Niall Ferguson And Unpopular Opinions

Is Islamism the totalitarian threat of our times?


I am a big fan of the historian Niall Ferguson and I am impressed by his readiness to attack the sacred cows of both ‘progressives’ and ‘conservatives.’ In The Pity of War (1998) he put forward the unpopular view that Britain, and in particular its dithering foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey, was to blame for the hideous slaughter of the First World War. Had Britain made it clear that it would fight alongside France and Russia, Ferguson argues that Germany would not have launched its attack on Belgium. In Empire (2002), which was provocatively subtitled “How Britain made the modern world,” he argued that the British Empire was not wholly evil, an opinion guaranteed to have the average Guardianista fainting into their organic muesli. And in 2014, on the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, he argued on television and in print that Britain would have been better off staying out of the war and allowing a German victory. This would have resulted in a situation not dissimilar to today – German economic domination of Europe – and it would certainly have been better for the Jews of eastern Europe to have been conquered by Imperial rather than Nazi Germany. Continue reading “Niall Ferguson And Unpopular Opinions”

Book Review #2

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

It may be because I am a natural contrarian (or a pedantic, middle-aged git) but I am always suspicious when everyone seems to agree on something. Hence my dislike for ‘national treasures’ like Bruce Forsyth (hint, so was Jimmy Savile) and the fawning sycophancy meted out to the deeply ordinary and talentless Windsor- Mountbatten clan – news exclusive in the Daily Mail and Daily Express, Kate Middleton¬†wears clothes. Whilst I would have probably (and reluctantly) voted to Remain in the European Union if I still lived in the UK, the fact that all the main political parties, the entire media Establishment and most of the ‘celebrities’ who represent public opinion in modern Britain were on the Remain side made me very sceptical. But my contrarianism (is this even a word?) pales into insignificance compared to the great iconoclastic historian Niall Ferguson. Continue reading “Book Review #2”

Joyless, Angry, Judgemental

Freedom of speech is not in anyone’s gift

I will admit to being a fairly cynical person. Anyone who reads this blog will know I’m pretty sure that those who rule us are determined to keep their privileged positions in our society by whatever means necessary. I studied History at undergraduate level and as a postgraduate and have taught the subject for a quarter of a century. I am unpersuaded by the Whig interpretation that sees History as progress towards democracy and liberalism. I like Marxist methodology and some Marxist economics but, again, I am not persuaded that History will culminate in some classless society. Still less am I convinced by the eschatological delusions of the various Abrahamic religions. However, compared to some of the cynicism I read online, I am a wild optimist of the Professor Pangloss variety. Continue reading “Joyless, Angry, Judgemental”