Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Niall Ferguson and the Third Kind of Wrongness

In the comments, ttt points us to this excellent take-down of Niall Ferguson.
Excerpt after the fold. There is also a pointer to Krugman's blog, where Krugman points out:
Matters are quite different when it comes to the third kind of wrongness: making or insinuating false claims about readily checkable facts. The case in point, of course, is Ferguson’s attempt to mislead readers into believing that the CBO had concluded that Obamacare increases the deficit. This was unethical on his part – but Newsweek is also at fault, because this is the sort of thing it could and should have refused to publish.
The first two types of wrongness Krugman lists are (1) wrong opinions, and (2) conceptual errors. 

Since Niall Ferguson is consistently in the third type of error territory,  I have to ask again - what are motives of those who promote him?  The following excerpt I think confirms my suspicions, includiing that lying in the cause of empire has always been respectable among imperialists.

Niall Ferguson wants the United States to be an empire. An historian, Ferguson has always been enchanted with the British Empire of his forebears. He has also long been enchanted with the notion that the United States can and should become the successor to the British Empire, and that we Americans have been shirking our duty by pretending to be just another live-and-let-live nation-state. He seems to have been especially enchanted by that magic moment in 2003 and 2004, when it seemed that under George W. Bush and the neoconservatives, America was finally taking up the mantle of empire. The failure of the Iraqi adventure, and the collapse of popular support for similar adventures, must have felt to Niall Ferguson like something beautiful was being snatched from his hands.

Now, Ferguson hopes, under a Romney/Ryan (or Ryan/Romney?) presidency, America has a chance at completing the mission that George Bush started, and returning to its path to glory as British Empire II.

But - and this is why he makes me so angry - Niall Ferguson badly misunderstands my country. We are a Republic, not an Empire, and we always will be. We rejected the mantle of Anglo-Saxon world domination in the Philippines, again in Vietnam, and again in Iraq. And we will always reject it. We do not want to go forth and educate and enlighten the brown people at the point of our Tomahawk missiles, Mr. Ferguson. We want to invite them here, to live with us, to work for us and hire us, to marry our children, to become part of this country. Even, yes, to lead this country, as Barack Obama, for all his faults, has done. We do not want to conquer the world. We want to become the world.

The British Empire is over, Niall. It had its day. We can debate eternally how much good it did, but now it is done, and it is not coming back. Stop trying to screw up my Republic in your doomed effort to bring it back.