The Liberal International Order Is Dead

Here is a debate between Niall Ferguson and Fareed Zakaria on whether or not the liberal international order is dead. Ferguson argues the affirmative. The post-WWII globalist vision of FDR and company, complete with international institutions such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, etc., is a dead vision. The attempt to create the universal man stripped of nationalism and motivated by boundary and cultural markers is now gone, so Ferguson argues. Replacing it is surging democratic populism with its confident cultural identity.

Ferguson is not arguing that it should be this way but that it is now this way. Recognizing this new world is essential to the political management of our crises. This is a most important debate.

Heartlessness As An Intellectual Style

An insight from “Heartlessness As An Intellectual Style” in The Chronicle of Higher Education – “A 1999 study of women’s emotional labor in academe found that “students expect female professors to be nicer than male professors and judge them more harshly when they are not.” More recently, the history professor Benjamin M. Schmidt, at Northeastern University, found that male professors were more likely to be called “geniuses,” while female professors were more often judged on their personalities.

Many women say that their students frequently treat them like counselors or social workers. Female academics — like their peers in other professions — are made to perform the bulk of the emotional labor, with both colleagues and students. Pressures like these might explain why so many academic women I know were immediately intrigued by the premise of Deborah Nelson’s new book, “Tough Enough” (University of Chicago Press), which explores the work of women intellectuals, writers, and artists known for their stoical, even “heartless,” dispositions. When I explained the concept to female friends across the academy (and for that matter, beyond it) they all saw something liberating in the notion of the intentionally cold woman intellectual; perhaps it could serve as a model for their own escape from the pressures of obligatory emotional labor.”

Hannah Arendt is one of the “heartless” ones, it seems. In her personal life she was a passionate lover, most famously with Martin Heidegger, her professor and a future Nazi sympathizer, with whom she carried on a life long attraction. But in her writing she was dispassionate, removed, analytical and more than capable of going against the grain of popular sentiment, even while so many male intellectuals gave in. Her assertion that some of the Jewish people were actually collaborators with the Nazis and bore responsibility was particularly hard to hear.

No doubt journalists such as Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin would be on a heartless list.

Dr. Carl Trueman on Martin Luther’s Anti-Semitism

In this 500th year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation we will likely hear much of Martin Luther’s anti-Semitism. No doubt his screed against the Jews will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Some scholars draw a straight line from Luther to the Holocaust. So, what to do with Luther on this issue? Dr. Carl Truman gives his perspective on Luther in Lecture 18 of his class on the Reformation.

Trueman’s bottom line is that Luther’s attack on the Jews was religious and not racial. I think he does a good job of setting Luther’s comments in context. However, he makes it very clear that the excessive verbiage is scandalous and unacceptable. But there never was a person who could tame Luther’s language!!

The Decline and Fall of History, according to Niall Ferguson

This is a presentation by Niall Ferguson on “The Decline and Fall of History.” It is a supreme depiction of what is wrong with the humanities in the university, particularly history.

His thesis – of the top twenty issues in history of the West, (inclusive of such topics as constitutional democracy, the Civil War, Western intellectual history, diplomatic and international history, social and economic history, the Reformation, the scientific revolution, the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the industrial revolution, World Word I, the Great Depression and others) there are barely any course offerings at Harvard, Stanford and Yale. Instead there are courses such as the history of emotions, witches in Western history, etc. No wonder, he says, those majoring in history have declined precipitously as the academy no longer teaches serious history. Ferguson posits that this state of academy is not going to change. The teaching of real history is down for the count.

One of the highlights of the presentation is Ferguson’s sampling of what course offerings there are. Hold onto your hats. Laughable.

This presentation is seriously worth the viewing.