Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Old Keynes Controversy Rises Again

Evidently Niall Ferguson committed felony definition.

Gertrude Himmelfarb was right about that.

....something of the “soul” of Bloomsbury penetrated even into Keynes’s economic theories. There is a discernible affinity between the Bloomsbury ethos, which put a premium on immediate and present satisfactions, and Keynesian economics, which is based entirely on the short run and precludes any long-term judgments. (Keynes’s famous remark. “In the long run we are all dead,” also has an obvious connection with his homosexuality — what Schumpeter delicately referred to as his “childless vision.”) The same ethos is reflected in the Keynesian doctrine that consumption rather than saving is the source of economic growth — indeed, that thrift is economically and socially harmful. In The Economic Consequences of the Peace, written long before The General Theory, Keynes ridiculed the “virtue” of saving. The capitalists, he said, deluded the working classes into thinking that their interests were best served by saving rather than consuming. This delusion was part of the age-old Puritan fallacy....

It's not difficult to argue that the Consumption Ethos flogged by the advertising industry has its basis in Keynesian theory, although I'd prefer to finger Rousseau as the immediate culprit.




Terrence Berres said...

Assuming, arguendo, such a connection between childlessness and short-term thinking exists, wouldn't it potentially affect a celibate clergy?

Anonymous said...

I like having anal sex with left wing bloggers.

I give them my gift of reduced immune capacity.

Dad29 said...

No, Terry.

That's why I mentioned Rousseau.

The Catholic worldview is very different from that of Rousseau and the Bloomsbury (English Progressive) movement.

Same with 'no-fault' childless couples...

Terrence Berres said...

The Ferguson and Himmelfarb statements appear to attribute an error in Keynes' thinking to his personal characteristics, rather than demonstrating that he was in error. Ferguson's retraction conceded the irrelevancy of Keynes homosexuality in this context, as well as recalling that Keynes did marry and his wife's subsequent pregnancy ended in miscarriage.

Internet research, FWIW, indicates Keynes more fully said in 'A Tract on Monetary Reform' (1924) "Now 'in the long run' this [assumption that a doubling of the money supply doubles the price level] is probably true... But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean is flat again..." He is not saying the long run doesn't matter, but that believing that things will ultimately return to normal does not, in itself, show there is no point in taking actions to achieve short or medium term benefits.

Even assuming a Catholic worldview that our clergy generally and consistently hold, you haven't shown how that would immunize them from a tendency for childlessness to lead to shorter-term thinking, if it exists.

Dad29 said...

But 'a tendency for childlessness' is not what is stipulated.

It is the deliberate child-lessness of either homo- or contracepted sex which leads to short-term thinking.

Viz: the US, post WWI, or (more clearly), post 1960.

Jim said...

Is not the childlessness of priests not deliberate?

Dad29 said...

Terry, see also:

Jim, being childish doesn't buy a ticket to this discussion.

Terrence Berres said...

I saw the NRO post by Mr. Steyn before I posted my previous comment. His P.S. links to his web site, and the Australian reader's comment there was the source of the extended quote from Keynes in my previous comment. If Keynes advocated counter-cyclical government spending and saving, that might be subject to criticisms, but it's not short-term thinking or anti-thrift.

If you're going to cite Mark Steyn, I don't see why you'd fault Jim for being snarky on the other side of the issue (if that was his intent). He does, as I understand him, point out that the issue is not the effect of deliberate childlessness, as such. Your meaning, I assume, is that the issue is the motivation for childlessness. Since Keynes, biographically, appears to have made an effort to have children, I'm also not seeing what this has to do with him.