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| | |-+  Pankaj Mishra and Niall Ferguson are having a feud
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Author Topic: Pankaj Mishra and Niall Ferguson are having a feud  (Read 1287 times)
Filuwaúrdjan
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« on: November 15, 2011, 11:42:25 am »
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http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n21/pankaj-mishra/watch-this-man

The article is worth reading for itself, but for the hilarious feud... scroll down to the 'letters' section below the main text. lol.
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The Mikado
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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2011, 01:39:21 pm »
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Mishra is 100% right about Ferguson.  I've just started to read Ferguson's reply, but this is going to be fantastic.

Niall Ferguson is something of a mystery to me.  Why do people take this guy seriously?
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2011, 03:30:51 pm »
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"Felix was not only black," he wrote. "He was also very, very lucky. And that pretty much sums up the 44th president of the US." -- Niall Ferguson
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2011, 05:47:48 pm »
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Most excellent. Ferguson is clearly the most irritating of all US public intellectuals (that isn´t an evolutionary psychologist or Camille Paglia).

The fact that he is going to work with A.C. Grayling at that ridiculous "humanities school" further underlines this point.
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As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2011, 10:50:17 pm »
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Most excellent. Ferguson is clearly the most irritating of all US public intellectuals (that isn´t an evolutionary psychologist or Camille Paglia).

The fact that he is going to work with A.C. Grayling at that ridiculous "humanities school" further underlines this point.

Does teaching/working in America for a few years make him not British anymore?
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The Mikado
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« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2011, 11:32:25 pm »
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Most excellent. Ferguson is clearly the most irritating of all US public intellectuals (that isn´t an evolutionary psychologist or Camille Paglia).

The fact that he is going to work with A.C. Grayling at that ridiculous "humanities school" further underlines this point.

Does teaching/working in America for a few years make him not British anymore?


Considering that he's pretty explicitly disowned the UK, I'd say US intellectual is pretty fair.  Though what he really is is the last gasp of that early-mid 20th century creature, homo atlanticus.
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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2011, 12:32:50 am »
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Most excellent. Ferguson is clearly the most irritating of all US public intellectuals (that isn´t an evolutionary psychologist or Camille Paglia).

The fact that he is going to work with A.C. Grayling at that ridiculous "humanities school" further underlines this point.

Does teaching/working in America for a few years make him not British anymore?


Considering that he's pretty explicitly disowned the UK, I'd say US intellectual is pretty fair.  Though what he really is is the last gasp of that early-mid 20th century creature, homo atlanticus.

Didn't or doesn't he currently teach at LSE or is it an honorary chair deal? He must have some friends in British academia.   I find someone like Ferguson to be a product of his academic lineage and that is distinctly not American. Then again I don't really find Hitchens, Sullivan or Simon Schawa (sp?) US intellectuals either.
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« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2011, 01:29:43 am »
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Most excellent. Ferguson is clearly the most irritating of all US public intellectuals (that isn´t an evolutionary psychologist or Camille Paglia).

The fact that he is going to work with A.C. Grayling at that ridiculous "humanities school" further underlines this point.

Does teaching/working in America for a few years make him not British anymore?


Considering that he's pretty explicitly disowned the UK, I'd say US intellectual is pretty fair.  Though what he really is is the last gasp of that early-mid 20th century creature, homo atlanticus.

Disowning Britain doesn't make him any less British.
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« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2011, 02:56:58 am »
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If only Britain could disown him.
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« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2011, 04:41:59 am »
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I know he is British but he is a public intellectual in the United States. That is what I meant.
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As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2011, 07:41:59 am »
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Interesting. From an economics perspective I don't think Ferguson is wrong in his description of how the West developed ahead of other places though. It seems broadly consistent with the research that I've seen.
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« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2011, 07:57:56 am »
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I know he is British but he is a public intellectual in the United States. That is what I meant.

Don't know how public he really is here.  The regular blowhards of Chomsky, Krugan, Friedman, Hitchens and Zakaria are typically the ones trotted out.  Granted, I don't really travel in the intellectual milieu much but I really only know him from the Ascent of Money book and documentary.
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« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2011, 08:21:11 am »
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Nothing like making your opponents points for them there, Niall. Ha.
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Not content with libelling me, Mishra also systematically misrepresents my new book, falsely alleging a whole series of omissions. He claims that in Civilisation I disregard ‘Muslim contributions to Western science’; in fact, I discuss them in some detail. He asserts that I ‘offer no evidence’ for my claim that China was very far from being economically neck to neck with the West in 1800. In fact, the point is footnoted and the work of two Chinese scholars, Guan Hanhui and Li Daokui, clearly referenced; I also provide Angus Maddison’s figures for per capita income. Mishra alleges that ‘Asian leaders and intellectuals’ are ‘mute here as in all Ferguson’s books’ and that I do not discuss their growing awareness of Western predominance. In fact, I devote three pages each to the Ottoman and Japanese responses to Western ascendancy. Gandhi is quoted at length. He is no more ‘mute’ here than in Empire or War of the World. Mishra says I don’t mention the genocidal policies pursued by the Belgian rulers of the Congo: in fact, they are referred to twice. He claims that I do not discuss how Western innovations, when ‘imposed on societies historically unprepared for them, could turn literally into killers’. Yet my discussions of the use of modern artillery in Chapter 2, and railways and ‘eugenics’ in Chapter 4, do precisely that.
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2011, 09:05:14 am »
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LOL, quite, quite.

He must have some friends in British academia.

Maybe one or two, but not much more than that. When he's thought of at all it's as an embarrassment. The (noxious) stuff he's written about imperialism is quite frequently used in universities as an example of bad history...
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2011, 09:11:30 am »
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Interesting. From an economics perspective I don't think Ferguson is wrong in his description of how the West developed ahead of other places though. It seems broadly consistent with the research that I've seen.

You're going to have to be more specific than that Tongue

But Ferguson started out as an Economic Historian (one of the duller types; he was never a Braudel) and was quite competent in that field (and didn't even let his politics get in the way of his work; correctly demonstrating on one occasion that, no, there was nothing remotely left-wing about Nazi economic policy), so there you are. One of the problems with Niall Ferguson Public Intellectual and Homo Atlanticus is that he mostly writes outside his area and outside his period, but from a position of self-appointed authority.
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2011, 09:16:10 am »
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Niall Ferguson is something of a mystery to me.  Why do people take this guy seriously?

Mishra gets that about right; he suddenly came out with a controversial (and rather populist) book well outside his field and garnered a huge amount of attention as a result. And everything else flowed from that.
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Gustaf
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« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2011, 09:55:30 am »
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Interesting. From an economics perspective I don't think Ferguson is wrong in his description of how the West developed ahead of other places though. It seems broadly consistent with the research that I've seen.

You're going to have to be more specific than that Tongue

But Ferguson started out as an Economic Historian (one of the duller types; he was never a Braudel) and was quite competent in that field (and didn't even let his politics get in the way of his work; correctly demonstrating on one occasion that, no, there was nothing remotely left-wing about Nazi economic policy), so there you are. One of the problems with Niall Ferguson Public Intellectual and Homo Atlanticus is that he mostly writes outside his area and outside his period, but from a position of self-appointed authority.

In the sense that institutions like property rights and so on are usually considered to be the key features.

I don't really follow Mishra's rebuttal on that point. He seems to be saying that there was plenty of trade and economics going on in Asia and other places. Since I haven't read Ferguson in original I don't know if he denies this, but from my perspective it surely misses the point. Whatever was going on in China and Japan at the time it clearly was not comparable to what was happening in Western Europe.

I also don't get Mishra's stuff about inevatibility and asking the wrong question. I don't know what he means by inevitable but presumably something that happened in the West and not elsewhere happened here for certain reasons. There is a body of research trying to find what those reasons were and from what I can tell Ferguson seems to be within that sphere.

I mean, the rest I don't really know much about. I find the insinuating style Mishra employs rather dubious though. I'm a bit wary of that line of attack.
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