John Maynard Keynes: Fighting for Freedom, 1937-1946
By Robert Skidelsky, Viking, 580 pages, $34.95.
John Maynard Keynes was an economist, a policy
the British government (and, at times, a coruscating critic), an influential
in the Liberal Party, an intimate member of the Bloomsbury Group, a prolific
journalist of opinion, a patron of the arts, a gentleman farmer, a wealthy
investor, a prominent business executive, a fixture of Cambridge University's
intellectual life, and a homosexual who, in his early forties, married a Russian
ballerina and lived thereafter (by all accounts) a deeply fulfilling life with
When I tell politically progressive friends that I've started teaching a course at Harvard about religion's impact on American politics and public policy, I usually face one of two responses.
The first is an awkward silence--and a quick change of subject. The second is also awkward but comes with an anxiously knowing, usually sotto voce, "So you're doing abortion and the Christian right--that sort of thing, yes?" When I explain that, no, in fact I'm devoting only a week of the course to the religious right and that I barely mention abortion, it's usually back to awkward silence again--and the search for a new subject.
In a culture that is seen to be spinning out of control, the V-chip has
generated an extraordinary alliance across conventional class and political
lines, from the Christian right to progressive media reformers, and in Congress,
from conservative Senator John McCain to liberal Congressman Ed Markey.
According to a New York Times poll from last February, more than 80
percent of parents say they consider the V-chip (or something like it) an
indispensable part of their families' information age future.
The trouble with Professor Viner's delicate evasion is that economists no longer agree about what they do, or even whether it is all worth doing. Critics outside the profession long faulted economists for a host of sins: their deductive method, their formalism, their over-reliance on arcane algebra, their imperviousness to complex evidence, the bald inconsistency of different facets of the economic paradigm. What's new--after decades of steadfast resistance--is that these same concerns have begun to bother the profession too.