Blogging about history, memory, power, and violence
Thursday, January 21, 2016
1916 and the Health of the StateHin
In Planning for Freedom, we find Ludwig von commenting once more on the ravages of World War I as he discusses the Hindenburg Program: had it had time to come to fruition, he suggests, “it would have transformed Germany into a purely totalitarian commonwealth.” Well, the war ended two years later, and the military dictatorship of Hindenburg and Ludendorff had indeed done much to create a totalitarian commonwealth. Within two years, as well, the Hindenburg Program had suggested to the Bolsheviks a practical program for achieving dissolution of capitalism. As Paul Johnson put it in Modern Times: “So one might say that the man who really inspired Soviet economic planning was Ludendorff. His ‘war socialism’ certainly did not shrink from barbarism. It employed slave-labourers. In January 1918 Ludendorff broke a strike of 400,000 Berlin workers by drafting tens of thousands of them to the front in "labor battalions."
Hindenburg and Ludendorff
Hindenburg’s famous Quartermaster-General, Erich Ludendorff, was the chief promoter of the “Hindenburg” Program, but it was in fact a group of bureaucrats, army officers, technocratic intellectuals, and a crony capitalists who shaped it.
It was still a “mixed economy” affair, but one that Mises came back to more than once to demonstrate the easy continuity from mixed economy to omnipotent government.