On The Pathos of Pretty Boy Reactionary: I am the expert you must listen to! by Marcus T.T.

In this age of failed experts and expertise, not to speak of the utter failure of Capitalism, and the total lack of an alternative, Mr.Niall Ferguson makes a lengthy appeal, in his essay of November 30, 2012 titled Turning Points, to his readers that he is the expert to which his readers are obliged to pay heed. One of the foremost exponents of 'Free Markets' and 'Empire' produces a set of arguments- well, not so much a set of arguments, but a set of assertion that he, of all the experts capable of demonstrable misreadings of current history and the future, must be trusted to provide the most pertinent historical narrative. Mr. Ferguson is an expert at the historical counter-factual, although his near contemporary Robert Harris in his brilliant literary debut Fatherland, demonstrated the poverty of that genre of historical analysis, when compared to the power of literature. The intellectual garnish is applied with a heavy hand, Kuhn's paradigm shift is the opening thrust: the other thinkers are not aware of the slowness of the approach of this 'event' in historical time, a resort to the high sounding reference, but a sign of a pernicious historical myopia. Here Mr. Ferguson enumerates the 'six slow acting drivers of history in our time'. There's just a whiff of Hegel here:

1. Technological innovation;

2. The spread of ideas and institutions;

3. The tendency of even good political systems to degenerate;

4. Demographics;

5. Supplies of essential commodities;

6. Climate change.

Mr. Ferguson points the way to a more enlightened practice of history, while scolding those lazy,dubious opinionators, who shroud their intellectual laziness in the mantle of Mr. Kuhn's salutary idea. That Decadence is number three is not surprising, that always dependable epithet, that is the passionately held obsession of Conservatism, across those once rigid national boundaries. And garnished with a telling quote from Bismark about American political naivete, or should we more accurately call it American witlessness? Mr. Ferguson makes himself an unwelcome, but candid guest. Yet we are only at the half-way mark in his essay, and the antagonists to American hegemony are the internal expression of American 'liberal isolationism', as threat to the imperial reveries of Mr. Ferguson, the perennial threat of the economic rise of China: the Yellow Peril economically  re-imagined and the Arab Spring turning into The Islamist Winter. This looks like Samuel P. Huntington's Clash of Civilizations with fresh fresh application of powder, paint and an almost flattering costume change.

Marcus T.T.     


About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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