From the American Slaveholders to the Nazis…

From my dialogue with Daniel Larison over at The New Inquiry:

In the American context, there is a precedent for the conservative rush to empire, which you suggest is mostly a creation of the Cold War. And that is the slaveholders. But the slaveholders developed a fascinating vision of an imperial political economy, which would be centered around the Mississippi and spread out from there to the Caribbean Basin and beyond. It would be centered on slave labor, and it was thought to be a different kind of imperialism.

And though I’ve never seen anyone discuss this, it strikes me that there are fascinating parallels to be drawn between their vision of a slave empire, based on land, and the Nazis’ vision of an empire in the East, which was also to be based on land. People often forget that Hitler had a major critique of European imperialism in that it was extraterritorial and commercial in its orientation, whereas he wanted an empire that was contiguous territorially and based on slave labor and agriculture.


  1. deb November 3, 2011 at 10:55 pm | #

    Any sources for this project of Hitler and his critique of British or French style colonial empires? There is his well known comment on how he would like Ukraine to be ruled by Germans in a manner analogous to how India was being ruled by the British (i.e. on the cheap with a colonial-to-native ratio of 1:100 and after 300 years of German rule it would be an ideal breadbasket for the Greater German Reich), but the rest might be purely contingent and more of a result of German geopolitical thinkers’ ideas that dated to the 19th century on the preferability of a contiguous landmass based empire with the Slavic untermenschen serving the role of negroes for the superior kultur-bearning Germanic peoples. Recent books by Mark Mazower, Enzo Traverso, Wendy Lower and others emphasizes the parallels between Nazi colonialism and earlier European colonialism of the Spaniards, English, and French.

  2. Mike November 15, 2011 at 2:57 am | #

    Thank you Cory Robin for your insightful examination and comparison of the neo-athenic slaveholders with all of their political and economic enforcers to NAZI imperialism. I have often wondered how many white christian americans have had their own personal revelations as to their historical part in contributing to the hatred and fury directed at non-aryan people through their hatred and repression in the United States Of America.

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