One day recently, while pondering on this and that, I had a sudden epiphany of sorts.
I thought how Hitler, if only he hadn’t been such an idiot, could have been called a beacon of economic freedom and free enterprise today. Camps and all.
In fact, especially because of the camps.
As those of us who care to have a smidgen of historical knowledge are well aware, Hitler, despite being the head of the National Socialist party, was extremely capitalist-friendly (as long as said capitalists weren’t Jewish, of course); and hired the camp inmates as cheap labour out to capitalist corporations, such as Krupp. And these selfsame capitalist corporations were treated with remarkable delicacy by the Allies at the war crimes trials.
Now, if Hitler had had a little sense, he’d have privatised the concentration camps, turned them over to corporations which sold stock on the international bourses, and you know what? The profit motive (alias “Greed is Good”, to quote Mr Gordon Gekko) would mean that he’d be praised as a pioneer of business efficiency, who got the maximum labour out of his workforce for the minimum expenditure. And the more Slavs and Jews he could lay his hands on, the more labour to be had, so the war in East Europe (against godless Communism, please remember) would pay for itself. Wouldn't it?
And of course there were the additional benefits, like medical trials (which pharmaceutical companies would pay to be allowed to try out, without anyone whingeing about ethics or informed consent), the gold teeth, the human hair harvested for felt cloth, and for the niche market the human skin lampshades and the soap from human fat...the possibilities are endless. And the grateful corporations would have flooded the Nazi party with contributions, so it's not as though Hitler would lose out, either. Right?
[As an aside: many Indian business schools use Mein Kampf these days to teach management techniques (no, I am not joking), so, believe it or not, there's contemporary relevance, right there.]
But even if Hitler would have done that, you say, he was a dictator, wasn’t he? Wouldn’t he have been repugnant to democracies?
That’s where the second part of Hitler’s stupidity comes in. As we who care to study history know, Hitler came to power in an entirely democratic election, and converted that into a dictatorship under emergency rule. If he’d had sense, he’d have arranged sham elections – openly sham, maybe, but elections – which would have kept him in power. You know, like so many freedom-lovin’ great leaders the democratic world loves to love, while ignoring the jails filled with tortured dissidents and the mass graves in the jungles.
We live in a world where “democracies” hold elections which make absolutely no difference to the policies followed, no matter who wins; and where private prisons pack their cells full of inmates who are used as virtual slave labour. So all I can say is that Hitler was probably a visionary.
He just didn’t go far enough.