The End of Laissez-Faire

By John Maynard Keynes

Click here for a link to the book

This short book proved to be a page turner. From page one you learn about the origins of free market economics and thinking. According to Keynes, it began with David Hume and John Locke’s theories combining to form individualism. In addition to that, Jeremy Bentham and Archdeacon Paley brought forth the doctrine of utilitarianism. This gave rise to the concept of social utility of decisions. Along with Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s General Will, ‘the emphasis was laid on equality’. These factors were the building blocks that brought free market thinking to the forefront.

Keynes followed on how free markets were to be idolized as the one true machine for prosperity. Indeed, economists such as Frédéric Bastiatand Adam Smith, in concert with many economists, promoted the capitalist economic system. The capitalist system was eventually taught to students in school. Additionally, theories on proper governance were also in disarray. The government was never in good light because of its many failings.

However, Keynes grew rather frustrated with many people who praised capitalism without even knowing the origins of the economic system. Only Marxism and protectionism served as alternatives to capitalism, and these were exceptionally poor alternatives in Keynes’ opinion. Capitalism’s rise in economics was inevitable.

However, Keynes noted the unrealism of the assumptions used by mainstream economists. Indeed, economists did not understand the real workings of the economy; they eschewed it away in favor of convenience. Capitalism also involved a grim searching for social Darwinism invoked by Herbert Spencer. Keynes noted that those who do not have a chance need to be helped.

Keynes was clearly disenchanted with the mainstream situation of capitalism but also saw its decline. People are more important than just theory and he provided ways by which to solve some of these problems. The indomitable Keynes showed his human side which combined brilliantly with his razor sharp wit.


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