Critical Essays on the Political Economy of Neo-Liberalism
Edited by Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer
Chapter 7: Keynes as a bourgeois Marxist
George Katiforis 1. INTRODUCTION: THE LIBERAL’S QUESTION ‘Am I a Liberal?’ John Maynard Keynes asked this question back in 1925. He was teasing his audience to place him on the British political spectrum – Conservative, Liberal, Labour – and to ﬁnd it difﬁcult. More seriously, he was trying to deﬁne his position towards what he considered the main questions of his day: peace questions, questions of government, sex questions, drug questions and economic questions. Regarding the last ones, he proclaimed himself in favour of transition ‘to a regime which deliberately aims at controlling and directing economic forces in the interests of social justice and social stability.’ (Keynes, 1972, p. 305) Marxists should have rejoiced at such prospects. The emphasis both on planning and on social responsibility were things which they passionately believed in. There they had Keynes, adhering to their point of view, why not embrace him? They would, of course, insist on the requirement of social ownership of the means of production, to give effective bite to economic planning, but the stated aims of conscious steering of the economy in the interests of social justice and economic stability, why should they not praise him for endorsing those? Yet his contemporary Marxists remained, on the whole, rather cold to Keynes, when they were not actively hostile. For his part, the future author of the General Theory did not spare their feelings much either. He did not refer to Marx, except contemptuously, he preferred to seek ‘the actual alternative to...
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