7 - Capitalism, totalitarianism and the legal order of National Socialism  pp. 169-202

Capitalism, totalitarianism and the legal order of National Socialism

By Keith Tribe

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Fifty years after its first appearance, Franz Neumann's Behemoth remains unsurpassed as the classic study of National Socialism. This is not for want of scholarly attention to the subject. The NS-Zeit, brief as it was, retains its power to generate debate and controversy, assuring in turn a continuing and high level of academic scrutiny devoted to the period. Historians and social scientists have played a prominent and public role in recent controversies, as evidenced by the Kujau affair and the Historikerstreit. Despite this ready association of scholarly investigation and popular interest in the phenomenon of National Socialism, Behemoth, written in New York during 1941, endures as the most successful attempt to outline its structure and dynamics.

As sometimes happens, however, Behemoth's analysis was so readily, and widely, accepted that little attention was paid to its possible limitations or deficiencies. It was quickly assumed that the text was heavily indebted to Marxist categories and concepts, and when a German translation was eventually published during the 1970s it seemed natural to add an afterword placing Behemoth in the context of recent Marxist discussions of Fascism. Certainly Neumann describes National Socialism as ‘Totalitarian Monopoly Capitalism’; but it should be noted that when he investigates the structure of National Socialism he chooses to do so in terms of the institution of property, invoking Karl Renner.