08 April 2012

Henry Ford, Nazi Sympathizer

Henry Ford might have paid his workers a good salary, but he was also a notorious anti-semite and supporter of the Nazis, from whom he accepted the Grand Cross of the Golden Eagle in 1938, Germany’s highest honor for foreigners.

From here.

The juxtaposition is more than coincidence. Henry Ford's approach to corporate management, a paternalistic and micromanaging approach that traded liberty for generous and wholistic compensation for workers, was a natural outgrowth of the economic ideas behind the Prussian state which was one of the main components of what would become a unified German state in the late 19th century. To some extent, the whole neo-feudal American economy in which the social safety net for families comes mostly from their employers rather than from the state, can be traced to these ideas.

Many of the literal and intellectual heirs of those Prussians went on to become Nazis in the wake of the economic privations that the Treaty of Versailles, the ended World War I, exacerbated in Germany. The collapse of the German economy created conditions ripe for a demagogue like Hitler to exploit for his own ends.

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