Monday, April 24, 2017

Beware the Consensus View!

In An Adventure in 1914 ( I noted...

"Millions of men stood ready to mobilize across the Continent.  Officers on both sides anxiously consulted their railway timetables, convinced that whichever side mobilized first was destined to prevail in any conflict,  This theory ran aground when Czarist Russia, the first to mobilize, was decisively defeated in the war."

The consensus view in the summer of 1914 proved spectacularly wrong with Germany's victory at the Battle of Tannenberg in August 1914 and, ultimately, with the slaughter of the Czar and his family at Ekaterinberg in 1918.  The first to mobilize did not win; the Russian Army and Czarist regime were ground to dust in the Great War.

Ronald Reagan
Grosvenor Square, London
During the Cold War it was the consensus view that the era of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was interminable.  Everyone knew that the Cold War was un-winnable.  It was heresy to think otherwise.  The confrontation between Capitalist and Communist spheres would grind on until...Doomsday.  Until Reagan, Thatcher and few others realized that the Cold War could, in fact, be won.  Reagan urged the Soviets to "tear down that wall" and the wall crumbled soon after.

In 2007 there was a consensus among politicians from Barney Frank to George W. Bush that home ownership was a good thing.  The politicos bleated on about the "ownership society".  The American tax code had subsidized home ownership for generations with the mortgage interest rate deduction.  Everyone should be living the American dream -- even those who might not be able to actually afford home ownership.  And if the credit rating agencies had to fudge a few numbers what did it matter as long the rising tide of home ownership kept lifting all boats with housing prices always moving in one direction?  Everyone was happy from the banks to consumers to speculators.  Until the financial crisis of 2008.

More recently in 2016 the consensus view held 1) that Brexit would not pass and 2) that Hillary Clinton would be elected 45th President of the United States.  Even the TV series Homeland saw all the cracks in the glass ceiling and cast a Clinton-esque character as the new president.  President Obama lectured Britons about the perils of Brexit and endorsed Hillary.  You could have secured 8 to 1 odds on Trump being elected President the day before the election.  Well, we all know how those consensus views worked out.

Which brings us to the present.  What is the Consensus view in 2017?  The London cabbie who picked me up from London City airport yesterday expressed it pretty well: "Your President is a nutter!"  The consensus holds that President Trump is a liar and and idiot.  That the Trump administration is beholden to Putin's Russia.  Things that make you go "Hmmm...?"

Christopher Kelly is the co-author of America Invades ( and Italy Invades : How Italians Conquered the World (  He recently edited An Adventure in 1914 (

America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil will be published in 2017.

1 comment:

Bob Justus said...

Yes, Think for oneself! Seek truth, not someone to worship! That belongs only to God!