An Economist's Protest

An Economist's Protest

An Economist's Protest

An Economist's Protest

Excerpt

What should I answer if anyone had the impertinence to ask me, "What did you do in the Great War?" It would be no use to say that immediately on the outbreak I offered my services as a harvester, for the young man who took my name evidently regarded me as far too old (at 53, thirteen long years ago!), and nothing ever came of it. It would be no better to say that I sat for quite a long time on several committees, because everyone did, and nothing ever came of that. The best answer I can think of is "I protested."

Hence the title of this book, which consists of a selection from a considerably larger number of letters and articles, published and unpublished, which I wrote from 1914 to 1926. I have left them almost exactly in chronological order instead of re-arranging them under subject headings, because I think that they have running through them only two main lines of protest, the one against what may be called economic nationalism or nationalist economics, and the other against expedients which ought to be rejected whether the economic ideal aimed at is nationalist or cosmopolitan. And these two are so intertwined that it is undesirable to try to keep them apart. Even the choice and management of a national currency is inextricably mixed up with international relations.

I had long been a protestant against the current identification of "the country" or "the nation" (that is, the country or the nation of the speaker or writer) with the economic "society" or "community." Readers of the Economic Outlook with retentive memories may recall that in 1908 I valiantly tried to persuade the Irish not to lament over the depopulation of Ireland . . .

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