From the Versailles Dining Room of The Hoover Institution, episode MDXLVII: Posh Boy Niall Ferguson shames fellow Posh Boys, dubbed ‘Ivy League types’. Old Socialist comments

Given his impressive CV, as a Doctor of Philosophy and other impressive academic accomplishes, Mr. Ferguson has, what can only be described, as dubious political standards:

Academic career[edit]

In 1989, Ferguson worked as a research fellow at Christ’s College, Cambridge. From 1990 to 1992 he was an official fellow and lecturer at Peterhouse, Cambridge. He then became a fellow and tutor in modern history at Jesus College, Oxford, where in 2000 he was named a professor of political and financial history. In 2002 Ferguson became the John Herzog Professor in Financial History at New York University Stern School of Business, and since 2004 he became the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. From 2010 to 2011, Ferguson held the Philippe Roman Chair in history and international affairs at the London School of Economics.[18] In 2016 Ferguson left Harvard [19] to become a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he had been an adjunct fellow since 2005.

Ferguson has received honorary degrees from the University of Buckingham (UK), Macquarie University (Australia), and the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez (Chile). In May 2010, Michael Goveeducation secretary, asked Ferguson to advise on the development of a new history syllabus, to be entitled “history as a connected narrative”, for schools in England and Wales.[20][21] In June 2011, he joined other academics to set up the New College of the Humanities, a private college in London.[22]

In 2018, Ferguson apologized after fellow historians criticized him for only inviting white men as speakers to a Stanford conference on applied history.[23]

Also in 2018, emails documenting Ferguson’s attempts to discredit a progressive activist student at Stanford University who had been critical of Ferguson’s choices of speakers invited to the Cardinal Conversations free speech initiative were released to the public and University administrators.[24] He teamed with a Republican student group to find information that might discredit the student. Ferguson resigned from leadership of the program once university administrators became aware of his actions.[24][25] Ferguson responded in his column[26] saying, “Re-reading my emails now, I am struck by their juvenile, jocular tone. “A famous victory,” I wrote the morning after the Murray event. “Now we turn to the more subtle game of grinding them down on the committee. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” Then I added: “Some opposition research on Mr O might also be worthwhile” — a reference to the leader of the protests. None of this happened. The meetings of the student committee were repeatedly postponed. No one ever did any digging on “Mr O”. The spring vacation arrived. The only thing that came of the emails was that their circulation led to my stepping down.”

Given Ferguson’s record of political dishonesty, manipulation and maladroit attempted cover up, the reader can only approach Mr. Ferguson’s latest essay on Trump as crazy-fox ,with the critical spirit as it confronts propaganda.

Given that America’s economy is still growing at a reasonable 2.1% and has the lowest unemployment rate since December 1969, the decision took a bit of explaining.

The American government’s measures of the economy is so steeped in self-serving mendacity, that if Ferguson, if he were given to the exercise of honesty, might engage in unmasking.

Here is the paragraph where Ferguson begins his attack on his fellow Posh Boys employing his straw-man of ‘ Ivy League types’.

New York and Washington are full of commentators who went to Harvard, Yale and Princeton (which Powell attended) and consider themselves much smarter than Trump. They snigger when he calls himself a “stable genius”. But this president is crazy like a fox — an old American phrase that I never fully understood until last week. His behaviour may seem nuts or just plain dumb, but it is in fact calculated to outsmart the Ivy League types.

How is it possible that a self-proclaimed billionaire and Game Show Host can ‘outsmart’ those technocrats? The most apt descriptor of Ferguson’s ‘methodology‘ is a strategic deployment of anti-intellectualism, as a instance of a self-serving but carefully circumscribed pragmatism.

The question of what could or might be a break in the ‘populist trend’ : ‘a large-scale war’. Ferguson follows this with a warning that the fate of  Neo-Conservative ‘eggheads’  as cautionary: the ‘as if’ here is that Ferguson stood apart from this  ‘another set of eggheads’, instead of his actual part, as enthusiastic fellow traveler.

Could anything break this trend, whereby falling interest rates and painless deficits help populists stay in power? One answer I can think of is a large-scale war, which has tended to be the thing, historically, that drives inflation expectations and interest rates upwards. But that, too, is something the populists have pretty much ruled out. They saw what became of another set of eggheads — the neoconservatives — when they decided to revive war as an instrument of policy after September 11.

Another game-changer would be an election surprise. Markets seem to love a right-wing government unconstrained by monetary and fiscal rules. They may feel differently if a left-wing government inherits this lack of constraint. The difference between technocracy and democracy is that there’s always more than one game in town. And not all crazy foxes are on the right.

Note that the specter of ‘a left-wing government’ : Corbyn in Great Britain or Bernie Sanders in America are of equal danger. Note that ‘Crazy foxes’ is rhetorically transmogrified into a descriptor, that now expresses an equal danger, or at least broadly hints at that concept , if I’m reading Ferguson with complete comprehension? The thought occurs, in terms of another ‘as if’: is Ferguson a sub rosa Deconstructionist?

Old Socialist


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.'
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