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Estonia’s Far Right – But Seriously, What’s Wrong With Nazi Economics?

Just for the avoidance of doubt, this is not about being a Nazi. Nor is it about having a rounded and complete view of that abhorrence. It is, only and purely, about Nazi economics, even then it’s about a subset of it. It’s not about paying for everything by raping the rest of Europe, nor systems of slave labour etc. It’s purely about those first few years of the peacetime regime and their economic policies.

Not that this will stop people trying to misquote it.

So, The Guardian is very worried about the far rightists who are now part of the Estonian government. Not knowing much about them directly I’ll have to take the Guardian’s word for it all. Being anti-immigration, well, a small people and culture that the neighbouring hegemon spent considerable effort trying to wipe out might be excused that, might not be. But it’s hardly odd that the sentiment exists. The Soviets invaded and killed everyone not Soviet, to be replaced by the Nazis who shot both all the Jews and the Soviets, Stalin’s lot coming back and then shooting anyone left standing. That took all of 5 years. And then deported a considerable portion of the population to deaths in Siberia. Not being keen on that considerable percentage of the population of Russians the Soviets encouraged to immigrate, well, hail fellow well met and all that but really, it’s possible to at least understand some of the emotion, no?

But the real part here is the Guardian’s horror at this bit:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Racism, sexism, Nazi economics: Estonia’s far right in power
Until recently seen as a model nation, Estonia’s politics are turning darker[/perfectpullquote]

Nazi economics, this is something darker?

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Madison is considered the polished face of the party. When asked about a blogpost he wrote several years ago praising Nazi economics, he did not disown the views. “The fact is that the economic situation raised. That’s a fact. How did it happen? It was very wrong things. If you’re pushing people to camps, it’s wrong. But the fact is that the unemployment rate was low,” he said.[/perfectpullquote]

That bit seems to be true. Which is the thing about Nazi economics.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Madison is not the only EKRE MP to be curious about Nazi economics. Ruuben Kaalep, the leader of EKRE’s youth wing, Blue Awakening, said rightwing politicians “can’t completely disown” Nazi Germany, which had certain positive elements.[/perfectpullquote]

Calling it positive though, I might be one of the few around here who calls even the economics not positive. Which is where the problem comes in of course.

For what was that Nazi economics?

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]For today’s generation, Hitler is the most hated man in history, and his regime the archetype of political evil. This view does not extend to his economic policies, however. Far from it. They are embraced by governments all around the world.[/perfectpullquote]

That’s a bit strong, this being Lew Rockwell. But this is indeed true:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]In the 1930s, Hitler was widely viewed as just another protectionist central planner who recognized the supposed failure of the free market and the need for nationally guided economic development. Proto-Keynesian socialist economist Joan Robinson wrote that “Hitler found a cure against unemployment before Keynes was finished explaining it.”[/perfectpullquote]

In more detail:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]What were those economic policies? He suspended the gold standard, embarked on huge public-works programs like autobahns, protected industry from foreign competition, expanded credit, instituted jobs programs, bullied the private sector on prices and production decisions, vastly expanded the military, enforced capital controls, instituted family planning, penalized smoking, brought about national healthcare and unemployment insurance, imposed education standards, and eventually ran huge deficits.[/perfectpullquote]

Other than the military bit you could run Tony Benn on those policies. In fact, Tony Benn did run on those policies.

Rather closer to our own time I read an economic proposal from Colin Hines- progressive protectionism he calls it – which I compared to both fascist economics and the manifesto of the BNP. Unfortunately that piece has disappeared down the Telegraph’s we don’t have blogs any more plughole but Hines’ indignant complaint about it is still online:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The alternative to this is a progressive protectionism which will allow countries to wean themselves off of present levels of export dependence. It would enable the rebuilding and re-diversification of domestic economies by limiting what goods states let in and what funds they allow to enter or leave the country. Having regained control of their economic future, countries can then set the levels of taxes and agree the regulations needed to fund and facilitate this transition.[/perfectpullquote]

Well, yes, that is actually very close to fascist and even Nazi economics:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]He began a huge programme of public works, which included building hospitals, schools, and public buildings such as the 1936 Olympic Stadium. The construction of 7,000 kms of autobahns created work for 80,000 men.[/perfectpullquote]

The Green New Deal has more than just echoes of this in its insistence that it will provide good, well paying jobs, for so many. By, you know, infrastructure spending funded by either deficits or just printing the money.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The Nazis came to power in the midst of Great Depression. The unemployment rate at that point in time was close to 30%.[16] At first, the new Nazi government continued the economic policies introduced by the government of Kurt von Schleicher in 1932 to combat the effects of the Depression.[17] Hitler appointed Hjalmar Schacht, a former member of the German Democratic Party, as President of the Reichsbank in 1933 and Minister of Economics in 1934.[16] The policies he inherited included a large public works programs supported by deficit spending – such as the construction of the Autobahn network – to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment.[18] These were programs that were planned to be undertaken by the Weimar Republic during conservative Paul von Hindenburg’s presidency, and which the Nazis appropriated as their own after coming to power.[19] Hjalmar Schacht created a scheme for deficit financing, in which capital projects were paid for with the issuance of promissory notes called Mefo bills, which could be traded by companies with each other.[20] This was particularly useful in allowing Germany to rearm, because the Mefo bills were not Reichsmarks and did not appear in the federal budget, so they helped conceal rearmament.[21] When the notes were presented for payment, the Reichsbank printed money. This proved inadequate in 1938, when a large share of Mefo’s five-year promissory notes fell due, so the government employed “highly dubious methods” where “banks were forced to buy government bonds, and the government took money from savings accounts and insurance companies” in order to pay the holders of Mefo bills, due mainly to a serious government cash shortage.[22] Meanwhile, Schacht’s administration achieved a rapid decline in the unemployment rate, the largest of any country during the Great Depression.[16] By 1938 unemployment was practically extinct.[/perfectpullquote]

A prototype of modern monetary theory there, funded in the end by financial repression. Didn’t Gordon Brown insist that pensions funds must buy Gilts?

No, this isn’t to say that those backing the Green New Deal are fascists or Nazis. Larry Elliott certainly isn’t at least. The Senior Lecturer seems more of an admirer of all within the state, nothing outside it, nothing against it – which isn’t being a Nazi. It is though to insist that Nazi economics – autarky, public works programs to reduce unemployment, fiscal and monetary stimulus to revive aggregate demand – is not so far from what is still recommended by some in our present day.

Actually, despite the Guardian’s swooning over the very mention of Nazi economics, oft recommended in the pages of The Guardian.

Yes, neo-Nazis are pinheads, the Nazi regime was an abhorrence. But if you’re going to argue against Nazi economics then you do have to both know what it is and also oppose the same policies in the current day. I do, the Guardian doesn’t and what about you?

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Rhoda Klapp
Rhoda Klapp
5 years ago

Not unlike FDR’s economics. But he was a democrat, so OK.

Tristram Fuller
Tristram Fuller
5 years ago

Well of course they called themselves National Socialists ..

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