Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Henry Hazlitt vs. John Maynard Keynes

"Their lives and loyalties are a study in contrast," writes Lew Rockwell, "and mostly of choices born of internal conviction, in Hazlitt’s case, or lack thereof, Keynes’s case" — Hazlitt and Keynes: Opposite Callings. Their books contrasted:
    Hazlitt’s great book Economics in One Lesson, written the year that Keynes died, boils down all of economics to a single principle and applies it across the board to all the policies of government. It is crystal clear in its language, designed to be read by anyone in an effort to achieve Mises’s dream of bringing economic wisdom to every citizen.

    Keynes’s major work is The General Theory and it has been read by relatively few, mainly because it is so incomprehensible as to be nearly written in code. But then it wasn’t designed for everyone. It was written for the elites by a member of the most elite class of intellectuals on the planet. 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. Its success is a remarkable story of the bamboozlement of an entire profession, followed by the misleading of the entire world. If there are still believers in what Murray Rothbard called the Whig Theory of History – the idea that history is one long story of progress toward the truth – the success of The General Theory is the best case against it.

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