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Vorocracy: 3: Investing in Fascism

→ Vorocracy 2: Conflict of Interest as the Structural Engine of Economic Ecstasy

Investing in the Axis

The addiction of industrial capital to war profits is a largely ignored factor in the causes that led to World War II; it may, in fact, be its primary cause.

German industry, after World War I, faced enormous problems. Big business was losing money for a variety of reasons that included loss of revenue from the outbreak of peace, being saddled with onerous war reparations, and dealing with a tremendously invigorated and emboldened working class demanding structural changes. Daniel Guerin, in his excellent "you-are-there" 1934 book Fascism and Big Business, explores this in detail. Here, in a nutshell, was the problem:

When the hour of peace struck, war orders ceased overnight, the domestic market vanished, and the established foreign outlets disappeared...The big business interests had reached the point where only the aid of the state could make their enterprises profitable again. It was up to the state to help them break working-class resistance and cut wages; it was up to the state to refloat their sinking enterprises, grant them subsidies and tax exemptions, assure them greater tariff protection, and keep them going with armament orders.

But it wasn't only the economic threat of peace to large industries that drove business to support the Nazis. An excellent wikipedia article on Nazism gets it right: "nazism arose out of a resistance to the bolshevik-inspired insurgencies." A backlash from Big Business against the enormous successes of labor after WWI figures importantly as well. Guerin states:

...the workers and peasants won vital economic and political advantages: the extension of universal suffrage to both sexes, the eight-hour day, general recognition of union agreements, unemployment insurance, elected "shop committees," etc. The farm laborers, employed by the great landowners of the East, won for their part the right to organize and they crowded into the unions...
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These gains impaired the interests and the prestige of both the industrial and the landowning dynasties of Germany.
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The great industrialists were particularly hard hit: their enormous fixed capital burdened them with extremely high fixed costs which they had to carry even when their plants lay idle. They reached the point where only state aid could artificially revive their profits. It was up to the state to help them reduce the worker's wages, raised during the deceptive prosperity of "rationalization." But in order to lower wages, they first had to smash the system of union contracts, which in 1931 applied to ten million workers and almost two million office employees. Hence they had to reduce to impotence not only union organization but its projection in the factory, the "shop committee." It was up to the state to restrict "social expenditures," which resulted in excessive taxation. It was up to the state to refloat the sinking enterprises, grant them subsidies and tax exemptions, and nourish them on its orders. The crisis was no less severe in agriculture, and the great landed proprietors demanded one state "emergency subsidy" after another, and import duty piled on import duty.

Workers and the poor made great advances after WWI, and demanded many concessions from business. Business, fearful and angered at the prospect of losing their money and power, didn't trust the democratic parties to help them. To regain their lost money, power, and prestige they decided to aid the fledging nazis since their goals dovetailed in many ways: to reinvigorate Germany, to smash bolshevism, and to shed Germany of its shame and make it strong and proud again are a few of their goals. To make a long story short they got behind Hitler and the Nazis, funding them to their eventual success.

1934 Germany, or 2006 America?

The keystone of capitalism is profit. As long as capitalism was growing, the bourgeoisie was able to tap ever new sources of profit through ceaseless development of production and the constant expansion of domestic and foreign markets. After WWI, capitalism as a whole began to decline. To the periodic economic crises of the past there has been added a chronic crisis, involving the whole system and threatening capitalist profit at its very source.
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When the economic crisis becomes acute, when the rate of profit sinks toward zero, the bourgeoisie can see only one way to restore its profits: it empties the pockets of the people down to the last centime. It resorts to what M. Caillaux, once finance minister of France, expressively calls " the great penance": brutal slashing of wages and social expenditures, raising of tariff duties at the expense of the consumer, etc. The state, furthermore, rescues business enterprises on the brink of bankruptcy, forcing the masses to foot the bill. Such enterprises are kept alive with subsidies, tax exemptions, orders for public works and armaments. In short, the state thrusts itself into the breach left by the vanishing private customers.

But such maneuvers are difficult under a democratic regime. As long as democracy survives, the masses, though thoroughly deceived and plundered, have some means of defense against the "great penance": freedom of the press, universal suffrage, the right to organize into unions and to strike, etc. Feeble defenses, it is true, but still capable of setting some limit to the insatiable demands of the money power. In particular, the resistance of the organized working class makes it rather difficult to simply lower wages.

And so, in certain countries and under certain conditions, the bourgeoisie throws its traditional democracy overboard and conjures up with its invocations -- and its subsidies -- that "strong state" which alone can strip the masses of all means of defense, tying their hand behind their backs, the better to empty their pockets.

     —Daniel Guerin. Fascism and Big Business

But given the grave state of their economy, German Capital couldn't do it on their own. They needed outside funding. And so American money came to the rescue.

When the mark was definitely stabilized and the Dawes plan came into effect, American capital began to flow to Germany. Until 1931, the "most enormous investment operation in financial history" was taking place. It reached the figure of 30 billion gold marks.

(I haven't been able to find a way to convert that figure into contemporary dollars, but I bet it's a very big number.)
The German and Italian industrialists and landowners believed that they could tame fascism, just as they had tamed the workers and prevented a full-fledged bolshevik revolution. Of course things turned out a bit differently than they had expected. Even though Mussolini is reputed to have said "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power" — which is understably cited to demonstrate that America is now a fascist state — this statement was largely tactical to cement business's support of the fascist regimes. (People forget that fascism was originally a working-class, nationalistic, anti-bolshevik phenomenon that sought to raise the station of the working and underclass but without adopting revolutionary bolshevism. The parallels to various demographic sectors of America's working and underclass support of the republican/right-wing christian agenda should be noted.)

But politicians, it should be remembered, are known to say things they don't necessarily believe in order to achieve their ends: goals can easily be re-justified when power is sought. Thus the fascist's relationship with business was a matter of mutual convenience: business used the fascists to tame the working class while increasing their own profits; the fascists treated business much the way Bush treats Blair — happy to exploit them for their own ends, but not feeling beholden to give them anything in return.

Thus there came a point at which the interests of Capital and those of the Nazis diverged. Guerin once again:

The big "democracies" do not always tell the truth. They fought Hitler, not, as they claim today, because of the authoritarian and brutal form of the National Socialist regime, but because German imperialism, at a given moment, dared to dispute with them the hegemony of the world. It has been too generally forgotten that Hitler was hoisted to power with the blesssings of the international bourgeoisie. During the first years of his rule, Anglo-American capitalism from the British aristocracy to Henry Ford gave him, according to all evidence, their support. They viewed him as "the strong man," who alone was capable of reestablishing order in Europe and saving the continent from Bolshevism...
Only much later, when the capitalists of the "democratic" countries found their interests, their markets, their sources of raw materials menaced by the irresistable expansion of German imperialism, did they start to preach against National Socialism, to denounce it as "immoral" and "un-Christian." And, even then, there were capitalists and princes of the Church, who, more anxious to ward off the "red peril" than the German peril, remained partial towards the policeman of Europe.

(We'll return to the "red peril" at a later point -- it's a major piece of the puzzle of modern vorocratic history, as we shall see.)
Ultimately, as Guerin suggests, American business abandoned Hitler when Germany's imperial aims diverged from those of their American investors.

I'll let David Abraham have the last word from the conclusion of his intensely controversial book The Collapse of the Weimar Republic:

It is important to point out that although there were some active Nazi ideologues among the leading figures of industry...the important question is not how "fascist" was industry, nor how intimately involved were its leaders in the backstage events leading to Hitler's appointment. The bourgeoisie saw no other way out of the crisis; it decided "consciously" in favor of the Nazis. The various middle strata, urban and rural, that the Nazis had attracted seemed to be the proper support classes for reestablishing a modified version of the prewar Sammlung [an historical bloc alliance between agrarian and heavy industry interests] under the leadership of heavy industry. These strata, including some salaried employees, were bearing a disproportionate share of the economic costs of the Depression, because the unions and SPD [Social Democrats] had succeeded, at least to a minimal extent, in protecting their employed industrial workers from the requisite cuts in wages and state-welfare assistance.
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...the Nazis in cooperation with industrialists had by 1936 accomplished most of the tasks necessary to stabilize capitalism -- the functional equivalent of the New Deal... They could not choose to increase consumption and return to peaceful capitalism because, without a place in the process of production, there would have been no future for them. Instead, through the mobilization for war, Nazi autonomy increased.

So basically, once Capital signed a deal with the Devil to keep the profits rolling in, they put the keys in the ignition and started up a vehicle-of-war that didn't have any brakes.

Very similar, in fact, to the vehicle that is now starting to barrel out of control before our very eyes...

One thing about the fascists -- they were good teachers in techniques of modern social control. And BushCo turned out to be very good students.

Are BushCo Fascists, Nazis, or What?

Of course saying that bankers, industrialists and financiers were critical factors in the rise of the Nazis is not to equate them with Nazis. To say such a thing is guilt by association. Just because a whore fucks a battalion of Brown Shirts doesn't make her a Nazi -- it just provides her with an income stream. Those who point to this historical record to condemn BushCo as fascists are, however understandably, too quick to invite such a comparison.

Others have detailed the important role played by Wall Street in general (Antony C. Sutton: Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler), and the Bush Family in particular (Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin: George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography) in the rise of the Nazis, so I will refer interested parties to them. After all, it's no secret that Prescott Bush amassed much of his fortune by being one of those American Capitalists whose investments helped the Nazis rise to power. (There's an an ever-growing plethora of resources one can pursue to learn about these things.) Grosz: Eclipse of the Sun But before condemning BushCo as Fascists (or even Nazis) by association one should keep in mind that a banker is in the business of funding profitable ventures. Investors may have played a decivise role in bringing Hitler and the Nazis to power, as well as being a decisive factor in bankrolling German rearmament, but that does not mean they were Nazis, does it? Profit is profit and money is money — it's all just business, right?

I think the best summation of the role of American business generally (and BushCo's role specifically) in the rise of the Nazis is from this article by David Niewert:

...the questions around the Bush family's connections to the Nazi regime are relevant today. The episode does not point to some secret ideological affinity for fascism so much as it reveals a willingness to empower them if it furthers their ends. The really interesting question raised by the "Bush-Nazi connection" is not so much a hidden skeleton in the family closet as what the episode says about American society's willingness to ignore inconvenient truths of history, and how that affects the ethos of current public policy.
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...While it is true that certain American figures -- notably Henry Ford -- faced even greater degrees of culpability for their overt support of fascism, the people who gladly profited from providing essential cogs to the Nazi war machine cannot escape accountability by merely claiming that it was "just business." This defense for all kinds of atrocities is common among American capitalists, and it is at base corrupt and amoral. Indeed, it continues to serve as a handy excuse for the kind of foreign policy that has been practiced ever since the war, and which was specifically shaped by the same self-interested forces that gave way to the Holocaust. [em. mine]

This is very well said, and captures at one stroke both the history of the world after WWII, and gets to the heart of just what a vorocrat is. Later in the article he says:

Simpson [Christopher Simpson in his book The Splendid Blond Beast: Money Law and Genocide in the Twentieth Century] delves even deeper into this point and ultimately concludes that when it came time for accountability in the mass genocide sponsored by corporatists, international tribunals were stymied by the same machinations of privilege and power that were in fact responsible for the problem. The elites whose fortunes were at stake found that the structure of international law was weak and easily manipulated so that they could simply "get on with business."

The reason America is not fascist is because business does not need to form an alliance with political power to maintain their wealth and privilege — because, now, they are that political power.

While it's true that they have learned the tools of social control from the Nazis — techniques of propaganda, effective suppression of dissent, promulgation of cultural mysticism (eg: Jesus; American Exceptionalism), competitive individualism as a way to bring about conformity, etc — the difference between the way the tools of social control were deployed by the fascists and the way they're deployed by BushCo is fundamental and decisive: the fascists, deep down, believed in their cultural and nationalistic exceptionalism. They were, technically speaking, ideocrats:

Ideocracy is a political system whose activities are pursued in reference to the tenets of a monistic ideology. More specifically, the legitimacy of the political system is derived from the monistic ideology, which establishes a universal frame of reference for the participants of the system.

The concept of ideocracy combines two root terms: cracy and ideo. Cracy is a Greek word meaning political rule. Ideo derives from ideology. Hence ideocracy involves political rule in the name of a monistic ideology. We may define ideology as an integrated set of assertions, theories, and aims that constitute a general program for the organizaton of social life. It contains a view of the past, the present, and the future from which the program of political action is derived.

So say political scientists Jaroslaw Piekalkiewicz and Alfred Wayne Penn in their book Politics of Ideocracy.

The difference between an ideocratic and a non-ideocratic belief-system behind a given political power is that

the ideology of ideocracy is of a specific character — it is monistic. Monism is the doctrine that reality may be understood as one unitary, indivisible whole; thus a monistic ideology posits that this reality can be interpreted by a universally true and exhausitve system of ideas.

An ideocracy, then, is a worldview that is essentially exhaustive and absolute, one that believes it possesses The One Truth about reality, and which politically seeks to enforce this worldview on a social scale. The Taliban is an infamous modern example of this.

A Fascist Ideocrat Speaks

Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal, will of man as a historic entity
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The keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is absolute, individuals and groups relative. Individuals and groups are admissible in so far as they come within the State. Instead of directing the game and guiding the material and moral progress of the community, the liberal State restricts its activities to recording results. The Fascist State is wide awake and has a will of its own. For this reason it can be described as 'ethical.'
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The Fascist State expresses the will to exercise power and to command. Here the Roman tradition is embodied in a conception of strength. Imperial power, as understood by the Fascist doctrine, is not only territorial, or military, or commercial; it is also spiritual and ethical. An imperial nation, that is to say a nation which directly or indirectly is a leader of others, can exist without the need of conquering a single square mile of territory. Fascism sees in the imperialistic spirit -- i.e. in the tendency of nations to expand - a manifestation of their vitality. In the opposite tendency, which would limit their interests to the home country, it sees a symptom of decadence. Peoples who rise or rearise are imperialistic; renunciation is characteristic of dying peoples. The Fascist doctrine is that best suited to the tendencies and feelings of a people which, like the Italian, after lying fallow during centuries of foreign servitude, are now reasserting itself in the world.

     —Benito Mussolini

Grandpa Bush and other American investors of the time helped fund the rise of the Nazis because it was in the interests of Capital 1) to quash bolshevism, and 2) to reap profits. As such they didn't need to subscribe to the ideology of Nazi Utopianism. It's a commonplace that a businessman does not have to believe in his product to sell it: any great salesmen can sell just about anything (like, for instace, a war based on obvious lies). What does a war profiteer care about the reasons his customers buy his product? Why not double your profits by selling to both sides in a conflict, like America did during the Iran/Iraq war.

That's why it's innaccurate to call BushCo fascists -- they have mastered the political techniques of the fascists, though without subscribing to a belief in The State's transcendent immanence. In fact, quite the opposite: for them, The State is a tool of oligarchic control and nothing more. Unlike the Fascists there is no utopian ideology undergirding their authoritarianism. They are not "ideocrats." All they are is hungry — preternaturally hungry — for more: more wealth, more power. There is no ethic, no morality, no ideology at work here: it is simply an insatiable drive to acquire, at all costs. Here Piekalkiewica and Penn help us differentiate between ideocracies and authorianisms:

Authoritarian government does not aim at converting people to its own faith; it desires only to rule them.

Hence the use of the megaphone as a tool of social control in America rather than the use of overt force (for now). The goal of social control in America is not to force a unitary belief system, it is to keep the citizenry docile and pliant. BushCo only seeks social conformity and obedience 1) to make it easier to commit their white collar crimes, and 2) to factionalize society the easier to divide and conquer it.

All this talk about American Exceptionalism, and America is God's Chosen Land, is certainly a useful tool as far as it goes. But these beliefs cannot tap into the passionate cultural recidivism that inheres in more homogenous cultures, and thus they can never succeed as truly effective tools of social control in America. Shinto, for example, was easily appropriated by Hirohito to merge his nationalistic goals with the Japanese character; the Nazis had an easy time appropriating Teutonic myths and imagery to use racial exceptionalism to unite the citizenry. America has to make do with a weird, phony, and historically invalid amalgam that attempts to paint America as a Christian Nation, or to conflate Freedom™ with American Patriotism, and it's not a good fit: hence the difficulty the corporate oligarchs have at getting people to buy into it with the necessary religious fervor, precisely because America is comprised of a heterogeneous immigrant population.

The methods of social control that BushCo learned from the Nazis are thus pragmatic tools, rather than the ideological seductions (and truncheons) of the fascists. Yes, of course, BushCo would love for all citizens — not just Americans, mind you, but all the world's citizens — to behave like apple-pie-eatin', flag-salutin', jesus-prayin' Ozzie-and-Harriet pod-people. But unlike ideocrats, BushCo ultimately doesn't care what people truly think: they just want to be able to commit their white-collar crimes unhindered. It would just make their job easier if everyone believed the same bullshit.

No, the people currently running the show are not Nazis, and they are not fascists (in the political science sense), no matter how tempting and easy it is to paint them with the same brush. They are — if they can be characterized in such a way — the anthropomorphic apotheosis of Capital itself, they are greed personified. They are, simply, boardroom crooks who have adopted fascist tactics the easier to increase their portfolios.

Whatever else can be said about fascists like Hitler and Mussolini, they definitely believed in what they were talking about: listening to, watching, or reading the speeches of Hitler, Goerring, Hess, Mussolini -- any of the panoply of the fascist leaders of the time -- one gets the distinct impression that even if much of the spectacle was rehearsed (Hitler spent hours in front a mirror getting his gestures and expressions right), they nonetheless believed what they were saying. They were zealots embracing an ideology of cultural (or racial) exceptionalism wherein The People and The State were One in their Transcendent Immanence. And, with the aid of intellectuals like Goebbels (who learned his lessons from early PR experts like Edward Bernays) and Carl Schmitt, they mastered a variety of techniques of social control to help infuse their society with this belief.

BushCo sometimes seems to believe in something. They certainly seem to believe that America is exceptional, that it is overdetermined to fulfill a historical role that puts it above the ethical norms of international law. And it would be hard to argue that the neoconservatives, the dominionists, and the neoliberals -- the confluence of the three ideological rivers that comprise BushCo -- are not comprised of ideological zealots.

But their zealotry has a different flavor to it. There's something...a bit too pragmatic about it. The element of religious fervor that comes naturally to an ideocrat is completely absent from them. (Except for the dominionists -- they're just fucking nuts.) BushCo may be comprised of zealots, but they seem to lack an ideology other than one that justifies doing whatever it takes to fill their own pockets. The phenomenon at work here may have evolved from rabid anti-communism (which is a vitally important piece of the puzzle we'll get to), but it's a force that is pathological rather than ideological, psychological rather than spiritual. (Though it could be argued that ideocrats, like any zealot, are, by definition, pathological. But I don't wish to split semantic hairs right now.)

Vorocracy — A Quick Definition

I think we need a new word for this phenomenon. I suggest vorocracy, from the latin word devoro: to devour.


  1. The political philosophy of insatiable appetite
  2. Society structured around the need to pathologically consume until it self-destructs
  3. A society at the service of those with such a drive
  4. Government of the greedy, by the greedy, and for the greedy

A vorocracy exists for no reason other than to amass. A vorocracy develops belief systems to justify the means and ends of satisfying an insatiable greed. In a vorocracy, greed determines the ideology which justifies it's pathological goal of eternal and infinite acquisition. For a vorocrat there is no worldview other than "more".

In fact, for a vorocrat there is really no ideology — there is only hunger.

Where BushCo Intersects Nazism

Herbert Marcuse is, in my opinion, one of the great thinkers of the last century. Here, in one of the most fascinating essays I've ever read — State and Individual Under National Socialism (from Technology, War, and Fascism: Collected Papers of Herbert Marcuse: Volume One) — he makes some astounding and myth shattering assertions about fascism and nazism. Here's my favorite:

The National Socialist state is not the reversal but the consummation of competitive individualism. The regime releases all those forces of brutal self-interest which the democratic countries have tried to curb and combine with the interest of freedom...The coordination of individuals into a crowd has intensified rather than abolished their atomization and isolation from each other, and their equalization only follows the pattern on which their individuality has been previously molded...The individuals know little of each other; they are suspicious and shrewd, and have learned to be silent. They are susceptible to manipulation and unification from above because they are stripped of everything that might transcend their self-interest and establish a real community. They are led to entertainment, they rest and holiday in masses...Reduced to that brute and abstract instinct of self-preservation which is equal in all of them, they are easily forced into masses which, by their mere weight, prevent any articulation of a common interest.

Let's read that again.

The National Socialist state is not the reversal but the consummation of competitive individualism. The regime releases all those forces of brutal self-interest which the democratic countries have tried to curb and combine with the interest of freedom...The coordination of individuals into a crowd has intensified rather than abolished their atomization and isolation from each other, and their equalization only follows the pattern on which their individuality has been previously molded...The individuals know little of each other; they are suspicious and shrewd, and have learned to be silent. They are susceptible to manipulation and unification from above because they are stripped of everything that might transcend their self-interest and establish a real community. They are led to entertainment, they rest and holiday in masses...Reduced to that brute and abstract instinct of self-preservation which is equal in all of them, they are easily forced into masses which, by their mere weight, prevent any articulation of a common interest.

Sound familiar? Ring any bells? (Go here for a more in-depth analysis of how hyper-individualism creates zombie communities.) Next time you're watching a "reality" TV show like Survivor, or Fear Factor, or The Apprentice, or Hell's Kitchen, keep in the back of your mind the potential ideological functions such shows serve.

Marcuse wrote this article in 1941 shortly after he left Germany, so he has an intimate understanding of that which he speaks. And it is absolutely germaine to understanding the similarities and differences between the Nazis and BushCo. I think this article is so vitally important to understanding where America is that I shall quote extensively from it. First, some fascinating tidbits on some of the tools of social control employed by the Nazis:

...National Socialism tends toward direct and immediate self government by the prevailing social groups over the rest of the population. And it manipulates the masses by unleashing the most brutal and selfish instincts of the individual.

Ie: divide and conquer: to better control people turn them against each other by emphasizing their selfish needs.

Law made subordinate to such standards as the feeling of the racial community in reality to political expediency, serves to heighten existing social and political privileges. The promulgation of retroactive laws destroys the calculability and rationality of the administration of justice. Law is no longer an established and generally known reality which balances the social and political interests, it is rather the direct expression of these interests themselves, constantly changing as social and political requirements change.

Ie: Law is no longer meant to apply universally to society as a whole, but becomes fluid and arbitrary the better to serve the interests of those in power. (Eg: Bush's notorious "signing statements")

...the National Socialist state has been casting away the last remnants of independence from the predominant social groups — it is becoming the executive organ of the imperialist economic interests.

Ie: Government no longer even pretends to serve the middle class, it serves only the wealthy.

Hitler and his official spokesmen have frequently expressed the view that they consider the state merely as a part of a much more comprehensive scheme. Wherever they have refrained from ideological glorification, they have stated that this scheme is set and determined by the expanding needs of German capitalism.

Ie: Government may exist as an expression of its citizenry, but it nevertheless functions to serve the need of Capital.
Marcuse explores this notion in detail:

Industrial expansion and, with it, the social order based on this expansion could be maintained only through the transformation of the democratic state into an authoritarian political system.
This may sound like an extremely one-sided interpretation, but it is the explanation of National Socialism which Hitler himself has given... According to this principle individuals as well as social groups and nations receive a share in the social product measured by their performance in the competitive struggle — regardless of the means through which this performance has been achieved, and regardless of its ends, provided that they keep within the established social pattern. To Hitler, modern society is perpetuated by ruthless competition among unequeal group and individuals: only the most ruthless and most efficient competitor can get along in the world. The first task of National Socialism is, therefore, to restore Germany's position as a powerful competitor on the international market.

The State, then, serves the interests of Capital because, left to its own "free" market devices, Capital would wither and die. Capital must continually expand, and, to do so, it must enlist the State to assist it. Marcuse then quotes at length one of Hitler's speeches, from which I will quote an interesting snippet:

"...there have been times when the volume of certain products in the world exceeded the demand...there has arisen such an increase in product capacity that the present possible consumption market stands in no relation to this increased capacity. But if Bolshevism...tears the Asiastic continent out of the human economic community, then the conditions for the employment of these industries which have developed on so gigantic a scale will be no longer even approximately realized..."

Marcuse then explains the consequence of this for Hitler:

Under the prevailing external and internal conditions, the German economy is no longer capable of functioning by means of its own inherent forces and mechanisms. The economic relations must therefore be transformed into political relations, economic expansion and domination must not only be supplemented, but superseded by political expansion and domination. Hitler promises that the new state shall become the executive agent of the economy, that it shall organize and coordinate the entire nation for unhampered economic expansion, that it shall make German industry to run down its competitor and to open up the required markets, namely the most formidable army in the world. And 8 years after Hitler's promise, Robert Ley, the leader of the German Labor Front, happily declares that Hitler has fulfilled his promise: "Capitalist economy had reached a barrier which it could not overcome by its own means. The risk of conquering new economic territory was so great that it could not be taken by private capital; capital had retreated and merely defended its previous position. It thus happened that, on the one side, gigantic productive capacities, while, on the other side, millions of men were barely able to avoid starvation. Then, National Socialism ventured on the successful attempt to open up new ways for an economy which was frustrated and had reached the limits of its own power." The National Socialist state itself assumed the risk which the private entrepeneur no longer dared to assume, or, in Ley's words, the state undertook to provide new space for the initiative of the entrepreneur.
This, however, could not be accomplished within the framework of the established state. In the speech we quoted, Hitler frightens the industrialists with the statement that 50% of the German population have become bolshevist. He means that 50% of the German population were not willing to sacrifice their wants and perhaps their lives for imperialist expansion, and that the democratic state gave them the means of effectively expressing their unwillingness. To secure industrial capacity and its full utilization all the barriers between politics and economy, between state and society had to be removed, the intermediate institutions which mitigated the oppressive social and economic forces had to be abandoned, the state had to identify itself directly with the predominant economic interests and order all social relationships according to their requirements.
...The increase of industrial capacity on an imperialist scale meant the exclusion of all inefficient enterprises from the productive process, the transformation of the remaining independent middle classes into vassals of the monopolies, and the enslavement of the atomized working class. Never before have the interests of the predominant social groups been so strikingly at odds with the interests of the majority of the population — a population which had just experienced fourteen years of democratic liberty.

(cf: The economic benefits of "growing worker insecurity" in America.)
All this is, of course, a direct consequence of divorcing the economic sphere from the social sphere. War is the natural and inevitable expression of Capital, which must appropriate the medium of political power to find its expression. And it seems that America is enacting an instant replay of the Nazi's economic mechanism to expand its own "entrepreneurial initiatives": the removal of America's social safety net, the privatization of public resources, the transfer of funds from social welfare to military and security forces, the increased police and surveillance apparatus, are all America's way of abandoning the barriers removing the "intermediate instutitions" that protect society from "oppressive social and economic forces." It's the very reason why the BushCo class warriors have worked so hard, and so successfully, to demonize labor, democrats and liberals — no less to practically criminalize society's more progressive forces.

And yet for all BushCo's success in their social rollbacks, there are some vital differences between them and the Nazis. For one thing, German culture was homogenous. American culture is irremediably heterogeneous. Thus BushCo's project is doomed to failure for different reasons than the Nazis. An Ideocrat A Vorocrat One need only compare Hitler's impassionate calls that identified The State with the Will of the People to BushCo's barely articulate telemarketer attempts to unite the country in its hatred of ter'rists to get a feel for the difference. People truly believed in Hitler with a fervor that is incomprehensible to us. No one believes in BushCo, even those who do. Hitler was a God to his followers, he was worshipped, he was personified as the essence of the German people, the saviour of their country; Bush is... well, not so much, really.

Hitler and the Nazis, for all their political expediency, did truly believe in something more than money. They were visionaries for whom ideology preceded and determined action. BushCo, on the other hand, is comprised of boardrooms executives who care about nothing but money, their ideology justifying their greed. The Nazis tapped into a culture's spirituality from a place of understanding and used it for their own ends; BushCo sells products from a brochure to try to get you to sign up.

Plus, the National Socialists expanded the economy and sought full employment for its citizens. BushCo doesn't give a shit for the masses, and doesn't care a fig for unemployment rates.

Hitler and the Nazis were ideocrats, motivated by ideological unpinnings regarding their view of the essence of human nature. They believed in more than simply increasing their own wealth. At some level they actually sought to improve life for its citizens (which, granted, made up only a portion of the entire population):

The integral mobilization of labor power could not be carried through without compensating the individual for the loss of his independence. National Socialism has offered two compensations: a new economic security and a new license. The fact that the imperialist economy of the Third Reich has created full employment and thus assured basic economic security for its citizens is of utmost importance. The liberty enjoyed by the individual in the pre-Fascist era was, for the majority of the German population, equivalent to perpetual insecurity. Ever since 1923 militant efforts to establish a truly democratic society had ceased and there came in its stead the pervasive spirit of resignation and despair. No wonder, then, that the liberty was not a high price in exhange for a system offering full security to every member of every German family. National Socialism transformed the free into the safe economic subject; it obscured the dangerous ideal of freedom with the protective reality of security.

This security, however, binds the individual to the most oppressive apparatus modern society has ever seen. The open terror, to be sure, strikes only against "the enemies", the aliens and those who do not or cannot cooperate. But the hidden terror, the terror behind the total supervision and regimentation, war and scarcity, reaches everyone. The regime cannot enhance economic security so far that it may become the foundation of freedom; that is to say, it cannot increase the standard of living so that the individual has the possibility to find proper uses for his abilities and satisfaction for his desires. For such a liberation would be incompatible with social domination based upon imperialistic economy. The National Socialist emphasis on the duty of sacrifice has more than ideologic significance; it is not only a propagandistic but also an economic principle. National Socialist security is essentially bound up with scarcity and oppression.

This is the crux of the difference between BushCo and the Nazis. BushCo doesn't give a flying fuck for compensating anybody anything, except for their cronies. In fact, BushCo welcomes "perpetual insecurity" for its citizens. BushCo wants it both ways -- remove people's independence and their economic security, giving nothing in return. That's the difference between a vorocrat and an ideocrat: an ideocrat believes in something, and seeks to improve the life of the community (in their monistic view); a vorocrat only thinks about their own interests.

(And can anyone imagine BushCo calling for sacrifice? The notion is laughable. They want people to overspend, charging their newest SUVs on their MBNA Visa card. Murka is a consumer-driven society, and during times of National Emergency the most patriotic thing a citizen can do is shop, remember?)

Nazi's also offered a bit of R&R to their citizens.

Economic security, if it is any compensation at all, must be supplemented by some form of liberty and National Socialism has granted this liberty by abolishing certain fundamental social taboos.
The abolition of highly sanctioned taboos is one of the most daring enterprises of National Socialism in the field of mass domination...
...The Third Reich has done away with discimination against illegitimate mothers and children, it has encouraged extra-marital relations between the sexes, introduced a new cult of nudity in art and entertainment, and dissolved the protective and education functions of the family.

Though Marcuse explores the abolition of these taboos in their relation to increased social control, it nevertheless also serves to highlight the lack of imagination in the repressed little world of BushCo. After all, what such liberating compensations does BushCo offer? No pre-marital sex contracts? Just say No? Shop 'till you Drop? Fox TV?

Finally, Marcuse has this to say:

They [the National Socialist ruling elite] know that they can keep their efficiency only through aggressive expansion, and that they have to carry on the war and win the war, regardless of costs. They will do everything to that end, and they do not need a plan to unite their efforts. The investment is risky, but it is the only possible investment, and the eventual profit is worth the risk. Hitler has promised them continents as their exclusive markets and the whole populations of conquered territories as compulsory customers and suppliers. The German army is on the march to make good these promises. The present rulers of Germany do not believe in ideologies and in the mysterious power of the race, but they will follow their leader as long as he remains what he has hitherto been, the living symbol of efficiency.

Does this ring a bell? Shades of Iraq?

This excerpt brings up two important issues. He states that "the present rulers of Germany do not believe in their ideologies and in the mysterious power of the race, but they will follow their leader..." This is not to say that the leaders themselves weren't ideocrats, for they certainly were. This is more in reference to the rulers who, like the Roman senate, or like America's own senate and congress, happily go along with whatever winds the leader passes for their own self-interest. (House Resolution 921 is a superb example of this, which passed by a vote of 410-8. Next time you're wondering why the world hates America so much just remember this resolution.) Ideocrats are leaders who are driven by their monomania to rule society to make it conform to their worldview. Politicians, on the other hand, have, throughout human history, seldom been more than spineless whores, happy to go along with their leaders if they get a few crumbs in return.

The other issue to note is that there is one more, very important thing that BushCo has in common with the Nazis. The aggressive expansion of imperial powers will eventually be met with countervailing forces. Other nations will get tired of appeasing the irrational bully and will, in their own self-interest, unite against it. And others nations of the world are currently preparing for that day, quickly becoming Allies against a new modern day Axis of America and Israel. Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran, Syria and other countries are busily cementing ties. Europe, understandly, after being the vortex of two world wars, hesitates, trying to find ways, like England's Chamberlain, to give the bully his way hoping it will mollify him so he'll end his aggression.

Well, we saw how well that worked then. There's no reason to think it will work any better this time.

Next: Vorocracy 4: It's All Just Business → coming soon