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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15584/hazlitt-and-keynes-opposite-callings/

Hazlitt and Keynes: Opposite Callings

February 7, 2011 by

Keynes and Hazlitt: their lives and loyalties are a study in contrast — and mostly of choices born of internal conviction, in Hazlitt’s case, or lack thereof, in Keynes’s case. FULL ARTICLE by Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

{ 9 comments }

Hugh O'Brien February 7, 2011 at 10:22 am

Bravo.

Ned Netterville February 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Am I at the right place? The first comment–and the silly cheering section for it, probably written by the same person using a different name–are advertisements for some angry person’s misogynist blog, which has nothing to do with anything Misian, particularly not Lew Rockwell’s outstanding article (talk) comparing “Lord” John Maynard Keynes to his enduring nemesis of lesser renown but far greater (all versus none) integrity, Henry Hazlitt. What with “Keynesian” economics currently resurrected and enshrined in the office of the President and at the Federal Reserve, this is a timely article, which I hope will be picked up and reprinted in many forums across the worldwide web.

What you say, Mr. Rockwell, about Keynes’ GENERAL THEORY (“a book so convoluted and contradictory that it calls forth not comprehension but ascent through intimidation. Its success is a remarkable story of the bamboozlement of an entire profession…It is safe to say that if Keynes had been an obscure economics teacher at a small, Midwestern American college, his work, in the unlikely event that it even found a publisher, would have been totally ignored.”) is spot on.

The refutation of everything Keynes wrote in his GT, Hazlitt’s THE FAILURE OF THE NEW ECONOMICS, is a scintillating work by a fine writer. The fact that Hazlitt accepted the most difficult assignment of debunking Keynes’ magnum opus was a noble stroke of genius. It undoubtedly was a painful task, for it required deciphering the discombobulated, unintelligible, incomprehensible GT. It remains the only such work to do so that is comprehensive, leaving not even a fig leaf for Keynes to cover his naked stupidity.

Hazlitt’s debunking of Keynes occurred a full 23 years after publication of K’s GT, at a time when its remarkable influence on the economics profession was in a steep decline, a benevolent phenomenon that unfortunately proved to be only temporary. One can only wonder why neither Mises nor Hayek ever bothered to confute Keynes’ GT, which either man could have accomplished without much effort beyond the painful process of deciphering it. I presume that these great economist may have felt the GT was so manifestly ridiculous to economists that in due course it would sink into oblivion without a ripple by the weight of its own merits. Hazlitt’s FAILURE splendidly filled that intellectual void, showing for all the world to see that emperor Keynes has no logical clothes.

Mr. Rockwell, I would like to suggest that LvMI consider publishing an edition of Keynes’ GT in a single volume along with Hazlitt’s THE FAILURE OF THE NEW ECONOMICS. I read them together, and I cannot imagine a better way to cure Keynesianism.

Slim934 February 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm

So when will that collection of Hazlitt essays be published?

Roderick T. Long February 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm

It was a philosopher’s attack on all fixed principles and a defense of immoralism

Keynes famously claimed that reading G. E. Moore converted him to immoralism, but that’s not the same as saying that Moore himself was an immoralist; he certainly wasn’t! Keynes just had an oddball reading of Moore. Moore’s objection was to reductive principles, not to “fixed” ones.

Logan Rabe February 9, 2011 at 11:18 am

Dear Mr. Rockwell, As an undergraduate at Grove City College who has currently taken his studies overseas to Prague, this article touched me in a harmonious way. My economic classes began this morning at Anglo-American University and after my Expansion and Development class I began my first finance class that I had ever taken. The professor walked in with a stack of papers, a brief case, and guns loaded to strike down any individual who believed in objective economic truth. He began asking rhetorical questions that no one answered and said that the old days of supply and demand were over. He discussed the beauty of Keynes and belittled any idea of freedom within the market. He said in order to have a free market, “there must be heavy regulation, or else the system will collapse.” He blamed Capitalism for the economic crisis, and as I looked around, I saw the look of fear on student’s faces. They knew through their God given conscious how intellectually arrogant it was to refute all economic thought since the beginning of its birth. As I continued to sit, I knew truth needed to preach. Like an animal in a cage that longs to freed, my days of young Austrian punditry began to challenge professorial vanity. I challenged the professor over and over about the immorality of Government debt, bailouts, and the importance of understanding Keynes for who he truly was. Although my professor barely lent me his ear, I was proud to stand for objectivity. As I left class and walked across Charles Bridge back to my apartment I was in deep thought about how easy it is to abandon ones principles and just agree, so that everyone gets along and there is no strife. But that’s not moral courage and that’s not standing for truth. As I left my apartment and went to a coffee shop to read Mises.org I came across your article. Your article made me cry Mr. Rockwell. It could not have come at a better time. The Lord is good. As I have been here in Europe now for nearly three weeks, the temptation to just agree with the secularist has crossed my mind. The idea to take their thoughts and make them my own has been a struggle. And as a young man I am realizing the importance of standing for something, facing hardship, thinking independently, and making my ideas my own. I have struggled to get out of a certain way of intellectual plunder, but for the first time I know I am becoming my own man that stands for what is right and true- I know Hazlitt and my professors at Grove would be proud. Thank you for your article Mr. Rockwell. Continue laboring your mind and standing for truth. Logan R. Rabe

Layton May 3, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Aye! For many years I have felt much the same!

TokyoTom February 9, 2011 at 11:04 pm

A great and timely piece, Lew. Thank you.

TT

TokyoTom February 9, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Oh, one small note; Keynes actually said:

A preference for a tangible gold currency is no longer more than a relic of a time when governments were less trustworthy in these matters than they are now ….

http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=q46wF5Jv_dkC&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&dq=keyne+relic+of+times+when+governments+less+trustworthy&source=bl&ots=Yb3VRC0Un6&sig=3YDvJSJRmQ1tHCRGB3NVVTURzug&hl=en&ei=7GBTTZDMG4W8vQP_tLi8CQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CDgQ6AEwBg

We need to keep quoting Keynes, to show how he is hoist by his own petard.

TT

Carptrot February 10, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Rockwell: “Even more effectively, it was written with an eye to impressing the elites in the one way they can be impressed: a book so convoluted and contradictory that it calls forth not comprehension but ascent through intimidation.”

This means Rockwell read the first 10 pages, couldn’t get it, put it down, and asked Rothbard what to his opinion of it should be.

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