Keynes's Vision: A New Political Economy

Keynes's Vision: A New Political Economy

Keynes's Vision: A New Political Economy

Keynes's Vision: A New Political Economy


In this readable yet scholarly reevaluation of the thought of John Maynard Keynes, Fitzgibbons traces the great economist's vision as it developed from his early philosophical writings (including many unpublished or neglected works) through the Collected Writings. Focusing on how Keynes understood significant political and economic matters, Fitzgibbons charts the evolution of his system of political economy, provides fresh insights into his approach to economic policy, and challenges the view of Keynes as a political liberal.


By Keynes's 'vision', I refer to what can be drawn from his Collected Writings and early writings, the vision of the public man. Many writers say that Keynes often did not mean what he said; others argue that he did indeed mean what he said, and that the depth of his ideas has simply not been recognized. I sympathize with the latter school, but I do not enter into the issue. I simply take what has been said on its own merits, on the ground that it is in the public domain. For this reason, and because my interpretation of Keynes is often at odds with the orthodoxy, I have stuck closely to the texts at points, though Keynes's early philosophy was often cast in formularistic terms, and the ideas in it might have been conveyed in a more simple and direct manner.

Initially, I meant to show that there is an idealistic strain in Keynes that has been unrecognized, but has had a large influence upon his economics. As this book progressed, it became possible to be more definitive; Keynes's economics and politics revolve around a specific ideal to which they are attached by a particular logical method.

In the previous five years there has been some important and fundamental scholarship concerning the meaning of Keynes, including Robert Skidelsky's analysis of his early philosophy and various studies, often associated with Cambridge University, concerning Keynes's theory of probability. I show that these and other interpretations of Keynes fall into a pattern if they are reinterpreted to allow for his idealism. When this is done, a well defined picture emerges which accounts for many otherwise puzzling aspects of both his economics and his politics. This is Keynes's philosophy of practical action, a well defined and logical organ of thought, unrecognized, new to the world so far as I know and ranging from a metaphysical idea down to immediate rules of decision.

When this picture first became apparent, I decided to lay aside my own less interesting ideas about whether Keynes was right and restrict myself to the role of a translator. It soon transpired that, taken past a point, this agnostic approach led to a

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