Keynes, Anti-Semite? Really?

Pardon the intrusion — but I find this interesting. There’s a diary entry of Keynes being circulated around that supposedly proves Keynes was an anti-Semite. This is meant to be a brilliant rebuttal to Paul Krugman’s “Keynes was Right” column on how Keynes’s theoretical model of macroeconomics has been vindicated.

In some ways it doesn’t matter. Milton Friedman did some terrible things, but that doesn’t effect whether his theories were solid. Add to that that anti-semitism in turn-of-the-century Britain was the norm, and it’s hard to see what this tells us about Keynes’s character anyway.

But I couldn’t help noticing that they were all quoting from the same source — same elipses, etc. Classic sign of people not checking original sources.  

So I went to the original source of the quotes (with the tell-tale ellipses). Humorously it comes from a years-old Marxist critique of Paul Krugman’s support of Keynes. From long enough ago that he was at MIT.

That part is kind of funny, no? That conservatives are cribbing off of Communist attacks (and not fact checking them!).

Now, Marxists are wrong about just about everything, but they do love their citations, and they provided a full cite to the quote. So I went one step backwards, and got to the paper on Scribd. And I read a little further. Here is what I found:

Keynes was a Zionist

When we put Keynes’ derogatory remarks in a dialogue with his political acts concerning the targeted individuals, a stark contrast between them emerges. Rather than analyzing Keynes’ policy toward the targeted groups, let us follow the main thesis of this analysis and focus on his political acts that might possibly compensate for the burden of his disturbing anti-Semitic remarks, whose nature I have already partially addressed. Keynes` support of Zionism remains a theme so far largely unnoticed by historians. Annand Chandavarkar was probably the first historian to call attention to this topic. It is hardly known that Keynes was the only non-Jewish member of a high-powered advisory committee responsible for preparing a report on Zionist efforts to establish a national home in Palestine, which was to be presented in Paris at the Peace Conference in February 1919.

Keynes was a vocal critic of 1930s German policy against the Jews

Later during the persecution of Jews in Germany in 1930s, Keynes decisively stood on the side of the Jews. The letter written to Professor Spiethoff, who was arranging the publication of a German translation of “National Sufficiency,” supports this claim:

“Forgive me for my word about barbarism. But the word rightly indicates the effect of recent events in Germany on all of us here…It is many generations in our judgment since such disgraceful events have occurred in any country pretending to call itself civilized…If you tell me that these events have taken place, not by force but as an expression of the general will…that in our view would make some of the persecutions and outrages of which we hear…ten times more horrible.”

Keynes even suggested making an offer to Germany to make organized arrangements for all German and Austrian Jews who wished to emigrate and be naturalized elsewhere. He readily intervened in favor of interned Jewish economists. According to editors of The Collected Writings, Keynes was one of the most active in succoring the Jewish refugees.

Again, to repeat, in some ways it doesn’t matter. Keynes could be a rascist and be right about the economy, just as Friedman was right about many things but made a horrendous mistake in Chile. 

But honestly, if you are going to cite sources, read downpage in that source at least a little. It’s embarassing…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s