Niall Ferguson, Neo-Con Propagandist, Intellectual Charlatan 32


Madam Miaow has produced a superb dissection of Ferguson’s lowbrow television tirade, and particularly his absence of research.

Ferguson is a man of little learning who wears it heavily. I recently discussed his hateful and lightweight theories on why Muslim societies are in some way inferior. Ferguson is so enamoured of the idea that only our more virile culture really knows how to run places, he has become an apostle of “liberal interventionism”.

Sierra Leone is a charlatan’s dream because the Western public is so ignorant of it, any amount of tosh can be spoken with apparent authority. If you read my book The Catholic Orangemen of Togo, you will understand in depth just why the claims are utter nonsense that this was a great success for Blair’s “Liberal Interventionist” foreign policy.

One of the loudest, and the most ignorant, of those making those claims was Niall Ferguson. On p16 of The Catholic Orangemen I write:

The Sierra Leone War of 1898 to 1900 rates not a mention even in Thomas Pakenham’s magisterial survey The Scramble For Africa. Niall Ferguson’s Empire mentions Sierra Leone just twice. He notes its founding in 1797, and next gives us the year 2000 and the views of Tony Blair and his acolyte Robert Cooper on how Sierra Leone justifies “A new kind of Imperialism”. In missing out the intervening years of actual Empire, Ferguson shows the same lack of historical perspective as undermined Blair and Cooper’s analysis. Of course the latter two aren’t pretending to be historians.


32 thoughts on “Niall Ferguson, Neo-Con Propagandist, Intellectual Charlatan

  • Deep green puddock.

    Hi
    At the time of the Sierra Leone my neighbour was the ex-West Africa correspondent of the Guardian. He was by then much reduced in his journalistic output and status as he was working for the despised and loathsome rag, the AB. P and J, but we used to natter over the garden wall and he would tell me stuff that gave a great insight into the matters. He was actually acquainted with some of the main players of the region as he had known them when he was an officer in the W.A rifles, and even knew their personal histories and affiliations.
    The picture he painted was of British military and diplomatic bungling of a very high order.
    A sort of post modern 'Evelyn Waugh' picture emerged.
    I think he is still active in the deeside area, not far from the Queen's country cottage.

  • Germanicus

    Has anyone noticed that Ferguson's Scottish accent (never particularly strong) has now almost completely morphed into a wannabe Home Counties drawl? Given that he's living in the US, not Essex, and that he's in his 40s, one would have to assume that he has deliberately cultiveted his new phoney accent. To me, that is symbolic of the man's wish to be accepted by the English, and now American, elite.

    Of course, Ferguson's inadequacies as a historian – if he even qualifies for that title – have long been pointed out. He does write well, but his scholarship doesn't hold up well to scrutiny and his 'Rule Britannia' (or rule USA-nia) bias is vile, and more reminiscent of the late 19th century than the modern world.

  • Germanicus

    had to post this in a seperate post as the word-count was too high (just so much to criticise about Ferguson!)

    As for his ill-informed rants about Muslims, it's worth pointing out that not only will this win him kudos with the US elite whose approval (and cash) he is so in love with, but for about a year he has been 'dating' another far-right charlatan of dubious intellectual credential. I speak of course of Ayan Hirsi Ali (real name Magan). Normally, I wouldn't say a writer's personal life is worth much attention, but in this case, it's is just too 'perfect' to ignore. A match made in neo-con heaven.

  • Uzbek from UK

    Mr Murray, I sent RE: Fergusson comment twice as it was not appearing on the web site. I am not actually a spammer. Would appreciate if you return my comments on where it appeared later, before disappearing again. Thanks.

  • Michael.K

    Don't get me started on Fergusson, just don't get me started.

    I'm beginning to think that ideology, almost like religious belief, trumps everything.

    When one reads someone one searches for an ideological mate, and if one succeeds one is satisfied. The actual content, the logic, the arguments, the information, come in a poor second to the commonly shared faith. Was it always like this?

    I feel there's a growth of totalitarianism in our age. This seems to be connected to the lack of literacy. People don't read anymore. In the United States one is talking about an functional illiteracy rate pushing 80 to 90 million people. History is our collective memory, as store of knowledge, a way to make sense of the past and discover how we got where we are. But in a society where people have simingly lost the capacity to read, all this is lost.

    This makes us incredibly vulnerable to the clever, charming, articulate, charlatan. The image triumphing over substance. Totalitarianism aims to substitute thought with loyalty, loyalty to emotions and symbols, often personified in leaders and imortant idividuals. Words become symbols too as their meanings are distorted and even reversed in totalitarian speech; example – humanitarian war.

  • Uzbek from UK

    I was saying that I was naive enough to attend Fergusson’s public lecture at the LSE where he is lecturing currently being appointed to one of the prestigious professorships. The lectures title was tempting ‘The Grand Strategy of Detence’. What I have heard was a prise of Henry Kissinger’s personality and that he was not to be judged by standards of present days. I later read that Fergusson was allowed access to Kissinger’s archives and was starting to write memoirs of Kissinger. Fergusson has actually used LSE public lecture to promote his future book.
    On the lecture Fergusson has few times mentioned that Nobel Prize in Economics is not a real Nobel Prize. This was a stone thrown towards Paul Krugman who exposed Fergusson’s illiteracy in Economics.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Of course I did not attend Fergusson’s next lecture that followed few weeks after that. It was titled Nuclear Arms and Human Rights. I presumed that he would be suggesting that bombing of Japan was out of necessity to secure peace, or something like this.
    I cannot understand how Fergusson is getting away with all these lies and being admitted to the top of the academic world. Arnie Westad calls him a friend. I am not sure what in common Westad could have with this so called professor (deliberately with no capital letter).

    • Germanicus

      Didn't Ferguson come up with some nasty theory about 'miscegnation' in one of his books, saying something about how the foetuses of 'mixed race' couples were unlikely to be viable (so he's a biologist as well as a historian, hmmmm…..)? How does that fit in with him dedicating his latest book to the Somali girlfriend who has publically gushed about having his babies?

      • Uzbek from UK

        God knows what else this professor could come up with. Not talking about his personal life as an academic he is disgusting. In one of his lectures he told that while working in Berlin in 80ties he kind of predicted that Berlin Wall was crumbling and that he could have make a whole a lot of career if he went public with it at that time. I am sure that he is biting his nails now, if it ever happened to be true.

        • Germanicus

          'he kind of predicted'!!! LOL! I 'kind of predicted' the Egyptian uprisings, but never made a point of saying so. Can I congratulate myself on my foresight and wisdom?

          I see Ferguson tends to leave his overt support for the Iraq war off his CV now.

  • Strategist

    If we're talking about Sierra Leone, I'd like to plug Tim Butcher's book "Chasing the Devil", which is about Sierra Leone and Liberia. Good stuff.

  • C.R.Soles

    Craig, if i remember correctly this was all to do about the "Sandline Affaire" in sierra Leone and when it came to the government enquiry, about whether the UK govenment had broken UN arms sanctions, at best it could be siad you had a very selctive memory. I believe shortly afterwards, you were made up to Ambassador, actualy you became Broitains youngest Ambassador at the time. I trust the two were not coinnected..

    Is this the corrrect sequence of events ?

  • C.R.Soles

    Craig, if i remember correctly this was all to do about the "Sandline Affaire" in sierra Leone and when it came to the government enquiry, about whether the UK govenment had broken UN arms sanctions, at best it could be siad you had a very selctive memory. I believe shortly afterwards, you were made up to Ambassador, actualy you became Broitains youngest Ambassador at the time. I trust the two were not coinnected..

  • Frazer

    @Strategist..Tim Butcher is not only a complete prat , i have met him, he is a racist prick as well ..

  • JimmyGiro

    I like Niall Ferguson, his theories are open to scrutiny because they are cogent, to the point that they can be scrutinized.

    Most of his detractors seem to dismiss his ideas due to their own left-wing leanings not being flattered by Niall Ferguson; indeed most of the criticisms are puerile name calling, thereby missing an opportunity, if his theories are truly lacking!

    I suspect that most of the 'criticism' is simply accounted for by the fact that he isn't a pet Marxist-Feminist, like too many other historians seem to be these days.

    • Uzbek from UK

      Why Fergusson did not he mention anything wrong that Kissinger was doing/advising during his time as a secretary of state? Why Fergusson thinks that Muslims did not deserve democracy and freedom.? Why Fergusson thinks that West has given right to dominate the rest of the world? Why Fergusson did not mention Slavery in any of his very well publicised books? Why despite of all this he holds prestigious professorships in world’s most prestigious universities?

      • JimmyGiro

        "Why Fergusson did not he mention anything wrong that Kissinger was doing/advising during his time as a secretary of state?"

        I presume it's because he's an historian / economist, doing research, and not moralising.

        "Why Fergusson thinks that Muslims did not deserve democracy and freedom.?"

        I understood it as him explaining that the 'clericalism' and theology that so dominated Islamic culture, stymied the free thought believed to be required for democracy and science. He makes a corollary with England suffering from the same problem during the supremacy of the east, especially China. It's not that Muslims do not deserve democracy and freedom, he was pointing out that they had effectively abandoned all aspirations in lieu of theocracy.

        "Why Fergusson thinks that West has given right to dominate the rest of the world?"

        He doesn't, he is arguing that the west did dominate as a result of their advantages via what he calls the 6 killer apps. By the way, what 'right' did Islam have for Jihad?

        "Why Fergusson did not mention Slavery in any of his very well publicised books?"

        Read "Empire", or find it on YouTube. By the way, when Britain ceased to trade slaves, Arabs where not slow to take over the business with the African war lords.

        "Why despite of all this he holds prestigious professorships in world’s most prestigious universities? "

        Maybe you have answered your own question: "despite of all this"

  • Dave Hansell

    I suppose every Court has to have both a Court Jester and a Court Historian. Sometimes both roles end up being performed by the same individual.

    • Germanicus

      Ferguson is lucky he's handsome and looks hot in an open-necked shirt. Honestly, would he get all these lucrative TV shows if he were short and homely?

      BTW I'm sure football is far too low-class for the relentlessly upwadly mobile Ferguson, but I bet that if he were a fitbal fan, he would be a staunch supporter of Rangers.

      • Herbie

        Yes. My feeling is that he'd be very happy in the company of Rangers' fans, both intellectually and culturally.

        • Germanicus

          What would I give for a video clip of Prof. Smug indulging in a drunken sing-song about being 'up to his knees in Fenian blood'!

          And since many Rangers fans like to think of themselves as North Brits rather than Scots, our imperialist Niall and his fake Home Counties accent would feel right at home!

          • Dave Hansell

            It always seems to me that it's the inadequates of this world that have to constantly get up and shout (using whatever medium available) that they are, and deserve to be, the biggest; the baddest; and the bestest. The problem that people like Ferguson have is that the body might have grown up and aged but the mind, emotionally and psychologically, has yet to progress beyond the school playground.

            Without realising it, the puerile approach he takes to culture, history and philosophy, represents the very reason for the so called relative decline which he is clearly deeply afraid of. This personal fear and im maturity is what drives him in his fundamentally flawed analysis.

            Any competent layman could wipe the floor with this sad excuse for a historian.

    • Craig_Murray

      By and large the sock puppets haven't noticed this blog is back up now. Jimmy is not a scok puppet – he is very real. I don't know why, I always think of him as a Geordie.

  • mark Golding

    Charlatan indeed, hypocrite Android intellectual arse’ole. Ferguson perports to explain ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ over time, yet he supported the illegal strike Android total destruction of Iraq that murdered so many Iraqi children sitting waiting for breakfast.

  • Madam Miaow

    Many thanks for the link, Craig. Those Liberal interventionists get everywhere.

    Shocking news about Libya and the hypocritical deal struck by Hillary. Yet more misery to look forward to.

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