There Are No Poor Economists

Know thy enemy, as the saying goes. Or, similarly, to avoid the kind of criticism that Christopher Hitchens used to readily employ against people ignorant of his vantage (“You give me the awful impression, I hate to have to say it, of someone who hasn’t read any of the arguments against your position ever”), I sometimes read The Telegraph online. And to go even further, sometimes I read about pro-capitalist, liberal icons, just for funsies.

Here’s a short article about a book about John Maynard Keynes: Universal Man. (He’s not a friend of the contemporary Conservatives, it must be pointed out. But then again, who is?)

The piece is all pretty ho-hum—except for this one little snippet, tucked in the middle with such frivolity that, indeed, the nonchalant manner in which it is attempted to be passed off is precisely what makes it so telling (talk about burying the lede):

“Keynes’s liberalism prevented him from fighting but he was re-recruited to the Treasury to try to help Britain pay for the war.”

His liberalism prevented him from fighting in WWI, eh.

Must be nice.

It’s probably one of the most cited criticisms of what we call “civilization”—especially since the Industrial Revolution—that under its necessary drive towards oligarchy, people have no local control; people go to war (or to work) because of decisions made in rooms far removed, and while an ideological game of Risk plays out among the super-elite, everyone else is either fighting to survive or killing other people who are fighting to survive. In a variation on this theme, it’s telling that there are no poor economists.


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