that the established political classes have studied the Nazi school of  politics but learnt the wrong lessons from the German economic miracle. Nazi techniques such as mass propaganda, media manipulation, scapegoating and the long-term military occupation of foreign territories have become the norm in Anglo-American politics. The mainstream media compliantly regurgitate the establishment narrative; this week they tell the public to hate the unemployed, next week they will tell us that we should suspect all disabled people as workshy scroungers. They applaud interventionist polices that lead to the invasion and occupation of foreign territories and they display as much contempt for the norms of international law as the political  leaders they cheerlead for.

The most notable similarity between modern politics and the Nazi regime is the ubiquitous use of propaganda. One of the German propaganda minister Josef Goebbels' most famous formulations was the big lie technique, which he described as "if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it". The fact that modern day political classes make a habit of lying to the public is an essential part of modern political discourse, refusal to acknowledge this fact would be hopeless political naivety. Of the countless examples of lying politicians two examples stand out; the distortions, misinformation and outright lies presented to the public by the Blair regime as they desperately pushed for the invasion and occupation of Iraq; and the blatantly false narrative presented by the political right to explain the neoliberal economic meltdown, a narrative referred to as the Great Neoliberal Lie.

Almost every utterance by the modern day politician is carefully vetted by a team of spin-doctors and PR merchants, people that fulfil almost exactly the same function as Goebbel's ministry of propaganda. The important factor to them is not whether the statements are based upon truth, but whether the statements comply with the established narrative that the government are trying to spin out as justification for their policies. The fact that it is all just one big "story" becomes clear when politicians make unguarded comments or make the mistake of thinking on their feet. The narrative of Lib-Dem and Tory "tensions" in Coalition government was completely undermined when Nick Clegg was overheard telling David Cameron that "if we keep doing this we won't have anything to bloody disagree on" and Cameron famously strayed from the Tory narrative by hypocritically condemning the comedian Jimmy Carr for tax-dodging, when the Tory party is financially supported by, and stuffed full of tax-dodgers.

Josef Goebbels may have been a disgusting fascist
that murdered his six children and committed suicide, but
his propaganda techniques live on in modern day politics.
That the modern political classes have embraced Nazi formulated strategies on propaganda and management of the media narrative is undeniable. It is also undeniable that modern politicians can't help using Nazi style demonisation campaigns against minorities like the unemployed, the disabled, Muslims, single parent families and immigrants. In recent decades the UK government have been ever keener to stamp out dissent too, from their protest free zones around Parliament to the Internet snooping bill and from police brutality to imprisonment without trial, both sides of the house have played their part in trying to make Britain a more totalitarian state. Another similarity between modern British politicians and the Nazi regime is the blatant contempt for international law. Tony Blair set the precedent for ignoring the UN to engage in imperialist wars of aggression when he joined the NATO bombing of Serbia in support of the Islamic terrorist group the KLA. Just a few years later and the Islamic terrorists suddenly became our enemy as Blair signed up for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, this a couple of years before he once again bypassed the UN to join the American invasion and occupation of Iraq.

What the modern quasi-fascist political classes (and their mainstream media apologists) fail to recognise is that it was all this severe Nazi crap that prevented post-Wiemar Germany from succeeding, not what made the success possible in the first place. Had the German people managed to prevent Hitler from realising his genocidal, totalitarian, expansionist ambitions and instead managed to replace him with a leader to remain focused on the maintenance of full employment and maximum productivity; the Second World War would never have happened; German industries and cities would not have been obliterated by Allied carpet bombing; millions of people would not have died; the Soviet occupation of East Germany would have been avoided; Germany would never have been partitioned; and Germany would not have had to wait over half a century to gain the absolute dominance of the European economy that the introduction of the Eurozone has eventually handed them.

It is quite clear that many people in Nazi Germany had come to realise that Hitler's genocidal and megalomaniac tendencies were a grave threat to the future prosperity of Germany and to humanity as a whole, hence more than twenty assassination attempts against Hitler by German citizens

Of course there are differences between the modern political classes and the Nazi regime, the main one being the sheer scale of Nazi brutality. However one key difference demonstrates that modern politicians have learnt some lessons from the failure Nazi regime, the main one being the maintenance of the "illusion of political plurality". All three of the establishment political parties in the UK are fully signed up adherents of the neoliberal ideology, from their track records in government this is absolutely undeniable. Whichever way the British public vote, the government will remain a neoliberal one, the only element of choice being the colour of the ties that they wear as they continue the process of neoliberalisation. This illusion of political plurality leaves people blaming one political faction or the other, whilst the underlying ideology of neoliberalism and economic apartheid remains unchallenged. When politics is done this way, it doesn't matter whether the public manage to remove one figurehead, since they will simply be replaced with another figurehead intent on promoting almost exactly the same ideology.