Has Nial Ferguson Left the Reservation?

I admit it – I was never much impressed with Nial Ferguson. He reminded me too much of the smooth operators who clamber up the greasy pole in large businesses, saying the (perceived) right things at the right time to the right people. His upward jumps in academia and his BBC programs all screamed “pseud”.

But maybe people can grow and change. Or maybe an individual who is exquisitely tuned to the zeitgeist can recognize early that the wind is changing direction, and maybe it is time to jump to a different greasy pole. Here he is casting doubts on the wonders of the US’s UniParty “democracy”:

Niall Ferguson: We’re All Soviets Now | The Free Press (thefp.com)

"… There is a world of difference between the dysfunctional planned economy that Stalin built and bequeathed his heirs, which collapsed as soon as Mikhail Gorbachev tried to reform it, and the dynamic market economy that we Americans take pride in. …

… The equivalent falsehoods in late Soviet America are that the institutions controlled by the (Democratic) Party—the federal bureaucracy, the universities, the major foundations, and most of the big corporations—are devoted to advancing hitherto marginalized racial and sexual minorities, and that the principal goals of U.S. foreign policy are to combat climate change and (as Jake Sullivan puts it) to help other countries defend themselves “without sending U.S. troops to war.”

In reality, policies to promote “diversity, equity, and inclusion” do nothing to help poor minorities. Instead, the sole beneficiaries appear to be a horde of apparatchik DEI “officers.” In the meantime, these initiatives are clearly undermining educational standards, even at elite medical schools, and encouraging the mutilation of thousands of teenagers in the name of “gender-affirming surgery.” …

Ferguson runs through the list of all the areas where the US (or maybe the Party?) is failing – budgets, military spending, health care, education, gerontocracy, public cynicism, distrust of authority, deaths of despair. But, true to his elite form, he fails to mention the elephant in the room – the regulatory-driven de-industrialization which has destroyed jobs and sacrificed potential tax revenues, and is the driver of many of the all-too-real problems he describes.


It’s interesting where these ideas come from:

It’s also interesting how easy it is to become an admiral under Biden administration:

During her tenure, she created Penn State Hershey Medical Center’s Division of Adolescent Medicine and the Penn State Hershey Eating Disorders Program. She was in charge of the latter when she was nominated for the position of Pennsylvania physician general in 2015.

In 2015, Levine was nominated by Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Wolf to serve as Pennsylvania’s physician general. In one of her most lauded actions as physician general, Levine signed an order allowing law enforcement officers to carry naloxone.

In July 2017, Governor Wolf appointed Levine as Secretary of Health, and she was unanimously confirmed by the Pennsylvania State Senate.

During 2020 and until January 23, 2021, Levine led the public health response on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania as the state secretary of health.

On February 13, 2021, President Joe Biden formally nominated Levine to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health.

On October 19, 2021, Levine was commissioned as a four-star admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, becoming the first openly transgender four-star officer in any of the United States uniformed services as well as the first female four-star admiral in the Commissioned Corps.

… all you need is a bit of surgery. Snip snip. We’ve seen this before.


How can you call it “she”?


27 second video


What happened to the eunuch after the last emperor? After 1949?


How do we reverse the trend of de-industrialization?

Eliminating regulatory barriers? Is it about changing or repealing regulations or handcuffing regulatory agencies?


Unfortunately, it is the “fact” of decades of de-industrialization.

Basically, we would need to remove the current ability of unelected people in regulatory agencies to compel behavior by anyone or any business. Human actions should be constrained only by the explicit language of laws properly passed by a 60% majority of democratically-elected individuals.

After the Coming Collapse, of course!


I prefer to think of it as rats fleeing a sinking ship. This rat is hardly “early” in recognizing that the ship is sinking.

There’s no evidence in the quoted passage that Mr Ferguson has any doubts about the fundamental soundness of Our Democracy. If only we could return to the founding principles and restore the constitutional order, everything would be tickety-boo. Just vote harder and the ship will right itself.


According to the tealeaves, SCOTUS appears to be moving in the direction of invalidating the Chevron doctrine [1], which should help. eg. the recent opinions in the bump stock case.

The real trouble is getting Congress to pass laws that aren’t facially stupid.

[1] Chevron deference (doctrine) - Ballotpedia


That needs to be overturned yesterday. More important than Roe or Bakke.

Chevron Doctrine was established in 1984. Perfect timing


Ferguson teases Jake Sullivan

That’s a positive

I started following Niall after Brexit. I was impressed by his analysis of political and geopolitical events.

He has said that the academy cannot be reformed and we have to start over. Very true. Burn it down and build from ground zero. He is affiliated with university of Austin project

I am not a fan of Bari Weiss


And speaking of rats fleeing a sinking ship, here’s the latest:

However much you hate journalists, it isn’t enough. Mr Ferguson is only slightly earlier than CNN.


Presidential Debate Stirs Memories of Leonid Brezhnev

The Soviet leader was only 75 when he died, but his infirmities led to the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Thursday’s presidential debate reminded me of an old Soviet joke. Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev presides over the opening of the Olympic Games in Moscow. “O-O-O-O-O,” Brezhnev says. An aide pulls him by his elbow: “Comrade Brezhnev, these are the Olympic rings. The text of the speech is down below.”

It was an exaggeration, but consider his last summit with an American president. In June 1979, Brezhnev and Jimmy Carter were to sign the arms-control accord SALT II, in Vienna. But the Soviet leader was no longer capable of engaging in substantive discussion. He struggled through his prepared remarks “haltingly and laboriously,” an American observer noted. Whenever Mr. Carter raised a subject, Brezhnev’s interpreter handed his boss a set of cards, which Brezhnev read.

Brezhnev was only 75 when he died in 1982, but he was barely in charge in the last six or seven years of his long reign. His diary shows that he was preoccupied with his weight, playing dominoes and bathing in the sea.

Once Brezhnev’s health began to deteriorate, Soviet bureaucratic interests took over. Détente withered. Soviet overextension worsened. When the U.S.S.R. invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the decision was imposed on the ailing Brezhnev by the KGB and military who had him sign off on the misadventure.



Andropov and Chernenko lasted 3 years. Politburo selected someone much younger in 1985: Gorbachev


Freddie Sayers (UnHerd) interviews Niall Ferguson on his recent article. It’s interesting in parts but too long and all over the place for this listener. Trying to decide if the conflict in Ukraine is more like the Korean War or the Vietnam War and arguing China-Taiwan is the Cuban missile crisis in reverse makes my head spin.

On top of that, Sir Niall’s polyester tie is mesmerizing, poor Freddie has to squint :wink:


American defensive perimeter in East Asia includes Japan and South Korea.

This is what Dean Acheson did not say. His glaring omission was a green light from the POV of North Korea and USSR

Based on LLM search results, the immediate reactions to Dean Acheson’s January 12, 1950 speech were mixed and significant:

  1. In South Korea, there was a reaction of “shock and panic” to Acheson’s exclusion of South Korea from the American defensive perimeter[1][3].

  2. North Korea appears to have taken notice of the speech. A former North Korean journalist claimed he personally delivered news of the speech to Kim Il Sung, who was reportedly “greatly excited” by it[3].

  3. In the Soviet Union, the speech was quickly sent to Stalin for careful study. Within two weeks, on January 30, 1950, Stalin gave general approval for Kim Il-sung to launch an attack on South Korea, which some historians link to Acheson’s speech[4].

  4. In the United States, the speech became controversial, with critics arguing it had encouraged communist aggression by seemingly excluding South Korea and Taiwan from U.S. protection[4].

  5. Acheson and his supporters denied that the speech was intended to give a “green light” to communist forces, with Acheson later arguing in his memoirs that the speech was meant as a “red light” warning against aggression[4].

  6. Some historians and analysts viewed the speech as an “unwise and unskilled diplomatic maneuver” that broadcast U.S. strategy openly to potential adversaries[3].

The varied interpretations and reactions to the speech highlight its complex impact on international relations in the early Cold War period.

[1] View of Dean Acheson’s Press Club Speech Reexamined https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/jcs/article/view/366/578
[2] Acheson speech 1950 Acheson speech 1950
[3] Dean Acheson’s Press Club Speech Reexamined - Érudit https://www.erudit.org/en/journals/jcs/2002-v22-n1-jcs_22_1/jcs22_1art04.pdf
[4] Green, Yellow, Or Red—What Color Was Dean Acheson’s Speech? Green, Yellow, Or Red—What Color Was Dean Acheson’s Speech? | Hoover Institution Green, Yellow, Or Red—What Color Was Dean Acheson’s Speech?
[5] View of Dean Acheson's Press Club Speech Reexamined https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/JCS/article/view/366/579

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Fascinating mention in one of the comments on that interview. The things one has never heard or seen in our media:

the [UK] Home Office staff are taking the current [UK] government to court to prevent changes against their wishes, and have the political support of the [UK] judges who will rule on this.

Britannia rules the waves, and the Bureaucracy rules Britannia?


Spoiler alert: Jonah Goldberg loses