A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 144

The Wertheim Department Store, Leipziger Platz, Berlin.

Tuesday, September 8

Donald Trump seems to hate amazon.com and its owner, Jeff Bezos. Adolf Hitler hated the big-retail phenomena of his time: chain stores and department stores. But the similarity is only superficial. And the different motivation tells a lot about the two authoritarians.

Trump’s dislike of Bezos has MAGA man ready to destroy the U.S. Postal Service, which he believes unfairly allows Amazon favorable postal rates. The USPS should be charging Amazon “four or five times” the current rates, Trump said recently.

 Why? Because Amazon’s command of the consumer market is damaging mom-and-pop stores, maybe?

Well, that was the thinking of the Nazi Party in the 1930s. One of the Nazis’ constituent groups was small business, the Mittelstand. Germany’s 1933 Law for the Protection of Retail Trade prohibited the expansion of chain stores, and, over the next few years, more and more restrictions were placed on department stores. Early on, public authorities were forbidden to have public contracts with such stores, according to David Schoenbaum’s Hitler’s Social Revolution.

But while Trump might be able to make hay with the defenders of Main Street by railing against Amazon, he hasn’t really sought to do that. One gets the feeling that he hates Bezos only because Amazon’s owner is richer than Trump is. 

Recently, Forbes magazine published its richest guys list, with Bezos at the top for the third year in a row. Meanwhile, Trump’s net worth has dropped to No. 352 this year. “His net worth fell to $2.5 billion from $3.1 billion, as office buildings, hotels and resorts, have suffered during the pandemic,” according to news service Reuters.

Trump can’t stop himself. All he cares about is his own image—even when a bit of posturing against a capitalist behemoth could help him politically. All that matters to Trump is Trump! And shouldn’t that be enough for his rowdy MAGA backers?

For more comparison of Trump and Hitler see: chapter 138 and chapter 141 of this blog.

Dinner: Wine-braised chicken with artichoke hearts, couscous, and a lettuce and cucumber salad.

Entertainment: Nomad, a streaming video on writer Bruce Chatwin by director Werner Herzog.