I’m writing a term paper this semester on whether or not WWII got America out of the depression and by extension if war creates wealth. I saw Tom Woods’ ressource page on this and I have posted a question to Herbener for the economic literature on this subject.
However my project will also deal with historians and their reliance on economists. So I’m hoping I can get some examples of historians on either side of the debate.
It is difficult to find a historian who questions the orthodoxy. Gene Smiley’s book The American Economy in the Twentieth Century challenges it, but he is very much in the minority. You might look at Robert Higgs’s book Depression, War, and Cold War, and follow the footnotes to uncover the specific people he identifies (though he may be sparring more with economists than with historians). But seriously, the only problem you will have will be in finding historians who question the war prosperity.
I’m planning to write Joseph Salerno to ask about the historiograpy of this topic. What was the consensus before WWII? I assume that Keynes+WWII changed the perception of war but perhaps there was already seeds of it before.
I’m sure I will get the countered with reference to Hitler’s economy. Is there any work that refutes the so called economic miracle under Hitler?
I have tried writing Joseph Salerno but he doesn’t really respond. Does Prof. Woods or any of the other scholars here know how war was viewed in relation to prosperity before WWII?
Through the ages different figures have argued the positives of war. “War is the father of all things” by Heraclitus comes to mind as a particularly vile example of how some intellectuals have viewed war.
On Hitler, see Adam Tooze’s book The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy. Check out reviews of the book online for an overview. See also Hans Hoppe’s discussion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYEUHk16yk4
I’m afraid I don’t know about how war was viewed in connection with prosperity or poverty before World War II. This sounds like a good master’s thesis. I would bet in the pre-Keynesian age people were far more sensible and realistic.