Sunday, December 21, 2008

Keynesian times

A link to an excellent introduction to Keynes in the context of the present crisis by Skidelsky. Certainly a right person for the task: his brilliant biography of Keynes was my first real introduction to this crazily talented, fascinating 20th century figure. Of course Keynes' economics and his quite crucial role in turning back the left and right radical totalitarian tide are of enormous importance, but I do feel that his relevance extends beyond this. For me it was hugely significant that he was much concerned (as Skidelsky points out in the article) with probability, causality and uncertainty as the context of all social and historical action. In an immeasurably more modest fashion those were the very same themes that I was engaged with when coming to a settled understanding of the study of history, its nature, role and scope. I felt that what Keynes said about economic action was universally true of all sectors of human activity. Our historical stage is a very Keynesian stage. So, for me, it is only in this narrow sense of re-encountering a possibly very terrifying collapse of trust in the economic structures that it could be said that Keynes has again become relevant - he never stopped being relevant.

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