- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Is 'Teacher' ready for a taste of the lash?

Posted by: Barry Stoller on November 01, 1999 at 14:08:12:

In Reply to: A missive to an eager student posted by Dr. Cruel on October 31, 1999 at 17:49:19:

[I]f the 'public' was so 'excited' by all their consumer choices and so 'eager to leave the mundane and dreary existence of the farms for the opportunities that the new, growing cities offered,' why then was Europe a riot of revolutionary activity and the U.S. a riot of labor strife throughout the 19th century?

Why indeed. We presume, of course, that people revolt - violently - when oppressed. The historical record would state otherwise. The Nazi regime actually ran a brutal slave labor system, with hardly any unrest...

Very poor example. Nazi Germany was a state specifically designed to overwhelm, crush, and extirpate all working class resistance.

Following your Industrial Revolution analogy, you are compelled to say that the Jews at Auschwitz did not revolt---because they were 'excited' by consumer choices and 'eager to leave the mundane and dreary existence of the farms for the opportunities that the new, growing cities offered.'

And, yes: the same applies to Stalin.

And Stalin purged his socialists just as Hitler purged his ('Night of Long Knives').

Which brings us to:

: Hitler didn't cater to German businessmen - like any good socialist, he nationalized industry.

Absolutely wrong!

Think about the fact that Hitler---between 1932 and 1933, while he was 'on the campaign trail'---never once mentioned Jews in any of his speeches, only the 'Marxist menace.' The business community were very interested in Hitler's position on Marxism---and its corollary, labor 'unrest.'

Think about the famous Dusseldorf Club speech (where Hitler addressed the leading capitalists of Germany):

I may cite an example: you maintain, gentlemen, that German business life must be constructed on a basis of private property... I am bound to say that private property can be morally and ethically justified only if I admit that men's achievements are different. Only on that basis can I assert: since men's achievements are different, the results of those achievements are also different. But if the results of those achievements are different, then it is reasonable to leave to men the administration of those results to a corresponding degree. It would not be logical to entrust the administration of the result of an achievement which was bound up with a personality either to the next best but less capable person or to a community which, through the mere fact that it had not performed the achievement, has proved that it is not capable of administering the result of that achievement. Thus it must be admitted that in the economic sphere, from the start, in all branches men are not of equal value or of equal importance.

OK, let us now pay particular attention to the conclusion of Hitler's train of logic:

And once this is admitted it is madness to say: in the economic sphere there are undoubtedly differences in value, but that is not true in the political sphere. IT IS ABSURD TO BUILD UP ECONOMIC LIFE ON THE CONCEPTIONS OF ACHIEVEMENT, OF THE VALUE OF PERSONALITY, AND THEREFORE IN PRACTICE ON THE AUTHORITY OF PERSONALITY, BUT IN THE POLITICAL SPHERE TO DENY THE AUTHORITY OF PERSONALITY AND TO THRUST INTO ITS PLACE THE LAW OF THE GREATER NUMBER - DEMOCRACY (ranting emphasis in original).

Which compares the 'necessity' for the capitalist's economic supremacy with the 'necessity' for the Nazi Party's political supremacy (Both Alan Bullock AND William Shirer confirm this interpretation).

Did Hitler later break his promise to the leading capitalists---that he would allow them the economic hegemony they craved---and 'nationalize' their businesses?

Yes... but mainly NO.

Some top Nazi officials did get a piece of the action (most notably Goring).

But to call that 'nationalization' would be analogous to calling a mafia protection racket 'nationalization.' Taxation is more like it.

As Isaac Deutscher observed:

When the Nazi façade was blown away, the structure that revealed itself to the eyes of the world was the same as it has been before Hitler, with its big industrialists, its Krupps and Thyssens, its Junkers, its middle classes, its Grossbauers, its farm laborers, and its industrial workers.(1)

(For further explication on capital's profiteering role in---and support of---the Nazi state, see Franz Neumann's Behemoth, 1944/1966.)

Other points:

: Revolts and revolutions come about in environments of rising expectations, and are initiated by fit, healthy people - not the apocryphical ‘starving masses’ of Marxist mythology.

In Marxist 'mythology,' the proletariat is VERY FIT.

: The biggest problem for most countries is the increasingly lessened need for their services and goods by the industrialized West.

Tell that to Bill Gates.

: Technology and mechanized production methods has made the sweatshop obsolescent...

The sweatshop is obsolescent?

Ever heard of Nike? Purdue Chicken? Kathy Lee Gifford Fashions?

: The problem is not that workers are being consigned to one discrete task, but to no tasks at all (except, if you consider this a ‘task’, the cashing of their dole or welfare check).

If the workers are not doing any tasks 'at all,' pray tell, Doc, WHO is manufacturing Nike sneakers, WHO is dressing chickens, and WHO is sewing Kathy Lee Gifford Fashions?


Wait! Here comes the best part:

: The parts assemblers in Malaysia and Indonesia often are women; for them, it is a way to escape from a predominantly patriarchal society...

What a consolation! Now they get their starvation rations direct!

: Strawberry pickers in California make more than doctors in the socialist-leaning oligarchy of Mexico...

I don't know about Mexico's 'socialist-leaning' tendencies---but if you substitute Mexico for Cuba, I can say that you are making a very specious comparison.

In Cuba, a worker would require less wages. Many of the 'costs of living' such as medical care, child care, etc. would be provided gratis by the big, bad state. On the other hand, an American worker would have to turn to the 'free' market to fill these vital needs (whether or not he or she had enough money). Who is to say which 'wage' is less?

: One finds, sir, that when facts are derided as nothing more than ‘stacks of cards’, the result is something less than a winner. Perhaps, if you thought to play the game of economics by rules with a stronger empirical basis, you’d find yourself with a better ‘hand’. For myself, I’d rather bet on what I have.

'Stronger empirical basis'? And what evidence did you proffer?

1. Deutscher, Stalin: A Political Biography, Oxford University Press, 1966 edition, p. 567.

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