Skip to comments.Keynes Was Gay -- Not That There's Anything Wrong With That
Posted on 05/05/2013 1:31:51 PM PDT by Yardstick
"Theres a brouhaha a-brewin over comments by Niall Ferguson at an investor conference. Ferguson suggested that because John Maynard Keynes was gay, effete, and childless he might have lacked concern for posterity. After all, Keynes famously proclaimed in the long run were all dead. In a nigh-upon hysterical and terribly written item, Tom Kostigen of Financial Advisor says Ferguson took gay-bashing to new heights. He adds, Apparently, in Fergusons world, if you are gay or childless, you cannot care about future generations nor society.
Now, I dont know exactly what Ferguson said, and I dont trust Kostigens version of events either. There are few full quotes and virtually nothing like proper context to anything (for instance, he seems to think effete and gay are synonyms). But Ferguson has offered an abject and total apology, which I take to be sincere.
Still, I am a little surprised that so many people have never heard this idea before or that the mere mention of it is now a potential career killer (Felix Salmon of Reuters tweeted in response to Fergusons apology, Its conceivable that Niall Ferguson managed to rescue his career with this (emphasis mine).
I dont endorse the theory and completely understand why it offends people. But its hardly as if its unheard-of in academia to speculate that ones sexual orientation (or race, or gender, etc.) can influence a persons views on public policy. Is it really nuts now to think that having kids changes a persons time horizons?
More relevant, this theory about Keynes is hardly new. Joseph Schumpeter, I thought famously, suggested that Keyness childlessness was a key issue. In his obituary of Keynes, Schumpeter wrote: He was childless and his philosophy of life was essentially a short-run philosophy.
Even a cursory look-see in Google Books or LexisNexis shows its been around for a long time. Here, via Nexis, is a passage from a 1986 Harvard Business Review article by George Sim Johnston, reviewing a book by Henry Kaufman:
As I say, Dr. Kaufman counsels bond investors to forget the past. Early in the book, however, he tells us that his most strongly held views, particularly with regard to inflation, probably derive from his past, which began in the Weimar Republic. He was born just after the hyperinflation and was weaned on family stories about the overnight disappearance of life savings. Ever since, he has been wary of the states ability to print money.
It would be useful if more economists prefaced their works with such biographical material. As William James pointed out, analytical thinking always begins with some personal bias; scratch a mathematical model and youll find that its creator prefers blueberry jam to marmalade. John Maynard Keynes would have done a great service if he had begun The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money with the disclosure that he was a Bloomsbury aesthete and a practicing homosexual. He could have explained how he and friends did not believe in self-denial or consider that they had any obligation to posterity. (An historian has pointed out that Keyness famous remark, In the long run we are all dead, is easy to make if you have no children and dont want any.) Perhaps as a result we might have lower federal deficits.
Heres William Grieder suggesting that Keyness homosexuality put him at odds with social convention and arguing that Keyness economic doctrines stemmed in small part from his rejection of the Protestant ethic.
William Rees Mogg, the former editor of the Times of London went so far as to say that Keyness rejection of morality caused him to reject the gold standard. You can read about that in this interesting essay by Keynes biographer Robert Sidelsky. Sidelsky rejects the theory, but hardly out of hand. Perhaps because Keynes himself described the Bloomsbury mindset as a rejection of all standards:
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, or inner sanction, to conform or to obey. Before heaven we claimed to be our own judge in our own case.
Intellectual historian Gertrude Himmelfarb draws quite a few lessons from that mindset. She writes:
In fact, something of the soul of Bloomsbury penetrated even into Keyness economic theories. There is a discernible affinity between the Bloomsbury ethos, which put a premium on immediate and present satisfactions, and Keynesian economics, which is based entirely on the short run and precludes any long-term judgments. (Keyness famous remark. In the long run we are all dead, also has an obvious connection with his homosexuality what Schumpeter delicately referred to as his childless vision.) The same ethos is reflected in the Keynesian doctrine that consumption rather than saving is the source of economic growth indeed, that thrift is economically and socially harmful. In The Economic Consequences of the Peace, written long before The General Theory, Keynes ridiculed the virtue of saving. The capitalists, he said, deluded the working classes into thinking that their interests were best served by saving rather than consuming. This delusion was part of the age-old Puritan fallacy.
So Keynes believed that Puritan values inclined people to embrace an economic theory (capitalism), but the Ferguson episode teaches us that it is now beyond outrageous to suggest that Keyness rejection of Puritan values inclined him to embrace a slightly different economic theory (Keynesianism)? Got it.
What I find interesting about the Ferguson controversy is how disconnected it is from the past. Even academics I respect reacted to Fergusons comments as if they bordered on unimaginable, unheard-of madness. I understand that we live in a moment where any negative comment connected to homosexuality is not only wrong but gay bashing. But Ferguson was trafficking in an old theory that was perfectly within the bounds of intellectual discourse not very long ago. Now, because of a combination of indifference to intellectual history and politically correct piety he must don the dunce cap. Good to know. " />
Followup from Mark Steyn here.
We're sick of you soliciting our kids.
Certainly, being childless, can reduce your sense of the future.
He was also a pederast. What we today call a pedophile.
It’s all about his quote, “In the long run we’re all dead.”
Exactly right. It has a different meaning when you don’t have kids and grandkids etc.
Its silly to maintain that Keynes' values had no effect on his value system. Its just silly to say.
Most of the people defending his value system in fact agree with his value system. Big surprise.
I don’t give a carp if he was homosexual or not. Millions have suffered because of his wrong-headed theories.
That is Goldberg’s point exactly. He has put his finger on the inconsistency of Keynes’s modern opponents. They want to make it off limits to correlate his values with his value system when it is simply natural — and hugely explanatory — to do so.
Do you mean Kinsey instead of Keynes?
Is it more revealing that deviant examples of human nature always show up in the left’s political ‘philosophy’, or that so many people fall for it..
Not Keynes's modern opponents but his modern defenders.
Being homosexual makes people wrong-headed about so much else in their lives? How many other bad decisions have they made?
I ain't goin' there.
I agree with the above posters. These homosexual apologists want to make criticism of Keynes’s economic theories off limits because he was a homosexual. This is non-syllogistic reasoning - not that there is anything wrong with that.
John Maynard Keynes was a pedophile. He admits in his own notes to having sex with young teenage boys. Furthermore. he went on holidays with another Bloomsbury homosexual named Lytton Strachey to northern Africa fleshpots *Tangiers, Cairo, etc., where, as he put it in his letters, ‘bed and boy are inexpensive.’
The success of any species depends on the propensity to procreate and in a species as complex as humans a trait to nurture and care for the helpless newborns even if providing for them causes the parent deprivation. According to Darwinian law those with traits they do not lead to successful procreation are gradually eliminated since their consumption of resources inhibits the survival of a species. From an evolutionary perspective not only is homosexuality not normal but left to natural selection does not have much of a future or concern for the future. Homosexuality has far more to do with social imprinting (eg childhood rape, seduction, abnormal family dynamic etc )than any purported genetic cause.
Ah, okay. It’s not surprising.
I don’t know much about Keynes, and I thought the name was very close to Kinsey, who was also a pervert of the highest order.
.. other than biological suicide, ya mean ?
Of course, with a cheerleading fellatio corps (enemedia), spineless slugs like the BSA national cretins, the pandemic of PC appeasers, etal, etal faggot recruitment/victimization is likely at an all time high.
“Before heaven we claimed to be our own judge in our own case.”
As good a definition of Evil as exists.
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