One day a question popped into my head...
Were the Nazi's killing jews because they could not feed everybody?
Hitler was an economic ignoramus and surrounded himself with cranks (Rise and Fall of the Third Reich). He believed that Germany needed more land to feed its population. He was also after other resources as well, oil, rubber, etc. It makes sense to me that if you can feed a person and use him for slave labor he is much more valuable than as a corpse, especially when engaged in total war.
I have also been thinking there may be a similar history in the USSR. It seems to me there is no need to murder so many people when you can feed them and use them for slave labor.
Anyone ever read anything on this topic?
I agree with this theory. For every stock of capital there’s an optimal population size. By pursuing their statist measures, Germany and the USSR lowered the local capital stock, which meant that the population level was over-optimal. This does not mean that they anyhow got some market signal that starting to shoot people would make anyone rich, but both regimes where ‘successful’ (i.e. survived for a time) because they pursued population-lowering policies for ideological reasons.
I hold the horrible war in Yugoslavia to be an other, recent example: after the hyperinflation on the early ’90, Yugoslav capital was eaten up, and some population was superfluous. That’s why massacres and ethnic cleansing could go on unabated, if not for foreign intervention.