Historian: Woke Politics Destroying US History & Academia | Niall Ferguson Interview
This is the Ruben reporting according to Big Tech. I'm Dave Rubin Reminder. Everybody to subscribe to our Youtube Channel and click that notification bell for notifications. That's what the bells near for and joining me. Today is a historian and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Neil Ferguson Welcome back to the Rubin report. It's great to be back virtually Dave I'd prefer to be back really, but hey, it's the plague year. It is the plague year you know last time you were on the show you flew in. You bolted from the airport. We talked as fast as we could for about an hour and a half, and then you bolted and left again, so must be very calming for you to be able to be at home and relaxed computer because you're a busy guy. It is very calming. I had not spent three months in one location for twenty years. And I think I had fallen victim to hypomobility and hyper globalization, where, if I wasn't on a long haul flight at least once a week I felt there was something wrong with my life, and having that all stop has been a real blessing. Not. Everybody gets to work from home I'm one of the lucky ones who can. And! This is also meant more time with my family so. I think we all may have been suffering from some kind of connecting foam. As we flew from conference to conference manically and Covid, nineteen stopped the world, and said you can get off now and for some people. It's been difficult for me. It's been. Literally Coming Home but also metaphorically because I'm back to the kind of life. I had when I was a young academic teaching Oxford with little kids, and that was my life, I read books I, wrote books, and I read stories at night and I'm back to. That is great. Well as most of my audience knows, your wife is the magical amazing I'll let you add a couple of other adjectives. Ion. Hersi, Ali, and and you guys do have a toddler now. So you're looking at you enjoying home life. You're supposed to be a steady academic and you're enjoying life. Well we have? We have two sons. Actually I'll allowed the adjectives. Shall I Dave? Brave beautiful and brilliant. Those are the three things that describe my life and She's also a wonderful mother and our two sons. One of whom is eight the others to? are a constant source of of joy to us at an I. Just see much more of them, which is which is fascinating I. Thought homeschooling was an oxymoron. And it turns out actually to work quite well. At least with some kids Thomas who's eight has been. He's really been in some ways more engaged because he's had greater freedom to explore and I've been fascinated to watch him. Become a little auto dayaks and delve deeply into into stem subjects, so yeah, there's all sorts of wonderful things that have have come out of twenty twenty, which is paradoxical because it's a horrible year for so many people. Well stem subjects I thought stem subjects were all racist and patriarchal and part of the oppressive machinery. That is the West or something like that. You're teaching stem subjects eight year old. Well. He's teaching them to himself, remember. I'm from science background. My mother is a physicist and so's my sister. I'm the black sheep of the family who wandered off into the dangerous terrain of the humanities and social sciences, but Thomas is. A young man with clear vision I think he's identified that the humanities and social sciences are no longer the places to be, and he's been studying microbiology with considerable zeal, entirely at his own initiative Thomas also had the best insights about twenty twenty that I've heard from anybody. He said Dad there to pandemics this year. I said really what what's the other one as well there's there's obviously covid nineteen, but there's another pandemic which is more contagious, and it's called woke kid nineteen, and you can catch whoa kid nineteen from the Internet, so it's more dangerous than covid nineteen I think there's wisdom amongst the eight-year-olds Dave. They give me hope. Most people make up what their eight year olds. You're saying, but I actually believe that you're an ion. Offspring said that. A lot of these a lot of the twitter warriors. Pretending. It's only one of his many insights into the strange time I I do think his generation's going to surprise people if he and his friends are anything to go by. There's a kind of healthy skepticism sort of south park quality to this generation. They are very different in their outlook as far as I can see from admittedly small sample from the the generation Z.. Twentysomethings who are currently in various stages of. Of anxiety and. and woke nece so I I have a suggestion which I'm sure it's impossible to to do more than an then speculated bows. 'CAUSE WE CAn't poll eight-year-olds, but I think generation t, the kids who came of age during the trump presidency are going to have very different outlooks partly because I think they've been slightly force-fed. Woke ideas. At school and they do react like Carmen and Kyle in the kids from South Park. Which I find quite encouraging, because at eight I was. A kind of instinctive conservative I think most eight year olds. Are you kind of against change? Even when your parents changed the wallpaper in the living room, you're kind of against it and I noticed it certain familiar symptoms in in Thomas I hope it doesn't all go away when he becomes a teenager that be will. Well? He's GonNa have to go through a phase I. I hate to tell you that's that's how it works. Well, not necessarily because in Britain, we have boarding schools and you just send away. From the minute they become teenagers. Eight teaches instead of us. It works remarkably well. Actually pretty clever all right, so we're going to do something a little bit different than I would normally do. If I was to have you on I want to use the time with you. To sort of celebrate America and celebrate freedom. This is going to be our July fourth special. We're taping it a little bit before July fourth. But because you have an interesting immigration story, your wife has an interesting immigration story you are a historian and and a proud American I. Thought you were the right guy to talk to about this, but before we fully get into that am I correct. You've written fourteen books. Is that right? Is it know. Yeah I think so yeah. That's a lot of books I. don't even have a question to ask. Just wanted to say it because it's an awful lot of books and as a guy that just wrote one. I just feel like you deserve some credit on that. Well the only consolation is I think that each one is easier than the one before so the first one is the hard one. I'd see it's not like. It's an art writing books more like a building cabinets. It's a sort of craft and once you've done it once. The second one is distinctly easier. That's that's the good news. There are people more prolific than I am, and indeed one of my heroes the. Novelist John Buchan regarded it as a kind of wasted year if he hadn't written the book whereas I think my batting averages a book every two a half years, or so so I mean I I'm not exceptionally prolific, but I did use to look around certain universities where I've worked and marvel at how few book some of my colleagues were able to write. I don't what they were doing. The rest of the time I live to right and reading and writing of the two things that I I do the greatest facility. The thinking in the middle is difficult, but you do the reading, and then the heart is the thinking once you've figured it out. The writing is a relatively straightforward part of the job. All right so between the personal story, the writing and a little bit of thinking. Let's let's talk about freedom so I. I just thought. Telling a bit about your own personal immigration, story would be Kinda interesting. You wrote a blog about it awhile back and I think that might be a nice way to set this whole conversation up. Well, I've been working in the united. States since around two thousand and two. I was transatlantic for awhile going back and forward very regularly, and it took a while before I realized that when I was landing Boston Logan that felt more like coming home. Then landing at Heathrow that was kind of gradual process. I decided to come to the United States partly out of a sense that the action was here in my field. I was writing a lot of financial history I'd written history of the Rothschilds, the English by and large like their historians to do kings and Queens prime. Ministers Bankers New York County got what I was doing more than than London did. And I was kind of toying with the idea of a a move to New York University when nine eleven happens now Scotts have a propensity to march towards the sound of gunfire and I was so. pissed at the terrorists for attacking new. York and so determined that they shouldn't in any way. Derail my plan that. In fact almost immediately after the nine attacks I I set Nyu, look I'm open to an offer if you're interested in they more or less faxed one back the next day, so I resigned from Oxford and moved to. nyu shortly after nine eleven and spent two years in New, York everybody should live in New York for at least a couple of years. And then moved to Harvard. So that was the sort of beginning of an American journey. that that was it's election captivating. We went as you recall very quickly from the terrorist attacks to the Iraq war and debates about American Empire which dominated the administration of George. W Bush now I just written a book about the British Empire, so it was natural to start thinking about those contemporary American issues, but as I said in that time I was transatlantic I was very much. The British's story in in the United States sort of. Of a stock figure it was only gradually that I began to realize that my future was in the United States, and that if I was going to live here and work here and not be a transatlantic bird of passage then I should really go from being a green card holder to to becoming a citizen and I did that almost exactly two years ago. I'm an I just want to stress. I'm a legal immigrant so I jumped through the various hoops. You need to jump through held a bunch of visas and then. became a citizen, and it seemed to many of European contemporaries like a crazy thing to do what coming in American under the trump presidency. Are you crazy this time of? Of Disruption and my response was. Will, yeah, part of the reason for for doing that is the recognition that will not signing up for a particular president. You're signing up for the constitution. You're signing up for the ideals that the founders and as I've said often to a on I, think we immigrants have a better appreciation of American freedoms of the first principles of the republic. Better than native born Americans because we've seen some of the alternatives night for a on the alternatives were a great deal worse If you're a girl growing up in Somalia, there aren't really too many freedoms whatsoever. I grew up in in Scotland I grew up in the. in the United Kingdom, and in many ways you could say the United States is a sort of outgrowth of the British Empire, so there's a less obvious contrast, the steelers, a contrast and I'd been aware of it since I was a kid. computer systems in cars, the new normal from electronically controlled transmissions to touch screen displays dozens of sensors, but you can't fix any of these new features yourself so when something breaks, it could cost a fortune. That's why you should have. Carshield carshield has affordable protection plans that can save you thousands for a covered repair including computers GPS electronics in more, no long term, contracts or commitments, carshield gives you. 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Is a great questions. Dave a first does a little bit of romance to the United States that you mustn't lose sight of if you're growing up in Glasgow where it rains all the time. At the romance of the the Western the Romance of American Music, the Romance of American literature these are powerful, attractive forces and so. It, classic of the Nineteen Seventies, you've got a picture. spotty teenager. Neil reading Jack KEROUAC watching Clint Eastwood's and and listening to a lot of America. Music I became a jazz enthusiast as a as a teenager. You could see my double bass in the background there, and that's American music paraxylene, so I think there's a romance piece to this that one shouldn't underestimate, but there's an intellectual piece, too. I was steeped in the in the volumes of the Scottish enlightenment as a as a boy. The ideals of Adam Smith very individualistic culture of eighteenth century. Glasgow and Edinburgh, but those values had really declined in their significance in Scotland Socialism had. Caught, fire and Scotland in the early twentieth century. I had a great uncle who was a communist, many other people around us were die hard Labor supporters, a news enlightenment ideals of individual responsibility of the free market. They had already faded to the point that the Scots hated Margaret Thatcher for espousing those principles. Now what's attractive to a number? Green? Light me about the United States is that in some places not everywhere, but in some places you can still find those enlightenment values. And they're being lived there their practice that that's a very attractive feature. I think it's also true that would scotsman comes to England. He's constantly conscious is being Scottish. The English obsessed with class. The Way Americans are obsessed with race. Everything is about class in England. And the question is all was well. Which school did you go to really? And can you just do something about that funny accents? Of Yours? So I never really felt holy. Roman. England though I lived for many years there oxidant Cambridge and and felt much more home. As soon as I arrived in the United States that the English. Believe in effortless superiority. They think you should sort of be bone. superior Americans believe in work, and they don't begrudge success, and so if you're a kind of ambitious hardworking Scotsman, this is a more natural habitat for you. The England, so for all those reasons, it didn't take long to feel a home in the United States perhaps more home than ever Felton in an England this quite a lot of Scottish in the kind of the foundations of this country, and when Alexander Hamilton suddenly became a household name. Thanks to Lin. Manuel Miranda's musical. That was that was nice because he'd been Kinda hero long before he became famous again in our family. My Mother's name is Hamilton. The Scott Love to say they invented the modern world, and so naturally that. That includes inventing the United States, or at least it's. It's fiscal system. So for the whole bunch of reasons. This country was always powerfully attractive to me. I hitchhiked across America, before I went up to university at age seventeen I actually reenacted jet Karak's on the road with considerable fidelity to the original, so yeah, the American dream has come in many forms for me, and and that's I think ultimately y. becoming a citizen was exciting the whole process was exciting, even although it had its. It's surreal side to it. Did you notice a difference on the academic side. When you were with intellectuals, a European intellectuals would perhaps talk about something versus the way Americans, date, or maybe a different focus or anything like that. Well I think there's a disappointment which I need to admit to. came. To the United States believing that American universities where the places where. The biggest insulates had the biggest arguments and that was part of the appeal of Harvard I. I. Admit the was the sense that Oxford and Cambridge had been the great universities of of the nineteenth and twentieth century, but now in the twenty first century really wanted to be a Harvard and I i. think over time it was a slow process. I became disillusioned with the American Academy. And I found that it was becoming less and less hospitable to the kind of rambunctious. Free inquiry that motivates me. A now I've reached the point where I look back nostalgically on the Oxford of the nineteen eighties, where there was simply no question of of your free speech, being circumscribes on the country in the nineteen eighties. We kinda find ourselves constantly pushing the boundaries of what could be said as undergraduates we find. Our professors were intellectually. An extraordinarily diverse punch there were the die hard marxists, the kind of Eric Hobsbawm types, and then there were the high Tories the Jeremy Cancers. And? It was tremendously enriching experience academic life in the United States especially in the last I'll say five years as Jonathan hate and others of of noted, has really really been damaged by a culture of what used to be called political correctness, but I. Don't think that quite captures is of fundamental intolerance. Of a deep ill liberalism, a deep Stasi to free debate and free inquiry that is is killing the great institutions of American academia, so yeah I mean. I I'm as proud as could be of being an American, but I'm I'm at the same time depressed a by some of the trends that I see in the country today because they seem so at odds with the first principles of of American Life. 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Is it weird for you to see this spread across the world at the same time because last year when I was at Oxford, and I got to speak at Oxford Union which I still it sort of feels like a dream that I even got to speak there, but just being there and being around the hundreds of years of history and walking around, and you feel this this thing that. That that you guys have that. We have much less of obviously because of the breadth of history, you feel this this generation after generation of caring about knowledge and history, and all of these things, and even just in the last couple of days I've seen these articles that Oxford there are professors pushing to have more lenient grades for students of color, and just the rest of the sort of. What I would call intellectual rot that we've seen across these these schools It must be particularly painful for you to see. It happened at a place like Oxford. I. Think so although I sometimes get the sense that that it's not that deep the rotten in Oxford for example I was very pleased that the vice chancellor Lewis, Richardson and other leaders of the university dismissed again the coals to tear down a statue of Cecil. Rhodes, that that stands. In Oriel College. Cambridge I think has been rather more inclined to appease These forces of ICONOCLASM IT IS ICONOCLASM. the tearing down of statues and I I know that I'm a conservative when I see statues being torn down, and the little part of me winces doesn't really much master who the statue is I prefer stretches to be built. And and I would as has held the line there thus far, but as is always the case. There are elements within any academic society that. Let's see opportunities in the ideologies of of work nervous see ways in which they can advance their own careers by championing these outlandish in an illiberal ideas, the great danger is the it becomes a norm that university should be intellectually homogeneous that that we should pursue every kind of diversity except intellectual and ideological diversity and and I worry that eventually what what has been happening at American universities will overcome the healthier forces in Oxford and Cambridge. That's not to say that could. We couldn't do more these universities. to make them attractive to appealing to. People from minority communities, and from the white working class, which is notably underrepresented at these places, but the mistake that's always made in these debates is to think that the problem lies with universities rather than with the systems of education that simply discourage students or make them unable to apply to elite institutions I've always said I believe passionately in educational opportunity and the social mobility that it creates. My parents were the first in their families to go to university and. See in the united. States and the UK are failing schools that don't allow talented young people whether they're from minority communities all from the working class to get anywhere close to apply to universities. That's what we need to fix. And there are lots of ways of doing it, but one doesn't hear those discussed. So I know we could spend eight hours dissecting woke me and the rest of it, but I wanNA shift from it a little bit but I just have one other question on the woke thing since we've treaded into those waters. As as a conservative academic, you were obviously. We talked about a little bit about this last time. On the outside of what most sort of academic circles, sort of think is acceptable, even even historical. In History Department Do you think that conservatives have a better? Against, WHOA kness then liberals so for example John Hate who I've had on the show and and many of the other academics that you know that that I've talked to that come from the liberal side. I sense that they although they're making good arguments I don't think they have good defenses against this because of the sort of openness of liberalism that it's being used against itself, and I do sense that conservatism as a worldview. Or as a philosophical lens does have some protections that liberalism doesn't. Do you agree with that. Well. It's true that that we wouldn't be in this situation if it hadn't been for Liberal Professors Giving jobs to progressive professes who then gave jobs to Marxists and Cultural Marxists I mean conservative academic conservative professors. These are becoming oxymorons because there are so few. Conservatives left in the American Academy I mean that the figures are clear. It's not like this is an old problem that we've always had overtime. The ratio of registered Democrats to Republicans has risen steadily to the point that you can't calculated in some departments because there are zero Republicans and I think that that trend broad lease explicable because liberals felt that they should hire. People to the left of them, underestimating the extent to which those people woods at fundamentally differ on the principles of. Say the project of historical scholarship. It is not the goal of our history department to impose on the past the ideals of of the Progressives of twenty twenty. That's the ultimate condescension of the past. Conservatives have understood Besser I think the dangers and the tragedy has been that conservatives have been poorly organized I mean extinction of conservatives in. Say. History departments isn't just the fault of Liberals Hiring Progressives. It's also the the Conservatives did poorly. One came to the most basic organization that has to happen in academia. The patronage networks like getting your students into good positions. I don't think conservatives were very good at that. My conservative mentors were wonderful. Intellectuals be polite, Norman Stone but Norman would not be remembered I think the his his organizational skills for his writing certainly but definitely not for his his deafness academic. So it's partly I think because concerns relative busy writing books, perhaps occasionally drinking bottles of wine, and not working hard enough that the committee stages to make sure that the right candidates got hired. It's interesting and I. Think it's this that right? There almost explains everything happening in the world right now that we let all these kids out after watching academia sorta crumble, and and here we are, but but shifting from that from from a historian's perspective. What do you think that the average American? Should know about the history of America that we don't know or that. We under appreciate because we seem to live in a time where we're. We're erasing our own history and we're taking down monuments and we're you know destroying. The names of people were flawed, but that were just people in their time. What I think the the challenge here is a the history is not It's not monochrome out the history of any great society or State. Can't be told as a eulogy, nor nor as a kind of criminal indictments and the good historian. Of the United, states offer that Massa of the United Kingdom acknowledges that there are debits as well as credits that there's there's shadow those doc sides to the story as well as bright sides, and this is a challenge that I didn't think was difficult. When I was writing early in my career, I wrote history of the British Empire which included a chapter on the American Revolution, and the the book sets out very plainly, the the many stains on the history of the British empire, including of course, the the central role of slavery in the in the southern. Colonies that became the southern states of the United States. But the points of that book I'd make the same argument about the history of the United States. Is that the benefits? I weighed the costs that the successes were more important ultimately than the failures. The project that the New York Times was given Pulitzer four this year of recasting the history of the United States. In terms of slavery as the primary narrative, the sixty nine nine project seems to me just to be fundamentally historically wrong. It's a distortion. This isn't to say that slavery. Didn't matter doesn't mean it's not important. It's just that if you were to try to explain the significance of the United States to visiting Martian. You wouldn't start with slavery because that wasn't really an especially unique feature of the United States that was slavery lasted much longer in Brazil There were slavery and it was far harsher in the Caribbean. Colonies of Britain and other European states, so what's the defining characteristic? What's the thing that makes the United? States distinctive. It's not slavery. Anymore than if you looked at Western civilization broadly. It would be true to say that imperialism's the defining characteristic everybody did empire. Just a slavery goes way back before Sixteen nineteen always ancient times, and by the way still exists, there is still slavery. There are slave markets. Where people are sold, there are slave economies which rely on slave labor today, so can't really be true to say that the interesting thing the thing really need to know about the united. States is slavery, but the interesting thing about the united. States is that it represented an experiment in governance. A radical experiment based on ideas from the enlightenment and earlier ideas from the processing reformation. It's fair to say and and this produce an extraordinary constitution which has stood up to all the stresses and strains. Of, of history since the late eighteenth century and understanding that peculiar constitution that very distinctive document with its separation of powers, and it's careful. Preservations of individually bats should be your top priority if you're studying American history, not to the exclusion of the bad stuff. Plenty of bad stuff that we need to study, but I don't think we should be teaching young. Americans from Howard Zinn People's history of the United States, in which the negatives a constantly emphasized over the positives that just seems to miss the points of the American story completely. Are, you worried that the extraordinary pressure that we're facing right now between pandemic between riots and protests between. Polarization that really is off the charts and then throw in social media, which is just gas on the flame. Are you worried that those pressures could? That project in a way that it hasn't been snapped before. Or certainly in the last hundred years, let's say. They, let me give you a somewhat surprising answer that question I'd be worried if we weren't worried. One of the things about this country that's very distinctive is the were always worried that the republic's going to end We're always Kinda friesinger by. The coming tyranny the impending civil war, and thus far there's been one civil war and no dictatorships. And, that's kind of encouraging. I think that's partly because we worry about this and I think it's a healthy feature of American life, also to expect decline people to be predicting the decline of the United States throughout my life. It was a preoccupation of Henry Singer whose biography I'm in the midst of of racing in the nineteen seventies. It seems as if the United States was being torn apart by Vietnam torn apart by its. Racial divisions torn apart by a president who had violated his his oath of office. All of that out. We've seen before and I. I think it's part of the way the United States works. That were always expecting the disintegration of the Republican, the descent into civil war and I I think we'll have to start be nervous if we stop worrying about that stuff, but as low as we have mild old friend Andrew Sullivan so frightful about the coming trump tyranny that he doesn't quite spot the tyranny of the left until it's right up behind him. I mean that that's kind of the predicament that I think in lots of. Liberals and conservatives find themselves in that they were so indignant dismayed by trump back in two thousand sixteen that they slightly underestimated the the robber, more operationally, worrying a tyrannical tendencies of the radical left. So. Yeah, I, think we. We should keep worrying about the stuff as low as we're worrying about. It will probably be okay. Yeah. Does it also strike you as? As odd or maybe obvious relative to social media that when something happens here that it suddenly happens everywhere I mean we've all seen the videos. Now of of literally police officers in London being hunted down by mobs that has nothing to do in any concrete sense with what happened to George Floyd, and yet it seems like if there's an incident here, it's now exported everywhere. I think future historians will will wonder why it was that in the midst of a pandemic, which is far from over, Americans decided to have a debate about a police violence towards African Americans, not not to say that that's not an important issue to think about it, but it seems an odd time to have that debate into stock debates about defunding the police when we should really be wondering what went wrong with the Department of Health and Human Services and CDC when they ought to have taken far better and earlier action to. Contain the contagion, there's something strange. It's a non sequitur that in the midst of this massive public health crisis which has killed nearly under twenty thousand Americans, and will probably kill another Andre Twenty thousand before the end of the year. We're having this this debate, but the second point I'd make is that at the Internet has created a new kind of contagion as I said earlier quasi my son, there are two pandemics and the second pandemic in fact predates the merger of of George Floyd because it's a pandemic of protest that you could actually see in Hong Kong in Santiago in Barcelona in cities like Beirut last year. And what is interesting to me is that the mode of protest is consistently the same? The content varies from place to place, but this quality of protests to go viral styles of protests to be copied from Hong Kong. To Minneapolis is really interesting. Historically, the police, a better communications than demonstrations for most of the second half of the Twentieth Century that the police had walkie talkies in the demonstrators were lucky if they had megaphones, but the smartphone is changed that and it's allowed protesters to to really organize these settlers networks with there is no obvious leader, and actually have superior comes to the police, so I think it's interesting about the great eruption of protest that we've seen. In the last month in the United, states. I. Is that actually it's in terms of its form quite a close copy of the Hong Kong protests of last year. It's just that the contents difference and I think you can keep these sorts of protests waves going as long as people of viral video as well as sort of tips and organizing a protest that they can simply download and apply to their in context that I think is the really interesting feature. It's not the the content of the protests that the same as in previous waves of revolution here it's just the form of protests. That's the same. The content varies from place to place. Yeah. It's interesting, so you're saying you're not worried because we worry and then on the other hand there is this other pathogen or virus, or whatever you WANNA call it. That really does make this something that we've just never dealt with before. I think we've dealt with the revolution recode before it's just the revolutionary cried didn't have smartphones before I was fascinated by the way in which the Hong Kong protesters outsmarted the police there last year partly by constantly changing the form of the protests partly by not having leaders that you could just round up partly by shifting away from violence when violence was eighteen local people and I think we saw something of that happen because in June there was a period early on when the protests quite violence and was looting, and that actually was quite unhelpful to the protesters calls. And then you saw a shift in the style of protest in many in many places, so this shape shifting quality of. Of of the of the crowd with smartphones is an interesting thing to observe. I don't think it's necessarily a disastrous phenomenom. Because in some contexts, these protests achieve successful outcomes crowds on always bad the the even occasions when you can justify pulling down a statue, think New York Seventeen, seventy six, but my my sense is that on the specific issue that is being addressed in the United States today, which has to do with changing the way the police operate. There's a big disconnect between what is said by protesters and and indeed by black lives matter and what we know from from good social signs, the real the real problem is, and I do think it's difficult for crowd. To, read Social Science and arrive at actionable policy recommendations that that tends not tap. Is that the biggest danger that we have going right now that there's a certain set of people that it doesn't matter what the social science says. It doesn't matter what the facts say that their ideology overrides all of that, so this sort of goes back to what I was saying about our liberal academic friends. It's like you guys can make sound arguments all day long. That's that's Great I. Love it I'll do it all day with you, but that doesn't actually address the problem because there's something else going on here. That can't be rationalized out of. Rights I think you know the case of Ronin far illustrates many of predicaments that we find ourselves in today Rowlands who who wrote some pioneering papers as a Harvard. Economist, in two, thousand, sixteen, published an extraordinary important study showing that. While the police did disproportionately shove potion otherwise manhandle African Americans compared with white suspects. They did not disproportionately shoot. A African Americans. And that finding that was an extremely important one. Since the core of black lives, matter was claim that the police disproportionately use lethal violence against people and it's. Not to be true, but what came of Ronin after that publication? He knew that would be blow back in there was but what actually happened was not at all what he or I or his friends had expected, what happened was that he was accused of sexual harassment S- by a former employee white incidentally, and then found himself sucked into a title nine. Investigation at Harvard which I think was actually a grave miscarriage of justice and it's hard to avoid. The suspicion that if Romans research had arrived and more politically correct conclusions that were more compatible with progressive narratives. Perhaps that might not have happened. I certainly think there's something to be ask some hard questions to be asked about why an African American professor who started life in the wrong side of the tracks in Texas whose first hand experience has had first-hand experience of the police brutality why he should have ended up being treated in this way by mostly white progressive administrators at at the country's most. Well known an eminent university. It's something that's been on my mind for. Some time now since the case against him was brault, an I sense that ultimately we won't really be able to arrive at a serious discussion of these issues data based and also based on personal experience as long as Roldan's been canceled in the name of me, too. So in a weird way. Do you need the institutions to crumble? So that something better can happen like it seems like we're sort of just in a slow crumble phase right now. There's you know there doesn't seem to be any great institution whether it's Harvard or the New York Times or a series of other things that we sort of all looked to as the guardians of the republic. They're all sort of crumbling. Do you think they have to crumble to to reset or do you think they can actually? Just Ri put together. Just put together the pieces again. Well I think one of the lessons of American history. Is that at its best the United States creates new institutions rather than just gives the old ones makeovers. I think one of the sad features of our time is that? The great plutocrats of our gilded age, if not created new universities as their predecessors did in the late nineteenth century but simply given money to the existing institutions in particular to institutions that already have tons of money and my recommendation to T- today's. Rubber Barons, or if you WANNA put politely. Titans of Silicon Valley and Wall Street is Just remember the examples of the Carnegie's and some innovation here build some new institutions. You don't like what's happening. Harvard or Yale or Stanford. There's nothing to stop you creating a new institution because that's the American way. What talk feel nurses, the Great French? Political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville. When he came to the United States before writing his great book democracy in America was that Americans then did not expect the government to solve their problems at they they they did it through association life, and for me the most striking feature of this American story is this readiness for people at the local level to deal with problems locally. To Build civic institutions locally and not to expect the federal government, or for that Matter Harbor The New York Times to to come up with solutions so I desperately feel a need for new institutions are not only at the level of colleges I think we need new schools There's been some innovation that direction in the charter school movement, but it still radio drop in the bucket of what needs to happen to improve American secondary education, which is the real weakness that this this country's is burdened with so I think we just need to remind ourselves that in its. Its, original design, the United States was supposed to be a decentralized with be small government see vibrant association, life and religious life, and crucially a set of constant formation of new institutions that that was what you did. If you'd been successful if you had the American capitalist dream giving back involved more than just a new building at Harvard with your name on giving back, meant a new university something that hadn't existed before. That's what we seem to have lost I'm really struck by that lack of new institutions as one of the pathologies one of the signs of our recent degeneration. So. You don't think that the Harvard endowment is worth. What forty billion dollars you don't. You don't think they need a couple more bucks. Well. Bobby for me to advise America's philanthropists where they put their money, but if they applied the kind of. Due Diligence standards that they apply when they're making investments to their philanthropy, then I think they might, they might at least think twice because the return of an investment that you get from donating to ready established institution just called be that high. I mean what real marginal impact does a does. A million dollars make to Harvard whereas if you if you. You were to use the money to create something new. The return on investment would eventually be far higher so I. I think there's a need for for new institutions I think it would help revitalize just as we should have new statues if you don't like the old ones. Why don't build some new statues rather than wasting your energies on on vandalism? One of my favorites, sculptors sandy start who's a great opponents of clouds and built to wonderful trade, two statues in Edinburgh the Scottish capital one is. Of David Human the other of Adam Smith, that beautiful statues they stand in the Royal Mile, tourists assume they've been there for at least one hundred years. Barely ten years old and I think Sandy stoddart could be well employed in the United States creating some beautiful new statues to river. It is that we think should be the heroes of our time that would be a far better employments of public energy than than the kind of vandalism that we see these days. So since this is our July fourth week show and I've got a noted historian on Gimme Gimme a little American history that may be the average person watching this. Give me something an anecdote, a story a moment that that the average person watching this maybe doesn't know that much about that they should know. Is there something that sticks out to you as? More people should know about that story that moment. Well I suspect. An crowded field I b bone to to choose. One of those episodes that really paved the way. For the United States to become. Not just a hugely successful republic more successful than any previous republic. But a great power even a superpower. An the temptation for republics historically has always been at a certain point for the the temptations PA to steer the Republic to tyranny. Very nearly happens during Harry Truman's presidency at the time of the Korean War. When a horrific figure? Douglas mccarthur a quarrelled with Truman about the direction of the Korean War, Macarthur actually was in favor of dropping atomic bombs on China. To end the war and It came to a clash that to another republic at might have been fatal think of the face of the Roman Republic, which ultimately became an empire as at the mighty figure of of Augustus at ultimately at suck the life out of the institutions of the republic. But I think the the showdown that happened then between Truman and Macarthur. Truman's successful assertion of the primacy of the civilian authority is hugely important moments in American, history, Truman was a great presidents in a whole range of of ways. He is best known for the famous line the buck stops. But it stopped there in in a very important way when Truman asserted the primacy of the presidency against charismatic. Military figure who. When he returned to the United States at a ticker tape parade in New York you watch the scenes of Macarthur's return at that time of crisis? When it seemed, he might make presidential bid himself. You realize that the United States was teetering on the brink of a Roman. Outcome, but pulled Mac and I I want to emphasize episode, which isn't well known because you should always keep in mind. The history of what hasn't happened. What didn't happen even if it nearly did you have to keep alive in your mind all the Times that this republic mites of have fallen from the the path of democracy and the rule of law and undermined yourself when you're feeding down, some people occasionally do feel done contemplating our politics. That American democracy has never been a fairy story when Charles Dickens came to the United States in the nineteenth century, he was polled. By the viciousness of American Politics Bites banality by the rule of money by the corrupt press we shouldn't tell ourselves. There's some golden age in the past that we've some high lapsed from I. think that's very common. Failing that Americans have there was telling themselves. That was so much better than those good old days. Pick a decade the fifties the eighties, but I don't think that's the right way to think about American history, I think it's better to realize that the Republican experiment, the experiment with this particular constitution was always going to be fraught with peril that the founding fathers knew that somebody like Donald. Donald Trump would become president at some point. That was why they designed the Constitution the way they did Alexander. Hamilton's Berry explicit about that in the federalist papers and elsewhere so I. Think if as an immigrant my advice. Americans is don't have this fantasy America that you keep feet failing to live up to that. You feel you've somehow missed because it never existed. There's never been that fantasy America. There's always been in America teetering on the brink with the separation of powers, threatening at times to collapse, and as I've said with the temptations of empire, periodically coming along and stay to the republic. Come home. Be Rome. Thus, far, we've always rightly said No. You're hopeful my friend. Oh. Yeah, that's your parents are. That's why we come here over for all that Americans love to hate themselves. This is still the number one destination for people who say they would like to leave the country of their birth, and it seems unlikely to me that that would be the case if this really was the Specif- of racism that it's so often described by a described as by Progressives Right I love the the open borders crowd. We'll also tell you that we're an evil racist. Patriarchal Society and yet everyone apparently should come here to share in the harder. IT IS A. It is a paradox. One thing that covid nineteen as done. has been to remind everybody that borders matter, and the health and safety of citizens in fact, depend on secure borders where people coming even own nears, visitors can be. Monitored not that I think is one of important, sir, an unexpected consequences of the pandemic that that isn't widely recognized ultimately at president trump's arguments back in two thousand sixteen included the following the orders really mattered, and shouldn't be porous and that China was a problem and a threat to our national security. Covered by Tina's illustrated both those points pretty well. And here we are dare I ask historian to make some political predictions. I, the only point of studying history is to understand the president and plausible futures besser. Sorry! GonNa, punt that one I mean. What do you think's GonNa Happen over? If you had to just sort of generally paint the next couple months Where do you think we're at? I think what's going to happen is what happened in twenty sixteen at opinion, polls an approval ratings will consistently predict a Democratic victory and the media and the people who work on on American politics will replicate the mistakes that they made in two thousand sixteen by looking at them closely at at polls. And prediction markets, and and then they will get a very very big surprise because I sense from revealed preferences as opposed to stated preferences that the country is far from convinced that it should down the road of open borders or defunding the police, or a green new deal and more they hear of those radical ideas from Democrats. The more upheaval, they see in the streets of American cities. The more they quietly make mental notes two votes two votes Republican on November the third. Of course I could find myself very badly wrong. Anybody who makes a prediction about American. Election in the summer is is running the risk of of engaging kind of astrology, but let me give you a data point. Dave It's very interesting. I've heard it from many different quarters. Many people have bought firearms. In Twenty, twenty in the luxury, looking at one of them a non. You're looking at one of them to Dave. Isn't a a month of March alone the monthly background checks. Were, double a. what happened on average in nineteen now I'm going to call the revealed preference. I'm going to suggest. Months of May and June May. Also see a elevated purchases. One of the most sure a predictors over Republican votes in two thousand sixteen was if a household possessed a firearm. Households without farms overwhelmingly voted Democrat houses with arms overwhelmingly voted Republican. I'm just saying that there are sources of data other than opinion polls that it would be prudent to look at at a time when people have all kinds of incentives, not to be quite straight with pollsters revealed preferences of the things. To look at. My sense is that the mood of the country is not being well understood by the New York. Times or The Washington. Post or CNN the moment I. Don't think it's been well understood a toll, my nightmare, though to to take another stab at prediction is we end up with a result like a two thousand? We end up with a tie. I worry that that Joe Biden's. Candidate, DONALD TRUMP is in a recession having not handled covid nineteen brilliantly. They're both week and in that scenario. You could imagine a two thousand like result, but with multiple states having their results contested because of controversies around. A postal votes in and that would be the nightmare scenario for the United States because it would not be resolved as quickly as it was at, nor would the result be accepted by the losing side as quickly as it was in two thousand so when I look into the crystal ball. I, do find myself hoping for a decisive results because the time that sort I think we'd plunges into weeks, possibly months of strife, and it would be the perfect opportunity for America's enemies to make any move that they might have been considering. All right. We can't end on this because you've actually been quite. Throughout and a firm belief in America, so you gotTA. Bring me home on. something. Positive Gimme Gimme something here to bring it all together. Well I, think as I said, worrying about this stuff is probably the best way to prepare for it and divert a disaster there still time actually to make sure that we don't have multiple contested results from states. As we speak not yet July fourth up in the same way looking back that we can learn from what went wrong. In this country in January and February remember the being questioned for twenty twenty is not did president trump get covid nineteen wrong? The real question is wide. The Department of Health and Human Services, which has an assistant secretary for preparedness. Get it wrong. Why did What we sometimes called the deep state fail so disastrously to get this right despite on paper, having multiple plans for pandemic preparedness and biodefense so I think we have the chance now to start learning from mistakes that were made back in January when we could have averted. This, great economic disaster, we just by learning from the Taiwanese in the south, Koreans did. We still think have the ability I think we've lost our minds that we've lost the ability to learn from all mistakes governance, and we should learn from what went wrong in that pandemic, just as we should learn from what went wrong at in some recent elections I mean. Think of some of the primary results that descended into farce. We've gotTa make sure by worrying about this issue that we don't have a an Iowa caucus writ large on November, the third you can imagine you understand the incident as well as any public intellectual Dave. You can imagine the chaos of conspiracy theories. We could be confronting on November the fourth if there is uncertainty, so let's do what. What Americans have long been famous for. Here's a problem. Let's fix it with the candy spirit. That's what Europeans used to say. Distinguished Americans from everybody else. Let's fix the problems that have revealed themselves in our pandemic preparedness and in our electoral system. We've just got time to do it and it will be. I think the product expression of the American way if we fix it just in time.