William Beveridge’s “mock trial of economists”
The 1933 Mock Trial of Economists is occasionally noticed and then interpreted as a representation of popular discontent with the economists’ “crime” of “conspiracy to spread mental fog.” William Beveridge’s papers in the London School of Economics archives contain the written record of the performed composition and an unperformed frame for the Trial. Both are reproduced below. The performance singles out J. M. Keynes for his changing points of view. The unperformed frame provides evidence of Beveridge’s defense of diverse viewpoints in light of his worries about totalitarian repression. Long after he had left LSE, F. A. Hayek called attention to Beveridge’s worries about the fate of multiple viewpoints under socialism.
KeywordsBeveridge J. M. Keynes F. A. Hayek-Mock trial Brainwashing Experts
JEL codesB2 B3 P5 Z1
First and foremost, we are grateful to the rights holders, including the London School of Economics Archives and the daughters of A. R. “Pat” Adams, for permissions to reproduce. Without their generosity there would be no paper. Susan Howson told us about the Adams caricatures. An earlier version was presented at the 2011 meeting of the Summer Institute for the Preservation of the History of Economics where we benefited from the discussion. We are responsible for remaining mistakes, including those of transcription. Jane Perry helped to reduce those and provided valuable editorial assistance. We thank Peter Boettke for his encouragement to think of the Mock Trial as the first “rap video.” Finally we thank the RAE reader for suggesting we explain the link to F. A. Hayek.
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