Antitrust and Democracy: A Case Study from German Fascism

20 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2018

See all articles by Daniel A. Crane

Daniel A. Crane

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: April 17, 2018


In the recent political discourse around antitrust reform, prominent voices from across the political spectrum have asserted that excessive economic concentration imperils democracy. This theme has been raised periodically over the course of U.S. history, perhaps most forcibly after the Second World War when the framers of the Celler-Kefauver Act argued that industrial concentration in Germany enabled the rise of Nazism. This paper examines the relationship between Nazism and monopoly through a case study of the I.G. Farben chemical cartel. In analyzing Farben's role as Hitler's facilitator, this paper asks three questions: (1) How did industrial concentration give rise to fascism; (2) was the problem overly large industrial organizations (“the Curse of Bigness”) or rather organizations with excessive market power; and (3) what manner of antitrust regime would have been necessary and sufficient to prevent the unholy relationship between business and Nazism from developing?

JEL Classification: K1

Suggested Citation

Crane, Daniel A., Antitrust and Democracy: A Case Study from German Fascism (April 17, 2018). U of Michigan Law & Econ Research Paper No. 18-009, U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 595, Available at SSRN:

Daniel A. Crane (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

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Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States
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