H.G. Wells on Obama?

Dani Rodrick (found via Andrew Sullivan) found a passage written by H.G. Wells about an international conference in London in 1933 organized to find a coordinated way out of the Great Depression engulfing the world economy. Much of it sounds like it could have been written about Obama and the planned G20 summit:

[For] some months at least before and after his election as American President and the holding of the London Conference there was again a whispering hope in the world that a real “Man” had arisen, who would see simply and clearly, who would speak plainly to all mankind and liberate the world from the dire obsessions and ineptitudes under which it suffered and to which it seemed magically enslaved. …

Everywhere as the Conference drew near men were enquiring about this possible new leader for them. “Is this at last the Messiah we seek, or shall we look for another?” Every bookshop in Europe proffered his newly published book of utterances, Looking Forward, to gauge what manner of mind they had to deal with. It proved rather disconcerting reading for their anxious minds. Plainly the man was firm, honest and amiable, as the frontispiece portrait with its clear frank eyes and large resolute face showed, but the text of the book was a politician’s text, saturated indeed with good will, seasoned with much vague modernity, but vague and wanting in intellectual grip. “He’s good,” they said, “but is this good enough?”

The full text of The Shape of Things to Come by H.G. Wells is available here.

1 Comment

  1. 1
    Christopher Skyi says:

    Yes, history does repeat itself, and there’s good evidence that the massive government intervention made the depression worse.

    It may be happening again — which is good news for NO ONE, even those who are foolishly hoping Obama will fail.

    Yves Smith at the Naked Capitalism Blog has been worried about this from day one last fall– see:  “BreakingViews: Bailout Bill to Worsen, Prolong Recession”


    Obama is good — but no matter how good he is, it’s not going to be enough because the entire approach is ultimately unworkable: the unintended consequences can’t be predicted or controlled. This is the very argument FOR a free market.

    Right now, the financial markets have been so distorted by massive intervention, the government should have just nationalized the banks — they’re doing just about everything but this, and with sadly predictable consequences — see:  “Has the Gaming of the Public-Private Partnership Begun?”

    “It certainly looks as if Citigroup and Bank of America are using TARP funds, not to lend, which was one of the primary goals of the program, but to scoop up secondary market dreck assets to game the public private investment partnership.

    And it fleeces the taxpayer a second way: the public has spent enough money on both banks so that in an economic sense, they ought to have been nationalized. Yet for reasons that are largely ideological and cosmetic (the banks’ debt would need to be consolidated were they owned 100% by Uncle Sam), they remain private. So not only are they seeking to extract far more than was intended even with the already generous subsidies embodied in this program, but this activity is also speculating with taxpayer money.

    This sort of thing was predicted here and elsewhere. Welcome to yet more looting.”


    If you want a good non-political analysis of what’s going on, Smith’s Naked Capitalism blog is one of the best sources out there — the only reason it’s not more widely read is that it’s written by financial  experts for other financial experts, but it’s still quite accessible to the lay reader albeit it can be a depressing (but informative) read.

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