Keynes in His Own Words

Originally published in December 2010.

A trend in thinking and outlook can be found in the selected quotations provided below, which are followed by comments in double parentheses. The actual practice of Keynes reveals he is a finance capitalist and theoretician for imperialism and the preservation of monopoly right and the right of imperialism to rule globally over the working class and oppressed peoples with impunity.

Direct experience has taught the working class that during the 20th century, an avowed anti-communist such as Keynes could not make a positive contribution in the realm of politics and social policy. Someone unwilling to unite with communists, someone full of contempt and hatred for the working class could not make a positive contribution in political, social and cultural life. In the case of Keynes, he was not merely unwilling to unite with the communists, his mission became their defeat. He became the darling of the Labour Party whose mission was to make sure the British working class would remain under the thrall of a ruling class determined to preserve its spheres of interest and influence and defeat the road of the October Revolution.

Hardened articulated stands of racism towards others, hatred for communism and the working class would preclude individuals like Keynes from making a contribution towards the people's well-being and general interests of society. Anti-communism and racism are stands of an egocentric who puts personal prejudices and desires, and the narrow interests of the rich and privileged and the status quo ahead of the rights of all, their collectives and the general interests of society, especially the necessity for change.

The quotations selected from Keynes' published material mostly deal with his political views. Often singular quotes are not enough to see a trend but in the case of Keynes, his anti- communism, contempt for workers and opposition to people's active and conscious participation in government, and his open racism towards non-Europeans considered inferior and certain Europeans are more than evident.

Readers should remember that Keynes wrote at a time when class divisions were extremely sharp both in Britain and internationally with the creation of a workers' socialist homeland in Russia in 1917, the great stirring and revolt of the peoples of the colonies, the prolonged economic crisis of the 1930s and the creation of the international United Front Against Fascism. Keynes consistently served the British Empire and imperialism during this tumultuous time and was well rewarded for his service to the ruling class.

After WWI and the Socialist Revolution and creation of first Soviet Russia and then the Soviet Union as a homeland of the international proletariat, imperialism centred in Europe, the United States and Japan demanded new arrangements to keep the working class oppressed, the Soviet Union encircled and isolated, the colonies subdued, and the monopoly capitalist class in power with their monopolies defended and free to expand their empires. The situation was unlike anything the capitalist class had faced before.

One trend that emerged favoured fascism with its one-nation politics, open suppression of the working class movement, public spending to militarize the society and pursue empire-building in an aggressive and expansionist way, challenge the dominant imperialist powers and re-divide the world.

Another trend was social-democracy taken up as the variant of liberalism to line workers up behind their own ruling capitalist class through public spending on big state projects and war preparations to defend the colonies they already possessed and pressure weaker or rising imperialist powers such as Germany and Japan to respect the status quo regarding the division of the world.

On the economic front, these struggles for new arrangements intersected in similar policies of using the public treasury to fund stimulus measures to defend big business from the ravages of the economic crisis. All the imperialist countries began to use public funds to save big business and their monopolies such as the stimulus measures of Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the United States, which included the Tennessee Valley Authority, rehashed in 2009-2010 with the Bush/Obama bailouts of the big financial enterprises, auto and other monopolies.

In 1930s Germany, stimulus measures using public funds were incorporated into the program of the national socialists of Hitler's Nazi Party to defend particular German monopolies such as Krupp and Siemens AG, build big state projects and rearm the country using both public funds and funds borrowed from U.S. finance capital.

The economic theories of Keynes dealing with public spending during a downturn in the business cycle were convenient and gave a stamp of intellectual approval for those dominant imperialist states charting a liberal course and also the rising imperialist states charting a fascist aggressive course. It is not surprising that intellectuals of the capitalist elite such as Keynes would find favour in both imperialist camps because the reality of monopoly capitalism is that state policies are not based on principles but the pragmatic needs of the moment.

In the pre- and post-World War Two period, monopoly capitalist states were either openly fascist or liberal conciliators with fascism according to their immediate self-interest. One glaring example occurred during WWII involving the U.S., Britain and the other imperialist states that were at that time allied with the Soviet Union in the world war to defeat the aggressive imperialist axis led by Germany and Japan. Right at the height of the war in 1944, they forged the Bretton-Woods fascist international monetary agreement as a cornerstone of their plans to impose U.S. imperialism as the sole superpower and use their united financial and military power to continue the colonial system with new arrangements after Germany and Japan were defeated.

An important aspect of Bretton-Woods was to tighten the encirclement of their ally the Soviet Union to weaken and eventually destroy the workers' homeland. Keynes was a leading architect of this new international financial arrangement of finance capital, which created both the International Monetary Fund and the forerunner of the World Bank and legalized usury as a form to force tribute from the developing and weaker capitalist countries.

Quotations of Keynes

Views on communism, the working class and Marx's Capital

These quotations are selected from articles in the New Statesman (Republished in the booklet A Short View of Russia by Hogarth Press in 1925 and in Essays in Persuasion (1931).)

Like other new religions, Leninism derives its power not from the multitude but from a small minority of enthusiastic converts, whose zeal and intolerance make each one the equal in strength of a hundred indifferentists.

((Such a silly notion. "A small minority of enthusiastic converts" would not have been able to overthrow an imperialist power such as Russia if the multitude of workers and peasants had not been prepared subjectively and organizationally to engage in heroic revolutionary struggle to defeat their oppressors. Keynes is merely expressing his contempt for the people, who in his mind are incapable of embarking on a conscious path of revolutionary struggle to move society forward to a human-centred alternative to capitalism. He hates anyone with a different outlook to his. For him the working class perspective on economics, politics and culture in general must be dogmatic and intolerant because it is so diametrically opposed to his capitalist outlook, which in his mind is sanctified by his long English lineage and tradition and is therefore the only true and normal thinking.))

How can I accept a doctrine which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete text-book which I know to be not only scientifically erroneous but without interest or application for the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeois and the intelligentsia who, whatever their faults, are the quality in life and surely carry the seeds of all human advancement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values.

((It is the "boorish proletariat" that is the rising aspect of the great contradiction of the capitalist world. Keynes is terrified that the negation of the "boorish proletariat, the mud and its turbid rubbish" is about to be negated even in sweet England and he will lose his power, wealth and privilege to those -- he can barely bring himself to say the word without using an obscenity -- those workers who create the wealth that supports his lavish intellectual lifestyle serving the monopolies and the British Empire.))

Keynes gives the following racist and anti-Semitic "explanation" of the character of members of the Soviet Union:

In part, no doubt, [their character] is the fruit of Red Revolution. In part, perhaps, it is the fruit of some beastliness in the Russian nature -- or in the Russian and Jewish natures when, as now, they are allied together.

((The combining of Bolshevism and Judaism as underlining features of those "beasts" who would destroy European civilization was a common theme among Hitlerite fascists of the day. Keynes goes a step further into racism considering the threat to European civilization comes from a combining of "some beastliness in the Russian nature" with Judaism. This propaganda amongst the British intelligentsia was part of the pressure on German imperialism to launch an assault on the Soviet Union, which it eventually did in 1941.

British intellectuals such as Keynes have never accepted responsibility for preparing European public opinion to encourage and even hail the German Nazis for launching their murderous war on the peoples of the Soviet Union, which resulted in unprecedented destruction and death. Their only regret is that the invasion did not happen before the 1939 Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which was a factor in delaying the attack until 1941.

The habit of Keynes not to argue issues out but simply to launch abuse and ascribe to adversaries one's own habits is characteristic of a fascist outlook and the lowering of political culture under monopoly capitalism, as distinct from the interest in advancing science during the 19th century. It is the return to medieval obscurantism and absolutism under the cloak of being the most advanced and erudite.))

Leninism is a combination of two things which Europeans have kept for some centuries in different compartments of the soul -- religion and business. We are shocked because the religion is new, and contemptuous because the business, being subordinated to the religion instead of the other way round, is highly inefficient.

((Besides the contemptuous disregard for what constitutes Leninism, how does Keynes reconcile the fact that the Roman Catholic Church was for centuries the largest landholder and participant in European business and crusader for spoils abroad? The Protestant Reformation played an integral role in preparing the subjective conditions for the victory of capitalism over medieval property relations.

Leninism unmasked the hypocrisy of the Church, especially in Russia where it had worked hand in glove with the most diabolical exploiters and medieval tyrants.))

Continuing his critique of revolutionary Russia Keynes writes:

Comfort and habits let us be ready to forego, but I am not ready for a creed which does not care how much it destroys the liberty and security of daily life, which uses deliberately the weapons of persecution, destruction and international strife. How can I admire a policy which finds a characteristic expression in spending millions to suborn spies in every family and group at home, and to stir up trouble abroad?

((Interesting comment given that striving to become rich and free from the drudgery of ordinary work is the creed of the bourgeoisie. And how have owners of capital kept the working class oppressed if not through bribery of working class leaders using superprofits from exploitation in the oppressed countries. Ideological subversion is the backbone of suppressing proletarian revolution in Britain and all other monopoly capitalist countries. Keynes himself is an excellent example of a well-prepared indoctrinated agent of the owners of capital emerging from the middle strata.

The hypocrisy of Keynes is boundless. British spying is lionized even in films and the popular culture but the working class spreading its views through its own propaganda organs and discussions in ordinary families is "to suborn spies in every family and group at home." And to express social solidarity abroad for the rights of the peoples fighting against the British and U.S. Empires is characterized as "stirring up trouble abroad."

What Baron Keynes refers to as "stirring up trouble abroad" is proletarian internationalism and the working class does not shy away from doing its duty to support all those who are striving to free themselves from imperialist oppression and to move their societies forward to the emancipation of the working class.

The infiltration of capitalist spies and agents into the peoples' movements, the specialty of the czarist police, has been institutionalized not only by the CIA, Homeland Security, MI5, MI6 and CSIS but also with non-governmental agencies (NGOs) and certain labour organizations and charities that openly block the people from taking up politics and organizing to solve problems in their own interests and to resolve the contradictions facing their societies, especially their exploitation by the imperialist empires.))

I can be influenced by what seems to me to be justice and good sense; but the class war will find me on the side of the educated bourgeoisie.

((Workers and their allies should remember this "confession" when they hear or read his name. "Justice and good sense" and principles are soon "suborned" by pragmatic policies of the "educated bourgeoisie" fighting the "class war" against the "boorish proletariat."))

Support for Eugenics

Keynes was an active proponent of eugenics, having served as Director of the British Eugenics Society from 1937 to 1944. As late as 1946, before his death, Keynes declared eugenics to be "the most important, significant and, I would add, genuine branch of sociology which exists." (From "Opening remarks: The Galton Lecture (1946)," Eugenics Review, 38(1), 39-40.)

((This was not a stand from idle curiosity or ignorance. It was active participation in the movement for European fascism. During the period prior to WWII, support for eugenics meant support in particular for Nazism. Eugenics was presented as "the study and practice of selective breeding applied to humans," with the supposed aim of improving the species as opposed to moving society forward by changing the social conditions and resolving class contradictions.

Eugenics is a form of one-nation politics. The ruling elite make a determination of all those considered acceptable to constitute a nation of themselves based on ethnic, religious, political, physical and intellectual criteria. All outside the criteria are excluded and even exterminated as became the policy of Nazi Germany and today requires that all those who do not swear allegiance to the "values" declared American, Canadian, British, civilized, etc., are subjected to civil death which is to say that no civil rights apply to them.

During the 1930s, eugenics was most closely associated with the German Nazis and their political program to cleanse Germany of all those people considered undesirable. All "imperfect human beings" such as communists, Jews, Roma, Slavs, Gays, people with physical or mental imperfections and those upholding values or possessing a conscience in contradiction with Hitler's Nazi Party were to be deported or exterminated. British liberal intellectuals and others through their conciliation with fascist ideology such as racism, anti-communism and eugenics have to be held to account for the role they played in preparing subjective conditions for mass murder in the concentration camps, the war crimes committed by the German military abroad and other Nazi atrocities.))

Quotation from "The End of Laissez-faire" (1926)

Marxian Socialism must always remain a portent to the historians of Opinion -- how a doctrine so illogical and so dull can have exercised so powerful and enduring an influence over the minds of men, and, through them, the events of history.

((The working class has not developed its ideology to entertain the British intellectual elite. The ideology is meant to guide the working class in constituting the nation to vest sovereignty in the people and open the path towards the complete emancipation of the working class and elimination of class society.))

Quotations from "Essays In Biography" (1933)

I have sought with some touches of detail to bring out the solidarity and historical continuity of the High Intelligentsia of England, who have built up the foundations of our thought in the two and a half centuries, since Locke, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, wrote the first modern English book. I relate below the amazing progeny of Sir George Villiers. There is also a pride of sentiment to claim spiritual kinship with the Locke Connection and that long English line, intellectually and humanly linked with one another, to which the names in my second section belong. If not the wisest, yet the most truthful of men. If not the most personable, yet the queerest and sweetest. If not the most practical, yet of the purest public conscience. If not of high artistic genius, yet the most solid and sincere accomplishment within many of the fields which are ranged by the human mind.

((This quote praising dead Englishmen Locke, Villiers and others in the long English line is inexplicably followed by a snipe at communists for venerating their heroes, leaders and ideologues.))

All the political parties alike have their origins in past ideas and not in new ideas -- and none more conspicuously so than the Marxists.

((How can origins be found in new ideas? The point is to develop ideas which are consistent with the present conditions, which requires concrete analysis of concrete conditions. Modern personalities do not reject their origins found in the struggles and theories of the working class wherever the people have made a contribution including the ancient thought material of past civilizations. Modern personalities are not so arrogant to declare they arrived at the present without a past found in the struggles and thought material of people that have come before them and advanced human civilization to what it is today. The point however is not to dwell on the past and ancient thought material in the sense of turning it into dogma or an icon but to change the social conditions of the present and give rise to new thought material.

This is what Lenin did in creating the Leninist political party of a new type, which was qualitatively different from the working class organizations created by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels during the 19th century. And this is what Hardial Bains and others did within the conditions of the betrayal of the Leninist path set by the October Revolution. And so it is with CPC(M-L) and other revolutionary communist parties that constantly renew themselves to meet the challenges of the contemporary conditions that are themselves constantly in a state of change, development and motion.))

Quotation from "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" (1935)

Gesell's chiefwork is written in cool and scientific terms, although it is run through by a more passionate and charged devotion to social justice than many think fit for a scholar. I believe that the future will learn more from the spirit of Gesell than from that of Marx.

((Wikipedia has this note on Silvio Gesell (1862-1930) so admired by Keynes: "Gesell founded his economic thoughts on the self-interest of people as a natural, healthy motive to act, which allows the individual to follow the satisfaction of his/her needs and to be productive. The economic system must do justice to this pre-condition, otherwise this system would undoubtedly fail. This is why Gesell called his proposed economic system 'natural.' This stance put him in clear opposition to Karl Marx, who called for a change in social conditions.))

Taking selfishness into account, Gesell called for free, fair business competition with equal chances for all. This included the removal of all legal and inherited privileges.

((This admiration of Keynes for Gesell reflects the contradiction of economists of the era of early monopoly capitalism who still had one foot in the previous period. This contradiction is resolved with neo-liberalism, which marks the full-blown adherence to monopoly right over public right and the smashing of any illusions people may still have that a return to pre-monopoly capitalism is possible or even desirable.))

Quotation from John Kenneth Galbraith, "The Age of Uncertainty"

Keynes never sought to change the world out of any sense of personal dissatisfaction or discontent. Marx swore that the bourgeoisie would suffer for his poverty and his carbuncles. Keynes experienced neither poverty or boils. For him the world was excellent. (Chapter 7, pg.198)

((For a Marxist, of which Marx was the first but certainly not the last, the world exists objectively and subjectively as it presents itself, no more no less. Marxists, similar to non-Marxists, are born into a world that is not of their making. Marxists accept the world as it is, analyze its contradictions and set about with others to organize to change it.

Any dissatisfaction and discontent the working class may feel arises in part from a sense of helplessness. As soon as workers refuse to be victims or spectators to their own mistreatment and class oppression and unite and organize with others from their class to change the social conditions the dissatisfaction and discontent they may have felt is overwhelmed by the spirit of social solidarity and the knowledge that the workers and their allies are organizing and marching forward to solve the problems in the real world, the problems that are at the root of their dissatisfaction and discontent. Social solidarity is the result of unity in action for the same cause. It inspires even the most oppressed to be courageous in the face of their difficulties. Modern personalities, views the problems which exist with affection in spite of the "carbuncles," because they can be tackled with a program of one's own making. Having such a program is, in turn, the affirmation of the human factor/social consciousness, of life itself.))

Wikipedia writes: "The Bloomsbury Group or Bloomsbury Set was a group of writers, intellectuals and artists who held informal discussions in Bloomsbury (central London) throughout the 20th century... Their work deeply influenced literature, aesthetics, criticism, and economics as well as modern attitudes towards feminism, pacifism, and sexuality. Its best known members were Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E.M. Forster, and Lytton Strachey."

Keynes is quoted by Quentin Bell in his Virginia Woolf, A Biography (Hogarth Press, 1972, p. 177). The biographer Bell relates an anecdote of Virginia Woolf, Keynes and T.S. Eliot discussing religion at a dinner party, in the context of their struggle against Victorian era morality.

At the end of the said dinner party a disturbance reminded Keynes 'of his theme,' and he remarked that 'the youth had no religion save Communism and this was worse than nothing.' Marxism 'was founded upon nothing better than a misunderstanding of Ricardo,' and given time, he, Keynes, 'would deal thoroughly with the Marxists' and other economists, to solve the economic problems their theories threatened to cause.

((The economic problems the Marxists threatened to cause are those of the actual producers reaffirming their right to control the direction of the economy. They are quite capable of finding their own path forward through the difficulties their affirmation of themselves as the actual producers may cause. This means in part, the rejection of the thesis of Keynes and other capital-centered intellectuals that workers are a cost of production; it means demanding first claim on the social product of the actual producers and the satisfaction of the claims of society through the government before those of owners of capital and their minions are met; it means gradually eliminating the claims of owners of capital altogether. Workers gladly accept the challenge of overcoming difficulties these measures may bring. Attempts to haunt them with the ghost of Keynes will not derail them.))


A short biography of John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) is available in Wikipedia where some details of his class origin, upbringing and public life in service of the British Empire are given.

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 34 - September 12, 2020

Article Link:
Keynes in His Own Words


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