[Paleopsych] Economics as Religion by Robert Nelson

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Economics as Religion by Robert Nelson

[This is just an excerpt from this book. I had a proof copy of an earlier book 
of his, _Reaching for Heaven on Earth: The Theological Roots of Economics_, but 
never read it.]

    Chapter 1

    Tenets of Economic Faith

    To the extent that any system of economic ideas offers an alternative
    vision of the "ultimate values," or "ultimate reality," that actually
    shapes the workings of history, economics is offering yet another
    grand prophesy in the biblical tradition. The Jewish and Christian
    bibles foretell one outcome of history. If economics foresees another,
    it is in effect offering a competing religious vision. The prophesies
    of economics would then be a substitute for the traditional messages
    of the Bible. Perhaps the biblical God has reconsidered. Perhaps,
    instead of Jesus, he has now chosen economists to be a new bearer of
    his message, replacing the word of the Old and New Testaments that has
    now become outdated for the modern age--as Islam advertised the Koran
    as a later and more accurate statement of God's real plans for the
    world. Perhaps God has decided that the underlying ordering forces of
    the world, the ultimate reality that will shape the future outcome of
    history, will truly be economic.
    To be sure, for many thinkers, such a message of economic prophesy has
    not depended on the necessary existence of any god in the hereafter.
    In this case their belief system results not in a Judeo-Christian
    heresy, but in an entirely new and secular religion--although one that
    draws many of its themes from the biblical tradition, now typically
    reworking them in a less direct and mostly implicit fashion.1

    The Marxist Example

    No economic thinker, for example, was more outwardly antagonistic to
    religion than Karl Marx.2 Religion was for him the "opiate" of the
    masses. Yet, in retrospect, no social scientist better illustrates the
    power of underlying religious influences than Marx.* Beneath his
    confused economic analysis and grand pronouncements on the economic
    laws of history lies a simple biblical eschatology. Humankind has
    fallen into evil ways, corrupted by the workings of the forces of the
    class struggle. The resulting "alienation" for Marx has virtually the
    same meaning for the human situation as "original sin" in the biblical
    message. Human beings are today still living in a state of darkness,
    depravity, and corruption.
    The prospect of escape from this terrible condition, however, is close
    at hand. God (now replaced in Marx by the economic laws of history)
    has promised to deliver the world from sin (alienation). There will be
    a fierce struggle and a great cataclysm (a final war in history
    between the capitalist and the working classes), followed by the
    arrival of the kingdom of God on earth (the triumph of the proletariat
    and the arrival of pure communism). In Christian theology the twin
    coercive instruments of government and property are both products of
    the fallen condition of mankind in this world since the Garden of
    Eden, and in heaven neither will exist. In Marxist theology as well,
    the end of the class struggle, the end of alienation (sin), will bring
    about the abolition of government and property alike. Secular
    religion, as this example shows, can follow remarkably closely in the
    path of Judeo-Christian religion.

    (* The Encyclopedia of the World's Religions includes a chapter on
    Marxism, declaring that it meets
    all the essential requirements of a religion. See R. C. Zaehner,
    "Dialectical Materialism," in R. C.
    Zaehner, ed., Encyclopedia of the World's Religions (New York: Barnes
    and Noble Books, 1997).)

    Marx thus is best understood not fundamentally as an economist at all,
    but as another Jewish messiah--like Jesus--with another message of
    salvation for the world. If the message of Jesus had conquered the
    Mediterranean and European world, the Marxist gospel in the twentieth
    century would spread over Russia, China, and many other nations--to
    billions of people throughout the globe. As Paul Tillich said in his
    history of Christian religion, and however distorted the Marxist
    gospel, Marx was one of the most influential "theologians" who ever
    lived.3 To be sure, as D. McCloskey has said is true for of the value
    systems embodied in the work of many current economists as well, this
    value system of Marx with its roots in Judeo-Christian eschatology is
    never made explicit; instead, the religion is left buried under a
    large body of ostensibly "scientific" arguments.4
    Thus, the libertarian and Austrian economist Murray Rothbard
    considered Marxism to be an "atheized variant of a venerable Christian
    heresy" that offered a "messianic goal" to be realized by the
    "apocalyptic creation" of a new world order. Joachim of Fiore and
    other Christian visionaries had preached messages of a communist
    "final state of mankind as one of perfect harmony and equality,"
    inspiring among others the later Anabaptist revolutionaries of the
    Protestant Reformation. The greatest new element introduced by Marx
    and his followers in the modern age was that these ancient themes now
    assumed a "secular context."5 Aside from this, Rothbard saw Marxism as
    the application of an ancient formula:
    [For Marx] history is the history of suffering, of class struggle, of
    the exploitation of man by man. In the same way as the return of the
    Messiah, in Christian theology, would put an end to history and
    establish a new Heaven and new Earth, so the establishment of
    communism would put an end to human history. And just as
    for . . . Christians, man, led by God's prophets and saints, would
    establish a Kingdom of God on Earth, . . . so for Marx and other
    schools of communists, mankind, led by a vanguard of secular saints,
    would establish a secularized kingdom of heaven on earth.6
    The success of Marxism in Russia, according to one leading
    interpreter, was attributable to its ability to draw on a
    long-standing "`religious conception of the czar's authority' and a
    deep belief that land belonged to God." The powerful religious faith
    of the Russian people was capable of "switching over and directing
    itself to purposes which are not merely religious, for example, to
    social objects," part of a process in which Russians "could very
    readily pass from one integrated faith to another" as found in the
    Marxist gospel. Indeed, as perceived by many Russians, "the world
    mission of the [Communist Party] Third International echoed Orthodox
    Christian messianism, which saw Moscow as the Third Rome." Under
    Stalin, the members of the communist party functioned "less as members
    of a political party than as clergy under an infallible pope."7
    Marxist economics clearly met Tillich's requirement that a genuine
    religion must offer a vision of "ultimate reality." For Marx
    everything that happened in the history of the world was controlled by
    economic laws. Altogether blind to the obvious religious character of
    his own economic system, Marx said that every form of religious belief
    is merely a product of a particular economic stage of the class
    struggle. Echoing this tenet of Marxist faith, for example, in the
    bible of Chinese communism, the "red book," Mao Tse-Tung would say
    that "in the general development of history the material determines
    the mental and social being determines social consciousness."8
    Religion for Marxism thus can have no objective content; it merely
    provides a convenient rationalization for the relations of economic
    power of the moment. If capitalists are the dominant economic class
    today, then the current religion of society will be determined by the
    objective needs of capitalism at this particular time. If capitalists
    actually believe in the truth of their religion, this grand
    self-delusion merely shows the warped and distorted quality of human
    thought in the current state of deep human alienation (a secular
    restatement of the sinfulness of fallen men and women).
    Marx regards everything else in society in the same perspective.
    Political organizations, social theories, the legal system, the role
    of universities, all the institutional features of society are
    designed to serve the existing relationships of economic power, as
    manifested in and determined by the current stage of the class
    struggle. As a new "ultimate reality," the laws of economics have
    literally taken the very place of the laws of God in ordering the
    world. The economic god of Marx is, moreover, a harsh god in the
    biblical tradition; he has condemned the present world to constant
    fighting and destruction and most human beings to lives of deception
    and depravity.
    To be sure, Marx may have offered an exaggerated version, but he was
    hardly alone in thinking in this religious way. Just as the biblical
    message was recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in different
    versions, the god who works through economic history has also had
    multiple interpreters. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, according to one
    authority, believed that "it was property alone which induced crime
    and wars," corrupting the original happy state of nature by conflicts
    over material possessions.9 Also in the eighteenth century, David Hume
    had said: "Let us suppose that nature has bestowed on the human race
    such profuse abundance of all external conveniences, that . . . every
    individual finds himself fully provided with whatever his most
    voracious appetite can want, or luxurious imagination wish or desire."
    If this state of affairs should ever be reached, Hume suggested, "it
    seems evident that, in such a happy state, every other social virtue
    would flourish, and receive tenfold increase." Property and the
    divisions in society it fosters would cease to have relevance in a
    world of perfect abundance; issues of social justice would no longer
    be a concern, because there would be little or no crime or conflict.
    It would be a world of "unlimited abundance" where "justice, in that
    case, being totally useless, would be an idle ceremonial."10
    By the late nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, social
    scientists of all kinds and stripes were occupying themselves in
    showing how economic forces in the long run determine almost
    everything important that happens in history. A few have been grand
    synthesizers on the order of Marx, such as Herbert Spencer with his
    message of social Darwinism. Many others have focused on the
    illustration of one or another specific case of the controlling power
    of economic forces in history. In American history, for example,
    Charles Beard claimed to show that the American Constitution was not
    really the outcome of a battle of ideas about freedom but was the
    result of a clash of economic interests in the late eighteenth
    century.11 Others would argue that the Civil War was not about the
    morality of slavery or about preserving one union grounded in a common
    American civil religion but was actually the product of a conflict
    between powerful economic interests of the North and the South.
    Thorstein Veblen would contend that the entire economic system and the
    relationships of property ownership in this system were being driven
    by the exigencies of technological change in the newly industrializing
    United States, that the economic realities of modern industrial
    society entirely "shapes their habits of thought" for those directly
    involved in its workings.12 John Kenneth Galbraith would echo Veblen's
    vision when he claimed in the 1960s that the technological imperatives
    of modern government and industry had displaced the formal owners of
    capital and empowered a new "technostructure" of scientific and
    administrative experts to run the affairs of the nation.13
    Outside the United States, the French Revolution was recast by leading
    intellectuals as an economic power struggle, the means by which the
    rising middle class finally displaced the old feudal order. Max Weber,
    while he found many of the economic details of Marxism inaccurate,
    nevertheless often looked at noneconomic aspects of society in terms
    of the workings of economic forces. The important thing about
    Calvinism for Weber was not the objective reality of its truth claims
    about the human condition. Rather, the more significant element was
    that Calvinism provided a powerful economic motive for and
    rationalized the existence of a new economic class--the emerging new
    commercial and other business groups in Europe, the very groups among
    whom Calvinism had first found favor.14 Much in the manner of Marx,
    Weber was seeming to agree that the form and character of religion was
    shaped by necessities to be found in the underlying workings of
    economic forces.*

    (* More recent reviewers, it should be noted, have found many aspects
    of Weber's argument to be
    deficient. See Kurt Samuelsson, Religion and Economic Action:The
    Protestant Ethic, the Rise of Capitalism, and the Abuses of
    Scholarship (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993).)

    A Coming Age of Abundance

    The Marxist assumption that the working of the laws of economics will
    yield a new species of human being, the "new man" of the communist
    utopia, has often been derided as an example of the folly of Marx's
    overall scheme. However, the hope for a new human condition as a
    result of economic progress is not unique to Marxism; indeed, the same
    kind of thinking was manifested in western European socialism,
    American Progressivism, and other leading economic belief systems of
    the twentieth century. As Kate Soper has commented, the great
    attraction of socialism derives from the "satisfaction it permits to
    the ethical demand for justice and equity in the distribution of
    goods, as [much as] it has to do with the material gratification
    afforded by those goods."15
    In the economic gospels, the existence of evil behavior in the world
    has reflected the severity of the competition for physical survival of
    the past. Human beings have often lied and cheated, murdered, and
    stolen, were filled with hatreds and prejudices, because they were
    driven to this condition by the material pressures of their
    existence.* If the choice was to live or die in the struggle for
    control over resources, few people were likely to choose to sacrifice
    themselves in order to save others. Thus, the state of material
    deprivation is the original sin of economic theology./- Then, if this
    diagnosis is correct, the cure for evil in the world follows directly
    enough. If sin results from destructive forces brought into existence
    by material scarcity, a world without scarcity, a world of complete
    material abundance, will be a world without sin.16
    (* Although there are many fewer people today who believe that
    economic influences are so important, such views that conflicts are
    stirred by material deprivation are still widely expressed.Among many
    examples that could be cited, one 1995 report in Washington Post finds
    that "South Korean President Kim Young Sam and other officials have
    warned that hunger and economic desperation could tempt North Korea's
    leaders to consider a military strike against South Korea." See Kevin
    Sullivan, "Food Shortages Fuel Alarm over N.Korea, "Washington Post,
    December 23, 1995, A11.)

    (/- Another way of putting this is to say that it is material
    deprivation that gives rise to the "craving
    for belongings" and that evil behavior arises because human beings
    have been "thoroughly warped" by this intense desire for possessions.
    The secularization of the idea of original sin in this manner became a
    principal theme of Rousseau and other French intellectuals in the
    eighteenth century. One of them, writing anonymously, declares: "The
    only vice which I know in the universe is avarice; all the others,
    whatever name one gives them, are merely forms, degrees of it: it is
    the Proteus, the Mercury, the base, the vehicle of all the other
    vices. Analyze vanity, conceit, pride, ambition, deceitfulness,
    hypocrisy, villainy; break down the majority of our sophisticated
    virtues themselves, all dissolve in this subtle and pernicious
    element, the desire to possess." See Richard Pipes, Property and
    Freedom (New York: Vintage Books, 1999), 41.
    Then, if evil in the world could be traced to material causes, it
    followed logically enough that the remaking of the material world by
    human effort had the potential to abolish evil. Humankind could
    refashion social and economic circumstances to perfect the condition
    of the world--to achieve a new heaven on earth. Inspired by their
    hopes for such a secular salvation, the first to make the effort were
    the French during the French Revolution. It was a new species of
    religious revolution where God was now dropped from the essential
    vocabulary. Many others would come later in the modern age, following
    one or another economic theory of the elimination of scarcity and thus
    the elimination of the very grounds for the existence of material
    cravings and for evil behavior on earth.)
    The contemporary philosopher Will Kymlicka thus comments that in
    Marxism "it is material abundance which allows communist society to
    overcome the need for justice." It is not because "individuals cease
    to have conflicting goals in life, or when a `more developed form of
    altruism' arises." Rather, evil currently exists in the world because
    the economic relations of production create a material circumstance in
    which "the social creations of an individual take on an alien
    independence, `enslaving him instead of being controlled by him.'
    These include the imperatives of capitalist competition, role
    requirements of the division of labor, rigours of the labour market,
    and what Marx calls the `fetishism' of money, capital and
    commodities." Thus, "material scarcity" is the "crucial circumstance,"
    but it also creates the possibility that the present state of
    alienation "can be eliminated." The perfection of the world for Marx
    "is impossible without abundance" but following the triumph of the
    proletariat "is guaranteed by abundance."17 As Marx himself stated:
    In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving
    subordination of the individual to the division of labor . . . has
    vanished; after labour has become not only a means to life but life's
    prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the
    all-round development of the individual, and all the springs of
    co-operative wealth flow more abundantly--only then can the narrow
    horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society
    inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each
    according to his needs!18
    Engels had written as early as 1847 that "private property can be
    abolished only when the economy is capable of producing the volume of
    goods needed to satisfy everyone's requirements. . . . The new rate of
    industrial growth will produce enough goods to satisfy all the demands
    of society. . . . Society will achieve an output sufficient for the
    needs of all members."19 Marxism thus has an ambivalence that some
    might find surprising with respect to the existence of the capitalist
    economic system based on competition in the marketplace. Although the
    workings of this system may degrade the laboring classes today,
    without the marvelous advances in economic productivity due to the
    profit incentive and other elements of the market system, the future
    salvation of the world would not be possible. Capitalism is thus a
    necessary economic stage on the road to heaven on earth. If the date
    of its arrival could not be precisely fixed, Marx would "hail each
    important new invention as the magical `material productive force'
    that would inevitably bring about the socialist revolution."20 The
    scientific development of electricity with its amazing and
    transformative economic capabilities, Marx was sure, had significantly
    advanced the timetable for the arrival of his new heaven on earth.

    The Keynesian God

    It would be hard to imagine a temperament more the opposite of Marx's
    than that of John Maynard Keynes. If Marx was prophetic and bombastic,
    Keynes had the manner of the worldly wise. If Marx was a social misfit
    and bohemian, the urbane Keynes designed economic blueprints for the
    British Treasury, and yet at the next moment might be consorting with
    the artistic elite of Bloomsbury.21 Keynes also differed sharply from
    Marx in his prescription for solving unemployment and other economic
    problems. Yet in terms of ultimate values, Keynesianism was only a
    modest variation on Marx--on the recent revelation of God's actual
    plan for the world, that the Christian Bible is apparently mistaken,
    that God actually works in history through economic forces and is
    planning a glorious ending to the world based on the workings of
    rapidly advancing material productivity.
    In his 1930 essay "Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren,"
    Keynes agreed with Marx (and Jesus) that capitalism--necessarily
    grounded in the desire for money and the competitive workings of
    self-interest in the market--is a "disgusting" system, characterized
    by motives unworthy of human beings. Christianity, and later Marxism,
    were right to believe that "avarice is a vice, that the exaction of
    usury is a misdemeanor, and the love of money is detestable." Keynes
    also agreed that it was the force of economic pressures--the result of
    material scarcity in the world and the resulting fierce struggle for
    mere physical survival--that had separated human beings from their
    inner better selves. Marx was right to say that the economic workings
    of capitalism (and feudalism and other economic systems before that)
    had alienated human beings from their true natures (as the Fall in the
    Garden had previously been thought to be the true cause of this
    separation). As Keynes himself put it, the economic individual had
    been required to suppress a natural instinct to "pluck the hour and
    the day virtuously and well," to be able to take spontaneous and
    "direct enjoyment in things," as was possible for the "lilies of the
    field who toil not, neither do they spin."22
    The modern god of Keynes who spoke to humankind through the workings
    of economic forces in history had the same basic plan for a secular
    salvation as had the god of Marx. Both relied on the marvelous
    productive powers of capitalism to bring on a final stage of history.*
    It will be an era of abundance, ending the corrosive and corrupting
    influence of economic scarcity, thus bringing on a time of great human
    virtue, equality, and contentment. Keynes, like Marx, sees a new man
    and woman being born: "All kinds of social customs and economic
    practices, affecting the distribution of wealth and of economic
    rewards and penalties, which we now maintain at all costs, however
    distasteful and unjust they may be in themselves, because they are
    tremendously useful in promoting the accumulation of capital, we shall
    then be free, at last, to discard." It will all come about, Keynes
    writes, as a result of "the greatest change that has ever occurred in
    the material environment of life for human beings in the aggregate."
    After this happens, we will finally be "able to rid ourselves of many
    of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us" for
    (* While economists have often been blind to the underlying values in
    their economic messages,
    Christians theologians--lamenting the substitution of secular beliefs
    for traditional Christian teachings-- have often been more perceptive
    in seeing the core religious quality of these beliefs.Thus,Richard
    Niebuhr in the 1930s came to think that "the Social Gospel, with its
    focus on human striving,was insufficiently centered on God."The
    Christian churches of America were located in a "culture caught up in
    idolatrous faiths which take partial human communities, activities and
    desires as cherished objects. Nationalism focuses on one's country,
    capitalism on economic production and racism on a particular group.The
    church has been infiltrated by these social faiths"but must now seek a
    future "emancipation from cultural bondage" with its pervasive "idols"
    such as "economic production." See Douglas F. Ottati," God and
    Ourselves:The Witness of H.Richard Niebuhr,"Christian Century, April
    Keynes's timetable was hardly less optimistic than that of Marx. Like
    the early followers of Jesus in biblical times, Keynes thought that
    the arrival of the kingdom of heaven on earth was near at hand, to
    occur in perhaps one hundred years or so. The continued rapid advance
    of economic progress in the world would soon "lead us out of the
    tunnel of economic necessity into daylight."24
    In terms of the path to heaven on earth, there was one key difference
    between Keynes and Marx. Marx was what in Christianity is called a
    "premillennial" prophet; Keynes was instead a "postmillennial."25 The
    premillennials, like Marx, see humankind as mired today in such
    fundamental depravity that the only hope--which God (or the economic
    forces of history) fortunately has predestined--is an apocalyptic
    transformation of the human condition. This transformation will often
    be prefigured by catastrophes of the worst kind. For postmillennials,
    in contrast, the millennium has already begun; human progress toward
    heaven on earth is already taking place at this very moment; humankind
    has an important continuing role to play within the divine plan for
    bringing about the salvation of the world.
    As Keynes said, being careful to distinguishing himself from Marx in
    this regard, the coming era of economic abundance would not be
    experienced initially "as a catastrophe." Instead, like a good
    Christian postmillennial, Keynes writes that "I look forward,
    therefore, in the days not so very remote" to great changes in the
    human condition for the better. "But, of course, it will all happen
    gradually. . . . Indeed, it has already begun."26
    Keynes included his essay "Economic Possibilities for Our
    Grandchildren" as the closing chapter in Essays in Persuasion. This
    was not the only time that Keynes chose to wrap up on important book
    in this manner--to indicate that the details of his prior economic
    theorizing were designed in the end to serve a grand moral purpose. In
    the concluding chapter of The General Theory, Keynes repeats similar
    themes, if in a somewhat more subdued and cautious language, also
    reflecting the different conventions of the academic audience to which
    this work was directed. Moreover, by the mid-1930s Hitler was already
    becoming a threat to the world, and Keynes's assessment of the human
    condition was shifting accordingly.
    Thus, Keynes writes at the end of The General Theory that there are
    "dangerous human proclivities" at work in a sinful world that pose the
    prospect of "cruelty, the reckless pursuit of personal power and
    authority, and other forms of self-aggrandizement." Capitalism could
    serve an important short-run function because "it is better that a man
    should tyrannise over his bank balance than his fellow citizens."
    Moreover, there were "valuable human activities" that depended on the
    "motive of money-making and the environment of private
    wealth-ownership for their full fruition."27
    Yet, in the longer run, if society would heed the prescriptions of The
    General Theory, the resulting steady economic growth would mean--much
    as Marx had prophesied--"the euthanasia of the cumulative oppressive
    power of the capitalist class to exploit the scarcity value of
    capital." The current capitalist system was merely a "transitional
    phase" after which the world would experience a "sea-change."28 If
    Keynes did not give many details concerning the consequences of this
    change in The General Theory, one can assume that he meant something
    of the kind that he had already described in Essays in Persuasion.
    Keynes of course did not advertise The General Theory as a work of
    theology. Instead, as the title reflected, he seemed to suggest that
    readers should see his efforts more as following in the footsteps of
    Albert Einstein. Einstein had discovered a general theory of time and
    space; Keynes had now discovered a general theory of economic
    interactions. Einstein's theory of relativity had shown that dynamic
    factors could fundamentally alter the conclusions of Newtonian
    physics; Keynesian economics would now show that dynamic factors could
    yield new and unexpected laws fundamentally altering the behavior of a
    market economy. Thus, like Marx, Keynes presented himself in the role
    of a true scientist of society--an essential element in the enormous
    influence both would have on the history of the twentieth century.
    D. McCloskey may be right, however. Despite the scientific aspirations
    of The General Theory (which have not held up well over time), the
    more important content may have been an implicit theological message.
    Contrary to Marx, Keynes was saying, the salvation of the world would
    take time, it would require patience. Both agreed that capitalism was
    a debased form of existence, yet Marx no less than Keynes now thought
    that capitalism at present was indispensable to the economic growth
    that would end economic scarcity and bring on a new stage of abundance
    in history. However, as Keynes now thought, attempts to accelerate the
    schedule for the end of capitalism, acted out under the duress of the
    economic conditions of the depression years, would be disastrous in
    the long run. The millennium had already begun; the human condition
    was steadily improving already. With patience and trust in the
    economic forces in history, the underlying moral theology of The
    General Theory was that the capitalist stage of economic history would
    soon enough be ended (in one hundred years or so), and no great
    economic cataclysm or other great disaster would be necessary to
    fulfill the looming material and spiritual perfection of the world.*
    No dictatorship of the proletariat was necessary or desirable; it was
    necessary only to use the instrument of existing democratic government
    to make further incremental adjustments in the workings of the current
    market system.

    (* As a postmillennial, Keynes was following closely in the tradition
    of John Stuart Mill, more so
    than of the premillennial, apocalyptic Marx. Mill in his Principles of
    Political Economy offered a view of the future strikingly similar to
    that later developed by Keynes in "Economic Possibilities for our
    Grandchildren." Agreeing with Keynes, Mill describes the current stage
    of industrial development, characterized by the "trampling, crushing,
    elbowing, and treading on each other's heels" of the competitive
    process, as impossible to consider "anything but the disagreeable
    symptoms of one of the phases of industrial progress." Mill also
    agrees with Keynes (and Marx) that capitalism may be a "necessary
    stage"; it would be important for some time to come that "the energies
    of mankind should be kept in employment by the struggle for riches,"
    especially because in the present material circumstances of mankind
    the alternative might be (as Keynes would also warn) "the struggle of
    war." But capitalism should be regarded, Mill says, as a "very early
    stage of human improvement" that will eventually be superceded by a
    much better "ultimate type." In the current stage it is necessary to
    exalt degraded values such as the "increase of production and
    accumulation."However, in the longer run such economic motives will be
    of "little importance." The current environment, with its prevailing
    motive "to grow as rich as possible," will be replaced by a world in
    which "no one desires to be richer." This "steady state," as Mill's
    characterizes it,"would be, on the whole, a very considerable
    improvement on our present condition."

    It would be,as Marx and Keynes also emphasized, the transforming power
    of material progress that would lead to this new world in which "a
    much larger body of persons than atpresent,[would be] not only exempt
    from the coarser toils, but with sufficient leisure, both physical and
    mental, to cultivate freely the graces of life." Progress would no
    longer be conceived in economic terms, but in the steady state, as
    Mill believes, "there would be as much scope as ever for all kinds of
    . . . moral and social progress; as much room for improving the Art of
    Living, and much more likelihood of its being im-proved, when minds
    ceased to be engrossed by the art of getting on" economically. If any
    further economi growth did occur, it would not be used to increase
    levels of consumption that would already be ample to meet any real
    needs but with "abridging labour" and thus opening the way for greater
    leisure and personal development.
    In short, Mill is yet another of the leading economists of the past
    two hundred years who sees material progress not as the end in itself
    but as the short-run means of reaching for a long-run future heaven on
    earth. See John Stuart Mill, "The Stationary State," chap. 6 in bk. 4
    of Principles of Political Economy (1871; reprint, Fairfield,N.J.:
    Augustus M.Kelley, 1987), 746-51.)
    This secular Keynesian theology would become "the new gospel" for the
    economics profession in the years following World War II.29 As Milton
    Friedman has commented, it was "tremendously effective" in the United
    States in influencing the direction of public policy. Friedman
    recalled how a whole generation of "economists, myself included, have
    sought to discover how to manipulate the levers of power effectively,
    and to persuade--or educate--government officials regarded as seeking
    to serve the public interest."30 The most important form of
    manipulation would be that of the "market mechanism."
    Keynes sought especially to ward off the ideas of Marxists,
    doctrinaire socialists, and other potentially harmful influences on
    public opinion, the kinds of people whom Keynes himself characterized
    as most likely in practice actually "to serve not God but the
    If false religions were at work in the land, Keynes found it necessary
    to fight fire with fire. As Joseph Schumpeter would relate, Keynes's
    own efforts inspired a band of followers who exhibited a new religious
    A Keynesian school formed itself, not a school in that loose sense in
    which some historians of economics speak of a French, German, Italian
    school, but a genuine one which is a sociological entity, namely, a
    group that professes allegiance to One Master and One Doctrine, and
    has its inner circle, its propagandists, its watchwords, its esoteric
    and its popular doctrine. Nor is this all. Beyond the pale of orthodox
    Keynesianism there is a broad fringe of sympathizers and beyond this
    again are the many who have absorbed, in one form or another, readily
    or grudgingly, some of the spirit or some individual items of
    Keynesian analysis. There are but two analogous cases in the whole
    history of economics--the Physiocrats and the Marxists.32
    Samuelson's Economics would be the means by which the Keynesian gospel
    was communicated to millions of American college students in the
    postwar years. Samuelson was an unabashed admirer not only of the
    Keynesian economic theories but also of Keynes himself, whom he
    declared to be a true "many-sided genius" of our time who was eminent
    not only in economics but also in "the field of mathematics and
    philosophy."33 Samuelson's mission in Economics was to communicate
    persuasively not only the technical details but also the moral
    philosophy--the implicit secular religion--of Keynesianism.
    Samuelson's great accomplishment was to devise a way of accomplishing
    this task ideally suited to his specific time and place in American

    1. See Frank E. Manuel and Fritzie P. Manuel, Utopian Thought in the
    Western World (Cambridge:
    Harvard University Press, 1979); J. L.Talmon, Politican Messianism:The
    Romantic Phase (Boulder,Colo.: Westview Press, 1985; 1st ed., 1960).
    2. Isaiah Berlin, Karl Marx: His Life and Environment (New York: Time
    Books, 1963; 1st ed., 1939).
    3. Paul Tillich, A History of Christian Thought: From Its Judaic and
    Hellenistic Origins to Existentialism
    (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967), 476.
    4. See G.N. Kitching, Marxism and Science:Analysis of an Obsession
    (University Park: Penn State
    Press, 1994).
    5. Murray N. Rothbard, Classical Economics: An Austrian Perspective on
    the History of Economic
    Thought (Brookfield, Vt.:Edward Elgar, 1995), 433, 299, 301.
    6. Ibid., 317.
    7. Mitchell Cohen, "Theories of Stalinism," Dissent 39 (Spring 1992):
    180-82, 184.
    8. Quotations from Mao Tse-tung (Peking: Foreign Language Press,
    1966), 222. This publication was widely known as the red book.
    9. J.W. Harris, Property and Justice (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996),
    10. Charles W. Hendel, Jr., ed., Hume Selections (New York: Charles
    Scribner's Sons, 1927), 203-4.
    11. Charles A. Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution
    (New York: Macmillan, 1913).
    12. Thorstein Veblen, "The Preconceptions of Economic Science, I,"
    Quarterly Journal of Economics
    (January 1899): 143. See also Thorstein Veblen, The Engineers and the
    Price System (New York: Augustus Kelley, 1965; 1st ed., 1921).
    13. John Kenneth Galbraith, The New Industrial State (Boston: Houghton
    Mifflin, 1979; 1st ed., 1967).
    14. Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (New
    York: Charles Scribner,1958;
    1st ed., 1905).
    15. Kate Soper, "Socialism and Personal Morality," in David McLellan
    and Sean Sayers, eds., Socialism and Morality (New York: St. Martin's
    Press, 1990), 111.
    16. See Steven Lukes, Marxism and Morality (New York: Oxford
    University Press, 1985); and Eugene Kamenka, Marxism and Ethics
    (London: Macmillan, 1969).
    17. Will Kymlicka, Liberalism, Community, and Culture (New York:Oxford
    University Press, 1989), 114, 119, 114-15, 119.
    18. Karl Marx,Critique of the Gotha Programme (1875), quoted in
    Kymlicka, Liberalism,Community, and Culture, 119.
    19. Quoted in Rothbard, Classical Economics, 327.
    20. Ibid., 374.
    21. For the life history of Keynes, see Robert Skidelsky, John Maynard
    Keynes: Hopes Betrayed,
    1883-1920 (New York: Viking, 1986); and, John Maynard Keynes:The
    Economist as Savior, 1920-1937
    (New York: Viking, 1994).
    22. John Maynard Keynes,"Economic Possibilities for Our
    Grandchildren,"(1930) in Keynes, Essays
    in Persuasion (New York:W.W.Norton, 1963), 369, 371-72.
    23. Ibid., 369-372.
    24. Ibid., 372.
    25. See Robert G. Clouse, ed., The Meaning of the Millennium: Four
    Views (Downers Grove, Ill.:
    InterVarsity Press, 1977), 7-9.
    26. Keynes, "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren," 369-73.
    27. John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest,
    and Money (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1965; 1st ed., 1936),
    28. Ibid., 376.
    29. David C. Colander and Harry Landreth, introduction to Colander and
    Landreth, eds., The Coming of Keynesianism to America: Conversations
    with the Founders of Keynesian Economics (Brookfield, Vt.:Edward
    Elgar, 1996), 9. 344 Notes to Pages 23-33
    30. Milton Friedman, "John Maynard Keynes," Economic Quarterly
    (Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond) 83 (Spring 1997): 22.
    31. Letter from Keynes to Friedrich Hayek praising his The Road to
    Serfdom, quoted in Friedman,
    "John Maynard Keynes," 22.
    32. Joseph A.Schumeter, Ten Great Economists from Marx to Keynes
    (1951),quoted in Colander and
    Landreth's introduction to The Coming of Keynesianism, 9-10.
    33. Paul A.Samuelson, Economics (New York:McGraw Hill, 1948), 253.

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