Economic definition of National-Socialism

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
Alixanther
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Joined: 04 Oct 2003 04:26
Location: Romania

Economic definition of National-Socialism

Postby Alixanther » 20 Mar 2017 07:22

I hope this particular forum is the correct one to put such a topic on - since it's about Government.

I'm sure there's been a lot of debates about the ideological positioning of National-Socialism between Left and Right on AH Forum (myself included) but this in not the case.
This time I'm hinting precisely about the economical tenets of it - and it's quite a devious beast to catch. I thought a lot about it and I think I finally got it (might be mistaken, feel free to bring arguments towards / against it) :

National Socialism in economy is (overall, if not entirely) socialist consumerism.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Economic definition of National-Socialism

Postby Sid Guttridge » 20 Mar 2017 13:17

Hi Alixanther,

Unlike Communism, I don't think National Socialism ever had a fully defined economic policy.

This was partly because Mein Kampf completely lacks the ideological and intellectual coherence and weight of Das Kapital, especially in the economic sphere.

It was also partly because rearmament and the consequent war completely overshadowed all other long term economic planning. Short term expediency was necessarily the name of the game.

Is the VW project the sort of thing you mean by "socialist consumerism"? Millions of German workers saved for a VW, but the money was mostly put into rearmament and no civil models were produced under the Reich because of the demands of war.

Cheers,

Sid.

Alixanther
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Posts: 398
Joined: 04 Oct 2003 04:26
Location: Romania

Re: Economic definition of National-Socialism

Postby Alixanther » 20 Mar 2017 16:12

Well, if you suppose there's a economic policy for each ideology ever created then you're going to run out of economic policies quite soon :)
Unlike ideologies (an infinite gamut), economic policies are usually based upon several means of exploiting the historical and geographical realities.

It's not a surprise to see several ideologies sharing a common economic policy (or more). Also, the same ideology might undergo several changes regarding their economy - see, for instance, Lenin's NEP.

I'm not talking about the ramping up towards war - which is only one facet of a economy, while the consumerism is another - probably aimed to mitigate the same problems, in a different way. You see, in order to get a working economy, you need goods and you need buyers. Henry Ford is probably the first guy who understood (and implemented) consumerism, correctly assessing the fact that raising his workers' wages would put them in the buyers' niche, making his business even more profitable. However, his consumerism is capitalism consumerism. Socialist consumerism is autarchy on the inside, bartering on the outside and each "social" program devised to create more consumers for goods manufactured at home. There's not such a thing as a free meal in consumerism: everything you get is cleverly put to incentivize you to create jobs for the government (or instead the government).

When the economy tanks, there are several things you can do: You can expand your territory (or get more external trade agreements) to enlarge the market available for your goods (British Empire, US manifest destiny) . You can burn the goods or ditch them into the ocean, in order to keep to scarcity relevant enough for the businesses to stay afloat (XIX century crises). You can adopt consumerism as a way of life, gifting money to target people who would buy your stuff (circular movement of the money). And you can invest in the military industrial complex, which both hires a lot of workers and drifts towards war(s), creating a way to "get rid of stuff". Getting rid of stuff is good for the economy. Destroyed goods are the same as bought goods: they need to be replaced, creating demand.
Of course, you cannot get in people's homes and trash their goods in order to create demand for future ones. However, you can - like Roosevelt - confiscate their gold in order to prop up the currency (while the currency is backed by gold, of course). You can use your political and economical leverage to force other countries to use your goods and / or your currency at fixed rates. (colonialism)

Germany was in a relatively good position for consumerism: the people were practically despoiled after the first war and the subsequent crises, that they could "absorb" a lot of goods, If the government made it possible. Not only that, but having a starving population creates competitive workers (working for peanuts or - as you said, for future promises) who give their government a lot of leverage to compete on the external markets - provided they exist.
I don't think that VW idea is a good example of consumerism in Germany. I'd say that the economy bonds, the incentivizing of having at least 4 kids (loans which erased 25% of debt for each kid you got), the "strength through joy" programs, projects like Prora (I know that Prora is a bad example since it wasn't finished but it's probably much well known that those which worked) and agricultural and industrial equipment. Such things are anything but "short term expediency". Having 4 kids is never a short term expediency :)
There's more, but I'll settle for now.


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