True Bonapartism

rakesh bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Sun Feb 4 23:29:49 MST 1996


It seems to me that in the focus on the petty bourgeoisie we may be
ignoring the real stimulus fascism provided to the monopolization of the
economy, which often  came at the expense of the more vulnerable elements
of the petty bourgeoise.  The process by which this monopolization was
achieved and its contradictory effects on the middle class is analyzed in
Franz Neumann's classic work. 

 Like Hobsbawm, Neumann is  critical of the petty bourgeoisie--he exposes
their sympathy for social imperialist ideology and he attacks the burgher
class for its opportunism, anti-liberalism, etc.  He does not deny that
many members from these classes play a key role in the fascist movement,
but Neumann does show that the fascists were much more *actively* committed
to monopoly capital and its long-term interests than Hobsbawm seems to
argue.    
    
It also seems to me that we are ignoring  the foreign policy aspects of
NAZI economic policy, something which Marx did not have to concern himself
with in his discussion of Bonapartism.   Maurice Dobb seems to have thought
this to be of central importance.  In particular, he highlighted the NAZI
manipulation of exchange rates.  

"Appeasers and pro-NAZIS pointed ot the fact, that Germany was helping
these [Southern European, Rumania, Yugo-Slavia] countries to export by
maintaining a so-called 'unfavorable' balance of trade and devaluing their
currencies as evidence of the Quixotic role of Germany towards her
neighbors.  Certainly it was a complete inversion of traditional ideas of
trade and finance.  Whereas countries in recent years had competed to
depreciate their currencies on the foreign exchange in order to stimulate
exports by cheapening their prices abroad, here was Germany pursuing the
goal of overvaluing her currency abroad!  Instead of a mercantalist worship
of export surpluses, here was Germany encouraging import-surpluses in her
relations with the agricultural countries of South-Eastern Europe.  What
did it all mean?  The whole thing only made sense when seen as a
coordinated system of exploitation.  Then the answer was simple enough. 
The import-surpluses representing something for nothing in Germany's favor.
 The policy of over-valuing the Reichsmark on foreign exchanges was a
monopoly policy of turning the terms of trade (i.e. ratio of imports to
exports) in Germany's favor."  "Aspects of NAZI Economic Policy", Science
and Society, vol. VIII, no 2 (Spring 1944): 101

I don't know enough to know whether a similar strategy has been deployed by
imperialist monopoly capital today vis-a-vis the third world (there
certainly has been some vicious devaluation even relative to a falling
dollar).  I am hoping that the experts among us will help to illuminate 
this aspect of NAZI economic strategy.   


>  Hobsbaum argues that "The common cement of these
>movements was the resentment of little men in a society that crushed them
>between the rock of big business on one side and the hard place of rising
>mass labour movements on the other." (119)  Hobsbaum
>enumerates the benefits the big bourgeosie derived from Hitler's rule,
>above all in stemming the tide of social revolution, but also increasing
>the incomes of the top 5% of the population.  But this does not make
>Naziism the "political expression" of the big bourgeoisie.  He puts the
>matter this way: "...the point about really big business is that it can
>come to terms with any regime that does not actually expropriate it, and
>any regime must come to terms with it." (129)



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