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Notes of the Month

Once Again, the German Economy

(December 1941)

From The New International, Vol. VII No. 11, December 1941, pp. 294–5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

A GREAT DEAL of nonsense is written these days on the nature of German society. The general state of confusion and alarm emanating from the decay of the bourgeois social order and the character of Imperialist World War II is recorded in high places and low, but nowhere so flagrantly as by the professional economists, sociologists and politicians, or the would-be theorists of “a new social order in Germany.” With some exceptions, the proponents of the “new society” in Germany merely erect blinders to conceal their social patriotic support of the war. But now and again, some professional economist publishes a paper which completely shatters the theories of the innovators.

An extremely interesting survey made of German society is the article by Dr. A.R.L. Gurland, entitled Technological Trends and Economic Structure under National Socialism, contained in the magazine, In Re: Germany, issued by the Research and Information Service of the American Friends of German Freedom. In Re: Germany is a monthly digest of the most important books, articles and reviews on the economic, political and social development of Nazi Germany. It has an important place as a purveyor of information where one may seek sources of study on this highly important topic. Following is the digest contained in the periodical. It bears directly upon discussions previously had in this magazine:

“This article analyzes the technological development and economic changes which have led to increasing state intervention in all industrial countries. The author first ascribes the capitalist economy under totalitarian control to the growing preponderance of chemical processes in modern technology. The huge investments required for experimentation and production, the increased risks due to the unproductiveness of plastic synthesis, lead to the establishment of giant combines and to increasing clamor for government protection.

“The author argues that the establishment of the Nationalist Socialist regime was the best solution for paramount problems of the giant combinations: it gave them low cost labor, expansionist policy, state guarantees for special investments and a practically unlimited government demand. This liberation from the handicaps hampering industry in the past led to a further accentuation of the trend and to a veritable technological revolution under National Socialism. In the author’s view the fact that this revolution occurred in the form of war preparation is somewhat incidental – ‘motorized lightning war ... is but one of the aspects of motorization as a whole.’

“In Dr. Gurland’s opinion the positions of the capitalist monopolies as against the political machinery are strengthened. The trend seems to be that more and more supervisory functions are entrusted to the organizational bodies of big business itself. The author argues that on the whole the characteristics of capitalist production are maintained and even accentuated to a much higher degree than is generally assumed. Regimentation had the effect of sharpening ‘the sting of the profit motive instead of neutralizing it.’ Government policy makes for maximum expansion of enterprise. Price fixing obeys the profit-bound expansionist economy. Internal financing makes big business largely independent of government intervention and investment control. The financial divisions within the framework of a big business economy have compromised between divergent economic group interests, negotiated by a bureaucracy with proper respect for established property rights. The separation of ownership and management is followed by ‘separation of the entirety of the capitalist’s function from the legal title to property,’ by growing ‘anonymization’ of capital and increasing control through banks or holders of a comparatively small proportion of shares, transforming the ‘old’ capitalists (shareholders) into consumers of fixed dividends – rentiers without any further rights. The ‘new’ capitalists are those in actual control – whether managers or owners – and their primary interest is increasing profit accumulation, i.e.: expansion; an interest thoroughly consistent with the party machine’s aim. Dr. Gurland concludes that ‘whereas the monopolists in controlling the means of production hold the key to economic life, the political masters are reduced to the rdle of mere organizers and superintendents of the social set-up.’

“This article is amply documented and probably the most instructive statement available in support of the theory of ‘National Socialism – the highest form of Monopoly Capitalism.’” (Emphasis mine – Ed.)

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