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> In WW2, the US was able to fight two major wars simultaneously, and supply the allies, and move all that stuff overseas. An incredible achievement, only possible from free markets and the wealth produced by them.

The US nationalized many industries during WWII.

From 'U.S. not always averse to nationalization, despite its free-market image'[1]

"In times of war and national emergency, Washington has not hesitated. In 1917, the government seized the railroads to make sure goods, armaments and troops moved smoothly in the interests of national defense during World War I. Bondholders and stockholders were compensated, and railroads were returned to private ownership in 1920, after the war ended.

During World War II, Washington seized dozens of companies including railroads, coal mines and, briefly, the Montgomery Ward department store chain."

[1]: https://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/13/business/worldbusiness/13...

Edit: this appears to be a definitive account of wartime nationalization.

Industrialists in Olive Drab https://www.amazon.com/Industrialists-Olive-Drab-Operations-...

"the individual most closely involved with this effort, recounts the unique story of Ohly and his compatriots who were charged with the mission of guaranteeing that private companies sustained the vital war production of weapons, munitions, and other materiel needed by America's fighting men and the Allies to achieve victory overseas"

Full PDF: https://history.army.mil/html/books/070/70-32-1/CMH_Pub_70-3...

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Rather, it was having access to 1) continent-wide natural resources and 2) no combat theatre domestically which would have disrupted manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, not to mention civilian life and morale.




> continent-wide natural resources

The USSR and China also had this access, and it didn't seem to do the trick for them. The US supplied the USSR.

Airplanes, tanks, food, etc. were not nationalized.


I should point out that the industrial bit of the USSR was the bit the Germans invaded first. The Soviets had to move their entire industrial heartland a thousand or so miles east out of harm's way and rebuild it before they could start producing stuff.

When they did, they produced vast amounts of war material, and possibly would have beaten the Germans single-handedly given another year or two.


Which strongly suggests that the real problem is ideological polemics, which makes sense when you think about it.

The USA didn't stick to ideological capitalism, and implemented many "socialist" policies: welfare systems, public works projects, labour protections, public infrastructure, etc. etc.

The USSR did stick to ideological communism as they defined it. Markets weren't utilized at all. Freedom of thought was suppressed. Political purges were executed.

In the USA, something similar was tried with the "red scare", but thankfully plurality won out, and some of those "abhorrent" socialist policies became mainstays in "great capitalist America" as part of the New Deal, which is what saved the USA from its domestic communist movement.

Over the last few decades though, the USA seems to have forgotten this. Forgotten that what saved the USA was not rigid adherence to some pre-existing quasi-religious ideological/spiritual polemic (which both capitalism and communism are), but the willingness to implement and incorporate a wide basket of ideas as they were appropriate.


Both had a lot of internal rebellions and wars that took massive hits at the country.

Not to mention that both started way worse than the US at their respective times.


Don't forget the US Civil War, which was a catastrophe.


Also it's worth noting that the US has a bunch of nationalised/government controlled services that are privatised in the UK and other parts of Europe, including:

- Airports and airport security

- Postal service (USPS)

- Train operators (Amtrak)

- Insurance (FCIC, FEMA)

- Various municipal utilities and the TVA

- Various credit/financial/banking institutions

In the UK, we have privatised airports, mail, energy, telephony, water, train operators (though this is sort of changing), and don't have equivalents for many of the government owned finance organisations that the US has.

Additionally, many of the private industries in the US are far from free market. The UK's private healthcare industry is arguably more free market than the US's private healthcare industry, although has to compete with the NHS.

This isn't a criticism, just to remark that the US certainly isn't afraid of nationalisation and government owned services.


The US indeed has a very unfree health care system, and that is the source of the bulk of the problems with it, such as incredible costs.

It's not a coincidence that the industries heavily distorted by the government in the US are the costliest - health care and education. Ironically, this interference was all aimed at reducing cost.


The book you cite doesn't seem to support your argument.

Firstly, you say they nationalized many industries but the book talks about individual companies. Nationalizing an industry means nationalizing every company within that industry.

Secondly, this does not appear to have been motivated by the failure of capitalism but rather the opposite. It was done in response to union strikes. Unions are usually understood as being against capitalism and free markets; they want to replace individuals "voting with their wallet" by collectively taking control from management via committees of (frequently communist leaning or outright communist) representatives of the workers.

Thirdly, it says quite clearly that as late as 1943 the War Department had done so few of these seizures that it amounted to "barely a dozen". By the end of the war they had seized around 60. That's a drop in the ocean of the US economy, which is why it's not well known.

So this example doesn't really seem to argue against the notion that the US won because of free market capitalism. The only places where they had to step in and become authoritarian (very briefly) were places where capitalism was breaking down thanks to communist agitation.


To be fair, Roosevelt in his 1945 State of the Union Address advocated for imposing forced labor on American civilians. Fortunately, that went nowhere.


Many people working in the US today would disagree.

The fact that the forcing is done with debt and threats of homelessness and not at gunpoint is just an implementation detail.


How would you propose enforcing the fulfillment of (freely entered and completely voluntary) contracts?


> freely entered and completely voluntary) contracts

Muahahaha, good one!


Seizing and nationalising only work very well when you have something worth seizing and nationalising. And then only temporarily.




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