Friday, September 6, 2013

What is national socialism? (Part 2)

After sharing the summary of ideas of Ludwig von Mises from "Planned Chaos" about Nazism, it's now time to explore further what the "Omnipotent Government" has to say about the subject. One commenter was not convinced when I shared Mises' quote taken from Planned Chaos that "Nazism is the purest and most consistent manifestation of the anticapitalistic and socialistic spirit of our age." I asked him, "On what basis?" There was no response.



After surveying and rereading the section on "German Nazism" from pages 129-239, I came up with a conclusion that in order to understand national socialism or Nazism, one must also grasp the role played by Pan-Germanism. And not only that, another important task is to comprehend the six basic tenets of national socialism.

Pan-Germanism is the mother of Nazism. It was the application of militant nationalism to the situation of Germany prior to the coming of Hitler into the political scene. The advocates of Pan-Germanism were the "intellectuals and writers. The professors of history, law, economics, political science, geography, and philosophy " (p. 131). Together with "the socialists of the chair in the last thirty years of the nineteenth century", the intellectuals of Pan-Germanism were responsible in the development of the essential ideas of Nazism (p. 147). 

The six basic tenets of Nazism were the following:

1. "Capitalism is an unfair system of exploitation. It injures the immense majority for the benefit of a small minority. Private ownership of the means of production hinders the full utilization of natural resources and of technical improvements. Profits and interest are tributes which the masses are forced to pay to a class of idle parasites. Capitalism is the cause of poverty and must result in war" (p. 222).

2. "It is therefore the foremost duty of popular government to substitute government control of business for the management of capitalists and entrepreneurs" (ibid.).

3. "Price ceilings and minimum wage rates, whether directly enforced by the administration or indirectly by giving a free hand to trade-unions, are an adequate means for improving the lot of the consumers and permanently raising the standard of living of all wage earners. They are steps on the way toward entirely emancipating the masses (by the final establishment of socialism) from the yoke of capital" (ibid.).

4. "Easy money policy, i.e., credit expansion, is a useful method of lightening the burdens imposed by capital upon the masses and making a country more prosperous. It has nothing to do with the periodical recurrence of economic depression. Economic crises are an evil inherent in unhampered capitalism" (ibid.)

5. "All those who deny the foregoing statements and assert that capitalism best serves the masses and that the only effective method of permanently improving the economic conditions of all strata of society is progressive accumulation of new capital are ill-intentioned narrow-minded apologists of the selfish class interests of the exploiters. A return to laissez faire, free trade, the gold standard, and economic freedom is out of the question" (p. 223).

6. "The advantage derived from foreign trade lies exclusively in exporting. Imports are bad and should be prevented as much as possible. The happiest situation in which a nation can find itself is where it need not depend on any imports from abroad" (ibid.).

Because of these ideas, Nazism conquered Germany. Neither social democracy nor communism were able to resist Nazism intellectualy simply because their core concepts were similar. The only difference says Mises is the manner of "application of these ideas to the special problems of Germany" (p. 222). Furthermore, Mises argues that any critic who lacks "the insight to attack these premises is not in a position to find fault with the conclusions drawn from them by the Nazis" (p. 223). 

Concerning those who identify Nazism as a product of capitalism, this is what Mises has to say: 

"The foreign critics condemn the Nazi system as capitalist. In this age of fanatical anticapitalism and enthusiastic support of socialism no reproach seems to discredit a government more thoroughly in the eyes of fashionable opinion than the qualification pro-capitalistic. But this is one charge against the Nazis that is unfounded" (p. 225).