Before we panic about Trump, see the Left’s past warnings

Summary: The Republic stands on the verge of destruction, again, as a new age of Leftist doomsterism begins. Before again credulously believing and panicking, let’s look at the Left’s past warnings. That should guide our response.

Trump as Hitler
Photoshopped, but is it truthi?


The Left screams warnings, louder and shriller every day, about the dire fate awaiting us. They tell us that Trump plans to overthrow the US government. They tells that he is an authoritarian, a fascist, a Nazi, and another Hitler. Before we panic — mailing large checks to Leftist advocacy groups, joining street mobs, and looking for Nazis to punch — let’s look at the Left’s record of prognostication. Are they reliable?

We have 5 decades of alarms, for most of which the due date has passed. How often have their warnings proven correct? Let’s not react like the people on South Park, with wild panic to every rumor of doom.


The Population Bomb.

The 1968 preface of Ehrlich’s book clearly summarizes his analysis (also see Wikipedia).

The Population Bomb
Available at Amazon.

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

Never embarrassed by the failure of his predictions, in 2009 he wrote “The Population Bomb Revisited“. It said, quite delusionally, that “perhaps the most serious flaw in The Bomb was that it was much too optimistic about the future”. Even weirder, he took credit for the innovations of the green revolution: “it alerted people to the importance of environmental issues and brought human numbers into the debate on the human future.”

Ehrlich is considered an authority by the Left, despite his long series of failures. He gave one of his trademark doomster predictions in when speaking in London at the Institute of Biology in Autumn 1969. It is quite unlike the serious analysis in Limits to Growth. The New Scientist of 16 September 1971 quotes Ehrlich.

“If current trends continue by the year 2000 the United Kingdom will simply be a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people, of little or no concern to the other 5-7 billion inhabitants of a sick world. … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Bernard Dixon’s “In Praise of Prophets” says Ehrlich also predicted worldwide plague, thermonuclear war, death of all sea-food, “rocketing” death rates, and ecological catastrophe. “The audience loved it and gasped for more”.

Famine 1975!
Available at Amazon.

Famine 1975!

Bruce Trumbo’s review, “A Matter of Fertility“, summaries its terrifying forecast. It was a best-seller in 1967. See Wikipedia for details.

“The underdeveloped nations have exploding populations and static agricultures. The ‘Time of Famines’ will be seriously in evidence by 1975, when food crises will have been reached in several of these nations. The ‘stricken peoples will not be able to pay for all their needed food imports. Therefore the hunger in these regions can be alleviated only through the charity of other nations.’

“The only important food in famine relief will be wheat, and only the US, Canada, Australia, and Argentina grow significant amounts of wheat. The United States, the only one of these four countries that has historically given wheat to hungry nations, is the ‘sole hope of the hungry nations’ in the future. ‘Yet the US, even if it fully cultivates all its land, even if it opens every spigot of charity, will not have enough wheat and other foodstuffs to keep alive all the starving. Therefore, the US must decide to which countries it will send food, to which countries it will not.'”

"Los Angeles: AD 2017" by Philip Wylie
Available from Amazon.

Los Angeles, A.D. 2017.

Hollywood, whose leaders’ lean to the Left, produces a steady stream of disaster films portraying the approved disaster of the moment, such as “L.A. 2017”. Directed by the 24-year old Steven Spielberg (his third pro job), it aired on 15 January 1971 as an episode of The Name of the Game. The audience saw the horrific world of 2017 (46 years in the future), after pollution had destroyed the Earth’s ecology and forced the remnants of humanity to live underground. Los Angeles has one cow; its milk is a delicacy for the rich. For more about the plot see this, or the Wikipedia entry.

It was written by Philip Wylie, a science fiction writer with a successful specialty in leftist doomster tracts about nuclear war and ecological doom. He novelized it as Los Angeles: A.D. 2017. See a review here.

Global Warming

Five decades of warnings.

The Left bombarded us with countless more warnings of doom during the next five decades. With an impressive record of total failure. My favorite was the years of warnings that peak oil was upon us, with causing the end of civilization. More entertaining were the lurid (but largely bogus) reports of the imminent bee-pocalypse.

Since James Hansen’s 1988 testimony to the US Senate about global warming, the Left has focused on announcements of the imminent climate catastrophe (going beyond anything in the IPCC’s reports): the end of snow, the parade of superstorms predicted to following Katrina, and other grim tidings that have not arrived. It’s an almost endless list of failed predictions.

Plus we have saturation bombing by their predictions of future doom, climate nightmares often based on misrepresentations of the IPCC’s RCP8.5 scenario. But after 30 years with only tiny changes in US public policy about climate, the Left has changed their tune. Now Trump has become the great danger. Dictator Trump. Fascist Trump. Nazi Trump. Hitler Trump.

Perhaps this time their warnings will prove to be prophetic. But, as with their previous warnings, the analytical basis for their forecasts about Trump are weak — often delusional. He is a clownish conservative, with a cabinet of bog standard far right Republicans. There is near-zero evidence that he, his officials, or senior elements of the US military and law enforcement agencies, want to or can overthrow the government.

No Fear


Since WWII both Left and Right have relied on fear to influence Americans. Generations have passed since FDR said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Perhaps we have grown up, matured beyond the ability of nightmares influence us. The next few years will reveal much about Trump, the Left, and America.

For More Information

For a list of Left’s false predictions about doom see “Earth Day, Then and Now” by Ronald Bailey from Reason, May 2000.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See more information about doomsters, about information and misinformation, about Donald Trump, and especially these posts…

  1. Journalists suffer from the crisis crisis, warping America’s vision.
  2. Requiem for fear. Let’s learn from failed predictions to have confidence in ourselves & our future.
  3. Threats come & go, leaving us in perpetual fear & forgetful of the past.
  4. Good news about the fear epidemic: we’re learning!
  5. Today’s conservative doomster warning (ludicrous but fun) — Paul Craig Roberts sees the End, published in the Leftist “Counterpunch”.
  6. Dreams of apocalypses show the brotherhood of America’s Left & Right.

Two books about the United States of Fear

The United States Of Fear
Available at Amazon.
Fear for America
Available at Amazon.


34 thoughts on “Before we panic about Trump, see the Left’s past warnings”

  1. As someone born in ’82, these projections from the 60s are astonishing. I can understand not seeing Norman Borlaug (who should be hailed as a saint, IMO) coming in ’68, of course.

    I wonder if these doomsday predictions are ever inspirational to the people who end up addressing the trends they project into catastrophe.

    1. Dana,

      I agree on all points. Here are a few details.

      (1) Doomster predictions are inspirational to the doomsters who profit so mightily from them. Book sales, speaking fees, fame! Has Paul Ehrlich every made an accurate prediction? When he counts his money, does he care?

      (2) This seems pedantic, but seems like an important point: how do we applaud great scientists whose inventions save the world? Saints designate peaks of morality — wisdom, charity, sacrifice. Heroes show courage and strength. Perhaps there is a good word. Perhaps we need a new word. But I stand with Orwell, conflating these concepts makes us confused and weak.

    2. Hm, that’s a good question. What SHOULD we call these people? I can’t think of a good example offhand but it is true that Borlaug’s service to humanity came through his work.

      I think “hero” works as a first approximation. Borlaug put himself in strain and peril for extended periods, at least. Maybe “hero of science” if we want to be sure to distinguish it from the more typical sort.

    3. That is, I can’t think of a good example offhand of a person who has made a greatly social beneficial invention, while being despicable in their personal or other conduct. The closest I can think of offhand is Henry Ford.

      1. Dana,

        “greatly social beneficial invention, while being despicable in their personal or other conduct.”

        That’s almost the default for philosophers. I read a book (which I have to find again) describing the live of famous philosophers. A history of assholes. Rousseau taking his bastard kids to the workhouse. Bertrand Russell’s affairs with his friends’ wives. Heidegger, Nazi. A misogynist, Schopenhauer pushed a woman down a flight of stairs. He paid her for her injuries (Upon her death, he wrote in his journal: “The old woman dies, the burden is lifted.”).

        Many more such stories.

  2. It’s like the permabears doom forecasters. Hyperinflation and gold at $10,000, runs on atms and a recession prediction every week. Now I’m not saying recessions or stock market crashes or even hyperinflation never happen, they just happen rarely.

    I once asked a permabear what would make you change your forecast. He could not provide a solid answer beyond some vageries.

    It’s rarely the things we are warned about that trip up humans. It is the things we are not warned of.

      1. Not bearish about gold. The permabear on the US and global economy predicting collapse and expecting hyperinflation and $10,000 gold.

      2. The article was about the fear pushed by left and right on society since WW2, mostly focusing on some predictions of the left. I find it similar to the fear sold to the public by the hard money permabears pronogisticating about the economy. I thought my post was clear, but I guess I was not.

      1. I would agree. I guess I missed your point, my error (see people can be civil on the internet).

    1. I wish I could edit comments. Anyway, yes, it’s the unexpected that tends to get us, though given how many observers there are, often it’s more like the “under-reported.” (People did predict the housing bubble.)

      The big common factor I see in the expectations of total collapse – at least, the ones that aren’t induced by giant meteors, supervolcanoes, etc. – is the idea that when it begins, people will simply go “Well, I guess we can’t do anything.” For instance, with peak oil, that we wouldn’t develop substitutes, replacements, and various other cunning tricks – which might not have “solved the problem,” but would have “addressed many of the stated issues.”

      1. Under reported is a better choice of words.What is humourous is the peak oil theory has now taken credit for low prices because high prices caused low growth which cause low prices ignoring both production and consumption are near all time highs, if not at them.

        As a geologist I disagree with the industry’s use of unconventional and conventional. I bet when the first deep well was drilled mechanically the operators that used animal and human labour to drill shallow wells thothat was unconventional. I think refering to reservoirs as conventional vs unconventional misleads. I would prefer if the industry used the terms migrated crude reservoirs vs source rock reservoirs. I believe that would lead to less confusion.

        But returning to the fear topic there is an excellent article that you can find through Google about the meeting to solve the horse manure crisis of London. The wise men of the day could not foresee any solution. It reminds me of the AI fears of taking all the jobs.

      2. funstein,

        (1) Re: conventional and unconventional

        These are excellent terms for laypersons use. Like “left” and “right” on the political spectrum, they refer to relative position on the spectrum at a specific point in time. Their specific meanings change over time. Binary divisions are useful for first cut analysis.

        (2) “It reminds me of the AI fears of taking all the jobs.”

        I don’t believe that is at all similar. First, does any expert say AI will take “all the jobs”? No strawmen, please. Rather AI can over time replace enough jobs — at all skill levels — to cause serious social disruption. Second, it can shift even further the balance between capital and labor — further increasing inequality.

        Second, problem identification is essential. There is nothing wrong with identification of problems which didn’t become serious. The common example is automation of agriculture. That was identified as a problem. That was correct. We could laugh at them only if we showed that they took excessive and unnecessary efforts to prevent it or mitigate its effects. I haven’t seen such examples; I doubt there are any (of any substantial size).

        Early recognition of problems is essential to provide time to analyse them, so we can act if they emerge to a serious degree. Otherwise we’re just stumbling into the future, blind and dumb. Such a people will get what they deserve.

      3. How royalty falls so quickly…

        2) “The Rise of Robots and Few Jobs for Humans

        Robots Will Take Most our Jobs in 30 years

        Mark Ford’s book Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future

        The Economist – “Prepare for the Robot Invasion

        Tyler Cowen’s – Average is over – a book about how most people will be poor and jobless but a few will be wealthy due to specialization.

        I do not see this as a strawman argument as people are making a living scaring people there will be no jobs. Personally I see automation as a bell curve (I apologize in advance for citing the Laffer Curve). This is how I see it…

        Let us imagine 65-80% of jobs are automated, in the first wave cashiers, economists, accountants,radiologists geologists, are automated. This first wave of automation of white collar jobs does not threaten society but lessens economic consumption. These jobs exist because people have income and require products.

        This first wave spends down their savings and can no longer shop. After a period this creates less demand for automated cashiers, and as business declines because nobody has income to spend or a need to files taxes the demand for automated accountants declines. As less economic activity happens the demand for raw materials declines and the demand for automated geologists declines which leads to a decline in those building, maintaining and programming AI machines and now they are out of work as well.

        As trade and commerce declines the revenue for government disappears and health care systems disappear and the demand for automated doctors and radiologists declines, which causes the demand for AI jobs to decline further leading less automation. Which repeats until society returns to the optimal level of automation.

        Money cannot exist without production and economies cannot exist without money (or a surrogate form of that). Star Trek could never happen.

        Like the Laffer Curve that suggests about tax revenue, that the collected amount at 100% and 0% taxation of income, the same amount of 0% is collected, with the optimal level somewhere in between. I believe the same would hold true for AI and automation. Once automation passed a certain threshold in society it would lead to less automation as there would be no demand for robots because economic activity would slow, disappear or become blackmarket/barter.

      4. Going by media headlines is a poor guide to anything. For example, Ford is not saying that most jobs will disappear (I suggest you read his book).

        “Tyler Cowen’s – Average is over – a book about how most people will be poor and jobless but a few will be wealthy due to specialization.”

        He says the opposite of “machines will take all our jobs”. He says — as I said above — that machines might shift the labor-capital balance. He believes that we might revert to a premodern economy — like Pride and Prejudice — with most people as servants for the rich. He also says that future is easily avoidable. For a summary of he book see Matthew Yglesias review at Slate and the publishers description.

      5. funstein,

        Your comment was misleading, even false. For example you cite an Economist article in support of your claim. In fact it says the opposite of what you claim:

        “As consumers and citizens, people will benefit greatly from the rise of the robots. Whether they will as workers is less clear, for the robots’ growing competence may make some human labour redundant.”

      6. There was two economist articles on the topic in the past few years. I must have linked to the wrong one and that one line, if I remember correctly was in the second half after discussing the potential benefits was not the entire tone. The discussion of lost jobs certainly discusses potential lower living standards.

        Your statement was a generalization that no one is pushing the dystopian future argument to make money. No one? Have you accounted for every single person? So that is misleading and then you decide what media is acceptable? Dismissing newspaper editorials as not sufficient? I am in the middle of drilling an oil well and have already spent too much time on this. Thank you for the debate.

      7. funstein,

        “Your statement was a generalization that no one is pushing the dystopian future argument to make money. ”

        Try doing as I do, replying to direct quotes. Don’t make stuff up and lie. If you’re going to grossly mischaracterize me, you’ll be banned. Life is too short to put up with that.

      8. I guess my error was not saying people are creating fear by suggesting robots will reduce the living standard and prestige of many. I know if I was to be come a servant my self esteem would be less and the fulfillment I get from my work and because of that I would enjoy life less. I have not read the Ford book but saw an extended interview. If the book is not dystopian, his interview was. Cowens book did not leave me all warm and fuzzy.

        I wish I had the time this morning to find better references than media.

        I believe I am not going to convince you of my and so I shall leave the discussion as is.

      9. funstein,

        There are scores of posts on the FM website about the new industrial revolution (see list here), including the work of Ford and other experts. By now everybody knows that automation will affect jobs and wages. They question is when (it’s not yet visible in the data), magnitude (by how much), and duration (for how long). The problem might be minor. It might be severe. That’s the discussion of serious people. That’s not what you did.

        Your first error was dumping “google knowledge” on us: using google search to find sentences that appear to support your belief, then posting it. If you can’t be bothered to read it, don’t give it to us to read.

        Your second error was defending the absurdist “robots will take all our jobs”.

        Your third error is pretending to defend your absurd statement by referencing more moderate versions.

        Using google to post fake support for wild extreme statements is trolling (see wikipedia). It’s not tolerated here.

      10. Dana,

        Yes, you nailed it. Doomsters tend to assume that everybody else but their elect fail to see the threat and won’t take steps to prevent or mitigate it. Also, then tend to grossly underestimate the resilience of modern societies.

        “People did predict the housing bubble.”

        I don’t believe many did. Perhaps nobody did. Lots of people saw the housing bubble as it grew and correctly explained what was happening and how it would end. This is typical of bubbles. Also typical is that these correct observations have little effect.

        I’ve not found anyone who predicted the factor that created the crash: the collapse of the banks. I’ve investigated (and written posts about) some who claims to have done so. Even the senior managers of the banks didn’t know their exposure and fragility. The consensus wisdom of banks and Wall Street bank analysts was that the housing bubble popping would cause a recession, but a mild one since bank balance sheets were the strongest ever at the brink of a recession.

    2. @Fab:

      About the banks, fair enough; I had been thinking of ‘the bubble was accurately identified’. Not quite the same thing. Hopefully the banks have at least learned a few lessons, for a while.

      About the doomsters: My favorite example there is the setting of “Soylent Green,” or more accurately the novel it’s based on, describing the profoundly cramped, squeezed, desperate world of seven billion people…!

      1. Dana,

        “I had been thinking of ‘the bubble was accurately identified’.”

        I and a million others did so. In 2007 I asked the chief economists of Merrill and UBS to evaluate the effects of it bursting. Both predicted a slight short decline in housing prices, followed by a flat period, with a small recession. Neither even considered the likelihood of a large drop in home prices (that was considered wildly improbable by almost all experts). I know of nobody who even imagined the effects of a crash in home prices.

        The only person I know who came close was the mortgage products analyst at UBS. In Nov or Dec 2007 he said that the largest factor determining mortgage defaults was — home equity levels. When home equity is low or negative, people need little push to mail the keys back to the bank (“jingle mail”). He was told to shut-up; no more reports from him.

        I asked one of UBS senior mortgage paper traders about this. He got red in the face, banging his fists on his desk. “Prime Mortgages Do Not Default!” (In the 1980s oil bust, TX and OK prime mtgs defaults by the bushel). He retired rich. On Wall Street ALWAYS stick with the herd.

  3. While I agree with you the response on the left has been hysterical in parts, they are not the only people worried. Many in the center and right of the political spectrum are also concerned. He seems to be moving in a direction that runs counter to established US policy since at least the 70’s. He seems to support the destruction of the European Union, a cruder version of the Old Europe/New Europe of the Neo Cons, at a more dangerous time. He is seeking a confrontation with China, a dente with Russia. Whatever your opinions of US Strategic policy and posture, it is unnerving is see so many lynch pins of the post war settlement come under strain at the same time. Now this may all amount to a hill of beans, but still, I am concerned. I am no looney lefty.

    1. Merocain,

      “Many in the center and right of the political spectrum are also concerned.”

      You miss my point. They’re not concerned that Trump is a Nazi and going to overthrow the government.

      Screaming about fake problems — Trump is HITLER! He’ll cancel 2020 elections and put opponents in camps (said by the academics at the once-useful Lawyers, Guns, & Money website) — confuses the situation and makes mobilizing the public more difficult. In effect, they’re throwing chaff into the public debate.

    1. Raw Dawg,

      Thanks for the link to that provocative article. We’ll know soon if it is correct — by the larger Left’s reaction to the Berkeley anti-free speech riots. The attempts to suppress Trump’s events during the election were small, with mixed support on the Left. If this is applauded, we should expect to see more — which would make Trump a happy man.

  4. The Italian opposition of Berlusconi use similar tactics. not fascist but mainly mafioso. And despite don’ t work, they say again and again. the strange is that when there was two news that it’ s probabily true that Berlusconi have a long time connection with mafia, (Dell’ Utri, long time friend and cofounder of Berlusconi party condemned to 7 years of jail for mafia and Spatuzza repentant mafioso, accusing himself of three terrorist style attack, say that was Berlusconi that ask the bomb attacks) very few people keep serious. And they learn? no. they make the same (fascist this time) with populist mouvement M5s.

  5. “Screaming about fake problems….” Over reaction. Arm Waving. Distortions meant to incite actions and emotions. Hyperbole and exaggeration.
    That is all theater, no matter where or from whom it arises.
    It is not very promising that these things are so prevalent (and that we even need to discuss it here). I’m not hopeful that any Leadership will arise and focus the discussion on some real problems and actions by the current Admininstration.


  6. Looniness is one thing. Using violent proxies to attack your political opponents — as was done at Berkeley and is being actively planned at other demonstrations meant to shut down free speech — is reprehensible. And yet we continue to hear mainstream voices on the left calling for political assassination and violent insurgency.

    It was no accident that the mass killings of police officers in Dallas occurred during a “Black Lives Matter” action — an organisation partially funded by George Soros, leftist backer of several Democrat Party candidates and causes.

    Violence, murder, mayhem, and the instigation of the three are becoming standard items in the toolkit, as if someone wants to create violent clashes which escalate.

    1. alfin,

      “as if someone wants to create violent clashes which escalate.”

      The use of “someone” implies a central control, with the Left as some sort of unitary entity. That is unlikely, imo. But many on the Left have always been eager to applaud violence — of the rioters in the late 1960s and early 1970s, that burned out many US inner cities, damage from which they never recovered (bien pensant liberals applaud violence elsewhere, not in their neighborhoods). Of revolutionaries in Third World nations, inflicting damage from which many have never recovered. And now they see an opportunity to cheer others onto self-destructive acts.

      They’re burning their own cause, since these riots probably just build support for Trump and further discredit the Left.

      The larger context is that both Left and Right in American have gone bonkers, while the middle sleeps. This can end in many ways, most of them very bad. “Banquet of consequences”.

  7. Pingback: Focusing on worst case climate futures doesn’t work. It shouldn’t work. | Watts Up With That?

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