Thursday 23 August 2012

More on Mr Ferguson

Dan Drezner on Ferguson and Zakaria:

Intellectual power and responsibility in an age of superstars

I don't think it's fair to suggest that Ferguson's critics are jealous of his income.

People despise Niall Ferguson because he uses his academic status to lend a veneer of intellectual credibility to the bare faced lies and misinformation of whatever right-wing talking point is doing the rounds. Academics especially despise him, consequently, because he cheapens their vocation. He's a self-interested hack falsely credited as a profound thinker. He is where he is not because of his exalted brainpower but because he tells rich and powerful people exactly what they want to hear.

Now, of course, he's not stupid -- the market for telling rich and powerful people what they want to hear is very large indeed and he's clawing his way to the top of it -- but he's not much of an intellectual either. Perhaps I'm just a silly old romantic but 'intellectual' suggests to me someone who venerates ideas and truth-saying above stroking their own ego, lining their own pockets and sating the appetites of the powerful.

Intellectuals say what they believe, regardless of who is listening and/or paying. Someone who does the contrary is just a big-talking pseudo-celeb.