We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Bush, Hitler and … Keynes?!

Bruce Bartlett has one of the most thought-provoking columns on economic history that I’ve seen in a while. In recent months, we’ve seen a number of lame attempts to compare Bush to Hitler. (Blogger Stephen Green is doing a good job of documenting these things.) I’ve seen a number of sites that display a series of Bush photos, each juxtaposed with a photo of Hitler in a similar pose … Bush is seen here eating a ham sandwich, and here’s Hitler eating a ham sandwich in 1937. Here’s Bush talking to some children, and here’s Hitler doing the same. See? Bush = Hitler! QED. Self-indulgent celebrities and hard-left ideologues have picked up on this tiresome Bush = Hitler meme, and the wave of moral equivalence crested with the recent controversy over MoveOn.org’s anti-Bush ad contest.

Meanwhile, Bartlett is seizing on this theme to take issue with some, both on the left and on the right, who want to compare Keynes to Hitler. He starts with Alexander Cockburn, quoting his most recent effort in The Nation:

Hitler, genocidal monster that he was, was also the first practicing Keynesian leader. … There were vast public works, such as the autobahns. He paid little attention to the deficit or to the protests of the bankers about his policies. … By 1936, unemployment had sunk to 1 percent …

Then, to pick an example from the opposite end of the spectrum, he points to an August 2003 column by Llewellyn Rockwell, longtime chairman of the Mises Institute. Here is the full text of the Rockwell piece that Bartlett is citing.

While I admire the Mises Institute and enjoyed the time that I spent at the Mises annual seminar in ’96, my take on Rockwell is that his writing style often loses focus due to its underlying anger. This is a classic example. And note that even he can’t help but juxtapose images of Keynes and Hitler, striking similar poses, just as those sophomoric “Bush = Hitler” websites do.

The money quote from the Rockwell piece, which Bartlett cites in his column, is this non sequitur:

Keynes himself admired the Nazi economic program, writing in the foreword to the German edition to the General Theory: “[T]he theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state, than is the theory of production and distribution of a given output produced under the conditions of free competition and a large measure of laissez-faire.”

I don’t see how the quote from Keynes is tantamount to “admiration of the Nazi economic program.” Taken in full context, Keynes is just pointing out that it would be much easier to implement an activist fiscal policy in a state that is already centralized and forceful than in a state that was characterized by decentralization and federalism, a point that I would take to be obviously true. How this is supposed to represent Keynes’ “admiration” of the Third Reich is not clear.

Yes, Nazi Germany, in a roundabout way, did employ policies that Keynes would have prescribed if he had been running Germany at the time. This does NOT mean that Keynes’ idea of “public works” was building prison camps. Bartlett is correct in concluding that there are enough substantive problems with Keynesianism that we don’t need to resort to ad hominem criticisms of the man himself — just as there are plenty of ways that one can oppose the policies of Bush without resorting to the same. I disagree with a lot of the policies of the Bush administration (campaign finance reform, Medicare “reform”, on and on) but I have better things to do than try to fit this opposition into some tortured “Bush = Hitler” framework.

To put the shoe on the other foot — Rockwell was against the war in Iraq, and so was Noam Chomsky, but that doesn’t mean that “Rockwell = Chomsky!” or anything close to it. It doesn’t mean that Rockwell “is an admirer of” Chomsky, or that Rockwell also agrees with Chomsky’s denial of the holocaust, or even that Rockwell would use his brakes if Chomsky was crossing the street in front of his car.

Now, when are we going to see the article that says, “Bush used Keynesian fiscal policy, and so did Hitler, therefore Bush = Hitler!”

14 comments to Bush, Hitler and … Keynes?!

  • It is ridiculous to compare George W. Bush to Hitler.

    Everyone knows that George Bush is much worse than Hitler.

  • Shawn

    Comparing Bush to Hitler is exactly the level of intelligent political commentary I expect from people with less than two braincells to rub together.

    For these people, Sept.11 just did not happen. It did not make any dent in their hearts and minds, I suspect because they have become so used to hating their country or the U.S. that it really did not bother them. No, what bothers them is not the slaughter of innocent Western people and an attack on the heart of America, what bothers them is any President, most especially a Republican Christian President, who actually thinks he has a responsibility to defend the people he has sworn to protect and is willing to do that, and do it without the permission of the U.N. and third world communist thugs like Mandela.

    I believe in the non-initiation of force principle. But in my darker moments, faced with the stench of the anti-American left, I sometimes wonder if Pinochet had the right idea.

  • Shawn –

    Worse than the ones that deny 9/11 happened are the ones who insist “9/11 = Reichstag Fire” — an even more tortured analogy than “Bush = Hitler.”

  • While I agree that the Keynes/Hitler comparison in and of itself is rather absurd, I don’t think it is outside the bounds of good taste to point out that inverse of Keynes’ quote about activist fiscal policy being easier in a totalitarian state seems to be true. IOW, totalitarianism seems to be more easily acheived in those states with activist fiscal policies.

  • HitNRun

    This is one of the worst analogies in poltics, and it just drags on and on… The most Hitler and Bush have in common is that both give neohippies and their professors totally negative and oppressive vibes. Dude.

    First, how is it that the successor to the man who ruled most of Europe through totalitarian control is a Republican, whose party favors free markets and vehemently combats efforts to encroach on the Bill of Rights (written by Jefferson and based on Locke) ? Oh right, captialism is the *vessel* of fascism, I forgot. We’ll just pretend there’s some absolutely insane thesis on this that’s very enlightening.

    Second, private gun ownership. First thing Hitler got rid of, first thing the US liberals would get rid of for their utopia, last thing Bush is getting rid of.

    Finally, goals. Hitler wanted two things; dominance of his special race and elimination of Jews and undesirables. He worked to attain those ends. Where is Bush’s Mein Kampf? What is his goal? Before you insult every literate anglophone alive by saying “Arabs,” please remember his military could turn the Mid East into a sheet of glass in as long as it would take to evacuate anyone he wants to save, with 0 casualties to Americans and allies. You think Hitler wouldn’t have loved to use Bush’s nukes? Meanwhile, this fantasy is an insult to the billions of dollars and hundreds of lives that Americans, Britons and others have devoted to sparing innocent civilians the devastation that would have been theirs a few decades ago.

  • Shawn

    Chris:

    “Worse than the ones that deny 9/11 happened are the ones who insist “9/11 = Reichstag Fire” — an even more tortured analogy than “Bush = Hitler.”

    John Pilger has made that very argument. My Father in law, who is a leftist and thinks the sun shines out of Pilger’s ass, told me that he agreed with Pilger that America’s action in Afghanistan was all about an oil pipeline, and that Sept.11 had been allowed to happen by the Administration so they could have an excuse to invade. It led to a rather nasty family fight that is still festering.

    All of this has led me to an understanding. Bush is actually not very conservative, and certainly not libertarian. Ask any solid conservative and they will say that Bush has some good points, but he’s soft on a lot of issues, especially immigration and affirmative action. Ask any libertarian and they will say that he has no committment to reducing government. In other words Bush is a very middle of the road Republican who could best be described as conservative-lite. Even his military response to Sept.11 has been moderate. Some people, myself included, think we should have invaded Lebanon and gone after Hizbollah, and that we should be helping the Israeli’s destroy Hamas, the PLO and Islamic Jihad, not forcing them to negotiate with them.

    If the current hysterical foaming at the mouth reaction to Bush is what we get with a moderate Republican in power, imagine if there was a real conservative or libertarian President in the White House, who had a take no prisoners policy on terrorism, who was slashing the government to under two thirds its current size, who instead of an amnesty for illegal immigrants was deporting them en-masse, who was challenging every affirmative action program in the U.S. as racist and un-American, who was abolishing federal income tax and social security, and returning power to the states.

    My understanding is this: the leftists, and especially the trans-national socialists who want an EU style global government, will use every underhanded and dirty trick, every lie and every accusation they can to destroy the credibility of the right. They know that the U.S. in many respects is the last real bastion of both conservatism and libertariansism, and they will use any tactic they can every time an even moderate right wing President is in power. And come the day when a real conservative or libertarian is in power, what they are saying about Bush now will look friendly by comparison.

    The left is objectively evil. It cannot be reasoned with. It cannot be appeased. It cannot be worked with on some issues. Its intent is slavery and destruction of the human mind and of the individual. It’s intent is to abolish every last vestige of freedom and it will not stop until this has been achieved. We can no longer simply oppose the left. We can no longer accept majoritarain systems that allow the left periodic power. We must fight back. Our goal should be simple. We must wipe every last trace of the left from the face of the earth once and for all.

  • R C Dean

    Rockwell was against the war in Iraq, and so was Noam Chomsky, but that doesn’t mean that “Rockwell = Chomsky!”

    But have you ever seen them photographed together?

  • David

    I don’t think I would break if Noam Chomsky was in the path of my vehicle.

  • Les

    Oops. My foot slipped off the brake and accidentally hit the gas pedal. Sorry.

  • Joel Hammer

    Because someone supports something Hitler did does not make them a Nazi or a Hitler supporter.

    Hitler did a number of things which our do gooders today imitate.

    I would not call our anit-tobacco compaigners Nazi’s, but the truth is that the Nazi govt was the first in the modern world to attempt to limit tobacco sales and use. The Nazi’s banned smoking in their offices, and banned it in some public places, to avoid exposing pregnant women to tobacco smoke.

    The Nazi’s were well ahead of the USA in public and industrial health measures.

    This was at a time when FDR would smoke in public and the US govt promoted tobacco sales.

    Hitler was also against inflicting harm to animals, and didn’t like hunting.

    Throw in the anti-Semitism, and he sounds like some European politician or an American leftist, but nothing like an American right winger.

    Joel

  • As much as I find the cretins who sloganise “Bush = Hitler”, so do I despair of people who describe Nelson Mandela as a “communist thug”.

    C’mon.

  • pedant

    Bush eating a ham sandwich I can believe, but Hitler? He was a vegetarian!

  • Tom Baker

    Notice you use the eye in the pyramid symbol at the top of your page. What a bunch of good little satanists you are. When W finally kicks in the New world Order regime, I’m sure you can all get a job at the local Abu Ghraib drive-in torture palace.

    As for “protecting” us from terrorists, your boy is a miserable failure.

  • AAron Vaters

    Libertarian Socialism explained:

    I beleive that any group now matter how righteous at first can become like the nazi’s. No matter which one, now matter how nobal or true the original ideas are most humans just can’t handle power. Since every movement left and right has it’s good points and since they all want to revolutionize the world I came up with the conclusion about a year ago that if every orginization,creed,tribe,type wants revolution and since they all eventually will exterminate those who disagree with them–”just like Hitler”. The only way out was for everyone is to find there own tribe, digg thyself, and leave the other tribes alone. If we all did that there would be no more war. This is Libertarianism; it’s states rights; it’s the right to do your own thing, in your own place, in your own time. To me there is a problem with both Socialism and Libertarianism and that’s why I have decided to mix them. In Socialism you are taken care of whether you like it or not. In Libertarian theory no one should get help and everyone should be left alone. Both are both right and wrong. Everyone should be left alone but it should also be in human nature to help someone who needs help, it should not have to be mandated by the state, it should come natrual. In this way socialism is a good thing when human pracitice it natrualy through their own individual care for their brother, but at the same time people should not have to follow an “order”, everone should follow their own order and should respect the rights of others. Therefor I am proposing that we let Kansas teach Biblical Creationism if that’s what they want while I think it’s sub-mental. Liberals want others to exept their order and that’s why the Christian fundemntalists are trying to hold on to what they know they are loseing. They should be allowed to be as stupid as they like. Enlightenment should not be forced on them. Hippes are dieing out too.. and if I had the power I would let them establish a nation where they ruled. Neo-nazi-skinheads…most just can’t be helped and I wish they would set up their own state where they could live their own degenerate lives. You get the idea, all the tribes of humans should not try to “connect” and find that their all really the same as the leftist philosophy would try to have them do; instead we should accept that we are different and support each other. Libertarian Socialism is not a new idea. In fact the first anarchists were Libertarians. They also supported socialism. Aside from the significant number of anarchist theorists such as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin and Alexander Berkman, some important contributors to libertarian socialist theory and philosophy would be Noam Chomsky, Daniel Guerin, and Murray Bookchin. If you don’t get what I’m talking about than you never will. Libertarian Socialism is a form of National Socialism which respects the right of other nations, ideologies, philosophies, and doctrines to exist but is also free to maintain whatever identity the majority of your tribe wants. We tryed singin combia…and “we are the world”….it just will never work because we are all to different but are the same in the fact that we want our order to triumph…since we know this is human nature the only thing to do is to give freedom for all…Nazi’s, Zionsits, communists, capitalists, black nationalists, Arab nationalists, Christian Fundamentalists, Hippies, New Agers ect.—-BUT!!!! Everone should be free to practice their order in their own nation or state and it applies for EVERYONE! Multiculturalists, racial preservationists–everyone—free! And any nation that defies the treaty and tries to take over we should crush! Any nation that takes it’s freedom too seriously and wants to push it on others should be anhilated! It is then that the Socialist tactic of Federalism should be practiced to diminish those that would refuse to live by the international peace treaty of Libertarian International Socialism–which is in reality just “peacefull tribal socialism”. Therefor when any tribe fails at being Libertarian and leaving other tribes alone we should introduce to them the negetive side of Socialism {which is eliminate those who refuse to live by the law of the community}. The Ku Klux Klan should have a right to assemble and build a Protestant White Christian Nation; multicultueralism should not be forced on them…nor should enlightement or any other “quear activity”.Any White Supremist who assults or kills a black person should be destroyed. Any philosophy that demands oppresion should be oppressed. But any creed that wants to exist peacefully in it’s own living space should be allowed to without haveing to be harrassed by commies, hippies, or nazi’s. So exepting differences and leaving each other alone while also supporting each others right of existance; that is Libertarian Socialism and if it is not practiced the tribes of humanity will die in wars of idealism and tribalism. Exactly what the “left” fears will come true if everone does not agree to stop trying to “share”…bring “good news”, or save others who do not want help from them..who are perfectly happy the way they are. Unfourchunatly the need to revolutionize the world and bring the “good news” to everyone is the main part of Christianity, Islam, communism, hippydom and many others and it all comes from insecurity and the knolwege that many others are insecure and want to be “saved”; GREAT!! Save people that feel like you. Leave the others alone. If this phylosophy was practiced the world would be a more peacefull place.