How durable were the Nazis?
Posted by aogThursday, 18 December 2003 at 15:45
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Another argument over at the Brothers Judd about WWII. A key issue was the viability / productive of facist regimes. I, as always, ended up agreeing and disagreeing with both sides.
The problem is that the timescale is missing. In my view, facism is in fact superior in productivity and cohesion in the short term (say, 10-20 years). It has two severe problems in the long term.
- Fascism doesn’t have very good corrective mechanisms. If the Leader goes off the rails, the whole society follows. Even if the Leader is simply mistaken (i.e., that increasing pensions while reducing the retirement age is a good idea) there’s no good for others to correct the mistake. So the system is fragile - it breaks easily.
- In addition to being fragile, fascism tends to be brittle as well. When it breaks and comes apart, it tends to come apart in a big way. This also stems to a large part from the lack of correctives so that things get very bad before the system fails. In addition, fascism naturally destroys civil society, which can hold things together if the government falls. This is also why fascism does well short term, because it can draw on these institutions. But over time they are worn away until the government and society collapse en masse.
Like a hit of a stimulant, fascism can boost the productivity of a society, for a while. But the come down is always there and the longer the high the bigger the hole to fall in to. Even beyond the human cost of fascism, it just doesn’t work long term.
P.S. There is another post that describes some fo the corrective mechanisms that have kept the USA on at least a moderately even keel for 2½ centuries.