Blaming capitalism isn’t new

While I’m certainly not trying to draw a strong comparison between the Obama administration and Nazi Germany, it is interesting to note who governments blame in times of economic hardship, and why they do so.  I’m currently taking a course on modern military history with Dr. Michael Hughes at Wake Forest.  We’re about to begin studying World War II, and tonight’s reading assignment was the first 44 pages of R.A.C. Parker’s book, The Second World War: A Short History.

While I certainly don’t agree with all of Parker’s views on economics (ex. – Capitalism caused the Great Depression), and I’m – again – not drawing a direct comparison, there still is something to be said for the fact that we all should know how people like Hitler come to power in order to prevent it.  Parker writes:

The Nazis were supported by a disproportionate number of young voters … The Nazis’ claim to be detached from class conflict was strengthened by their hostility to the individualistic excesses they attributed to international capitalism.  In a time of deep economic recession, an attack on successful capitalists as conspiratorial scoundrels has wide appeal, especially to debtors, and, therefore, to struggling peasants and smallholders hard hit by falling prices … In 1932 anti-Semitism probably alienated more Germans than it attracted.  However, it appealed…to peasants who resented their indebtedness to moneyed men, to small shopkeepers who disliked the competition of large stores, and to professional men…who attributed their competitive failures or lack of employment to unfair advantages conferred on Jews by the supposed cohesiveness of their culture or religion.  Votes for the Nazis expressed the fears and hatreds brought about by deprivation or the fear of deprivation.  The Nazis encouraged and exploited suspicion between socially distinct groups, while they themselves claimed to stand for a united nation.

Please note that I certainly don’t mean to misrepresent Parker’s views — this is merely a shred of his writing on what led up to Hitler’s being in power.  I simply think that this is good food for thought.

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