In his essay Snowpiercer and Necrofuturism, Gerry Canavan concludes that "The Holocaust has, after all, always been one of two major necrofuturist endpoints of necrocapitalist modernity, the other being the silence after nuclear holocaust." Indeed, the Holocaust can be understood as an extreme example of necro-capitalism, the dynamic where the capitalist ruling class kills off or enslaves the portions of the population which they deem to be expendable.
In the case of the Holocaust, the targets of necro-capitalism were Jews and other demonized ethnic and religious groups, as well as political dissidents. The genocide was born out of a fascist takeover, which is always preceded by the bourgeoisie having their power threatened and deciding to resort to drastic measures. As Michael Parenti explains in Blackshirts and Reds, Germany's capitalist class held an interest in bringing about the rise of the Nazi regime, and by extension the Holocaust itself:
In Germany, a similar pattern of complicity between fascists and capitalists emerged. German workers and farm laborers had won the right to unionize, the eight-hour day, and unemployment insurance. But to revive profit levels, heavy industry and big finance wanted wage cuts for their workers and massive state subsidies and massive tax cuts for themselves.
During the 1920s, the Nazi Sturmabteilung, or SA, the brown-shirted storm troopers, subsidized by business, were used mostly as an antilabor paramilitary force whose function was to terrorize workers and farm laborers. By 1930, most of the tycoons had concluded that the Weimar Republic no longer served their needs and was too accommodating to the working class. They increased their subsidies to Hitler, propelling the Nazi Party onto the national stage.
This shows the role that capital had behind one of the greatest mass murders and enslavement campaigns in history. The German capitalists-as well as American capitalist Hitler supporters like Henry Ford-viewed the establishment of fascism within Germany and wider Europe as the best way to advance their own interests. By doing this, they implicitly decided that whatever the Nazis would do to the designated undesirables-including genocide-also served their goals.
And throughout the process of genocide, the German bourgeoisie indeed benefitted from the campaign to eliminate or enslave these groups. The regime was able to kickstart the country's economy largely by exploiting the forced labor of war prisoners and imprisoned concentration camp victims. Consent was created for the new fascist order by giving the benefits from this labor to the everyday members of the "Aryan" ethnicity, who came to make up an aristocracy which enriched itself through "National Socialism." The people who were judged not to fit into this ethnostate were systematically murdered, or were closed off from the rest of society so that they could work as slaves.
As I watch the U.S. empire decline, and see the American capitalist ruling class grow desperate to maintain rising profits like the German bourgeoisie did, I'm getting the sense that Nazi Germany's necro-capitalist model will soon be replicated in an American context. The forming nightmare scenario is apparent from the inhumane migrant camps that the Trump administration has already forced tens of thousands of people into. It's apparent from the Gestapo-style arrests that Trump has been carrying out in response to the protests against racist police brutality. And it's apparent from the incentives that our ruling class now has to implement an American version of the Third Reich.
These incentives come from the fact that when the capitalist machine grows unstable, the bourgeoisie come to see it as necessary to sacrifice certain parts of the population in order to preserve their own comfortable position. Capitalism has always involved some amount of this kind of human sacrifice, whether the victims are targeted based on their class, race, or nationality. So you could argue that capitalism and necro-capitalism are one and the same, with the necro aspect emerging whenever the rich choose to make others pay for the crises of capitalism. Given the crises that capitalism is facing in our era, it's no wonder why the necro is becoming more and more dominant.
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