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Author: Bill Dunn

This book sees Keynes as neither villain nor hero and develops a sympathetic ‘left’ critique. Keynes was an avowedly elitist and pro-capitalist economist, whom the left should appropriate with caution. But his analysis provides insights at a level of concreteness which Marx’s analysis largely ignored and which were concerned with issues of the modern world which Marx could not have foreseen. A critical Marxist engagement can simultaneously increase the power of Keynes’s insight and enrich Marxism. To understand Keynes, whose work is liberally invoked but seldom read, the book first puts Keynes in context, explaining his biography and the extraordinary times in which he lived, his philosophy and his politics. The book describes Keynes’s developing critique of ‘the classics’, of mainstream economics as he found it, and summarises the General Theory. It shows how Keynes provides an enduringly valuable critique of orthodoxy but vital insights rather than a genuinely general theory. The book then develops a Marxist appropriation of Keynes’s insights. It argues that Marxist analysis of unemployment, of money and interest, and of the role of the state can be enriched through such a critical engagement. The book addresses Keynesianism after Keynes, critically reviewing the practices that came to be known as ‘Keynesianism’ and different theoretical traditions that have claimed his legacy. It considers the crisis of the 1970s, the subsequent anti-Keynesian turn, the economic and ecological crises of the twenty-first century, and the prospects of returning to Keynes and Keynesianism.

Bill Dunn

Introduction Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money is a notoriously difficult book, which this chapter tries to explain as simply as possible. Keynes could be a great stylist and the General Theory’s many quotable passages have enhanced its appeal. Elsewhere, however, Keynes’s prose is dense and the arguments highly technical and convoluted. Sympathetic critics give a flavour of the difficulty. Heilbroner says the book has ‘a forbidding title … and a still more forbidding interior’ ( 1999 : 269). De Vroey and Hoover see it as ‘elegant

in Keynes and Marx
Abstract only
Bill Dunn

speculative demand, the financial system develops a separate logic in which speculation can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Assessments of returns, not least of returns in relation to the rate of interest, become the determinants of the rate of interest. To a degree still disputed, Keynes’s General Theory views are predicated on his original understanding of uncertainty. Quite typically, the ‘central idea’ of the General Theory is ‘that the role of money derives from the existence of ignorance and uncertainty from which the classical system abstracted’ (Clarke, S

in Keynes and Marx
Open Access (free)
A rare example of a post-concept in economics
Roger E. Backhouse

after Keynes and built on his work, in which Hans Neisser used the term in a course ‘Keynesian and post-Keynesian Economics’ taught at the New School, probably for at least a decade. 8 The course discussed Keynes’s General Theory but it also covered the growing literature on macroeconomic problems inspired by Keynes, notably works that took dynamics into account, Keynes’s own theory being considered too static. 9 The term was used in the same sense in books. The publisher described the elementary textbook

in Post-everything
Bill Dunn

-Keynesian critique is correct, policy was never Keynesian and his supporters can no more claim credit for the boom than they can accept blame for its breakdown. In as far as Keynesian ideas did influence policy, it was this moderate version. Throughout the period of the Keynesian boom, the neo-classical Keynesian synthesis was Keynesian economics, an economics which purported to reincorporate Keynes’s General Theory as a special case of classics. Samuelson coined the term ‘neoclassical synthesis Keynesianism’ (Davidson 2007 : 208) and provided the textbook version

in Keynes and Marx
Abstract only
Towards a critical but constructive appraisal of Keynes’s thought
Bill Dunn

, psychological characteristics, the power of the nation-state, are at best partial and one-sided but become potentially useful once understood within the context of exploitation, accumulation and dynamic change: once put in their proper analytical place. Much of Keynes’s work can be reconceived in this light. One important implication, which will be emphasised in what follows, is that Keynes’s general theory is rather less general than he claims (Hodgson 2004 ). He bases this claim for generality primarily on the grounds that his theory incorporates the ‘special case’ of

in Keynes and Marx

Karl Polanyi (1886–1964) returned to public discourse in the 1990s, when the Soviet Union imploded and globalization erupted. Best known for The Great Transformation, Polanyi’s wide-ranging thought anticipated twenty-first-century civilizational challenges of ecological collapse, social disintegration and international conflict, and warned that the unbridled domination of market capitalism would engender nationalist protective counter-movements. In Karl Polanyi and Twenty-First-Century Capitalism, Radhika Desai and Kari Polanyi Levitt bring together prominent and new thinkers in the field to extend the boundaries of our understanding of Polanyi's life and work. Kari Polanyi Levitt's opening essay situates Polanyi in the past century shaped by Keynes and Hayek, and explores how and why his ideas may shape the twenty-first century. Her analysis of his Bennington Lectures, which pre-dated and anticipated The Great Transformation, demonstrates how Central European his thought and chief concerns were. The next several contributions clarify, for the first time in Polanyi scholarship, the meaning of money as a fictitious commodity. Other contributions resolve difficulties in understanding the building blocks of Polanyi's thought: fictitious commodities, the double movement, the United States' exceptional development, the reality of society and socialism as freedom in a complex society. The volume culminates in explorations of how Polanyi has influenced, and can be used to develop, ideas in a number of fields, whether income inequality, world-systems theory or comparative political economy. Contributors: Fred Block, Michael Brie, Radhika Desai, Michael Hudson, Hannes Lacher, Kari Polanyi Levitt, Chikako Nakayama, Jamie Peck, Abraham Rotstein, Margaret Somers, Claus Thomasberger, Oscar Ugarteche Galarza.

Bill Dunn

fall, and this would not be borne out. Blaug argues that ‘the full employment and overall employment conditions of the 1950s and 1960s were everywhere attributed to the deliberate pursuit by governments of Keynesian policies, although it was in fact private investment that filled the postwar gap in effective demand’ ( 1997 : 649). Of course, private investment itself involved high levels of planning within firms that Keynes’s General Theory orientation on individual entrepreneurs tended to overlook, and this too might therefore be understood to go beyond its

in Keynes and Marx
Bryan Fanning

useful guide to dealing with Irish conditions.29 His third promoted F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom as an antidote to its likely excesses.30 O’Brien’s attempt FANNING 9781784993221 PRINT.indd 63 19/01/2016 13:25 64 Irish adventures in nation-building to Catholicise Hayek suggested profound ambivalence towards social democracy even if he was convinced as an economist of the need for a stronger state role. In ‘New Views on Unemployment’ (1945) O’Brien summarised the thesis of Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, the theory underpinning the Beveridge Report. O

in Irish adventures in nation-building
Ben Jackson

downplay the importance of rational discussion altogether, social democrats argued that one of the key ideological weapons in the hands of their opponents, the language of neoclassical economic theory, was actually ripe for appropriation for egalitarian ends. Economic theory was transformed during the 1930s by a remarkable series of theoretical innovations, many of which had quite direct implications for public policy. This latter category included Keynes’s General Theory; the reformulation of the principles of welfare economics; and the debate about allocative

in Equality and the British Left