I first became aware of Niall Ferguson shortly after his book “Empire” was published in 2002. At the time, I was a stupid teenager and therefore somewhat more sympathetic to the idea of imperialism than I later became; plus, I was something of a Hobbesian, so his ideas played well with me. I did not agree with his prescriptions re: the modern day (this was the build-up to the Iraq invasion, you will recall), but he nevertheless seemed an incisive and sharp-witted thinker.
After the controversy surrounding Empire started to die down, I must confess I didn’t that I hardly thought of him at all until this past summer when he published an unpardonably dishonest article on the American presidential election. Was this the man who had impressed me as a teenager? I wondered; now selling his intellectual body to the Tea Party?
Yes. Yes, it was. Tragic, really.
But a few days ago, Prof. Ferguson finally completed his gradual metamorphosis from “respectable academic” into “idiotic right-wing rodeo clown” with what has to be one of the most relentlessly moronic ‘historical arguments’ that I have ever heard issuing out of the mouth of an academic who didn’t get their PhD at Liberty University:
Ferguson asked the audience how many children Keynes had. He explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and was married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of “poetry” rather than procreated….
Ferguson, who is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, and author of The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, says it’s only logical that Keynes would take this selfish worldview because he was an “effete” member of society.
It’s not even a real argument, frankly. I suspect that Ferguson must have forgotten that he was talking to an audience of professional Financial Advisors (rather than conservative partisans), and just started hurling red meat all around the room. In any case, while it probably still takes a lot of intelligence to become a professor at Harvard, you apparently don’t need much of it to be one.