Republicans, the Stupid Party; it’s Much Worse than I Thought (Niall Ferguson Edition)

Not only Republican intellectuals not pushing back against the RNC’s self-abusive claim that the Democratic Party “is dedicated to restructuring American society along socialist ideals,” thy hace written down the talking point and are running with it. A friend directs me to Andrew Purcell’s report:>Niall Ferguson v Paul Krugman: Krugman was lost for words. “Boy,” he shook his head, “Oh dear.” He took issue with Ferguson’s sums and with neoconservative economics as a who…. On the core subject of deficit spending, Ferguson could not find a single ally…. [I]n one last defiant gesture, revelling in his role as pantomime villain, reached for the ultimate conservative put-down: “If you wanna try the Soviet model, fine…”>Krugman and Soros groaned loudly. The audience booed. Moderator Jeff Madrick interrupted once, then twice, talking over Ferguson’s objections. “We’re doing you a good turn by not extending this ten minutes,” he suggested…Barack Obama is a Keynesian (and not enough of one, at that), not a Marxist. John Maynard Keynes is not Karl Marx. The last time any bunch of people argued what Niall Ferguson does it was the [honchos of *National Review* in the 1950s](http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/19/prodigal-intellectuals/), who denied the possibility of any third-way alternative at all to either laissez-faire or Soviet Russia, who lauded Francisco Franco as Europe’s greatest twentieth-century politician, who thought there was a serious chance that George C. Marshall was part of the conspiracy so immense that had handed China and was working to hand America over to Josef Stalin, and believed that white southerners had the right and duty to deny African-Americans the vote by “such measures as are necessary to prevail.”Is this the company that Niall Ferguson really wants to be in? Apparently so.And what did John Maynard Keynes think of the Soviet Union? This, from his *A Short View of Russia*:>Leninism is a combination of two things which Europeans have kept for some centuries in different compartment of the soul–religion and business. We are shocked because the religion is new, and conemputous because the business… is highly inefficient. Like other new religions, Leninism derives its power not from the multitude but from a small minority of enthusiastic converts, whose zeal and intolerance make each one the equal in strength of a hundred indifferentists. Like other new religions it is led by those who can combine teh new spirit, perhaps sincerely, with seeing a good deal more than their followers, politicians with at leat an average dose of political cynicism who can smile as well as frown, volatile exporimentalists…. Like other new religions it actively persecutes without justice or pity…. But to say that Leninism is the faith of a persecuting and propagating minority of fanatics led by hypocrites is, after all, to say no more nor less than that it is a religion and not merely a party, and that Lenin a Mahomet not a Bismarck…>I sympathize with those who seek for something good in Soviet Russia. But when we come to the actual thing what is one to say? For me… Red Russia holds too much which is detestable…. How can I admire a policy which finds a characteristic expression in spending millions to suborn spies in every family and group at home?… How can I accept a doctrine which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete text-book [Marx] which I know to be not only scientifically erroneous but without interest or application for the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above bourgeois and the intelligentsia who, whatever their faults, are the quality in life and surely carry the seeds of all human advancement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values…>On the eonomic side I cannot perceive that Russian communism has made any contribution to our economic problems of intellectual interest or scientific value…. [W]e have everything to lose by the methods of violent change. In Western industrial conditions the tactics of Red Revolution would throw the entire population into a pit of poverty and death…>Yet the elation, when that is felt, is very great. Here–one feels at moments–in spite of poverty, stupidity, and oppression, is the laboratory of life. Here the chemicals are being mixed in new combinations, and stink and explode. Something–there is just a chance–might come out…. Russia will never matter seriously to the rest of us unless it be as a moral force. So, now the deeds are done and there is no going back, I should like to give Russia her chance; to help and not to hinder. For how much rather, even after allowing for everything, if I were a Russian would I contribute my quota of activity to Soviet Russia than to Tsarist Russia! I could not subscribe to the new official faith any more than to the old. I should detest the actions of the new tyrants not less than those of the old. But I should feel that my eyes were turned towards and no longer away from the possibilities of things; that out of the cruelty and stupidity of Old Russia nothing could ever emerge, but beneath the cruelty and stupidity of New Russia some speck of the ideal may lie hid.

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