soft-spoken monster

Jeffrey Tucker’s blog post on Keynes is worth quoting in full:

Keynes Politely Explains How to Destroy Civilization

From time to time, it is a good idea to remind yourself what it is that Keynes actually believed, and there’s no better place than his final chapter of The General Theory (http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/keynes/general-theory/ch24.htm), in which he presents his view, at once vitriolic and uncomprehending concerning laissez-faire but politely stepping away from recommending full-scale socialism in all things.

His goal is “transmuting human nature,” not managing it — though this claim if ridiculous on its face, since it is presumably impossible to change one element into another, as in attempted alchemy, without managing it.

You will also find here his bonkers view that the state can abolish the interest rate with the stroke of a pen and thereby guarantee full employment. Of course this means the “euthanasia of the rentier” who wickedly exploits such inconvenient facts as the scarcity of capital. Still, nothing short of the “socialisation of investment” is needed finally to bring utopia. A good start, he writes, would be very high taxes on the rich.

Won’t all of this change the incentive structure of society? Sure, he admits, but not enough to make a difference anyone should care about.

I’m sorry, but reading this guy again just gives me the chills. I can easily imagine his dispassionately narrating events in a Gulag, justifying every horror with a pseudo-scientific rationale made up on the spot.

Oh wait: he did do that. As he wrote in the 1936 foreword to the German edition of The General Theory: “Nevertheless the theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state, than is the theory of production and distribution of a given output produced under conditions of free competition and a lance measure of laissez-faire.”

The Hazlitt evisceration should never have been necessary but I’m glad he did it.

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One Response to soft-spoken monster

  1. Great idea, but will this work over the long run?

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