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Routes into the Abyss

Routes into the Abyss: Coping with Crises in the 1930s

Helmut Konrad
Wolfgang Maderthaner
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 230
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  • Book Info
    Routes into the Abyss
    Book Description:

    Examining the 1930s and the different reactions to the crisis, this volume offers a global comparative perspective that includes a comparison across time to give insight into the contemporary global recession. Germany, Italy, Austria and Spain with their antidemocratic, authoritarian or fascistic answers to the economic crisis are compared not only to an opposite European perspective - the Swedish example - but also to other global perspectives and their political consequences in Japan, China, India, Turkey, Brazil and the United States. The book offers no recipe for economic, social or political action in today's recession, but it shows a wide range of reactions in the past, some of which led to catastrophe.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-785-1
    Subjects: History, Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-11)
    Helmut Konrad and Wolfgang Maderthaner

    In 2008, when the subprime mortgage crisis shook the American financial system, few could have foreseen that this was the beginning of a global financial crisis. And nobody at all reckoned with a knock-on effect on the ‘real’ economy. On the contrary: stock market bubbles had often burst in the past, decimating the (real and virtual) fortunes of investors, but they had only ever been accompanied by the smallest of effects on production in other sectors, even in those at the centre of the financial crises in question. And there was no talk whatsoever of any effect on politics, either...

  4. Chapter 1 Crisis and Workers’ Movements
    (pp. 12-19)
    Ferdinand Lacina

    This quotation from the American economist and Nobel Prize winner Paul A. Samuelson can be found on the title page of the fifth edition of the well-knownA History of Financial Crises, which was released in 2005 by Robert Aliber, two years after the death of its author, Charles P. Kindleberger.¹ This advice has clearly not been heeded by numerous participants in the fields of economics and politics. The ideology of neo-liberalism, has, to an unimaginable degree, not only worked its way into the core of modern economics, but has also shown itself to be the creed of the politics...

  5. Chapter 2 The Significance of February 1934 in Austria, in both National and International Context
    (pp. 20-32)
    Helmut Konrad

    Austria’s descent into the abyss, from a democracy to a dictatorship, was the result of many factors, as well as being the spark that provided the necessary fire for many events whose effects are still being felt to this day. Both causes and effects are important for understanding Austria today as well as Austria’s future.

    The Republic of Austria, or rather the Republic of German Austria, as it was called in its early months, resulted from the defeat and subsequent dismantling of the Habsburg Monarchy at the end of the First World War.

    The First World War dramatically reshaped not...

  6. Chapter 3 Avalanches of Spring: The Great War, Modernism, and the Rise of Austro-Fascism
    (pp. 33-54)
    Roger Griffin

    On 12 November 1918 the Republic of German Austria arose – more of a distressed, struggling fledgling than a noble Phoenix – from the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Under the terms of the Treaty of St Germain it was soon forced to change its name to The Republic of Austria. It was to last until 1 May 1934 when the country officially became the Austrian Corporate State (Ständestaat) under Engelbert Dollfuss which itself lasted until the Anschluss with the Third Reich on 12 March 1938.¹

    In the Spring of 1918, Franz Kafka had written in his notebook:

    Seen with the impaired...

  7. Chapter 4 Fascism in Italy between the Poles of Reactionary Thought and Modernity
    (pp. 55-77)
    Karin Priester

    In his work ‘A Brief History of Fascism in Italy’ Brunello Mantelli summarizes the key structural problem of the Mussolini Regime as follows: ‘Even if one were to take the official data and statistics of the “Achievements” and workings of the Fascist Regime in Italy as genuine, it becomes apparent that the will of Mussolini and his cohorts was to create the illusion of “Modernity” while not actually “Modernizing” the nation at all.’¹

    Modernity without Modernization – in this and similar paradoxes, the researchers of Fascism have tried to identify the ambivalent character of Fascism as a reactionary, populist trend. Jeffrey...

  8. Chapter 5 Hitler’s Dictatorship: His Role as ‘Leader’ in the Nazi Regime
    (pp. 78-85)
    Hans Mommsen

    In some respects, the plethora of publications and biographies dealing with Hitler’s rise and fall as an eccentric dictator tends to dissolve any clear picture of his rise as undisputed leader of the German National Socialist Worker’s Party (NSDAP) and then as Reich Chancellor to unrestricted political power over vast parts of continental Europe, and his responsibility for the death of millions of people. Hitler’s real career started in 1921 with his first ‘seizure of power’ within the Nazi movement, the then still insignificant and marginal splinter group of the German Worker’s Party DAP/NSDAP, which was sponsored by bourgeois notables...

  9. Chapter 6 The Second Spanish Republic: The Challenges Facing a Democracy in Troubled Times
    (pp. 86-101)
    Vicent Sanz Rozalén

    Over the last three decades, the period of the Second Spanish Republic has become a kind of ‘historiographic legend’ for a wide variety of reasons. On the one hand, it is the period directly preceding the Civil War and, as such, attempts have been made to determine the reasons for the war by focusing on its immediate predecessor. Such a restricted approach could lead us to make the short-sighted mistake of viewing the Civil War as the direct and inevitable result of the Republic, when in actual fact it was the result of tensions caused by the Spanish social, political...

  10. Chapter 7 The Crisis in the 1930s and the Rise to Power of the Swedish Social Democrats
    (pp. 102-114)
    Bengt Schüllerqvist

    The era between the two world wars was a period of crisis for the labour movement in most countries in Europe. The steady progress to which many workers’ parties had become accustomed prior to the First World War was broken. After a brief upswing in the wake of the war, the labour unions lost both ground and members in many places during the 1920s.

    Three distinct lines of development emerged during the interwar period In several countries fascist movements assumed governmental power and defeated the labour parties. In other countries the socialist parties remained opposition parties without real influence over...

  11. Chapter 8 The United States in the Great Depression: Was the Fascist Door Open?
    (pp. 115-126)
    Nelson Lichtenstein

    Was fascism a realistic possibility in the United States during the Great Depression? Certainly, if one seeks to measure that possibility in terms of the depth and severity of the crisis, both in economic and political terms, the United States was in the same league with Germany and other European nations devastated by the Great Depression. Unemployment reached 25 per cent, five thousand banks failed, and middle-class wealth evaporated almost as rapidly as in the Weimar inflation of 1923. From 1930 onwards no year passed without a series of mass demonstrations by the unemployed or without violent confrontations between governmental...

  12. Chapter 9 Turkey in the First ‘World Crisis’: From Authoritarianism to Totalitarianism
    (pp. 127-138)
    Erik-Jan Zürcher

    The Turkey of the early 1930s was overwhelmingly an agricultural country. Over 80 per cent of the population lived in the countryside and the agricultural sector completely dominated the economy.¹ This would remain the case until the 1950s.² This agricultural sector, which was primarily composed of sheep farming in the dryer uplands and mountain regions, wheat production in inland Anatolia and the production of cash crops like cotton, tobacco, hazelnuts, figs and raisins in the coastal plains, had gone through hard times in 1927 and 1928, due to unseasonal droughts. Nevertheless, the average growth rate of the agricultural sector between...

  13. Chapter 10 Brazil in the 1930s: State Building, Nationalism and Working-Class Agency
    (pp. 139-151)
    Alexandre Fortes and Paulo Fontes

    In Brazil, as in many other countries, the 1930s marked a decisive turning point in working-class history. We will approach the changes experienced at that historical moment from four convergent perspectives. First we will make use of some historiographical contributions from the last decades in order to identify relevant elements in the country’s earlier trajectory of social struggles, which government propaganda and long-time prevalent academic interpretations attempted to erase from historical memory. Afterwards, we will briefly outline the main features of the corporatist labour relations system established between 1930 and 1943, and comment on its impact on the labour movement...

  14. Chapter 11 Labour, Organization and Gender: The Jute Industry in India in the 1930s
    (pp. 152-166)
    Samita Sen

    This chapter focuses on the impact of the Great Depression on the jute industry in Calcutta. Jute was the largest and most important industry in the eastern region of the country at that time, the largest consumer of raw jute, and the most important commercial crop of the region; it accounted for a large share of exports from the region and the factories employed, just before the Depression, well above three hundred thousand workers. In the 1930s, the industry began to decline rapidly. Independence and the partition of the country in 1947 was the death knell, separating the jute-growing agricultural...

  15. Chapter 12 Japan’s Way Out of the Crisis of the 1930s as a Strategy for Overcoming Modernity
    (pp. 167-182)
    Hiroko Mizuno

    The period of crisis that gripped Japan during the interwar period was the result of numerous factors and problems, all of which are still to this day discussed by historians. Accordingly there exists in Japan extensive literature and historical studies that concern this period of time, often examining it critically in connection with the ‘Asia-Pacific War’. In dealing with Japanese history of the interwar period, one should not think of the period of crisis of the 1930s as an isolated event but rather as a consequence of the modernization process by which Japan had been shaped as a modern nation-state...

  16. Chapter 13 Reappraising the Nanjing Decade (1927–1937): Modernizing China during the World Economic Crisis
    (pp. 183-198)
    Susanne Weigelin-Schwiedrzik

    The ‘Nanjing Decade’ starts in 1927 with the establishment of Nanjing as the capital of the Republic of China, the unification of the country under its paramount leader Jiang Jieshi (better known as Tschiang Kaishek), and the implementation of one-party-rule under the nationalist party Guomindang. It ends with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident on 7 July 1937 and the beginning of a fully-fledged war between Japan and China. During this period the Guomindang acted as the planner, motor and agent of modernization in China. It introduced a strategic plan to accelerate industrialization by combining state and private economy. While industries...

  17. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 199-202)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 203-218)
  19. Index
    (pp. 219-224)