Quote of the Day: The Tragedy of Liberty

 

There are those who assert that revolution has swept the United States. That is not true. But there are some who are trying to bring it about. At least they are following the vocal technique which has led elsewhere to the tragedy of Liberty. Their slogans; their promise of Utopia; their denunciation of individual wickednesses as if these were the wards of Liberty; their misrepresentation  of deep-seated causes; their will to destruction of confidence and consequent disorganization in order to justify action; their stirring of class feeling and hatred; their will to clip and atrophy the legislative arm; their resentment of critic; their chatter of boycott, of threat and of force—all are typical enough of the methods of more violent action.

— Herbert Hoover, “The Challenge to Liberty”

In 1935, Herbert Hoover’s book was published with this prescient comment. I was unnerved to read how accurately it described the current state of our country as we watch the “tragedy of Liberty” unfold. Mostly I was disturbed at how little we seem to learn from the disruptions in our society — that is, the right hasn’t learned how fragile liberty is, how it needs to be tended to, defended, and celebrated, or doesn’t seem to care about the obvious lessons; the left has learned apparently that all it needs to do is persist, and except for occasional setbacks, it continues to “progress.”

With the election of President Joe Biden, however, the left may have overplayed its hand. One after another, disasters in policy, action (or lack of action), confusion, authoritarian mandates, and other missteps have ensured that the left may not be successful. But the right can’t be complacent, hoping present circumstances will fade away and a better future will appear. If we don’t take advantage of the disorganization and mistakes of the left, this time could be our last opportunity to resurrect liberty.

Hat tip to @philo for recommending this wise and educational book.

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  1. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Just yesterday as I was taking my walk, the song by Archie and Edith Bunker was running through my head. “…and you knew who you were then. Girls were girls and men were men. Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.” 

    I know that song was supposed to parody what the writers thought were the silly conservative ideas of an earlier time, but hasn’t it turned out to be prescient? 

    I hope @susanquinn that this does not seem too lighthearted a comment on a serious topic, but it was where my mind has been going. Thank you for filling in the Herbert Hoover part for me.

    • #1
  2. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    ***

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    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Just yesterday as I was taking my walk, the song by Archie and Edith Bunker was running through my head. “…and you knew who you were then. Girls were girls and men were men. Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.”

    I know that song was supposed to parody what the writers thought were the silly conservative ideas of an earlier time, but hasn’t it turned out to be prescient?

    I hope @ susanquinn that this does not seem too lighthearted a comment on a serious topic, but it was where my mind has been going. Thank you for filling in the Herbert Hoover part for me.

    Not at all! I love any thoughts that are stirred up! And I think your assessment is correct. Thanks, @joelb. A

    • #3
  4. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    I realize Herbert Hoover is still scapegoat for the Great Depression but I still admire his personal story and found him to be an admirable person. From his very humble roots to his success as a Geologist and mining tycoon, the work he did in preventing European famines after WWI – he was an impressive person.

    I drive by his Presidential museum when visiting our Des Moines office and keep kicking myself for not building in enough time in my itinerary to check it out.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

     

    WI Con (View Comment):

    I realize Herbert Hoover is still scapegoat for the Great Depression but I still admire his personal story and found him to be an admirable person. From his very humble roots to his success as a Geologist and mining tycoon, the work he did in preventing European famines after WWI – he was an impressive person.

    I drive by his Presidential museum when visiting our Des Moines office and keep kicking myself for not building in enough time in my itinerary to check it out.

    I hope you are inspired to visit it soon! I have only visited Kennedy’s and Reagan’s, but I think it would be wonderful exploration to go through many of them. Yes, he definitely had flaws and made mistakes, but he was right this time (with this quotation). Thanks, @wicon.

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    WI Con (View Comment):

    I realize Herbert Hoover is still scapegoat for the Great Depression but I still admire his personal story and found him to be an admirable person. From his very humble roots to his success as a Geologist and mining tycoon, the work he did in preventing European famines after WWI – he was an impressive person.

    I drive by his Presidential museum when visiting our Des Moines office and keep kicking myself for not building in enough time in my itinerary to check it out.

    FDR took the modest programs that Hoover started to deal with the economy and turned them all up to eleven. That is what made the Depression Great.

    • #6
  7. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    “There are those who assert that revolution has swept the United States. That is not true. But there are some who are trying to bring it about. ”  The first lines of Herbert Hoover’s quote hit me as especially curious and poignant. I have to ask my fellow Ricochet members what is happening to our country (see my last post).  Because it could take a revolution to push back at least the beginning of what tis unfolding. I’m not sure what it will take. I don’t think anyone voted for what we are seeing unfolding across the world.  

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    Because it could take a revolution to push back at least the beginning of what tis unfolding. I’m not sure what it will take. I don’t think anyone voted for what we are seeing unfolding across the world. 

    We didn’t expect it. Joe said he was a moderate. And he might have been. But he caved to the Progs, FSC. So I just hope we will take some kind of action and begin to turn things around.

    • #8
  9. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    WI Con (View Comment):

    I realize Herbert Hoover is still scapegoat for the Great Depression but I still admire his personal story and found him to be an admirable person. From his very humble roots to his success as a Geologist and mining tycoon, the work he did in preventing European famines after WWI – he was an impressive person.

    I drive by his Presidential museum when visiting our Des Moines office and keep kicking myself for not building in enough time in my itinerary to check it out.

    My daughter and I stopped in to see it when we were driving across the country together. Beautiful place. You will love every second of your visit. It’s really inspiring. I think Hoover and Eisenhower somehow echo each other. 

     

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    MarciN (View Comment):

    WI Con (View Comment):

    I realize Herbert Hoover is still scapegoat for the Great Depression but I still admire his personal story and found him to be an admirable person. From his very humble roots to his success as a Geologist and mining tycoon, the work he did in preventing European famines after WWI – he was an impressive person.

    I drive by his Presidential museum when visiting our Des Moines office and keep kicking myself for not building in enough time in my itinerary to check it out.

    My daughter and I stopped in to see it when we were driving across the country together. Beautiful place. You will love every second of your visit. It’s really inspiring. I think Hoover and Eisenhower somehow echo each other.

     

    Hoover’s birthplace was West Branch, IA. I-80 runs through it. I’ve been through it dozens of times.

    • #10
  11. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Percival (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    WI Con (View Comment):

    I realize Herbert Hoover is still scapegoat for the Great Depression but I still admire his personal story and found him to be an admirable person. From his very humble roots to his success as a Geologist and mining tycoon, the work he did in preventing European famines after WWI – he was an impressive person.

    I drive by his Presidential museum when visiting our Des Moines office and keep kicking myself for not building in enough time in my itinerary to check it out.

    My daughter and I stopped in to see it when we were driving across the country together. Beautiful place. You will love every second of your visit. It’s really inspiring. I think Hoover and Eisenhower somehow echo each other.

     

    Hoover’s birthplace was West Branch, IA. I-80 runs through it. I’ve been through it dozens of times.

    You’re right. I made a mistake. :-) It was not his library. It was his birthplace. We were on I-80. We just loved it. Beautiful spot, and a lot of historical warmth. :-) 

    • #11
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    WI Con (View Comment):

    I realize Herbert Hoover is still scapegoat for the Great Depression but I still admire his personal story and found him to be an admirable person. From his very humble roots to his success as a Geologist and mining tycoon, the work he did in preventing European famines after WWI – he was an impressive person.

    I drive by his Presidential museum when visiting our Des Moines office and keep kicking myself for not building in enough time in my itinerary to check it out.

    My daughter and I stopped in to see it when we were driving across the country together. Beautiful place. You will love every second of your visit. It’s really inspiring. I think Hoover and Eisenhower somehow echo each other.

     

    Hoover’s birthplace was West Branch, IA. I-80 runs through it. I’ve been through it dozens of times.

    You’re right. I made a mistake. :-) It was not his library. It was his birthplace. We were on I-80. We just loved it. Beautiful spot, and a lot of historical warmth. :-)

    Ah! I wasn’t correcting you. I have no idea where Herbert’s library might be. Des Moines is as good a place as anywhere. 

    I just looked it up. It is in West Branch too. I don’t remember the library, but I visited the birthplace with my parents on my first trip west of the Mississippi.

    • #12
  13. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Susan Quinn: …the tragedy of Liberty. Their slogans; their promise of Utopia; …

    From my notes of the book on the same topic:

    Thus the scene of the tragedy of Liberty the world over must be suffering and discontent among the people. … Then follows consolidation of authority through powerful propaganda in the pay of the state to transform the mentality of the people. Resentment of criticism, denunciation of all oppositions, moral terrorization, all follow in sequence. The last scene is the suppression of freedom. Liberty dies of the water from her own well – free speech – poisoned by untruth.

    In the Epilogue the dreams of those who saw Utopia are shattered and the people find they are marching backward toward the Middle Ages – as regimented men. – Pages 15-17

    All too familiar of the path we are on…especially the regimentation of men. Sadly, too much of it is voluntary.

    Susan Quinn: Hat tip to @philo for recommending this wise and educational book.

    I’m glad someone else found it too…it should provide useful quotes for quite some time.

    • #13
  14. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Susan Quinn: In 1935, Herbert Hoover’s book was published…

    I’ve said it before, but it is interesting that this rather pointed book length criticism of what his successor was doing was published barely more than 18 months into the FDR era. Kind of the “mean tweeter” of his day.

    I won’t pretend to be either a Hoover or an FDR or a depression era scholar but, where Percival says “FDR took the modest programs that Hoover started to deal with the economy and turned them all up to eleven,” it was my impression from the book that Hoover favored limited, temporary measures and was extremely upset that FDR was pushing through permanent or “transformational” changes that were both unnecessary and unwise. Unfortunately, he was a lonely voice on the matter.  

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    philo (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: In 1935, Herbert Hoover’s book was published…

    I’ve said it before, but it is interesting that this rather pointed book length criticism of what his successor was doing was published barely more than 18 months into the FDR era. Kind of the “mean tweeter” of his day.

    I won’t pretend to be either a Hoover or an FDR or a depression era scholar but, where Percival says “FDR took the modest programs that Hoover started to deal with the economy and turned them all up to eleven,” it was my impression from the b that Hoover favored limited, temporary measures and was extremely upset that FDR was pushing through permanent or “transformational” changes that were both unnecessary and unwise. Unfortunately, he was a lonely voice on the matter.

    Thanks so much for weighing in, @philo. I think you’re right about Hoover’s upset. It was also tough to pick just one quote. I suspect I’ll share his wisdom again.

    • #15
  16. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    philo (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: In 1935, Herbert Hoover’s book was published…

    I’ve said it before, but it is interesting that this rather pointed book length criticism of what his successor was doing was published barely more than 18 months into the FDR era. Kind of the “mean tweeter” of his day.

    I won’t pretend to be either a Hoover or an FDR or a depression era scholar but, where Percival says “FDR took the modest programs that Hoover started to deal with the economy and turned them all up to eleven,” it was my impression from the book that Hoover favored limited, temporary measures and was extremely upset that FDR was pushing through permanent or “transformational” changes that were both unnecessary and unwise. Unfortunately, he was a lonely voice on the matter.

    The clip below is an example of what was coming in from the other side. The NRA in this case refers to the National Recovery administration.

    Considering that this came out in 1933, the same year an Austrian house painter got a new gig in Berlin, that NRA eagle plus the salute Durante gives at the beginning of his song is just a little chilling.

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    WI Con (View Comment):
    I drive by his Presidential museum when visiting our Des Moines office and keep kicking myself for not building in enough time in my itinerary to check it out.

    It’s worth a visit. Stopped there on a ride from Cedar Rapids to Burlington back in 1996. Burlington was the planned destination but the time spent in the museum meant I only got as far as Wapello.

    • #17
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    philo (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: In 1935, Herbert Hoover’s book was published…

    I’ve said it before, but it is interesting that this rather pointed book length criticism of what his successor was doing was published barely more than 18 months into the FDR era. Kind of the “mean tweeter” of his day.

    I won’t pretend to be either a Hoover or an FDR or a depression era scholar but, where Percival says “FDR took the modest programs that Hoover started to deal with the economy and turned them all up to eleven,” it was my impression from the book that Hoover favored limited, temporary measures and was extremely upset that FDR was pushing through permanent or “transformational” changes that were both unnecessary and unwise. Unfortunately, he was a lonely voice on the matter.

    A lot of FDR voters thought he would implement temporary measures but turned against him when they saw that the government that had come to help meant to stay.

    • #18
  19. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    philo (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: In 1935, Herbert Hoover’s book was published…

    I’ve said it before, but it is interesting that this rather pointed book length criticism of what his successor was doing was published barely more than 18 months into the FDR era. Kind of the “mean tweeter” of his day.

    I won’t pretend to be either a Hoover or an FDR or a depression era scholar but, where Percival says “FDR took the modest programs that Hoover started to deal with the economy and turned them all up to eleven,” it was my impression from the book that Hoover favored limited, temporary measures and was extremely upset that FDR was pushing through permanent or “transformational” changes that were both unnecessary and unwise. Unfortunately, he was a lonely voice on the matter.

    Hmmm. 15 days to flatten the curve. History doesn’t repeat itself but it rhymes. (Twain)

    • #19
  20. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    TR and Hoover took the biggest steps to end the original Republic, then FDR made it unstoppable.  It’s just the nature of government, all of it everywhere, always and most Republicans don’t understand it any more than Democrats.  They have gone so far so fast there may be a small opening but if not, it’s over. It won’t come back, at least not to us in the foreseeable future.

    • #20
  21. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Percival (View Comment):

    WI Con (View Comment):

    I realize Herbert Hoover is still scapegoat for the Great Depression but I still admire his personal story and found him to be an admirable person. From his very humble roots to his success as a Geologist and mining tycoon, the work he did in preventing European famines after WWI – he was an impressive person.

    I drive by his Presidential museum when visiting our Des Moines office and keep kicking myself for not building in enough time in my itinerary to check it out.

    FDR took the modest programs that Hoover started to deal with the economy and turned them all up to eleven. That is what made the Depression Great.

    Precisely.

    • #21