Let’s play a game of “Guess Who?” I am thinking of a historic political party that took power in the nation called X. See how quickly you can guess its name.
This Marxist party’s program was against social and political reactionaries, pro-working class, anti-Christianity, anti-capitalism. After failing in one country, within ten years it reformed in a neighboring country (X) and within another seven years gained control of the Xist government. The leader of this reformed Xist movement had long felt great sympathy for trade unions and antipathy toward employers. Prior to its national success, it was one of two Revolutionary Parties in X. The other was the Communist Party (both Revolutionary parties were opposed to the republican parties and the reactionary parties). Its successful political platform called for the death penalty for war profiteering, confiscation of all income unearned by work, and state control of large businesses.
“We ask that the government undertake the obligation above all of providing citizens with adequate opportunity for employment and earning a living. The activities of the individual must not be allowed to clash with the interests of the community, but must take place within its confines and be for the good of all. Therefore, we demand an end to the power of the financial interests. We demand profit sharing in big business. We demand a broad extension of care for the aged. The government must undertake the improvement of public health.”
The leaders of the party said things like this:
“We are socialists. We are enemies of today’s capitalistic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions.”
“The worker in a capitalist state – that is his greatest misfortune – no longer a human being, no longer a creator, no longer a shaper of things. He has become a machine.”
The economic theory followed by this party was “State socialism.” Before winning the government, this party proposed to ban trading in stocks and bonds, nationalize all large banks, require registration of stock ownership with state agencies, limit interest by law to 5%, confiscate profits from inflation, pay old age and disability benefits out of general revenue instead of individual savings and insurance, and index benefits to inflation.
“War against profiteers, peace with workers! Destruction of all capitalistic influences on the political system of the country.”
When Xist state industrialists visited Soviet Russia, they were very excited about the unlimited authority exercised by the Bolsheviks over working people. This was right up their alley, since the Xist owners of industry had long since ceased to believe in Western capitalism and competition, preferring instead to fight for politically granted monopoly rights.
After attaining power in X, the party followed through on its promises. As one industrialist who had helped bring the party to power said, “Soon X will not be any different from Bolshevik Russia; the heads of enterprises who do not fulfill the conditions which the ‘Plan’ prescribes will be accused of treason against the Xist people, and shot.”
The highest income tax rate was raised from 40% to 50% to 55%. A later decree raised the highest rate and exempted low incomes from taxation. All banks and stock exchanges became subject to complete government control. Dividends were restricted by law to 6% or 8%, depending on the company. Corporate taxes were raised from 20% to 25% then to 30%, and corporate profits above a ceiling were subject to an additional 40% surtax (with an introductory rate of 35% for the first year of the surtax). Within four years of taking power in X, the party had raised the tax burden to one fourth of X’s GDP!
There were a vast assortment of other taxes, charges, and orders that increased the financial burden for Xists. Dividends were not only restricted to 6% or 8%, they were subject to mandates to take all dividends and invest them in state issued non-interest-bearing bonds. After a few years, these state issued bonds were not liquid currency or instruments for any purpose at all (even for paying taxes) until 15 years in the future, when the non-interest bearing bonds could be converted to cash in installments.
The party made class warfare upon industrialists, grabbed dividends above 6%, forbade employers from firing redundant workers or using labor-saving machinery, and raised money for party functions by coercive means. Legislation was passed to make it difficult to form or maintain corporations. Corporate directors’ authority was limited by law, as was the stockholders’ authority. Capital markets were closed to private issues. Banks were subject to confiscatory levies, taxes, and the seizing of cash reserves. All foreign owned securities were liquidated.
Privately owned canals, dams, roads, and other property was seized without compensation.
Time Magazine wrote:
the “most cruel joke of all” has been how [redacted] treated those capitalists and small businessmen who thought [the party] would save them from radicalism. Some businesses had been expropriated; some were subjected to a capital tax; all had profits strictly controlled; and all were subjected to intense government regulation.
The party had not only seized big estates and collectivized agriculture, just like the Bolsheviks. It had robbed the Jews, and then robbed the Church, with the bourgeoisie up for robbery next. Like the Bolsheviks of Russia, this party was opposed to freedom of contract, inviolable private property, and the right to sell and buy property without arbitrary restrictions.
Have you guessed who yet?
Here is a hint.
In 1941, former Nazi boss of Danzig, Hermann Rauschning, wrote that the last part of the German Revolution was Nazism, which was just as much a realization of Marxist as of nationalist ideas, and he notes that the only ones who refuse to admit this are supporters of Marxist theories and Nazis themselves. Rauschning also writes in his book that Marxism itself was part of a single great revolutionary movement which included Marxist Socialism, Nazism, Communist Bolshevism, Fascism and nihilism. Rauschning knew Hitler well and repudiated him and his movement at great risk before the rest of the world recognized the full danger of Nazism.