Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Marshal Plan And The Beginnings of European Socialism

The Marshall Plan was one of many aid and loan programs that the United States implemented to help Europe recover from the destruction wrought by nearly seven years of fighting.  Though the US, and her neighbor to the north Canada, implemented many programs, the Marshall Plan is the most well known.  All told, Western Europe received over 12.7 billion dollars in aid from the Marshall Program.  Today it would be the equivalent of a 120 billion dollars, and at the time was almost 4% of US GDP during that period.  In other words, it was mid-century version of the stimulus bill, which was around 5% of GDP, that was sent to foreign nations. Factoring Canada's aid and the other unmentioned loans and programs to help Europe, the nations of Europe received hundreds of billions of inflation adjusted dollars.

This is interesting, because contrary to what many of us in the west think, it appears that the plague of European socialism was not first implemented by communists or socialists within Europe but by the United States herself; though one could make an argument that the Marshall Plan was a covert operation by communist agents/sympathizers within the US but it must also be noted that Stalin was very hostile to the plan.  The Marshall Plan was a great success, in a geopolitical sense, for America because it helped quell the growing communist movements within the western nations and western European nations loved the program because it allowed them to ease off from austerity because the US artificially boosted spending, a perfect Keynesian policy.  Though some argue that the Marshall Plan only accelerated, but did not cause, the twenty year long economic boom; it isn't hard to see how this program, coupled with the ever present US defense umbrella, sowed the seeds for democratic socialism a few decades later.


  1. I need to find a good book on the Marshall plan. I've read bits and pieces about it in other books but I've never read one solely focused on it. Seems like today with all the data and perspective on it that there would be a good book out there for it.

  2. It's hard to argue with success. Post Martial plan we had the (ostensible) Capitalist golden age. Pre world war II, by comparison, held the worst world economic conditions of the twentieth century having followed one world war "to end all wars" a mere twenty years later with another.

    Ideologies live or die based on how they are applied in the real world and not in how they seem to work in theoretical discussions or books.

    However, Communism was a very great threat directly prior to the second world war (economic upheaval often results in a change of political ideology in mild cases, or entire political institutions in worse cases), it had some pretty widespread public appeal. I've read that in the three years prior to WWII in England the Communist party membership was up around 3,000 percent (also remember the first world war brought on a pretty heavy toll with a certain type of welfare due to the dead and maimed). Ten percent of the population of England was comprised of war widows, children, and critically injured soldiers receiving aid money. Depression around the world brought in the first welfare programs. Countries that resisted those measures and tried austerity had the largest degree of impact politically. The Netherlands, for instance, are a Socialist state in great part today due to the seeds sewn during their great depression.

    1. Very true, but none of the European socialist programs would have been achievable without American support via monetary and military ends. This is the catch 22 of socialism, many of the ill-effects aren't always felt for decades to come.


Disagreements and countervailing views are welcome, however, comments will be deleted if:

-They have emoticons.
-If it is obvious that you have not read the post.
-Obvious Spam, and it takes me about a quarter second to determine if it is spam since you all write your comments the same way.

About Me

My photo
Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.