Barack's Deal With GE & Immelt Bodes Ill for America
Is Obama Resurrecting Nazi Fascist Economics?
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Don’t look now, but Obama again sails into uncharted waters by naming Jefferey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, head of his jobs committee. Imagine, if this was announced by George W, liberals would have screamed like fat kids at diet camp. But the national response is light applause and yawns, proving once again—it’s not what is done, but who does it—that matters to leftists.
Fascinatingly, such collusion between government and big business recalls Nazi fascist economics. Such blurred lines between public and private sectors is the subject of this column.
I. Obama’s Agreement with General Electric & Jeff Immelt
Obama is not Adolph Hitler. Yet, it’s still weirdly fascinating how he repeatedly recycles disproved ideas of leftist regimes. For example, fascists accommodated industry in a way communists could not imagine. Now Obama reuses their playbook.
Of the Immelt appointment, the White House said,
A board to get Americans back to work and strengthen our economy will be chaired by Jeff Immelt, CEO and Chairman of General Electric…The Council will focus on finding new ways to promote growth by investing in American business….
So, the current CEO of one of America’s largest companies running a government jobs program raises no red flags? Ironically, GE has long flouted sanctions on Iran, Syria and others. But instead of punishment, GE is rewarded. Has no one really asked what kind of quid pro quo, or reward, GE gets for its aid to Obama?
The American Spectator reports GE already benefited from Obamanomics:
Obama had signed the stimulus bill, which included $24.9 million in grants that would flow directly to GE, with roughly $20 billion more slated for health care record modernization of the kind that GE specializes in—“with a direct request to do so from GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt.”
So Obama and GE already had some kind of agreement. And seeing what rewards are at stake, consider how this will encourage other captains of industry to publicly support Obama. Such a scenario harkens back to Nazi Germany, where companies either accepted Hitler or had no future.
II. Fascist Economics
Nazism was a fascist movement, a fascinating ideology and practice about which exists much confusion. This is because there exists no single “Fascist” doctrine. Instead, in Italy and Germany, public policy was often ad hoc in nature. But there are set fascist doctrines, nonetheless, and we can address some generalities.
First, let’s summarize that it is highly misleading to categorize fascism as simply “right-wing,” as if its ideas were somehow an appendage to modern Conservatism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fascism is totalitarian in nature, more than anything else. Totalitarianism is defined by the Encyclopaedia Britannica as:
A form of government that theoretically permits no individual freedom and that seeks to subordinate all aspects of the individual’s life to the authority of the government.
Under fascism, men have no rights and government no restrictions. Contra, a state based upon constitutionalism, a republican theory, and democratic practice, highlighting a natural rights theory, like America, is polar opposite. Conservatism, or historical Classical Liberalism, uses government to increase, not diminish, human freedom.
Fascism is not synonymous with socialism or communism, but similarities form a long list:
According to Kevin Passmore’s Fascism, A Very Short Introduction, these similar traits are discernible in Fascism:
- It is a totalitarian system meaning a total theory of life, enforced by threat, and organized from the top-down by government.
- Much like Marxism, it offers a political religion in the place of historic belief systems.
- It persuades the populace on the basis of propaganda and the threat of terror for those who refuse the system.
- It opposes the rule of law, exactly as communism.
- It boasts a highly aggressive, militaristic, conquering approach to international relations.
- It claims to supersede all reproductive and family rights, identical to communism.
III. Nazi Economic Theory & Practice
A. Nazi Economic Fallacies
Several misconceptions regarding Nazi economics must be mentioned. First, the Nazis were not the unmitigated success some writers claim, states Adam Tooze in his groundbreaking work The Wages of Destruction, The Making And Breaking Of The Nazi Economy. Second, Nazis did not have an economy based on free markets, or unfettered capitalism. Third, Nazi Germany was not a “corporatist” affair where the state was run by an equal marriage between the Third Reich and big business, according to Avraham Barkai in Nazi Economics, Ideology, Theory And Policy.
As economist Gary North explains, there was nothing Conservative, or of Classical Economics about Nazi Germany, writing:
The German economic system was run by the central government. It preserved the illusion of private property, but it was a socialist system. The government controlled the means of production. The government issued fiat money, and it established price and wage controls. It set up a system of 1,600 cartels in 1933-36. Beginning in 1934, government officials set the prices of commodities, and this resulted in shortages of most domestic commodities. The government also expanded the power of the government over the affairs of everybody in the society.
B. The Nazi 25 Points Program
Hitler had no deep knowledge of economic theory or practice. He believed if his experts were in charge, he could give commands and his demands would be achieved. Hitler was disinterested in economics, but knew he could not win popular support without a good economy. This was one chief difference between Marxist and Fascist states, as the communists were positively fatalistic in removing industrialist leadership. To this end Hitler employed the ideas of Gottfried Feder, who formulated the Nazi’s Twenty-Five Point Program (25 Punkte Partieprogramm) of 1920.
Ten of the Points expressed Third Reich economic policy. For example, Point 18 made it a capital crime to money-lend or profiteer; whereas Point 13 nationalized all publicly owned companies; and Point 14 demanded profit sharing from all large companies. Feder’s philosophy was the cliche’ “Breaking the slavery of interest,” an obvious code phrase attacking Jewish business interests. The points morphed into unalterable"sacred” Nazi policy.
C. Big Business and Nazism
Some essentials about Third Reich market theory are apropos. First, Nazi economic policy was a pure triumph of politics over anything else. Known facts defy Marxist propaganda that Nazism arose from blessings of Big Business upon Hitler. Yet, large corporations did sully themselves by cooperating with the Nazis to stay alive. Yet, Tim Mason argues there exists no proof wealthy industrialists had any important influence on Hitler’s singular opinions. Barkai refers to this remarkable happening:
The primacy of politics in the Third Reich was indeed a unique phenomenon in the annals of bourgeois society since the Industrial Revolution, but was an unassailable fact per se.
Tooze also weighs in on this point:
The evidence cannot be dodged. Nothing suggests that the leaders of German big business were filled with ideological ardor for National Socialism.
Second, the businesses that survived Nazi takeover and thrived were those supporting Hitler’s rise. Barkai quotes David’s Schoenbaum‘s observation:
The status of business in the Third Reich was at best the product of a social contract between unequal partners , in which submission was the condition for success…Business recovered, in effect, as an accomplice of the Third Reich and by the grace of it. But the initiative was the State’s and economic recovery a means, not an end.
The net effect was business leaders became silent partners. Writes Barkai,
In substance, this means that the captains of industry in the Third Reich occupied the position of “sleeping partners,” enjoying generous profits but having no say on the “management of the firm.” All groups in large-scale industry accumulated vast profits; they benefited from economic recovery and shared in the gains of plunder without compunction—beginning with Jewish property confiscated during the process of Aryanization and going onto the spoils of war . However, the business community had no real say with regard to far-reaching objectives of economic policy…
Nazi policy set interest at a “just rate” by decree, according to Barkai. This policy allowed a legal attack against the Jews, launching pogroms against their businesses. This well represents Nazi racial theory pursued even to their own harm.
D. Nazis & Keynesianism
Nazi economic policy was proto-Keynesian. David Gordon writes, “In effect, Germany had embarked on a Keynesian policy: government spending became increasingly important in guiding the economy…” For example, Feder had a theory of limitlessly increasing money supply to keep employment high, as Keynes later argued. Feder asked why ... “the state should not produce the money…which, after all, is guaranteed by the entire labor force of the people.” A series of special banks was proposed for use in economic and construction activity, like America’s Federal Reserve Banks. The work of these is described by Feder:
During the interim period, the National Socialist state will use its right to create money wisely in order to finance large public works and the construction of housing, in the spirit of my well-known proposals (a bank for construction and economic activities, etc).
Hitler was not anti-capitalist. He merely believed his state should control personal property, saying:
What matters is to emphasize the fundamental idea in my party’s economic program clearly—the idea of authority. I want the authority. I want everyone to keep the property he has acquired himself according to the principle: benefit to the community precedes benefit to the individual (Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz). But the state should retain supervision and each property owner should consider himself appointed by the state. It is his duty not to use his property against the interest of others among his people. This is the crucial matter. The Third Reich will always retain its right to control the owners of property.
It would be impossible to find a better expression of fascist property theory, as distinct from socialism and communism in name, if not always in effect.
IV. Nazi Fascism & Obamanomics
Comparison between Nazi economics and the Obama Administration are inevitable given Barack’s policies. It’s stunning how Barack apes leftist maneuvers of past failed liberal regimes. Why so, given their disastrous results? One can speculate Barack is either wholly ignorant of history and economics; or he seeks power. The current collapse of US state budgets will deform American Federal structure, if national government bails them out. If Obama is indeed a socialist, will he not secretly rejoice?
Barrack again grows stronger, like a weakened hurricane regrouping over warm water. His scurrilous seduction of big business only damages America’s free-markets, building his power base upon fascist “jobs creation” at the cost of capitalism itself. So, are patriotic Americans going resist Barack’s unscrupulous reborn ambitions—or will we roll over like in 2008—and let our Marxist Cerberus have his way with our Republic, once again?