Etienne Mantoux:


A REPLY TO KEYNES

"It was to the coming generation that Mr. Keynes dedicated his book twenty-five years ago. This is an answer which comes from that generation." Shortly after inscribing this conclusion to his manuscript and scarcely a week before the war ended, Etienne Mantoux was killed in action fighting with French forces against Hitler's retreating armies. His father had been present as official interpreter at the most secret sessions of the Big Four in 1919. He himself had traveled widely in Europe and America, done graduate work at the London School of Economics, and been on intimate terms with leading intellectual figures before the war. No one in his generation could claim better qualifications for the task of re-examining Keynes's verdict on the Treaty of Versailles. And for this youthful Frenchman that seemed an urgently necessary task in 1941 when he undertook it. "To examine Mr. Keynes's pronouncements over the last Peace," wrote Mantoux, "is neither to rake up old grievances nor to disinter dead issues; the issue is nothing else than what the coming Peace is to be."

THE Economic Consequences of the Peace appeared in the United States in January 1920. It had a phenomenal sale. "The truth is," said General Smuts many years later, " America wanted a reason for denying Wilson. The world wanted a scapegoat. At that opportune moment Keynes brought out his Economic Consequences of the Peace. There were a few pages about Wilson in it which exactly suited the policies of America and the world's mood. When I encouraged Keynes to write that book, I knew his views about the statesmen at Paris. But I did not expect a personal note in his book. I did not expect him to turn Wilson into a figure of fun. These few pages about Wilson in Keynes's book made an Aunt Sally of the noblest figure--perhaps the only noble figure--in the history of the war, and they led a fashion against Wilson that was adopted by the Intelligentsia of the day and is not yet past-- the Intelligentsia (not the Intellectuals) --the people who, admiring only their own cleverness, despise real goodness, real thought, real wisdom. . . . Every paper I saw," added the General, "quoted the part about Wilson's bamboozlement. Wilson was already going down in America. In their hearts, the Americans wanted him to go down: they wanted to evade the duties he imposed on them. The book was absolutely to their purpose. It helped to finish Wilson, and it strengthened the Americans against the League."

Judging from the use made of Mr. Keynes's book during the debate over the Peace Treaty, it is hard to find fault with General Smuts's comments. The book was seized by the President's opponents as a first-rate weapon in the fight then raging. It was quoted extensively as evidence of the infamous deeds committed at Paris, and in which America would not connive. On 10 February, Senator Borah read long extracts in the

____________________
From Etienne Mantoux, The Carthaginian Peace or the Economic Consequences of Mr. Keynes, pp. 9-11, 186-188. Reprinted by permission.

-76-

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