Monday, July 05, 2004

Kicking Sand At d'Niall

If you, like me, think that Niall Ferguson is an insufferable snot, these links and quotes should be of interest:

Ferguson is looking to the 10th century as a model for the 21st, which only shows how profoundly stupid his arguments are getting. As an historian, one would think that Ferguson could recognize the existence of capitalism as a pretty stark difference between now and then giving shape to the global order beyond simple state military power, but then we'd be giving the wunderkind of NYU a little too much credit.
Here. See also here.

Ferguson's work on state finance was derivative where it wasn't wrong, often wrong where it was derivative, and self-regarding throughout. He is to history what Maureen Dowd is to op-ed analysis: big paycheck, lots of press, sucks about all the time. No wonder those two get along.
In comments here.

The most surprising thing?

Niall Ferguson's incredible ego. The audience asked questions at the end and, at one point, someone heckled Niall as he gave his reply. His response? "I think it is very important that you listen to what I say".

Here. See also Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's withering, sarcastic reposte to Ferguson's lecture in the same page.

It was a particular pleasure to read that Alan Bennett has been waxing polemical on the rise of television historians at some South Bank festival. He was quoted as saying that Niall Ferguson “was arrogant, conceited and right-wing”. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Ferguson’s new salon-controversial documentary, American Colossus, and pointed out that he was exactly the sort of man pilloried in Bennett’s new play at the National Theatre, The History Boys. Though I must say that accusing him of being right-wing is a little harsh, considering his background. It’s simply conditioning: having been born a chippy bourgeois Glaswegian, naturally he wants to ingratiate himself with posh people and the plutocrat class. It’s perfectly understandable.
Here. See also here but ignore the author's ignorance of Empire (which does exist but not in the benign way Ferguson preaches).

The world’s problem, Niall contends, is that the unaccountable government of the poor by the rich, which already has had such disastrous consequences, has not gone far enough.

The timing of all this is, of course, appalling. As the US has sought to impose direct imperial rule in Iraq, it has earned the hatred of much of the developing world. But we should never underestimate the willingness of the powerful to flatter themselves. Unaccountable power requires a justifying myth, and the US government might just be dumb enough to believe the one that Niall has sought to revive. My old friend could get us all into a great deal of trouble.
-- George Monbiot, in an understated, even gentle, takedown.

Sadly, No! also does his part, bitchslapping Sully just to tear Ferguson a new one.