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Q:

How many people died in the Great Depression?

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Bourgeois historians would say nobody was killed by the Great Depressions: some people may have died of their own inability to adapt their skills to a fluctuating job market, but that's their fault, not capitalism's. More seriously though, given the complexity of what we call "depression", it's hard to say who died of what exactly: starvation from unemployement? Starvation from underemployement? Suicide or alcoholism from not getting a job? How to distinguish that from unrelated suicide and mere alcoholism? Abnormal infant mortality from bad housing conditions? How to distinguish that from sporadic cholera and smallpox outbreaks? Shall we include the deaths from WW2, as the chaos and despair caused by the Great Depression is mostly what brought Hitler to power?

I do think it is sterile to compare ideologies by their death tolls. The inefficiency of ideologies cannot be induced necessarily (as in "not contigent") from its effects, as the application of an ideology is contigent on its context: it's not as if you could isolate "capitalism" from "the 1930's". Regardless of its context however, capitalism has intrinsic contradictions, ownership over the means of production is in-itself contrary to elementary ethics, and this is both necessary and sufficient to condemn capitalism.

Death tolls are good for populist propaganda (as in "communism has killed 100 million people, therefore it wrong"), but not for serious analysis.
 
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There is one guy from Russia who asserts that at least 7 million died in the Great Depression. He allegedly came up with those numbers by taking a look at the population before and after the depression and even used a 3.5 million deviation for migration and says that there is at least 7 million people unaccounted for. Now obviously many can dismiss this as Communist propaganda, but one has to think about this. Without question there had to be starvation during that time but it's really not a key talking point by our history books. One has to wonder. more
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