Autarky Envisioned

The idea of autarky was present throughout all of Europe as each nation was affected by the Great Depression.  As the Depression impacted each nation’s economy, a new ideology needed to be introduced to the capitalist society.  Individuals were against the rapidly growing materialistic and capitalistic world as it could be the only explanation for the Depression.  But how was autarky envisioned in the totalitarian state such as Germany and Italy, alongside the democratic United States?  In Schivelbusch’s Three New Deals, autarky can be explained beyond the economic standpoint.  ((Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Three New Deals, (New York: Picador, 2006) )).

As the Depression hit, the rush to create a self-sufficient economic was significant.  If a nation was unable to support themselves the nation would suffer even more.  Regionalism was introduced as well as inner colonization.  This inner colonization as Schivelbusch explains brought forward the importance of nationalism.  The nation must find opportunities in which individuals could become an nation and develop a sense of national pride.  Propaganda and public works projects financed by the state were established to find this national pride within the community.  Individuals were brought to live in small communities in where there were able to develop a sense of family within the state.

Establishments of public works projects and state-funded propaganda gave the government a new view of nationalism and the impact it could make to suppress the effects of the Depression.  While several of these public works projects failed such as the settlements located on the outskirts of major cities, nations were able to develop a national pride that allowed them to gain strength that was needed in WWII.

4 thoughts on “Autarky Envisioned

  1. Was the government’s reinforcement of national pride all about strength? What about the social aspect? I wonder what, in this respect, the social effect of the “small communities” was. Did it work in its aim to “develop a sense of family” or did it inspire backlash at ineffective policies? Many of these programs failed, so what might have been the cause?

    • It inspired backlash. Schivelbusch noted that these programs, particularly when referring to small community experiments like the ‘Arthurdale settlements’, the American public “mistrusted and opposed the planners attempts to develop collective and cooperative forms of life.” ((Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Three New Deals, (New York: Picador, 2006, 131)) This program got very negative responses because of the fact that people saw it as an attempt by the American government to try and control peoples lives. As Schivelbusch puts it, one political opponent of Roosevelt said “it was the first Soviet Colchos on American Soil.” ((Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Three New Deals, (New York: Picador, 2006, 131))

  2. In response to maltzd’s last question, I think that these programs failed because they were largely founded on propaganda and not real economic factors. Although people of the western world lost faith in capitalism, the failure of state sponsored suburban settlements reinforced capitalism’s regulatory capacity. Where suburbanization after WWII resulted from an economic boom, attempted suburbanization before WWII ignored the reality that industrialization yielded economic stability. Although people feared unrestrained, large industries, these industries, both in the US and Germany, allowed the countries to produce their way out of economic depression ((Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Three New Deals, (New York: Picador, 2006, 135)).

  3. I agree with gibson’s proposal that some of the programs failed because they had their roots in state propaganda instead of feasibility and economic factors. Despite the fact that people, especially in the United States, had turned away from capitalism and mass production, rural industry such as agriculture is highly susceptible to external shocks. In the short-run agriculture does not provide the high returns necessary to provide economic stability. In addition, Schivelbusch suggests that projects such as these lack prestige that is associated with national architecture ((Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Three New Deals, 136)).

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