Saturday, August 22, 2009

On American "monopolies" and Nazi Collaboration

On page 44 of his Memoirs, Gromyko writes, “. . . Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr, [was someone] with whom I developed excellent relations. Morgenthau was forceful on the post-war world order: Germany must not be allowed to resume an aggressive policy; she has committed enough crimes under Hitler. Neither we nor you must let it happen again.’

“He did not think that the line would meet resistance among influential politicians in America.

‘The military are quite determined,’ he said. ‘and American business even more so. After all, they don’t want to have to face a powerful competitor on world markets.’

“It is curious that Morgenthau should have made such categorical assertions. One might have thought that it was part of his job to know that, throughout the war, American monopolies used their capital to help German industry produce weapons for Hitler’s army. The evidence supporting this fact was splashed all over the US press soon after the end of the hostilities and it is hard to believe that Morgenthau knew nothing about it during the war. On the other hand, the recesses of US policy were at times so impenetrable that possibly even senior figures in the administration had no idea of the scale of American and German wartime collaboration. But it’s not surprising that the investigation into this collaboration begun by Congress at the end of the war was rapidly wound up.”


Once again, Gromyko is correct, but I squirm at the way he puts it and disagree with some of his word choices. To begin with, I would remind Gromyko of one of the clever things Lenin said, something like “Capitalism will sell us the rope we intend to hang them with.”

On the positive side of Capitalism (now “Liberal Democracy”), we point with pride to the fact that it is the most successful and dynamic economic process the world has ever experienced. But on the negative side, it is amoral. I experienced that personally during my career in three of America’s major businesses (Douglas Aircraft, McDonnell Douglas, and Boeing).

During the time when Japan seemed to be doing better economically than we were, we were all sent through schools to learn how the Japanese did things. The Japanese had more company loyalty because their businesses were not amoral. They wouldn’t have layoffs for example. If you worked for a Japanese company you were there for life. If you were absolutely worthless then you might be “promoted” to a “Window Seat” (I forget their exact term); where you could sit and stare out the window without having any work to do. I worked for McDonnell Douglas at the time and we did become more efficient practicing some of the Japanese techniques, but we never gave up layoffs and we never promoted anyone to a “Window Seat” that I can recall. And then one day the Japanese bubble burst and they had to change their ways. They gave up Window Offices and laid off their “dead wood.” Their businesses became as amoral as ours.

If one should want the details on“American Monopolies” and “German Industry” collaboration, one has only to read some of the books by Antony Sutton – Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler, for example: One can pay $24 for it or read it online::

Note especially Chapter 11 where he lists the companies that “collaborated” with the Nazis: but note also that not all American businesses collaborated with the Nazis. We shouldn’t be surprised that businesses located in Germany or Vichy France would collaborate (being amoral), and Sutton seems to concentrate on those, but it went further than that as Sutton describes.

While I would quibble about Gromyko’s use of the term “Monopoly,” I would disagree more strenuously with his reference to “recesses of US policy.” It was a common Soviet error to imagine that American Presidential administrations had detailed knowledge about the workings of all the businesses in the nation. We don’t elect presidents to meddle in our businesses or personal lives. The present uproar over Obama’s Healthcare program touches on this issue. We want good healthcare but we don’t want government telling us which doctors to go to and we especially don’t want government to tell our doctors whether or not to treat us. American government began with the assumption that the people were paramount and the government was to avoid interfering with what the people wanted to do – as much as possible. That situation has degraded over time, but we haven’t forgotten it. we don’t want government spying on us, reading our emails, checking which books we buy or check out at the library, etc. One of our “Rights” prevents the government from engaging in illegal search and seizure. We don’t want to give that right up.

When these “rights” are applied to businesses, we see that business use them along with any other advantage to maximize profits – because that is their prime concern, not morals.

Getting back to the collaboration with the Nazis, we find that Sutton didn’t restrict his interest to them. He also wrote a book about collaboration with the Communists: Wall Street & the Bolshevik Revolution. The most successful businesses are not moral and we have no way to make them so.

However, it should be noted that if we do away with the “enemy status” then collaboration will no longer be an issue. By that I mean that if we are all trading partners, then the Gromyko-Sutton concern becomes moot. I recall when I was working for McDonnell Douglas that we were bidding on a program for setting up a manufacturing plant in China. I knew someone working on the proposal, but he couldn’t give me any details. Such proposals had to be treated as Company secrets (secret from our competitors) until the contract was awarded. I can’t recall the details, but the government became involved in regard to our transferring vital technology. As we know, the government backed off. Technology was transferred. As far as I know China was given all the technology any of our business had on any product. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but not much of one.

Now look at what has happened: At one time China was considered our enemy. But are there any politicians left who still think so? Probably not many. If China were to attack us, we could freeze their assets and they would go broke. If we were to attack China, they would quit loaning us money and we would go broke.

There could be a worst-case scenario in which Taiwan stirred something up and Mainland China attacked them. That ought to cause the US to declare war on China because of our commitment to Taiwan, but I wonder if we feel that commitment the way we once did. If China invaded Taiwan tomorrow, would Obama declare war on China the day after? I doubt it. We are no longer enemies.

If we were still enemies with China then what McDonnell Douglas and some other companies did would meet Gromyko’s definition of “Collaboration.” But since we are not enemies with China, this “collaboration” is just good business.

No comments: