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Notes of the Month

PM on Germany

(July 1942)

From The New International, Vol. VIII No. 6, July 1942, pp. 166–167.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan.

The New York newspaper PM may appear to be an oddity to many people. A great deal of writing has been contributed in an endeavor to explain this “phenomenon” in American journalism. The upper strata of the financial and manufacturing circles have a venomous hatred for its muckraking exposures of their high-handed profiteering through special means of exploiting the workers, particularly through the present war production program. The reactionary politicians hate it no less for its exposures of their rôle in the legislative halls of Washington and the economic interests which they serve – this is especially true of the Southern bourbons, whose power in Congress far exceeds their specific weight in the country as a whole.

But PM earns not only the enmity of the reactionary bourgeoisie. Liberals, pure and simple trade unionists, socialists, revolutionary Marxists find it difficult to accept PM for what it says it is.

The paper’s best friends are the New Dealers, the die-hard Rooseveltians, the Stalinists and the trade unionists who are the captives of the Stalinists. For PM is an American counterpart of the radical-liberal oftentimes observed in Europe. Its pretentious independence of thought, fearlessness and objectivity are suspect by the fact that it follows the line of the Stalinists on all decisive questions. Since the involvement of Russia in the war against Hitler, its line in this direction has become clearer and there is little doubt left as to the origin of its major inspirations.

Thus, its liberalism, its defense of democratic rights, of the Negroes, the general trade union and liberal movement is proscribed by its real political position as a camp-follower of Stalinism (many of its writers are not merely tainted with this cancer, but are drenched in it – the noble editor notwithstanding). Thus, PM shrinks from clarity and creates a great confusion of ideas by its half-truths and deliberately misleading editorials and features.

The Story of Germany

An article printed some weeks ago, entitled Big Business Wins Complete Control in Nazi Germany, written by Kurt Singer (referred to as a Swedish journalist) and its own Victor H. Bernstein, is a typical example of what we refer to above. The article opens with the announcement that the replacement of Herr Wagner as price commissioner of the Third Reich by a Herr Fishboeck “marked the final victory, within the Reich, of Germany’s industrial plutocrats – the steel magnates and I.G. Farbenindustrie, the Aryan ‘husband’ of Standard Oil – in their struggle for power, profits and monopolies against small business and the German state.”

The article, which has an air of “Marxism” about it, goes on to describe the process by which big business triumphed under Hitler. It says, for example:

“The German industrialists did not want an excess-profits tax. It was dumped.

“The German industrialists did not want limitations on profits. The limitations were dumped.

“The German industrialists did not want the ceiling on wages to be lifted. It remained fixed.

“The German industrialists resented the sharing of war profits with small industry. Small industry is now disappearing in Germany.” (Emphasis in original. – A.G.)

How Big Business Triumphs

Let us stop here for a moment to see what it is PM is really saying. The impression which the writers are trying to convey is that Germany is economically different from Great Britain or the United States (in their minds, one of the main reasons for supporting the war in the latter countries). But they are wrong in declaring that “Germany’s industrial plutocracy” fought for power against “small business and the German state.” Small business was licked in Germany many years ago. It has been in a subordinate position in her economy since the turn of the century. The war has only accentuated and brutalized this process. But what is true for Germany is also true for all other imperialist nations, America, England, France, Japan, etc.

What the writers say about the plutocratic victory over the German state is ludicrous. Fascism rose to power in Germany as the servant of big business. And the state in Germany was always the servant of big business, but it was never so intimately welded to the interests of the financial and industrial ruling class as under Hitler. The victory of fascism in Germany signified that the plutocracy succeeded in destroying the resistive powers of the proletariat and thus guaranteed uninterrupted profits for its class. The theory of PM leads to only one conclusion: that there was a struggle between the German ruling class and the fascist state in which the former triumphed. This, by the grace of God, never existed.

Furthermore, the list of the demands of the industrialists, all of which were acceded to, are not peculiar to Germany. They express part of the essence of the interests of the bourgeoisie all over the world, and the above “demands” are identical to those made and won in Great Britain and the United States. The only mitigating factor in the latter countries is that the inter-bourgeois political conflicts, and the bourgeois-proletarian class struggle has not yet been solved in the completely reactionary (fascist) manner as in Germany. But the economic principles of the two orders are identical and that is why the fundamental paths traveled by these countries is similar and in many cases identical. Only those who look upon Germany as a new social order, or those who describe the Germans as the protagonists of a “world revolution” (PM) are confused and ... irritated.

What of America and England?

But what about the American bourgeois? Or the British? They do not want an excess-profits tax. So they emasculate all proposals in such a direction and are guaranteed in advance that in the post-war period they will be returned a large share of what is now siphoned off for the purpose of partially paying for the war.

Limitations on profits are a farce in the United States and Great Britain, even as PM has often pointed out.

If the German industrialists do not want the ceiling on wages in that country lifted, the British working class already has a ceiling on wages and the American ruling class and the Administration are fighting for a more severe ceiling than now prevails in a practical way.

If the plutocracy in Germany does not want to share its profits with small business, what of the American and British plutocracies? Or is it possible that everyone has already forgotten the findings of the Truman committee, or the frantic wailings of the small business men at home? The tendency toward the disappearance of small business in Germany has a corollary in the same tendency here and in England (see The New International, March, 1942).

The article in PM goes on to cite that despite Hitler’s promise that “None will make gold from the ruby blood of our fellow heroes,” was profits have enormously risen in the face of large taxes (this has a familiar ring!). The writers cite the growth of income for German industry as taken from the Nazi publication Wirtschaft und Statistik. These figures are based on tax returns and are in billions of marks:


Net Income











The article then goes on the describe the methods employed by big business to increase “invisible” profits and how the government gives industry special considerations in contracts, all of them calculated to increase profits. Here, too, the methods are similar and identical to those pursued in the United States and England.

One might reasonably ask: What is the purpose of the PM article, what is it trying to prove? Merely this, that in England and the United States, as democratic capitalist nations, a more liberal policy prevails – the tendencies in these two countries, while identical to those in Germany, are not yet as extreme in all their ramifications.

The significant nature of the article, not intended by the authors, is that it does identify the economies of the leading capitalist powers. If big business has won complete control in Germany, it is well on the way to achieve it in the United States and England. In any case, it is triumphant and dominant in the “democratic” nations and one can, with equal justification, point to the developments in these countries as one with Germany. As the war economy develops at home, the identification of American economy with that of Germany will be infinitely clearer.

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