Thursday, March 25, 2010


This is coolbert:

Here from the wiki entry on Niall Ferguson, copying in large measure with comments- - the ten [?] myths of the First World War [WW1]:

"Niall Campbell Douglas Ferguson . . . is a British historian who specialises in financial and economic history as well as the history of colonialism."

Our professor Niall, the ubiquitous Niall, a man who is making quite a name for himself. An iconoclast, an economist and a professor of financial history, a man of astute learning, an academic and now a celebrity!

"He is best known outside academia for his revisionist views rehabilitating imperialism and colonialism; within academia, his championing of counterfactual history"

"In 1998 Ferguson published the critically acclaimed The Pity of War: Explaining World War One. This is an analytic account of what Ferguson considered to be the ten great myths of the Great War."

Niall the professor, constantly trying to "roil the waters" with controversy! A man too perhaps quite often on the money.

According to Professor Ferguson ["his counter-arguments in parentheticals"]:

1. "That Germany was a highly militarist country before 1914 (Ferguson claims Germany was Europe’s most anti-militarist country)"

2. "That naval challenges mounted by Germany drove Britain into informal alliances with France and Russia before 1914 (Ferguson claims the British were driven into alliances with France and Russia as a form of appeasement due to the strength of those nations . . .)"

3. "That British foreign policy was driven by legitimate fears of Germany (Ferguson claims Germany posed no threat to Britain before 1914, and that all British fears of Germany were due to irrational anti-German prejudices)"

4. "That the pre-1914 arms race was consuming ever larger portions of national budgets at an unsustainable rate (Ferguson claims that the only limitations on more military spending before 1914 were political, not economic)"

5. "That World War I was . . . a war of aggression on [the] part of Germany that necessitated British involvement to stop Germany from conquering Europe (Ferguson claims if Germany had been victorious, something like the European Union would have been created in 1914)"

6. "That most people were happy with the outbreak of war in 1914 (Ferguson claims that most Europeans were saddened by the coming of war)"

7. "That propaganda was successful in making men wish to fight (Ferguson argues the opposite)"

8. "That the Allies made the best use of their economic resources (Ferguson argues the Allies “squandered” their economic resources)"

9. "That the British and the French had the better armies (Ferguson claims the German Army was superior)"

10. "That the Allies were more efficient at killing Germans (Ferguson argues that the Germans were more efficient at killing the Allies)"

11. "That most soldiers hated fighting in the war (Ferguson argues most soldiers fought more or less willingly)"

12. "That the British treated German prisoners of war well (Ferguson argues the British routinely killed German POWS)"

13. "That Germany was faced with reparations after 1921 that could not be paid except at ruinous economic cost (Ferguson argues that Germany could have easily paid reparations had there been the political will)"

The wiki entry describes TEN MYTHS but there are thirteen indicated by asterisk.

Professor Niall is an avid practitioner of what is called counterfactual history? His assertions regarding WW1 are indeed having having a basis in counterfactual history?

This counterfactual history is a new one of me. Had never heard of it before. Is only a house-hold word, "counterfactual", within academia?

"Counterfactual history, also sometimes referred to as virtual history, is a recent form of historiography which attempts to answer 'what if' questions known as counterfactuals. It seeks to explore history and historical incidents by means of extrapolating a timeline in which certain key historical events did not happen or had an outcome which was different from that which did in fact occur."

Counterfactual is not to be confused with:

"Counterfactual history is neither historical revisionism nor alternate history."



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