The Nazi Economy

Apsken at Apsken at
Wed Jan 5 07:28:16 PST 2000

Daniel wrote,

> Sorry, that sentence is badly written. It should be saying that *neither*
> a switch from relative to absolute surplus-value *nor* a switch from
> capitalist to slave mode of production is going to account for an economic
> boom. The first would imply that the marginal (material) productivity of
> labour in Nazi Germany was greater than that of capital, by a sufficiently
> large degree to account for the boom, which seems improbable; the second
> would imply that slave production is more efficient than capitalist, which
> might or might not be true but seems to definitely contradict historical
> materialism.

Not true. It means that enormous productivity can be extracted from slaves by robbing them of even minimal sustenance, as Karl Marx observed in describing U.S. plantation capitalists working slaves to death in seven years of toil. Daniel persists in differentiating between capitalist and slave labor, in contrast to Marx, who differentiated between pre-capitalist and capitalist slave labor, the latter being far more cruel than the former because it was relentlessly driven by market forces. Nazi slave labor was even harsher than Southern U.S. plantation labor, while the concentration camp system, created during the first month of Nazi rule, robbed the working class of its political expression before undertaking any other tasks.

Daniel's coy anonymous quotation about Hjalmar Schacht got a lot of facts wrong, some of which were correctly presented in my summary of Alfred Sohn-Rethel's book yesterday, which, not surprisingly, Daniel failed to rebut.

Ken Lawrence

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list