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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

C4SS: Nazi Privatization

My latest weekly commentary: "Nazi Privatization"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came across the same thing a while back and wrote this:

The roots of privatisation

So it is nice to see this information get out to a wider audience.

Of course, this is not remotely surprising to anyone who gets beyond the "But they called themselves Socialists! Nazi is short for National Socialism!" assertion which passes for analysis in certain right-"libertarian" circles...

An Anarchist FAQ

January 23, 2009 2:34 AM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

"Had the Axis won, they'd no doubt have created their own version of the Bretton Woods agencies and the UN Security Council, and made the Deutschmark into a global reserve currency".

You should read up on how they dealt with France, e.g. in James Buchan's Frozen Desire (though I first heard about it years ago in a book about resistance/support of escaped POWs, White Rabbit I think). It's basically a sophisticated form of how colonialists used currency manipulation and other mercantilist tricks to deal with more advanced areas (which mainly means the French and Dutch, as the only advanced British one was India which was organised if not completely taken over before the techniques were well enough developed - though even there arrangements were made, though not with funny money; see the Fall of the Rupee). They arranged favourable exchange rates supported by taxes and the money issuing power to give colonists a hidden subsidy in their favour, to provide protected markets for home industrial production on favourable terms, and to make the colonies' primary exports help home industry (they were directed mainly to the mother country, e.g. by tariffs etc.). The Nazis combined this with the sort of funny money "evacuation" that French Revolutionary puppet states had had foisted on them, basically a reprise of the Dissolution of the Monasteries with France getting ready hard money from rich locals who in return got paper money backed by the privilege of buying seized land with it.

Basically, the Nazis used the threat of force to make puppet states take their money on favourable terms, much as the rest of the world took US money until recently. Locals gladly sold goods and services to the Nazis, because for them it was a good deal: the local central banks were taking Nazi money at a favourable rate in local currency terms (they were obliged to sit on it and "sterilise" it, with each puppet state reimbursing its central bank either through taxes or through printing money). The only difference is, today's taker countries' central banks are doing it for other reasons - and can stop at any time. I am morally certain that today's US planners would have liked to regularise the system and lock it in by wielding US hegemony the way the Nazis did for their very similar system. The only thing is, some of the most important countries at the other end of the deal aren't under the US thumb, and the oil countries are becoming less under it all the time - though it might have been very different for both sorts of countries had plans for Iraq worked as and when intended. Iraq oil production couldn't have covered everything on its own, but the planners didn't need it to - they only needed it to carry the US dollar a little longer while they set an example for all the other countries to keep their central banks behaving as though they had been given that treatment, paying hidden tribute to buy off the threat.

"According to Wallerstein, a subgroup of the feudal ruling class reconfigured themselves as agrarian capitalists, and negotiated the transition to capitalism, setting themselves up as the core of the new ruling class over a new social system".

This is sort of half true. It's how it worked out, but that makes it sound as though the initiative was in their hands. In fact, apart from cases where those people themselves cashed in their old positions to create new style states with them in charge (like the leaders of the Teutonic Order of Knights), it was more usually the case that the new absolutist rulers arranged it as a buying off and co-opting of key elements of the old order. After the Reformation, no matter which side they picked, many German magnates did set up for themselves; but in most of Europe the new order was implemented by the monarchies that had previously worked through through the framework of feudal mechanisms (that framework had accomodated and adapted to include monarchy and the church, but they were actually not intrinsically part of it). Some years ago an Austrian whose name I forget told me that his family had been just such beneficiaries of co-option, privatiers who received a hereditary state income rather the way German churches even now receive a state income in exchange for giving up their feudal privileges and land holdings. His family were basically rentiers, only the French rentiers generally got their revenue stream by being lucky enough to have money to buy state bonds at a time when the state was desperate enough to sell them at a good price; privatiers basically got a similar deal, only they handed over privileges and lands etc. for it.

I suppose what your article leaves unanswered is who is successfully trapping and manipulating whom, as between the crony capitalists and the statists for the state's sake - something that nobody can yet clearly foresee. Certainly many guessed wrong about how it would turn out for corporate capitalists vis a vis Mussolini and later vis a vis Hitler, just as they did when Hitler and Stalin got together - but nearly everybody knew that what was set up with the appearance of partnership was bound to end in the one emerging and the other submerging. It is the nature of the beast.

January 23, 2009 5:15 AM  

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