The Ferguson Corollary

Though easily turned into a cliché, and an obnoxious one, the notion of the childless and in that sense socially remote thinker or artist who sublimates a defeated bid for mere genetic immortality as greatness, of the individual for whom art or philosophy or science or religion is procreation by other means, and as near to the divine as ever achieved or achievable by human exertion, remains indispensable, in part because the alternative looks something like this:

Speaking at the Tenth Annual Altegris Conference in Carlsbad, Calif., in front of a group of more than 500 financial advisors and investors, Ferguson responded to a question about Keynes’ famous philosophy of self-interest versus the economic philosophy of Edmund Burke, who believed there was a social contract among the living, as well as the dead. Ferguson asked the audience how many children Keynes had. He explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and was married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of “poetry” rather than procreated. The audience went quiet at the remark. Some attendees later said they found the remarks offensive.

Offensive? From a dyspeptic grand-uncle at a holiday family gathering, maybe, but, from a celebrity intellectual speaking before “more than 500 financial advisors and investors,” the remarks exhibit something more: a supreme essence of stupidity, an intellectually 99.44% pure distillation of the Peter Principle that extends to the audience as representatives of the same inexorable process. If what the telegenic Harvard professor and author of some not entirely bad books says evokes Burke in any way, it does so as crude satire, an imitation of reason by natural law implicating the speaker as well as the anti-culture culture that un-thinks his anti-thoughts for him ahead of time.

Ferguson’s reported statements invert the same concept – universal immortality of ideas across the generations, telepoesis – that ever justified, a bit less this morning than the day before, distinguished Harvard professors, and for that matter the production of new generations of potential students, at all. Because this thought, as thought on an eternal purpose of thought, on the abstract concretely, may by its nature remain hard to grasp, it may lead someone who has trouble thinking it to reach for something else, the safety on his Browning, for example. To say so is not “Godwinning,” but reflection of a proper understanding of the oxymoron “fascist intellectual.”

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5 comments on “The Ferguson Corollary

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  1. Well Ferguson, ‘chose poorly’ in criticizing Keyne’s orientation, when flawed economic analysis, anti Semitism or belief in Eugenics, would have been better grounds. Then again, Keynes would look down on supposed boosters like Krugman, for missing the point,

  2. Ferguson has apologized, while Jonah Goldberg has dredged up a series of quotations demonstrating that this mode of attack on Keynes has something of a pedigree. The effect is, indicatively, to add nothing at all to an understanding of Keynes’ economic theories and their relevance to the present day or even in the history of economics, but only to place the commenters, people like Joseph Schumpeter and Gertrude Himmelfarb, along with Keynes in another not yet very distant era when thinking in stereotypes was common and treated as respectable among the educated classes.

    Keynes’ lifelong involvement in Eugenics may say a lot of things or may not in fact say very much at all, but one thing it seems to disprove is that he lacked interest in the welfare of future generations, since Eugenics is the crystallization of that concern directly: He not only cared about future generations, he was materially concerned about the actual generation of those generations, about breeding them properly. The interest suggests another mode of procreation by other means, in this case procreation via other people’s procreation.

  3. He didn’t want the Untermensch, Wells was like that too, the Morlocks were clearly what he believed was
    the ugly stinking proles, Like I said, it wouldn’t have been my tack to take, any more then Burgess’s propensity made him a traitor,

  4. ‘In the long run, we are all dead’ it’s a truism but it doesn’t lend itself for effective economic analysis, it’s possibly arguable that ‘the Economic Consequences’ was more prescient, as the Dawes Plan, pointed out
    however it was the Prussian Junker Class, that didn’t learn the lesson,

  5. To say so is not “Godwinning,” but reflection of a proper understanding of the oxymoron “fascist intellectual.”

    Well, I know I’m a moron–but now I can aspire to be an oxymoron.

    As always–thanks for the inspiration!

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Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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