Mister, We Could Use a Man Like Herbert Hoover Again
I’m very interested in the Hoover Institution, a right-wing think tank supported by Stanford University. In this post I will explore its name, its present, its history and its associations and make the case that they are all illustrative of modern intellectualized conservatism.
I know what you are thinking: “Wait, ‘Hoover?’ Not that Hoover, certainly?!?” Yes, that Hoover: President Herbert Hoover. This is an institution named after the man who history generally holds most accountable for the Great Depression of the 1930s. It may seem strange to you that a contemporary conservative institution has chosen to stick to a name which is generally associated with mass unemployment, double digit deflation, makeshift homeless encampments literally called “Hoovervilles,” friendly relations with Adolf Hitler and an offensive military operation against homeless veterans. In fact, the legacy of Herbert Hoover has increasingly been openly embraced among the “intellectual” conservatives. The new “Firing Line” show employs Margaret Hoover, the President’s great-granddaughter to fill the role once held by William F. Buckley. This Hoover is proud of the family legacy. In fact, she gave a speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential library about all the good sides of the President.
Currently the Hoover Institution’s YouTube account has uploaded videos that openly critique scientific facts such as evolution. For instance, the video Mathematical Challenges to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution argues that Darwinian evolution is mathematically impossible. This is based on their computations which find that it is hard for random mutation to produce anything useful, hence God must have played an active part.
The video is worth watching for the purely visual effect of four men trying to dress like rogue intellectuals. One man wears a glove on only one hand. Another man dresses like Indiana Jones with skinny jeans and holds a bejeweled can in his hand.
It is hard to look up old articles at the Hoover Institution. I went to the search page of their website. I tried to filter my search for articles published by publication date. However, I was unable to filter for any articles published before January 1st, 2019. I’m not sure if this is intentionally done to make it harder to dig up dirt on them based on historical positions they took. Alternatively, it could be a programming flaw.
Fortunately, I can use the Wayback Machine and was able to dig up some dirt. In the second volume from 1996 of the “Hoover Digest” Robert Barro argued democracy was a bad idea for Haiti and Somalia. In that same volume, the then-current dictator of Peru, Alberto Fujimori is interviewed and described in glowing terms. Also, researchers examine what the best way is to end welfare once and for all and how to keep the minimum wage low.
In the third volume from the year 1997, there is an article which calls Social Security a “pyramid scheme.” In that volume, global warming and pollution are argued to be problems merely due to a lack of “property rights” (I guess some company needs to own the ozone layer?). Ironically Bill Clinton is compared to Neville Chamberlain (a man notorious for being to friendly with the Nazis) for good relations with China. And an article was written about how rich the East Asian countries are now because they followed free-market capitalism. This article was published 2 years before almost all of those economies collapsed in the “Asian Crisis.”
For five volumes in a row (volume 1 1996 to volume 3 1997) there was at least one article criticizing affirmative action.
The Hoover Institution isn’t just composed of some weirdos you’ve never heard of. They are actually pretty serious people in Washington. Condoleezza Rice is a director. Milton Friedman used to be a Senior Fellow, as were many Harvard and Stanford economics professors (Niall Ferguson, for instance). And a former cabinet secretary (secretary of state George Shultz) used to be a distinguished fellow of this institution. Also, “Mad Dog” Mattis (Trump Defense Secretary) used to be a Research fellow (but I guess that isn’t too surprising).
In conclusion, the world is crazier than you think. Ideas which are supposed to be fringe are a few percentage-point changes in the electorate from being the majority opinion and governing philosophy of this country.