I recently wrote an essay that brings Niall Ferguson to task because of his most recent works: Civilization: The West and the Rest and The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, both of which, I argue, are naked political and economic propaganda for plutocratic and conservative government.
In short, Niall Ferguson has become a full-fledged, right-wing pundit–and not a good one at that. His two latest books are sloppy work. They are more likely products meant to fulfill writing contracts than attempts to do academic research about weighty social, political, and economic issues.
It does not have to be this way, and the only way to explain why it is this way is that Niall Ferguson has chosen the lazy route of the pundit rather than the more arduous path of the public intellectual.
One can hope that the fine brain of Professor Ferguson will be used for better purposes in the future; however, it is hard to imagine the hedgehog becoming a fox overnight. It might help if other intellectuals stopped praising work that would barely pass muster in an average Ph.D. program. Maybe then Professor Ferguson would return to real academic work rather than continuing to allow his intellect to be co-opted by the world of corporate “edu-tainment?”
This is a criticism by which all public intellectuals, left or right, should be animated. Nothing is gained by muddying the intellectual waters with half-truths and naked ideology.