Priyamvada Gopal, who previously brought the heat to Niall Ferguson, has a new piece up on Guardian's blog, The story peddled by imperial apologists is a poisonous fairytale. No punches pulled. She calls Ferguson a "neoconservative ideologue" driven by "the messianic fantasies of the American right". Now, I happen to agree with much of Gopal's criticism but I have to insist that such is not the way to engage in a debate about empire - a much needed debate, I might add. Ferguson is not a neocon and he is not driven by messianic fantasies. Whatever else may be wrong with him [and a search on CM alone will point you in the right direction]. So anyways, go read her.
I don't think that -- to try to redeem her wonderful rant -- she was saying that Ferguson is driven by messianic desires, but that his arguments are based on and in support of actions driven by the messianism of the Administration. Just my reading, though. I think paleo rather than neo, too.
As I read Priyamvada Gopalâ€šÃ„Ã´s essay this morning, I had to ask myself: How do we escape the debilitating effects of post colonial theory? While I am sympathetic to Gopalâ€šÃ„Ã´s politics and admire her courage in taking on the establishment, let us also not forget that it is not only sound byte culture which requires grand theories. In fact, like empire even post colonial theory too is predicated on a grand narrative. Note, Gopalâ€šÃ„Ã´s own short essay relies on reading the colonial encounter as â€šÃ„Ã²a tale of slavery, plunder, war, corruption, land-grabbing, famines, exploitation, indentured labour, impoverishment, massacres, genocide and forced resettlement.â€šÃ„Ã´ Moreover, Gopalâ€šÃ„Ã´s own way of marshalling different thinkers and sociological facts to support her above characterization is often problematic. My fear is that in our post-colonial enthusiasm, we might forget to ask good questions. Gopal is right when she writes: A collective failure of the imagination now makes it difficult for us to think about the globe before European and American domination. If we want to consider possibilities that such a globe offered, we might need to ask different kinds of questions. Has empire ever been good? Is the term a great city an oxymoron? Well, it might do some good to once in a while to move beyond our obsession with the nature of (political) power as we ask these questions.
JD: "His aggressive rewriting of history, driven by the messianic fantasies of the American right, is being presented as a new revelation." I _guess_ one can read it either way. pdcs: word life.
Ferguson is a Thatcherite and a Glaswegian Calvinist. I don't think either of those things maps neatly onto American terminology, despite all the mutual admiration between Maggie's crew and the US rightwingers. It seems to me that the real trouble is that Ferguson is deeply frustrated both as a Thatcherite and an old-style imperialist: born 10 years too late to be part of the rise and triumphs of Thatcherism and, worse, about a century too late to be an intrepid British Empire builder. So he's turned to the American neo-imperialists for his power fix. In return, they get some intellectual firepower. But I predict a nasty (and entertaining...) split in the end.