Friday, December 2, 2016

Will Donald Trump be the Next Herbert Hoover or Even Worse?

Chris Rossini emails:

After reading your always excellent daily alert, a question popped to mind seeing this:

This is FDR war economy spending and New Deal spending all rolled into one, at the same time the economy is already running "hot."

I agree with every word of this. But my question is, are we witnessing a Herbert Hoover Part II with Trump?

After all, as Rothbard showed, Hoover was merely a mini-FDR, who set the stage for the massive government centralization of FDR. Hoover made "deals" with Big Business, much like Trump is already doing.

Are we being prepared for the next wave of socialization after Trump's actions bear their rotten fruit?

If so, the next socializer will be in a tough spot. America is no longer the golden goose that FDR was able to tear apart. It's more like a deadbeat moocher.

My response:

Mark Twain once wrote:
History never repeats itself, but the Kaleidoscopic combinations of the pictured present often seem to be constructed out of the broken fragments of antique legends.
The  Kaleidoscopic nature is what we need to focus on.

There is no question that Hoover was quite the statist and Rothbard did understand this:
In pushing through his program, Herbert Hoover created virtually all the lineaments of the New Deal; the New Deal was in fact Herbert Hoover’s creation, and historians, now removed from the partisan squabbles of the New Deal period, are increasingly coming to recognize this fact. Massive public works programs, government relief, inflation and cheap money on a grand scale, government deficits, higher taxes, government loans to shaky businesses, farm price supports, propping up of wage rates, monopolizing the oil industry and restricting production, war against the stock market and stock speculation—all these crucial facets of the New Deal program were launched con brio by President Hoover.
And the current twist of the Kaleidoscopic that has brought us Donald Trump appears to have some similar fragments to those that existed when Hoover was president. One can certainly see that Trump is likely to bring about massive public works programs (a trillion dollars to infrastructure) and greater government deficits. And Trump will certainly take a bellicose stance on international trade, which brings to mind the fact that it was Hoover who signed the horrific Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act.

But there are differences. Hoover did not get the United States involved in any major wars. I fully expect Trump to put U.S. combat forces in the Syria-Iraq region, to send reinforcements to Afghanistan and to launch an aggressive campaign to, at a minimum, destabilize the current regime in Iran.

As you note, I said in the ALERT, it could be FDR war economy spending and New Deal spending all rolled into one.

Also, on the domestic front, we can certainly expect growth of the surveillance state and it is quite possible that there is a big black blob in the middle of the current Kaleidoscopic view that can be identified as Domestic Crackdown.

It is impossible, though, to know what the post-Trump world will be like. The world is much too complex to know how the various fragments of events, views and opinions will push and turn.

Currently, it appears to me that the socialists do have a great opportunity if they handle it correctly to advance their views and agenda. Trump will do many things that are likely to spark protests among the millennials who are likely to object to Trump by arguing from a socialist perspective.

The socialist vanguard, if they are shrewd, could build quite the following during the Trump presidency.

For libertarians, it is going to be tough going. Many will be attracted to Trump. He will dilute the libertarian cause. I can see it now in some of the comments to current posts here at EPJ. One by one, libertarian positions are being discarded by some to justify their support of Emperor Trump. It appears we are moving into a period of the Ronald Reagan effect on steroids.

So, if we make it past Trump with some significant semblance of our freedoms intact, the possibility is very real that the reaction to authoritarian Trump may be socialist authoritarianism.

That said, the liberty torch that Mises and Hayek made so strong that was then advanced by Rothbard has not been doused out. How much of it will shine in the immediate Trump and post-Trump period we don't know. But, as long as there is a flicker, that others might spot, of men who do understand liberty and its key role in advancing civilization, there is hope.



  1. "So, if we make it past Trump with some significant semblance of our freedoms intact, the possibility is very real that the reaction to authoritarian Trump may be socialist authoritarianism."

    This is what I fear the most, when the majority opposition to right-authoritarianism is left-authoritarianism and vice versa liberty just continues to slowly die. Libertarians need to organize and attack from all sides (like Hazlitt said in his book Man vs the Welfare State).

  2. Rothbard is the glitch in our thinking. He rejected Mises's utilitarian philosophy and the Misesian state. We [classical] liberals are supposed to capture the state from the nationalists, neocons and social democrats.