quote:That is an appearence which does not tally with reality. The truth is to be found in comparing the histories of the two countries.
It's almost as though they were doing war on the fly without long term strategies while the Soviet Union had been planning for a war against somebody since 1927.
Of all the countries in the world, Marxism was most imbeded in the German working class. It is hard today to imagine the role played by social democracy among the German working class up to the Nazi dictatorship. For many it was a way of life more than a vote, organising education and recreation and virtually every aspect of life for German workers. Though the German social democracy had become reformist, heading off and opposing revolutionary currents, it was largely on the basis of sanitising rather than renouncing its Marxist origins.
The Communist Party of Germany was formed to re-leaven the German Marxist tradition. In the last election held in Germany, more voted KPD in the German capital than Nazi. The KPD too, had fallen into the service of interests hostile to socialist revolution, namely Stalin's counter-revolutionary bureaucracy in Russia. It aided the Nazi's in their road to power. But again, it distorted and corrupted Marxism to serve Russia's prototype bourgeois national interest.
In all, the German working class remained accepting of politics dressed up in the Marxist lexicon, and Hitler was well aware of, and deeply feared this. The question for the Nazis, then, was how to gain room in the world for German capital to expand again, without arousing the surpressed and decapitated, but very much alive, socialist traditions of the working class. Not least were concerns that the Nazi's volatile middle class social base could swing the other way, so to speak, if Nazi policy appeared to fail and a lead from another layer of society appeared.
This did not prevent Germany from preparing for aggressive war. That she did so is an unambiguous fact. But it did prevent her leaders from mobilising industry for the war effort at the expense of consumer goods. Social peace at home had to be maintained by making the war appear to be somewhere 'over there.'
Wars of short duration with relatively little disruption to public life were the order of the day. When this proved impossible to maintain, is there anything that could have turned this ominus minus more into a plus for rallying Germany to the Nazi cuase, than the allied bombing of German cities and Roosevelt's insistance at Casablanca on Germany's unconditional surrender?
Russia, on the other hand, the so called hotbed of Bolshevism, was in a quite different situation with different aims.
The revolution of November 1917 in its subsequent creation of state industries and state monopoly of foreign trade had created some condidions for socialist construction, but by virtue of her isolation and backwardness, rather more for bourgeois national construction. As students of Bismark onwards will testify, conditions for the two are not in all cases mutually exclusive.
The civil war was inconclusive. While the Bolsheviks emerged militarily victorious, the Soviet Union was economically shattered. As Marx himself put it, “A development of the productive forces is the absolutely necessary practical premise [of Communism], because without it want is generalized, and with want the struggle for necessities begins again, and that means that all the old crap must revive.”
Yet in post civil war Russia, want was everywhere and the old crap returned in shedloads, and by the most unexpected route. The divergent interests of all Russian society were refracted through the one state party, a resumption of pre-November dual power by another means. What followed was a struggle of the Stalin faction against the Left and Right Oppositions, then one between Stalin's bureaucracy and the rich peasants and entrepreneurs. This was, in essence, a struggle for control of surplus production, of which there was not enough to go round.
Stalin's triumph led to the most total annihilation of Marxism witnessed in any country of the world as oppositionists at every level of the state and society were executed in their tens of thousands or herded into the GULAG from which few returned. It was the last stage of this counter-revolutionary purge that destroyed the brains of the Red Army centered around Tukhachevsky.
More fundamentally, Stalin reinstated capitalist social relations on the basis of nationalised property and lacking an economic regulator, either in the form of an internal market or democratic control of capital and production. This unlikely social formation was highly successful only in the context of global economic collapse of relatively free market economies and the basic construction tasks that faced Russia's new rulers.
The Russian working class, which was before the revolution a small but powerful section of society, all but evaporated under the strain of the civil war. The working class that Stalin built came in from the countryside. It had no Marxist tradition, little education, no history of independent organisation and expected little from life. That is not to say it was content, but its potential at that time, for organised resistance to the state does not compare to that of Germany's working class.
By this comparison it should be clear that the military buildup of Germany and Russia between the wars is fundamentally different. Germany was preparing for war to achieve for Germany what the Kaiser did not- an economic sphere of influence into which German capital could expand. As outlined in Hitler's, until 2003, unpublished 'Zweites Buch', his ultimate aim was to create a German dominated economic bloc in alliance with the British Empire, capable of standing up to the prodigious growth of the USA. he predicted the final showdown between the two blocs would be in the 1980s.
Though unpublished, it is unlikely that the British ruling class were unfamiliar with Hitler's goals. Indeed, the British aristocracy and royal family were great fans of the Nazis, Lord Halifax led a faction advocating peace with the Nazis in 1940 and Churchill, who was never opposed to Naziism until he saw it cutting accross Britain's interests, was doubtless genuine in his remorse at ceding Britain's global hegemony to the United States when after the war he bemoaned having butchered the wrong pig.
The expansion of the Russian military, on the other hand, absorbed enormous manpower and resources. It was the point of contact between the belatedly developing Russian economy and the market, the means by which the nascient Russian capitalist class could exclude the predations of global markets and interested foreign parties, from the development of her industries for the benefit of the Russian ruling class.
This powerful sword, the protection of her economy from economic regulation, turned out to be double edged, but this was not something which became critical before the war, becoming an inescapable pattern of development only in the 1960s and onwards. As the technical and social divisions of labour increased, the less return was achieved from investment and the more fragmented the economy became.
Unlike Germany, Russia had no need of foreign markets, cheap labour, or resources. The invasions of eastern Poland, Bessarabia, the Baltic States and Finland not withstanding, Russian military buildup was in its essence defensive, her defence by buffer states expressing in another form the death of her revolution and domestic Marxism.
And so it was, that clothed in new pseudo-ideologies, the interests of competing national finance capital set the worlds people at each others throats a second time.
“The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”
¯ Thomas Jefferson