|Niall Ferguson: Wishful Historian|
"During a question-and-answer session after a prepared speech at the Altegris Strategic Investment conference in Carlsbad, Calif. on Thursday, Ferguson was asked to comment about Keynes, an influential 20th century British economist who advocated government spending as a way to make up for lagging demand in a down economy.
Ferguson suggested that Keynes philosophy was shaped by his homosexuality. Keynes, therefore, had no children so he wasn't as invested in future generations as others might be, Ferguson said."
--from the Internet
If history is just one long argument, then we might judge the history offered by any author as a wish list of the way he thought the world ought to have happened.
This is no where more apparent than in the pronouncements, writings and expostulations of Niall Ferguson, Oxford PhD, professor of history at Harvard and gadfly about the nation, who created a dust up recently attacking not just the economic theories of John Maynard Keynes, who had the temerity to suggest that when free market, capitalistic economies were tanking, the government might do some good by rescuing the capitalists from their own folly by pumping money into the economy. Ferguson, a disciple of Margaret Thatcher and other right wing ideologs, thought this heresy unconscionable and offered a psychobabble historical explanation for Keynes's theory--saying that anyone who wanted government to ride to the rescue in the short term, could not possibly care a whit for the long term consequences, which would ultimately be doom and gloom, and anyone who had no concern about the long term must not have children, because, of course, only people with children could possibly care about the long term.
And since Keynes was homosexual, and had no children, he could not possibly care about the future.
Whew! Got that?
Of course, Keynes may well have been a homosexual, but he was also married, had a wife and his wife lost a child in a miscarriage, so we might further conclude, having lost his own individual genetic contribution to posterity, Keynes had no further use for the future.
Ferguson really does not like Keynes: Feruguson suggests elsewhere the main reason Keynes was dismayed by World War One is it swept away all the young men Keynes liked to pick up for sexual adventures, and sent them off to the trenches, where they died in heaps, and so Keynes had a personal stake in the war.
One wonders how Ferguson and historians like him get that sort of insight. Do they prowl through diary entries? "No young men on Picadilly Street today. All off at the war. Damn this war! No gay escapades this week! Damn this war!"
Or, perhaps, Ferguson interviewed old friends and acquaintances of Keynes: "He was all in a snit about the war, don't you know? Took the cream of the crop. Meant he had to go home to his proper wife. Didn't like that one bit."
Or, perhaps Ferguson simply had a graduate assistant plow through biographies of Keynes.
The fact is, Ferguson has been adviser to John McCain's campaign, and the professor is a member of the Hoover Institute--ah, now there's a fine, upstanding trickle down hero, Herbert Hoover--and wherever you see a gathering of right wingers drawn together, you are apt to find Mr. Fergusson writing history for them.
Stella Tremblay has been drinking from the same cup as Professor Ferguson, as every right wing whacko must. The gospel according to...Ms. Tremblay, Mr. Ferguson, and every telling of the way things happened somehow bolsters the view of the current world held by the right wing. Even today, former Senator Jim Demint (R-SC), who now heads the Heritage Foundation, brings forth a "study" which shows exactly what the conservative Heritage Foundation suspected all along: That immigrants cost the nation more than they contribute. Those derned immigrants, showing up at emergency rooms, getting hospitalized, getting welfare, a real drag on the federal treasury and on the economy. We told you so! And now we have a study to prove it! And it's all true. We know it's true because we did the study our own selves!
Actually, you have to give the right wing some credit for breadth of personality. They range all the way from Lindsey Graham who says really absurd things while sounding like an idiot, to Niall Ferguson, who says really absurd things and sounds oh so British and intelligent.
So Ferguson says history shows us government spending leads to long term financial collapse. It's been 80 years since The Great Depression which was ended by government spending.
|Paul Krugman: Substance Over Style|
--Wikipedia article on Ferguson
But in the end, it's the substance not the style, as Mr. Krugman reminds us. Lunacy riding about in an aristocratic hat and cloak is still lunacy.
The old ditty, the first casualty of war is the truth.
Same can be said of the right wing historian.