System renewal. Challenging established notions. Reimagining our societies.

Keynes on localisation, Radix on globalisation

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The Telegraph economics columnist Jeremy Warner has noticed the new Radix book, out this week, called Backlash: Saving globalisation from itself by Joe Zammit-Lucia and myself. In particular he noticed the quotation from John Maynard Keynes we put at the front. It is worth quoting again here:

“I sympathize, therefore, with those who would minimize, rather than with those who would maximize, economic entanglement among nations. Ideas, knowledge, science, hospitality, travel–these are the things which should of their nature be international. But let goods be homespun whenever it is reasonably and conveniently possible, and, above all, let finance be primarily national. Yet, at the same time, those who seek to disembarrass a country of its entanglements should be very slow and wary. It should not be a matter of tearing up roots but of slowly training a plant to grow in a different direction.”

This is from Keynes’ controversial speech to the Irish government in 1933, called ‘National Self-Sufficiency’, given at the height of the Great Depression. The title, in a way, explains a little why this contribution is not as famous as, say, Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren – economists have always disapproved of any kind of self-sufficiency, even the very limited kind of speed-bump world that Keynes implies here.

What he says is that some things need to be international and some need to be local. That seems self-evident to me, but the advocates of old-fashioned globalisation seem to have forgotten the distinction.

Still it is good to debate it, as we did at the LSE yesterday and will do again tonight. Please join us! Better still, read the book!

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

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