Aug 28, 2005

Ethics of Capitalism

It takes a great man to see that evil is sometimes necessary. John Maynard Keynes, one of the most prominent economists, was apparently not enchanted with capitalism. Yet, he saw that we have no other choice. He wrote:

For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still.
For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight. (JMK, CW, IX, pp.329, 331)

This rings very similar to my favourite quote by Winston Churchill:

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. Speech in the House of Commons (11 November 1947)

It is somewhat comforting to know that there are great people who can see the obvious. Neither democracy (or what passes for it today) nor capitalism are perfect. But for now, they are the best we have. And of course, this means there is a silver lining to all this: an implication that there is indeed something better, and as we slide faster and faster towards singularity, we get closer to the new, better world - with a fairer political and economic systems.

So, look forward to the future. I know I do.

And in the meantime, feel free to read this interesting article (
KEYNES AND THE ETHICS OF CAPITALISM by Robert Skidelsky).

2 comments:

martin the great said...

Gasp!!! Not only did you read a book by the author of the tenth most harmful book of the 20th century, you agree with what he wrote! OMIGOD, you're a terrorist!

And with that, I'm off to read Mein Kampf and Quotations of Mao.

Piotr Konieczny said...

Just cause I like splitting hairs I'll let it be known that the Keynes quote I refer to comes from his essay 'Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren' published in 1930, 6 years before the 'General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money'. I am not a Keynes fan, but nonetheless [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Theory_of_Employment_Interest_and_Money]his book[/url] is an important milestone in the development of modern economics. Hopefully, as he himself agrees, we will discover sth better. The sooner the better I will say :>

 
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