Once again Lew Rockwell addresses the issue of fascism and freedom in “Hitler’s Economics,” the 9th installment in Robert Wenzel’s 30 Day Reading List. The essay was prompted by the case of The Glenview State Bank of Chicago publishing a flattering article of Adolf Hitler’s economic policies in its monthly newsletter, and the Anti-Defamation League’s indignant response.
As Rockwell is careful to note, it isn’t praising fascist economic policies per se, which were not only popular in the US at the time, and are just as en vogue today, but putting them in the context of Hitler is the problem. The ADL wrote that “Hitler’s economic policies cannot be divorced from his great policies of virulent anti-Semitism, racism and genocide….” And this is Rockwell’s point: it’s impossible to separate economic policies from the evil carried out by the State through central planning, regardless of who is in charge and without respect to the territory in which it takes place.
And just so the reader is clear on what a fascist or Hitlerian economic policy looks like, Rockwell describes what Hitler implemented in Germany at the time:
He suspended the gold standard, embarked on huge public-works programs like autobahns, protected industry from foreign competition, expanded credit, instituted jobs programs, bullied the private sector on prices and production decisions, vastly expanded the military, enforced capital controls, instituted family planning, penalized smoking, brought about national healthcare and unemployment insurance, imposed education standards, and eventually ran huge deficits.
It all sounds remarkably similar to the policies in effect in contemporary American life, sans the direct family planning policies, although similar programs have been advocated from time to time.
The reason such policies are familiar to those here in the US (and to a large extent people overseas) is that they’re essentially Keynesian, in the broad sense that they’re founded on central planning by bureaucrats. Rockwell notes that Keynes himself was quite fond of the Nazi system, writing in the German edition of his General Theory that his theory “is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state….” And it’s no wonder, since the very heart of central planning requires the State to subvert the free will of the individual and attempt to control his behavior. “It means forcibly overriding the voluntary decisions of consumers and savers, violating their property rights and their freedom of association in order to realize the national government’s economic ambitions.”
Part of this planning hinges on autarky, an isolationist system that rejects international trade and restricts or prohibits exchange between people in other countries. This is accomplished through the dual policies of protectionism and conquest. Rockwell notes that under president George W. Bush a number of products were protected from foreign competition, including lumber and microchips. The same policies are underway now with president Obama. One of the first acts he did as president was to raise tariffs on Mexican tires imported to the US.
And neither party has really been against foreign wars, despite any rhetoric to the contrary. The fact that virtually all of them have been waged in resource-rich countries or otherwise strategic locations is no coincidence either. It’s all part of the fascist system.