Chapter 2: Ethics: The Sources of Keynes’s Vision
2. Ethics: the sources of Keynes’s vision We repudiated entirely customary morals, conventions and traditional wisdom. We were, that is to say, in the strict sense of the term, immoralists. The consequences of being found out had, of course, to be considered for what they were worth. But we recognised no moral obligation on us, no inner sanction, to conform or to obey. Before heaven we claimed to be our own judge in our own case . . . Yet so far as I am concerned, it is too late to change. I remain, and always will remain, an immoralist. ‘My Early Beliefs’ (1938-12, pp. 446–7) Birth control and the use of contraceptives, marriage laws, the treatment of sexual offences and abnormalities, the economic position of women, the economic position of the family – in all these matters the existing state of the law and of orthodoxy is still medieval – altogether out of touch with civilised opinion and civilised practice and with what individuals, educated and uneducated alike, say to one another in private. ‘Am I a Liberal?’ (1925-17, p. 302) Victoria acceded to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland in 1837, at the age of 18, and became Empress of India in 1871. She would reign until 1901.1 Her diamond jubilee, in 1897, symbolized the triumph of Victorian England. Her reign accompanied the victory of laissezfaire within British borders. The 1846 abolition of laws hampering wheat importation marked the victory of free trade, which was completed by the repealing, in...
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