On a stormy winter night in 1879, the bridge over the Firth of Tay collapsed while a passenger train was crossing it (thus prompting the cancellation of the builders contract to complete a similar bridge over the Firth of Forth).
Adding insult to injury, the Scottish poet William McGonagall quickly commemorated the disaster with a remarkably bad poem.
Opinions differ as to whether McGonagalls badness was deliberate and conscious (in the manner of William Shatners song stylings, perhaps) or merely the product of incompetence.
Anyway, read the poem if you dare.
I’ve been thinking over Rothbard’s take on Keynes.
Like most of Rothbard, there’s some profound stuff combined with some strange — if not outright false — stuff. I mean, if Keynes’ goal was to make ethics irrelevant, then he is the Villain that Rothbard makes him out to be. But I just don’t see how that’s right. I mean, when philosophers consider epistemology basic, it’s incorrect to say that they’re trying to make ethics irrelevant. They just deduce that ethics has to follow from epistemology. So I really don’t see where Rothbard is coming from on that.
Then he attacks Keynes’ understanding of rule-following. And I don’t see how Keynes is not just regurgitating what he learned from Wittgenstein. I mean, in some sense rule-following is a social construction. If people live as if Augustine were correct, then they’re notion of rules is illusory.
Rothbard pokes fun at that critique. And then he uses — albeit knowingly — an ad hominem strategy mixed in with his attack on Keynes’ ideas. It’s just a weird lecture. I get the feeling that Rothbard himself is projecting some of these negative qualities — the ones he cannot accept are his — onto Keynes.
Should read: their notion of rules is illusory.
I guess I should also qualify: “If people live as if Augustine were correct…” about the relationship between language and the world. That every word stands for an object.
Advertising banks on this belief. Everyone caught up in that world — consumerism — follows rules that aren’t real.
My question is: why does Rothbard try to scold Keynes for pointing that out?
Actually Augustine didn’t think that; he points out in De magistro that in a sentence like “If nothing of so great a city remains,” neither “if” nor “nothing” is being used to name an object.
Then just replace my use of “Augustine” with X: the imaginary guy who assumed that only nouns were directly linked to the world.
Why does Rothbard try to scold Keynes for pointing this out?
Better: is Keynes wrong to talk about a certain form of life — that of consumerism — as robotic?
You have unjustly maligned X; he didn’t think that, plus his name was actually Y!
I’ll have something more helpful to say (hopefully) after I get a chance to listen to the Rothbard clip.
My apologies to X.
There I go again. My sincerest apologies to Y.
One more question in the spirit of dialectic libertarianism. Why throw away Keynes? Why not just say that — in his class-based language — the object is to point everyone towards the investment class? In anarchist language — that translates — dissolve the consumerist and government class.
I’m still not convinced that Keynes had bad ideas. I get the sense that Rothbard is interpreting Keynes’ descriptions of the world as if Keynes’ meant them in normative terms.
Nevermind. That won’t work because — according to Rothbard — Keynes thought the investment class was irrational. Scratch that last thought. Too much dialectic spirit.
The object then would be to re-design social structures to create a rational investment class — which would be open to everyone.
Or at least, that’s probably the best that you can do with Keynes’ framing.