Grave Times For Dead Economists

“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)
Economist ,journalist, financier


Roadkill said...


Here are some thoughts from a rather reputable non-economist, who presciently foresaw the damage that collectivist economists and messianic politicians might bring:

"Above this race of (benevolently oppressed) men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood…

“For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

“Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things; it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.

“After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

A. de Tocqueville
Democracy in America
Part II, Book IV, Chapt. VI (What Sort of Depoptism Democratic Nations have to Fear)

Roadkill said...


Looking again upon upon your table of economists, over which hovers the title "Grave times for Dead Economists," I started to think about how many people were put into their graves by the ideas of each of these guys.

Marx, the collectivist and communist, hero of the American left, tops the list of course - by some 80 million dead. And that is just the 20th century!

Lenin, Stalin, Tito, Mao, Castro, Che, Ho Chi Minh, and Pol Pot - mass killers all - merely implemented his ideas. But interestingly enough, Marx - source and fountainhead of this mass slaughter - seems immune to popular crriticism. Why is that, I wonder?

Sunny B. said...

The power of ideas...think how many have died because of the Bible. Have you ever wondered why the conservative, capitalist interests seem to gravitate to South American strongmen...probablly to wipe out those socialist upstarts like the Sandanistas and those nuns and priest pushing that liberation theology.

Previously you've talked about the Nazis and socialism. I've been listening to a variety of podcasts and found some interesting site covering economics and related subjects. See the list of podcasts on the right. ECONTALK comes out of the Hoover Institute and George Mason University and the London School of Economics was founded by the Fabians. Check out this link (http://www.learnoutloud.com/Catalog/Business/Economics/London-School-of-Economics-Podcast/30325#) to a LSE lecture by LA Times columnist Johna Goldberg on the history of fascism.

I don't think Marx envisioned 80 million dead being attributed to him. Actually, socialism and communism pre-date Marx and Engels. The LSE has a podcast lecture on the history of Engels and his relationship with Marx.

Being that I graduated from college in the spring of 1981, Milton Friedman and the Laffer Curve where just mentioned in the final econ classes it to in my major. Evidently there's been a rather noticable shift in the economics taught. The guy doing the ECONTALK interviews is a Chicago school, Hayek disciple. Listening to the ECONTALK and LSE interviews and lectures you get a good taste of the pissing matching between the Chicago school and the Keynesians. Paul Krugman calls Amnity Shaels book The Forgotten Man on of the most inaccurate books of the last century. The ECONTALK host calls Krugman today's best economic mythmaker.

The Foundation Of Economic Education has lots of stuff on the Austrian School with specifics on von Mises and Hayek.

I have found my $40 investment in MP3 technology very educational. Actually, being that I'm a pull-technology person, the reason I got an MP3 is because I recently got a new vehicle with an MP3 input. As I discover new podcast sites, I add them to my link. Anything that I can download to MP3 can also be listened to on the computer. You probably know all this stuff and I'm just babbling out. Anyway, there is lots of interesting economic discussions out. Bloomberg News has podcasts too.