Keynes and the Role of the State

  • Alan Peacock
Part of the Keynes Seminars book series (KESE)


Those of us who grew up in the shadow of Keynes became used to the shock tactics of Mrs Robinson in trying to persuade us that she was always right, but even those inoculated against her formidable debating skills might be taken aback at the quotation which heads this lecture. Economists have been brought up to believe and may have transmitted the belief that it was Keynes’s realism which led him to question so-called ‘classical’ views on how the economy behaved and remedies for coping with underemployment of labour and resources. His practical skills and interest in financial matters together with his continuous involvement in public affairs are supposed to have been a major influence on the evolution of his economic analysis; and his growing experience of public life led him to change his mind frequently in the light of national and international events. Indeed, it is part of the conventional wisdom among economists of standing — see, notably, Patinkin (1982) — that Keynes was ‘un homme des affaires’ first and an academic second. In my own case, I had read the Essays in Persuasion and The Economic Consequences of the Peace before the General Theory, and was early convinced by their author that the correct methodological order for an economist was to grasp what were the major economic problems that required solution before seeking out the analysis that might help to solve them.


Public Choice Economic Freedom Social Welfare Function Universal Suffrage Constitutional Economic 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan Peacock

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