From his eyrie at The Hoover Institution, where 1929 went to live, Niall Ferguson shares not his thoughts, but throws a rhetorical temper tantrum, about those ‘overeducated rebels’ that seem to be shaking up the whole world, in this political moment. The ‘gilets jaunes’ are in their 50th Week of Anti-Macron demonstrations across France,unreported in Corporate Newspapers like the Times, and The Financial Times, and a host of others. The centers of rebellion:
Hong Kong, Barcelona, Beirut , Quito, Santiago, Cairo, London,
Ferguson offer his life experience as a teacher twenty years ago at Oxford
When I taught history at Oxford 20 years ago, one of my favourite articles about the 1848 revolutions was “The Problem of an Excess of Educated Men in Western Europe, 1800-1850” by Lenore O’Boyle. O’Boyle’s argument was that European cities had been swept by revolution in 1848 because “too many men were educated for a small number of important and prestigious jobs, so that some men had to be content either with underemployment or with positions they considered below their capacities”.
Ferguson offers Norman Stone’s comments on the sixties in his book The Atlantic and Its Enemies.
Something similar happened in the 1960s, as the late lamented historian Norman Stone described in his magnificently mordant book The Atlantic and Its Enemies. “In all countries, new universities . . . were crammed with students; taught by men and women appointed all of a sudden in great numbers, without regard for quality. The expansion with relatively new subjects, such as economics, sociology and psychology, meant that there were young men and women aplenty who imagined that they had the answer to everything. It was a terrible cocktail.”
Ferguson produces World Bank statistics of tertiary education, as instructive of a discontent born of resentment about unfulfilled ambitions, as argued by Lenore O’Boyle. While Stone argues that education was unconcerned with the quality of the teaches and students? In the Conservative world view resentment and envy are key players in politics. Ferguson ends his screed with these two paragraphs:
These, then, are the baby sharks: the excess of educated young people currently taking to the streets in cities around the world. It does not help that so many professors fill their students’ heads with incoherent notions of “social justice”. But I suspect the real issue is the mismatch between the unparalleled glut of graduates and the demand for them.
At some point it will sink in that creating economic mayhem is the opposite of creating jobs. Until then, expect more traffic chaos. At least you now know what to sing when the baby sharks surround you.
The Elites, educated in universities steeped in bought and paid for exclusivity, think of themselves as the ultimate arbiters of what education is, and how it is to be defined.We have heard these voices before: Allen Bloom, Roger Kimball, Dinesh D’Souza are just three of those voices, whose themes are not an exact fit, but share commonalities based on demonstrable class bias. Ferguson and his afore mentioned allies look upon the contemporary iteration of ‘education’ as the enemy of their collective class privilege.