Summary: A sad aspect of our age is the willful blindness we impose on ourselves. It’s not just the blindness to our world so often described on this website, but also blindness to our past. To avoid learning from our sages we mutilate their message — then laugh at the debased result. Perhaps the clearest case of that is Keynes, one of the greatest economists of the past century — now mocked by people in the grip of indoctrinated ignorance. Here we look at one of his many brilliant insights, one that applies as well today as it did in his time.
Excerpt from “National Self-Sufficiency“
By John Maynard Keynes
The Yale Review, June 1933
There is one more explanation, I think, of the re-orientation of our minds. The 19th century carried to extravagant lengths the criterion of what one can call for short “the financial results,” as a test of the advisability of any course of action sponsored by private or by collective action. The whole conduct of life was made into a sort of parody of an accountant’s nightmare.
Instead of using their vastly increased material and technical resources to build a wonder city, the men of the 19th century built slums; and they thought it right and advisable to build slums because slums, on the test of private enterprise, “paid,” whereas the wonder city would, they thought, have been an act of foolish extravagance, which would, in the imbecile idiom of the financial fashion, have “mortgaged the future” — though how the construction to-day of great and glorious works can impoverish the future, no man can see until his mind is beset by false analogies from an irrelevant accountancy.