By Piero V. Mini (auth.)
An exam of the values and outlook of John Maynard Keynes as prompted via his reviews at Eton and Cambridge, and through G.E.Moore and Bloomsbury. the writer strains Keynes' rejection of Bentham's principles and the genesis of "The common Theory", Keynes' blueprint for cultural reconstruction.
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Additional info for Keynes, Bloomsbury and The General Theory
As a critic, he provided us with the essential terms for our debate in matters of taste and judgment .... 26 We are interested in him as a critic of the society economists were forging. Like Coleridge's, Arnold's view of society was organic, not atomistic. It was inspired by the Fair and Merry England of the romantic outlook. His Culture and Anarchy is a critical philosophy. As in Carlyle and others, the villain of the piece is the mental attitude that he calls 'machinery', by which he means the whole tendency to regard means as ends in themselves in thought and behaviour, which Nineteenth-Century Anti-Benthamite Tradition 19 he saw as the main characteristic of contemporary civilisation.
America and Germany were threatening her traditional markets. It was believed that new territories were crucial to capitalist development and the race for the Empire was on in earnest. There were, too, the slumps of 1878-9 and of 1883-8 to remind Britons of their vulnerability. The economy recovered but it embarked on changes that distressed many: the 1890s saw the rise of monopolies, the absorption of the lower middle class into the proletariat, the rise of finance capitalism and of labour unions.
Unbelief is strengthened by the 'doctrine of motives': the view that man is the slave of two masters, pleasure and pain, who predetermine his decisions. This implies a view of man as a debased being (the one J. S. Mill tried to exorcise from economics), as a pleasure-seeking, pain-avoiding, calculating animal. In tones that remind us of D. H. Lawrence (for whose criticism of Bloomsbury Keynes was the only one of his group to show any sympathy1S), Carlyle may allegorically be addressing Bentham: 'Foolish Wordmonger and Motive-grinder, who in thy Logic-mill hast an earthly mechanism for the Godlike itself, and wouldst fain grind me out Virtue from the husks of Pleasure - I tell thee, nay.