Historical revisionism in The Guardian again

Umm, excuse me, but I\’d rather like a Professor of History to know his history.

In the late 1940s every government on the continent ran postwar reconstruction as it had run its war effort, as a national mobilisation with the state as the prime planner, arbiter and coordinator. Ministries of planning were not confined to the Eastern bloc, and their achievements across the continent were impressive.

This is complete nonsense. Entire argle bargle.

The most impressive growth economy of the period was the West German one. By far the most impressive. And that was based on Ehrhard\’s reforms of 1948.

On that same Sunday the German Bizonal Economic Council adopted, at the urging of Ludwig Erhard and against the opposition of its Social Democratic members, a price decontrol ordinance that allowed and encouraged Erhard to eliminate price controls.

Erhard spent the summer de-Nazifying the West German economy. From June through August 1948, wrote Fred Klopstock, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, “directive followed directive removing price, allocation, and rationing regulations” (p. 283). Vegetables, fruit, eggs, and almost all manufactured goods were freed of controls. Ceiling prices on many other goods were raised substantially, and many remaining controls were no longer enforced. Erhard’s motto could have been: “Don’t just sit there; undo something.”

It wasn\’t planning that grew the West German economy: planning was what they did in East Germany. No, in West Germany they deregulated the economy.

Damn near over night too, certainly in a matter of a few months. They abolished, near entirely, the state as the arbiter, prime planner and coordinator of the economy: that\’s why it grew so damn fast.

Yes, indeed, comment is free but recall the second part of the phrase: facts are sacred. You just don\’t get to go round inventing history to fit your arguments.

Then again, he is a septic, so why should we expect him to know anything about Europe anyway?

12 thoughts on “Historical revisionism in The Guardian again”

  1. Hardly surprising, after all, this is the same history professor who, in his book on the 1930s, repeatedly describes the National Socialists as being ‘right-wing’.

  2. Did not Britain receive the most Marshall Plan aid per capita and had the slowest post-war recovery compared to the likes of Belgium?

    Some of the Marshall Plan aid was frittered away on current expenditure for the infant NHS, rather than industrial reconstruction.

  3. @ Dave Evans

    Thats true. Remember also that one of the most important aspects of the implementation of the Marshall Plan was the decidedly unstatist, freedom-enhancing, effects of the removal of tariffs and other barriers to intra-European trade.

  4. Did not Germany get american aid ( being the front near communism) and britain got the ‘pay debt back to america ‘ back then.
    The socialist government of the UK ran a real austerity economy ( remember ‘export only’ clothes) but kept nationalising industry. The hospitals and doctors were already there to a large extent.

  5. Britain bombed the shit out of Germany for six years and laid waste to its architecture and infrastructure. It won. Post-war, Britain had an Attlee, and Germany had an Erhard. Which one stopped rationing chocolate first?

    By the way: not rhetorical. Which was it?

  6. People keep forgetting that the Socialism part of National Socialism isn’t just there for decoration.

    David: Chocolate was rationed in Britain from 1942 to 1953 (1950 for choccy biccies). In West Germany all rationing ended at the beginning of 1950, although I’m not sure about Berlin.

  7. The fascists appropriated ‘socialism’ after murdering the Marxists, who were popular back then.

    To equate Nazism with socialism is sheer bloody minded dogma on your part.

    beggars belief. It was there purely for decoration.

  8. Socialism was emphatically not merely appropriated by the Nazis as a from of ‘decoration’. Rather it was a central part of the entire Nazi dogma.

    This dogma, which was just as opposed to free market capitalism as it was to communism, saw the state direction of the economy (through quotas, price-setting etc.) as the means by which the needs of the nation, the collective, were best served.

    I am not equating Nazism with socialism, merely noting that the implementation of socialist policies was a large part of what the Nazis were all about. The enormous powers conferred on the state by socialism also helped the Nazis to pursue some of their other goals. For instance, control over private assets hindered the free movement of many German Jews during the late 1930s.

    Also, the Nazis most enthusiastic and effective persecution of communists (indeed, of anyone who didn’t agree with them) came long after the concept of using socialism to improve the lot of the German worker was incorporated as part of the core doctrine of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party.

    Sorry this is all so off topic.

  9. “Nazism “has nothing to do with Marxian Socialism… Marxism is anti-property; true Socialism is not.” He stated “I absolutely insist on protecting private property… we must encourage private initiative”.

    Doesn’t sound very socialist, hmmm?

  10. Hitler also once said that ‘We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system’.

    We could trade Hitler quotes all day, but aside from being depressing, it would also be largely pointless. Hitler was notorious for often making contradictory statements – witness also the tedium of debates over whether Hitler was an atheist or not.

    The best way to evaluate the degree to which the Nazis were socialists is to examine how they actually went about managing the German economy. Granted, they claimed to believe in private property, but all property, and all economic activity, was supposed to serve the needs of the collective as defined by the state. For example the sale of private assets by Jews trying to flee Germany drained the gold reserves of the Reichsbank, and so sale and transfer of assets out of Germany this was rendered almost impossible by the Nazis.

    Perhaps we define socialism differently, but I for one view this subjugation of individuals to the supposed wishes and benefit of society as being an unavoidable component of socialism. Surely this is something that can be seen in Nazism?

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