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Thanks for that post, interesting;

however, without knowing the details of Veblen's analysis, I might remark that the following view:

> In that case, the industrialists would hire >
> themselves > a dictator who would allow them to
> reorganize.

Is only a very imprecise characterisation of Hitler and his relation to German industry. Certainly, I cannot reproach Veblen for writing this two decades before the Nazi seizure of power, how could he have known the precise dynamics in any detail. However, in the thirties, fourties and fifties this view (largely appropriated by the Marxists) had very wide circulation but it is essentially wrong, I would argue. Hitler was not "hired" by industrialists; his party was a revolutionary force based on popular support;

after seizing power, he ruthlessly pursued his racial goals through the power of the state which ultimately overruled any business interests; there was a lot of tension between the Nazis and industry as the Nazis began to gear the German economy towards war, imposing taxes and price controls, directing investments away from civilian production, establishing huge state controlled concerns (such as the Reichswerke Herman Goering), forcing businesses to buy government bonds etc;

of course, overall industry had little to complain as German recovery gained pace, Hitler dissolved all independent unions and the initial phase of war and conquest allowed them to reap untold profits; large parts of industry became extremely guilty; certainly, there was nothing resembling any kind of organised resistance to Hitler;

nevertheless, and in particular in the early 30s and before the seizure of power, industrialists were generally neither Nazis, nor particularly interested in giving a radical like Hitler a shot at government; they prefered a conservative authoritarian government such as that of von Papen in the early 1930s; the collaboration with Hitler was only meant to use his popular support to legitimize a conservative, traditional solution which on its own had very little popular backing at the time;

in this sense, one may say they "hired" hitler; but "they" is more the conservative political class than German industry per se; moreover, "they" never intended Hitler to become the absolutely dominant force in Germany as he swiftly did; nor was this any well-thought out plan to "hire a dictator"; rather, it was an emergency solution judged necessary by some of these deluded fools because they feared that if they did not integrate at least one of the big popular parties into government (and they sure wouldn't let the communists), popular unrest may spiral totally out of control;

by Almanax on Fri Feb 23rd, 2007 at 09:30:54 AM EST

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