John Maynard Keynes\'s \'Poetical Economy\'

July 24, 2017 | Autor: Ted Winslow | Categoría: Sigmund Freud, Psychoanalysis And Literature, Keynesian Economics, Keynes
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From: The Journal of Psychohistory, vol 17(2), 1989, 179-194 John Maynard Keynes's "Poetical Economy" Ted Winslow Division of Social Science York University North York, Ont. CANADA M3J 1P3 There is evidence suggesting that Keynes employed psychoanalytic psychological assumptions in his economics (Winslow, 1986). Certainly, important aspects of his analysis are consistent with such assumptions. The main difficulty in the way of accepting the hypothesis that this consistency results from conscious use of psychoanalysis is that such use is almost nowhere explicitly indicated. There is, however, a reason why, even if he had made conscious use of psychoanalysis, Keynes would have omitted to mention it. The reason is that to explicitly examine the psychology behind business motives in writing designed to persuade an audience made up primarily of professional economists was, as Keynes once said of the difficulty created by mentioning a particular topic to Woodrow Wilson, to touch on the raw a Freudian complex. It was a subject intolerable to discuss, and every subconscious instinct plotted to defeat its further exploration. (Keynes, 1971A, p. 34) In the absence of evidence indicating that Keynes himself believed that this threat to the persuasive effectiveness of his argument existed, this point would be more a matter of explaining away than of effectively answering the difficulty posed by the absence of explicit indication. There is evidence, however, suggesting that Keynes did in fact believe this. It is found in his discussions of the personalities of economists and of the psychological roots of the methods and doctrines of orthodox economics. These frequently attribute to economists the same set of psychological structures that Keynes attributes to businessmen in his analysis of business behaviour. They also find in these structures an irrational anchor for tenacious attachment to inadequate methods and doctrines. Moreover, there is evidence that Keynes was aware that, if he was to have any hope of persuading economists, he would have to employ the rhetorical device Freud called "poetical economy". This paper examines this evidence. It begins with a brief treatment of the relevant psychoanalytic theory. It then examines Keynes's psychological profiles of economists and his psychological explanations of dogmatic attachment to specific methods and doctrines. Finally, it points to evidence that Keynes was aware of the notion of "poetical economy".

2 Anal-Sadistic Character Traits The typical traits of what Keynes calls an entrepreneur economy are those of Freud's analsadistic character.1 These traits, it will be recalled, are parsimony, obstinacy, excessive orderliness and an irrational interest in money. All are sublimations of and reaction-formations against childhood anal erotism and aggressiveness. For example, the irrational interest in money is a sublimation of the child's initially very positive attitude to its own excrement. Freud claims that money is unconsciously identified with, and therefore a symbol of, excrement. Excessive orderliness is both a sublimation of aggressiveness and a reaction-formation against anal erotism.2 An irrational interest in economizing, saving, collecting and waiting is an expression of the childhood interest in maximizing the pleasure obtainable from defecation by postponing it as long as possible. Obstinacy derives from the wish to pursue this interest free from outside interference. The childhood environment most likely to lead to the dominance of these traits is found in a particular kind of authoritarian and patriarchal family. This family creates the repressive context in which the Oedipus complex will normally be resolved by regression to the analsadistic stage. It is this regression, combined with repression of the interests dominant in the stage, that produces the adult character dominated by anal-sadistic traits. As I shall now attempt to show, Keynes frequently finds these traits in the personalities of economists. He also finds them expressed in the methods and doctrines of orthodox economics. Keynes on the Personalities of Economists the economists – the ingenious and hateful tautologists who, out of the bowels of their humanitarianism, can prove, by means of truisms, that all attempts to mitigate poverty and misery are destined to increase it; that impulsive charity is a lesser social virtue than enlightened self-interest; and that all will be for the best in a miserable world if the business men are left to get on with their beneficent pursuit of the survival of the fittest – meaning those financially most gifted. (Keynes, 1972B, p. 104)

The essential references for an account to be used in interpreting Keynes are found in Keynes's footnote reference to the "Freudian theory of the love of money" in A Treatise on Money (1971D, pp. 258-9). These are Freud (1977), Jones (1961A and 1961B) and Ferenczi (1956). The theory has also been used by others as a basis for explaining economic phenomena. See, in particular, Fromm (1970), Brown (1985) and Goodman (1969). Brown and Goodman point to similarities between the Freudian theory and Keynes's economics. Brown (1985, pp. 234-9) argues, as I claim Keynes argues with respect to orthodox economics, that there are irrational anal-sadistic elements in orthodox science. 2 As this suggests, each of the anal-sadistic traits is overdetermined. 1

3 Keynes occasionally makes explicit use of psychoanalysis in his essays in biography. I have already quoted his remark about a Freudian complex of Woodrow Wilson. In his essay on Newton, he claims that Newton was, in vulgar modern terms, profoundly neurotic of a not unfamiliar type, but – I should say from the records – a most extreme example. His deepest instincts were occult, esoteric, semantic – with profound shrinking from the world, a paralysing fear of exposing his thoughts, his beliefs, his discoveries in all nakedness to the inspection and criticism of the world. (1972B, p. 364) In his essays on economists, we find no explicit use of psychoanalysis. What we do sometimes find is emphasis on the anal-sadistic traits. This is particularly so in his essays on Jevons and Foxwell. Such traits are also pointed to in the essay on Marshall and in some scattered remarks about Hayek. i. William Stanley Jevons Keynes's psychological portrait of Jevons both points to anal-sadistic traits and suggests they have unconscious roots. In particular, in Jevons's beliefs and actions Keynes claims to find expression of the "hoarding instinct", of compulsive orderliness and of an excessive sensitivity to interruption when concentrating on some task. He claims (1972B, p. 117), for example, that Jevons's argument that economic growth would eventually be brought to an end by the exhaustion of limited supplies of coal was irrationally influenced by a "psychological trait, unusually strong in him, which many other people share, a certain hoarding instinct, a readiness to be alarmed and excited by the idea of the exhaustion of resources." This instinct also found expression in Jevons's vast accumulations of paper and books. His collection of both writing and packing paper was so large that fifty years after his death his descendants had not yet succeeded in using it all up. Moreover, Jevons himself did not make use of this accumulation; he wrote most of his own notes on the backs of old envelopes and odd scraps of paper. Jevons was also "the first of the distinguished tribe of economic bibliomaniacs. ... By the end of his life he had accumulated several thousand volumes, lining the walls and passages of the house and packed in heaps in the attics, an embarrassment to his family both then and in their subsequent removals (1972B, 140-1)." He also had a collection of old bank-notes which he himself described as 'such a collection as probably hardly anyone else has'. He was, Keynes claims, "a born collector." Keynes also points to the other traits. He quotes Jevons as having once said of himself: "My mind is of the most regular structure, and I have such a strong disposition to classify things as is sometimes almost painful (Keynes, 1972B, p. 147)." He also says of him that he was not an easy man to live with, a little irritable towards the interruptions of family life, excessively sensitive to noise, liable to depression and valetudinarianism, without much conversation. ... From an early age he was liable to attacks of liverishness and dyspepsia and constipation, which latterly

4 became so acute as to overshadow everything and interrupt his work, suggesting perhaps some deeper cause. (1972B, p. 148) These traits were reflected in Jevons's approach to economics. He was a major contributor to "the study of deductive economics based on simplified and abstract principles (1972B, p. 128)", an approach which Keynes characterizes elsewhere as excessively scholastic, meaning by this "the treatment of what is vague as if it were precise and trying to fit it into an exact logical category (Frank Ramsey, as cited by Keynes, 1972B, p. 343)." This approach embodies the trait of excessive orderliness. This trait also influenced Jevons's statistical work. Keynes points (1972B, pp. 124-6), for example, to the faulty "coincidence-fitting" with which Jevons supported his sun spot theory of commercial crises. Jevons also objected to outside interference in economic activities; "on the side of morals and sentiment [he] was, and always remained, an impassioned individualist (1972B, p. 143)." ii. H. Foxwell Foxwell is presented as a paradigm instance of the type. To begin with, he is described as having had an extreme "passion for orderliness and classification." Keynes points to a number of illustrations of this (1972B, pp. 275-6, 279 and 279, note 1) and claims the trait interfered with Foxwell's work. He was also unreasonably obstinate. Foxwell was not an easy man for those who had to do with him. He was wilful, obstinate, and could be most unreasonable – exceedingly troublesome to anyone who wanted to smooth over personal difficulties and keep the peace. (1972B, p. 283) In illustration, Keynes (1972B, p. 283) points to his row with the University of London over its treatment of the Goldsmiths' Library which housed "his first and greatest book collection". Here too, the trait got in the way of the attainment of his ends. Foxwell was also a hoarder. This trait found its fullest expression in "bibliomania" (1972B, pp. 283-5). "Unlike Jevons, Foxwell was seriously addicted to bibliophily, indeed to bibliomania, as such (1972B, p. 285)." He also had "a collection of old bank-notes and many engravings and prints of economists; Foxwell would have been as eager a print-collector as a book-collector, if his purse could have run to what was best worth having (1972B, p. 290)." Keynes describes him at the end of his life sitting up "in his dressing-gown, looking at the last immensely old, with a book catalogue in one hand and a telegraph form in the other, a fit subject for a Rembrandt etching of the Old Collector (1972B, p. 292)." iii. Alfred Marshall Marshall's case is less clear-cut. Keynes credits him with having moved economics a good distance away from the inappropriate methods and assumptions of orthodoxy. Marshall, for example, understood in a sophisticated way the organic character of the material of economics.

5 This underpinned his critical attitude to the use of precise mathematical methods. Keynes does, however, both point to irrational elements in Marshall's beliefs and behaviour and explain these in terms consistent with psychoanalysis. To begin with, Keynes connects some of these elements to Marshall's family background. Marshall came from the sort of patriarchal and authoritarian family likely to produce analsadistic traits. This is made clear by Keynes's description of his father (1972B, p. 162), a tyrant and despot, "cast in the mould of the strictest Evangelicals" who once wrote a book entitled Man's Rights and Women's Duties. Keynes points to this background in explaining Marshall's attitudes to ideas and activities that provide an outlet for the anal and sadistic interests which are transformed by regression and repression into an interest in orderliness. In Marshall's case the result was an irrationally anchored interest in mathematics and chess. In both cases the interest was partly a response to the conflict with his father and was further transformed as a result of that conflict. Keynes, for example, quotes Mrs. Marshall's report that, during Marshall's boyhood, chess alleviated psychological pressures which otherwise resulted in severe headaches (1972B, p. 163, note 2). The interest in mathematics provided both an unconscious and a conscious means of canalizing hostile attitudes to his father (1972B, p. 164). The father strongly disapproved of both interests and prohibited Marshall from pursuing them. Marshall (Keynes, 1972B, p. 163, note 2) appears to have internalized this disapproval. The outcome was ambivalence towards both chess and mathematics. Thus, though he never again played chess after his father made him promise to give it up, he could never see a chess problem in a newspaper without getting exited (1972B, p. 163, note 2). Similarly, his ambivalence to mathematics prevented him from forming a fully rational attitude toward it. Keynes claims that part of his negative attitude was rooted in a guilty conscience (which Keynes (1972B, p. 200) personifies as an "evangelical moralizing imp" within Marshall's personality) which "rose nearer to the surface" over time as Marshall's intellect dimmed. The strength of Marshall's "masterful instincts" was also reflected in his attitude to women (1972B, pp. 162, 220 and 241). Marshall opposed the granting of Cambridge degrees to women on the grounds that the full-time residence in the university this would require was incompatible with the primary obligation of women to be mothers and homemakers and that, in any event, "there was nothing useful to be made of women's intellects (1972B, p. 241)". Keynes claims this attitude had an irrational anchor in the "masterful instincts", in a "congenital bias" which Marshall derived from "the influence of the parental mould" and "which by a man's fiftyfourth year of life has gathered secret strength" (1972B, pp. 162 and 220). Keynes also points to irrational elements in Marshall's attitudes to "waiting". He points, for example, to an emotional overtone – "an unusual dogmatic force" – in a passage from the Principles expressing the view that it is the unwillingness to wait which holds accumulation in check and keeps up the rate of interest (1973A, p. 242). In his own work, however, Marshall exhibited an excessive willingness to wait. As Keynes points out, the approach to publication most compatible with Marshall's own views on method (particularly with the view that the regularities in human behaviour are in a constant process of evolution and change) was to

6 "eschew the treatise and prefer the pamphlet or the monograph (1972B, p. 198)." According to Keynes, however, Marshall, in his approach to publication, was "attempting, contrary to his own principles, to achieve an impossible finality (1972B, p. 198)." Keynes reports the "sad complaints" of his father concerning "Marshall's obstinate refusal to understand where his special strength and weakness lay, and of how his unrealisable ambitions stood in the way of his giving to the world the true treasures of his mind and genius (1972B, p. 199)." Marshall also adopted an unhelpful narcissistic attitude to the product of his work. This made him unduly sensitive to criticism and aggravated his tendency to constantly postpone publication. Marshall was too much afraid of being wrong, too thin-skinned towards criticism, too easily upset by controversy even on matters of minor importance. An extreme sensitiveness deprived him of magnanimity towards the critic or the adversary. This fear of being open to correction by speaking too soon aggravated other tendencies. (1972B, pp. 199-200) In addition, as pointed out above, Marshall felt guilty about aspects of the work thaat were too closely connected to repressed unconscious interests. As I pointed out above, Keynes claims there was an "evangelical moralizer of an imp somewhere inside him" that objected to his ego "chasing diagrams and foreign trade and money (1972B, p. 200)." These objections grew stronger and came closer to consciousness as Marshall got older. iv. F.A. von Hayek Keynes (1973B, p. 243) appended a note to his copy of Hayek's review of A Treatise on Money ascribing Hayek's hostility and inability to comprehend the argument of the book to a "passion". In his reply to the review (1973B, pp. 247-8) this passion reappears as a psychological incapacity to see an obvious point, a point having to do with the relation between saving and the quantity of money. Other remarks he makes about Hayek suggest the passion is anal-sadism. For example, this criticism of Hayek's views on money is repeated in the passage in the General Theory (1973A, p. 183) that makes use of the metaphor taken from Ibsen's play, The Wild Duck. Attachment to a particular set of irrational ideas about money is described as the outcome of something similar to a wild duck's propensity, when wounded, to dive down to the bottom of the marsh and bite "fast hold of the weed and tangle and all the rubbish that is down there (1973A, p. 183)." This description closely matches the psychoanalytic account of the regressive resolution of the Oedipus complex which produces the anal-sadistic traits, among which are to be counted irrational attitudes to saving and money. In "Alternative Theories of the Rate of Interest," Keynes claims that "there is a deep-seated obsession associating idle balances, not with the action of the banks in fixing the supply of money nor with the attitude of the public towards the comparative attractions of cash and of other assets, but with some aspect of current savings (1973C, p. 214)." Having described (1980, p. 39) a proposal Hayek had made for replacement of the gold standard with a commodity standard as deriving from "a propensity toward a rigid system",

7 Keynes apologizes for his "low-level talk", but claims in explanation that "it was from a low level that I was originally addressing Professor Hayek on his dolomite (1980, p. 40)."

8 Keynes on the Psychological Roots of the Methods and Doctrines of Orthodox Economics Keynes also points to irrational roots for the foundations of orthodox economics. He claims, for example, that the "Benthamite calculus" is, like the conventional basis of business expectations, one of those "pretty, polite techniques" having the psychological purpose of enabling its users to hide from themselves how little they foresee (1973C, pp. 114-5 and 124; see also 1973A, pp. 161-3).3 By making this the basis of theory, economists succumb, Keynes claims (1973C, p. 115), to the same "market place idols" that dominate the minds of businessmen. The orthodox

I pointed above to Keynes's description of Jevons's approach to economics, an approach rooted in the Benthamite calculus and exemplifying the excessive scholasticism to which, as we shall see, Keynes objected. Keynes explicitly points to an irrational psychological anchor for Edgeworth's tenacious attachment to this approach. Discussing the bases of Edgeworth's adherence to the frequency theory of probability and to utilitarian ethics, Keynes claims that 3

in both cases his mind was alive to the objections, and in both cases the weight of objections increased in his mind, as time went on, rather than diminished. Nevertheless, he did not in either case replace these initial presumptions by any others, with the result that he took up increasingly a sceptical attitude towards philosophical foundations combined with a pragmatic attitude towards practical applications which had been successfully erected upon them, however insecure these foundations might be (1972B, p. 259). This implied in Edgeworth an unwillingness to revise or take up again the more speculative studies of his youth. He was disinclined, in company with most other economists of the classical school, to reconsider how far the initial assumptions of the marginal theory stand or fall with the utilitarian ethics and the utilitarian psychology, out of which they sprang and which were sincerely accepted, in a way no one accepts them now, by the founders of the subject (1972B, p. 260). \

After pointing out that the atomic hypothesis breaks down in psychics, Keynes says: No one was more conscious of all this than Edgeworth. All his intellectual life through he felt his foundations slipping away from under him. What wonder that with these hesitations added to his cautious, critical, sceptical, diffident nature the erection of a large and heavy superstructure did not appeal to him. Edgeworth knew that he was skating on thin ice; and as life went on his love of skating and his distrust of the ice increased, by a malicious fate, pari passu. He is like one who seeks to avert the evil eye by looking sideways, to escape the censure of fate by euphemism, calling the treacherous sea Euxine and the unfriendly guardians of truth the kindly ones. Edgeworth seldom looked the reader or interlocutor straight in the face; he is allusive, obscure, and devious as one who would slip by unnoticed, hurrying on if stopped by another traveller (1972B, pp. 262-3).

9 methods and doctrines which Keynes claims are irrationally rooted can be associated with analsadistic traits. Keynes frequently (see, for example, 1979, pp. 150-1 and Tarshis, 1933, Notes for Nov. 6) criticizes the methods of economists for what, following Ramsey, he calls their "excessive scholasticism", their "treatment of what is vague as if it were precise and trying to fit it into an exact logical category (Frank Ramsey, as cited by Keynes, 1972B, p. 343)." Scholasticism is an expression of excessive orderliness. It attempts to impose on material a kind of precise order that the material itself does not possess. As pointed out above, extreme orderliness is an expression of both anal erotism and sadism. It expresses both a desire to exercise sadistic control over ideas, events and objects and a reaction-formation against a component of anal erotism. Speaking of this "obsession for order," Karl Abraham (1927, p. 377) writes, "allusion may be made here to the pleasure these neurotics take in indexing and registering everything, in making up tabular summaries, and in dealing with statistics of every kind." Keynes occasionally explicitly points to a psychological root for the irrational identification of rigour with the use of precise numerical, mathematical and statistical methods. In his essay on Marshall, he claims that those with a tendency to extreme orderliness often find the methods which are appropriate in economics "overwhelmingly difficult". The amalgam of logic and intuition and the wide knowledge of the facts, most of which are not precise, which is required for economic interpretation in its highest form, is, quite truly, overwhelmingly difficult for those whose gift mainly consists in the power to imagine and pursue to their furthest points the implications and prior conditions of comparatively simple facts which are known with a high degree of precision. (1972B, p. 186, note 2) This point is repeated in his criticism of "Professor Tinbergen's Method" (1973C, pp. 285-320). For example, in some correspondence with Roy Harrod about this method (1973C, pp. 299-300), he describes, as a tendency common to all statisticians, Colin Clark's insistence on assuming, in spite of obvious refuting evidence, that the propensity to consume in constant over the credit cycle. Keynes makes similar claims about orthodox economic doctrines. He claims, for example, that there is a parallelism between the role given to sexual love in Darwinism and the role give to the love of money in economic laissez-faire. The "individualists", who, of course, obstinately and vehemently oppose any and all interference in money-making activities, are said to give "the love of money, acting through the pursuit of profit" the same role in bringing about "the production on the greatest possible scale of what is most strongly desired as measured by exchange value" that Darwin gives "sexual love, acting through sexual selection", in directing "evolution along lines which should be desirable as well as effective (1972A, p. 284)." In The Economic Consequences of the Peace, having said of the nineteenth century that in it saving and accumulating became the focus for "all those instincts of puritanism which in other ages has withdrawn itself from the world and has neglected the arts of production as well as those of enjoyment," Keynes claims it "was able to forget the fertility of the species in a contemplation of the dizzy virtues of compound interest (1971A, pp. 11-3)."


In A Treatise on Money (1971C, p. 246) he describes those who believe that real wealth accumulates faster during a depression than during a boom as "puritans of finance – sometimes extreme individualists." He claims this irrational belief hides the real reason behind the "gloomy satisfaction" such people get from "the speculative and business losses, the low prices, and the high real wages, accompanied, however, by unemployment, which characterize the typical depression." The real reason is satisfaction of an unconscious wish for punishment arising from the unconscious guilt ("suppressed reactions against the distastefulness of capitalism") accompanying the unrestricted pursuit of the vulgar hidden passions which fuels the boom. In the original galleys of a reply to Dennis Robertson's Economic Journal review of the Treatise, Keynes explicitly connects this argument to psychoanalysis. In the last paragraph of his review (1931, pp. 410-1), Robertson had expressed some sympathy with the puritans of finance and suggested their policy of restraint was not "a relic of sadistic barbarism". In his reply, Keynes claims that the policy is indeed an expression of sadism, though of sadistic puritanism rather than barbarism, and that its explanation is found in psychoanalysis rather than economic analysis. Mr Robertson's last paragraph of all – yes! a mere relic of Sadistic – well, not so much barbarism as puritanism. But at this point psycho-analysis must take charge and economic analysis withdraw discreetly. (1973B, p. 238) The Treatise on Money also associates support for the gold standard with unconscious interests. In the Tract on Monetary Reform, he had claimed that, although it is a "barbarous relic" (1971B, p. 138), the continuing influence of superstition meant that "gold still enjoys the prestige of its smell and colour (1971B, p. 132)." Pecunia non olet. Of late years the auri sacra fames has sought to envelop itself in a garment of respectability as densely respectable as was ever met with, even in the realms of sex and religion. Whether this was first put on as a necessary armour to win the hard-won fight against bimetallism and is still worn, as the gold-advocates allege, because gold is the sole prophylactic against the plague of fiat moneys, or whether it is a furtive Freudian cloak, we need not be curious to inquire. But before we proceed with a scientific and would-be unbiased examination of its claims, we had better remind the reader of what he well knows – namely, that gold has become part of the apparatus of conservatism and is one of the matters which we cannot expect to see handled without prejudice. (1971D, p. 259) Elsewhere Keynes says of the Labour Party's conservatism on economic questions that it "goes deep into the bowels of the Labour Party (1982A, p. 35)." Keynes also claimed that belief in the quantity theory of money and in the evil of government deficit spending was irrationally rooted and could be explained by psycho-analysis. In 1939 he wrote the following in reply to criticism, by the Editor of the Financial News, of his claim that deficit spending would increase employment and output:

11 To discover why you think otherwise requires, I suspect, psycho-, rather than economic, analysis. You have to believe that a funding issue will prevent workers and others from spending their increased incomes. This conviction must be a vermiform appendix of the mind, which has survived from the long past days when you genuinely believed in the quantity theory of money. (1978, pp. 84-85) In a second letter on the same subject he writes: Thank you for your comments on my letter, which seem to confirm my diagnosis. ... If you are not too old, as to which I have no information, I strongly recommend an operation. By modern methods an inflamed quantity theory can be removed with much less danger than formerly! (1978, p. 85) Keynes's "Poetical Economy" Keynes claims in the prefaces to both the Treatise on Money (1971C, xviii) and the General Theory (1973A, xxiii) that the greatest obstacle we confront in attempting to grasp and work through the implications of new ideas is usually not the inherent difficulty of the new ones themselves, but the strength of our attachment to the old. This view, combined with his claim that a "Freudian complex" of President Wilson's made a subject "intolerable to discuss," his emphasis upon the pronounced anal traits of economists, and his implicitly (and occasionally explicitly) psychoanalytic accounts of particular economic and political doctrines, points to the possibility that Keynes made use of what Freud calls "poetical economy" in his political economy. This would explain the infrequent explicit references of any kind to psycho-analysis in his economic writings and the complete absence of any explicit indication that use is being made of psycho-analytic premises. Poetical economy is made necessary by the need to take account of "resistance" in a reader or audience. Ernest Jones (1961A, p. 87) claims, in a paper cited by Keynes in his reference to the Freudian theory of the love of money in A Treatise on Money, that it is the interpreting of symbols which calls forth the greatest 'resistance' in psycho-analytic work, and, further, that this is also the centre of the strongest opposition to psycho-analysis in general. He also claims (1961B, p. 413), in another of the papers cited by Keynes, that it is interpretations of anal-erotic traits which give rise to the greatest storms of resistance. Perhaps the most astonishing of Freud's findings – and certainly the one that has evoked the liveliest incredulity, repugnance, and opposition – was his discovery that certain traits of character may become profoundly modified as the result of sexual excitations experienced by the infant in the region of the anal canal. I imagine that everyone on first hearing this statement finds it almost inconceivably grotesque, a fact which well illustrates the remoteness of the unconscious from the

12 conscious mind, for of the truth of the statement itself no one who has undertaken any serious psycho-analytical study can have any doubt. Freud (1925, pp. 333-41) makes use of the notion of "laws of poetical economy" in an interpretation of Ibsen's play Rosmersholm. According to Freud, the dramatic effect of this play depends upon its content having been so constructed that even though no explicit reference is or can be made to an incestuous relation between a central character, Rebecca, and her father, both the relation and the motivation underpinning it will be unconsciously assimilated by the spectator. Laws of poetical economy necessitate this way of presenting the situation, for this deeper motive could not be explicitly set forth, it had to be dissimulated, kept from the direct perception of the spectator or the reader; otherwise such serious resistances, based on most painful emotions, would have arisen that the effect of the tragedy might have been imperilled. (1925, p. 339) It happens that Keynes was a great admirer of Ibsen's plays. I pointed above to his use of a metaphor drawn from The Wild Duck in the General Theory. George Rylands (1983, p. 7) reports that Keynes was much impressed by a performance of this play he saw in Germany in 1904. A letter Keynes wrote to B.W. Swithinbank on 24 March 1904 confirms this. "At Berlin we saw Ibsen's Wild Duck supremely acted. The more I contemplate it the greater does the play appear (Keynes, as cited in Harrod, 1951, p. 96)." The Cambridge Arts Theatre, in the foundation of which Keynes had been financially and otherwise instrumental (D. Moggridge, in Keynes, 1982B, p. 326), opened in February 1936 with a season of four Ibsen plays: A Doll's House, The Master Builder, Hedda Gabler and Rosmersholm.4 Keynes provided an unsigned introduction to the program for these plays. Having referred to Ibsen's "reputation as the greatest dramatist of the nineteenth century," Keynes goes on to say that "as is usually the case with the greatest plays," these four "can be understood and enjoyed, and are indeed in a sense complete, from several distinct aspects and on planes of varying depth below the surface (1982B, pp. 326-327)." In particular, on one of these planes, they can be seen sub specie eternitatis, remote from contemporary moods and problems, as tragedies of character, exploring the depths and often the crannies of human motive with the imagination of a poet and the insight of a novelist. If the plays have sometimes been felt to be painful, it is because Ibsen can penetrate too deeply into regions which we prefer to keep concealed even from ourselves. (1982B, p. 327) Keynes himself then points to Ibsen's "poetical economy."

Keynes's wife, Lydia Lopokova, played major parts in two of the plays – A Doll's House and The Master Builder. See D. Moggridge, in Keynes, 1982B, p. 326 4

13 The plays are of great importance to the art of the drama as essays in a new technique. During this period when Ibsen was exclusively engaged on prose dramas he still regarded himself as a poet. These plays can be read as poems of the purest aesthetic content conforming to strict rules of composition. Ibsen's use of leit-motiv and certain recurrent phrases and symbols, especially in 'Rosmersholm' and 'The Master Builder' becomes highly developed, though not to the same degree as in his latest period. Many of his symbols, by which he suggests the supernatural and the magic of the north, the Vikings and trolls and little 'helpers and servers' who run about amongst the roots of the trees, became a part of the imagination of all of us in our childhood through the folklore and fairy tales of Northern Europe. But they obey a strict and inviolable law. The sense of the unseen world must never conflict or interfere with the realism of real life and a perfectly naturalistic and common sense interpretation. It is an overtone felt and heard by the sensitive, which will be out of proportion and almost vulgar if it is sufficiently emphasised to be obvious and inescapable. (1982B, pp. 327-328) Keynes was well aware that effective persuasion often requires more than sound reasoning (see, for example, 1972A, p. xvii). For the reasons pointed to by Freud and Jones, reasons of which Keynes himself seems to have been aware, the explicit employment of psychoanalytic premises in his political economy would have imperilled his argument. It is perhaps for this reason that, even in his explicit reference to the Freudian theory of the love of money in the Treatise on Money, he avoids reference to the connection of this theory with the theory of anal erotism and to the implications of the theory for economic analysis. Thus he does not give the titles of the two papers whose titles contain explicit reference to the theory of the anal character. In addition, the following passage has been omitted without indication from the quotation from Jones made use of in the footnote: "and people simply will not give up the 'economist's fallacy' of confounding money with wealth." In "Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren" Keynes looks forward to a time when, although there will still be many people with intense unsatisfied purposiveness who will blindly pursue wealth – unless they can find some plausible substitute, ... the rest of us will no longer be under any obligation to applaud and encourage them. For we shall inquire more curiously than is safe today into the true character of this "purposiveness" with which in varying degrees Nature has endowed almost all of us. [my emphasis] (1972A, p. 329) Conclusion Much has been made recently of economics as rhetoric (McCloskey, 1985). Keynes's economic writing appears to be based on the premise that the rhetorical appeal of orthodox methods and doctrines is irrationally grounded in their connection to a complex of repressed ideas. For Keynes, in contrast to McCloskey, this rhetorical appeal points to an obstacle in the way of economics becoming scientific since the unconscious interests which underpin it provide an

14 irrational anchor for methods and doctrines which Keynes claims are unrealistic. On the other hand, Keynes's belief in the existence of this irrational anchor will account for what may be an important aspect of the rhetoric of his own economics, his employment of "poetical economy".

15 References Abraham, Karl. 1927. Selected Papers on Psycho-Analysis. Translated by Douglas Bryan and Alix Strachey. Introductory memoir by Ernest Jones. London: The Hogarth Press and The Institute of Psycho-Analysis. Brown, Norman O. 1985. Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytic Meaning of History, 2nd paperback edition with an introduction by Christopher Lasch. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press. Freud, Sigmund. 1925. "Some Character-Types met with in Psycho-Analytic Work (1915)". Chap. XVIII in Collected Papers, Vol. IV. Translated by Joan Riviere. London: The Hogarth Press and The Institute of Psychoanalysis. _____. 1973. New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, paperback edition. Translated by James Strachey. Edited by James Strachey assisted by Angela Richards. The Pelican Freud Library, vol. 2. London: Penguin Books. _____. 1977. "Character and Anal Erotism" in On Sexuality, paperback edition. Translated by James Strachey. Edited by James Strachey assisted by Angela Richards. The Pelican Freud Library, vol. 7. London: Penguin Books. Fromm, Erich. 1970. "Psychoanalytic Characterology and Its Relevance for Social Psychology" in The Crisis in Psychoanalysis, paperback edition. Greenwich, Connecticut: Fawcett Publications, Inc. pp. 163-87. Goodman, George W. (Adam Smith). 1969. The Money Game, paperback edition. New York: Dell Publishing Co. Harrod, R. 1951. Life of John Maynard Keynes. London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd. Jones, E. 1961A. "The Theory of Symbolism" in Papers on Psychoanalysis, 5th rev. ed. Beacon Press Paperback. pp. 87-144. _____. 1961B. "Anal-Erotic Character Traits" in Papers on Psychoanalysis, 5th rev. ed. Beacon Press Paperback. pp. 413-37. Keynes, John Maynard. 1971A. The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919). The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. II. London: Macmillan Press. _____. 1971B. A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923). The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. IV. London: Macmillan Press. _____. 1971C. A Treatise on Money: The Pure Theory of Money (1930). The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. V. London: Macmillan Press.

16 _____. 1971D. A Treatise on Money: The Applied Theory of Money (1930). The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. VI. London: Macmillan Press. _____. 1972A. Essays in Persuasion (1931). The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. X. London: Macmillan Press. _____. 1972B. Essays in Biography (1933). The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. X. London: Macmillan Press. _____. 1973A. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936). The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. VII. London: Macmillan Press. _____. 1973B. The General Theory and After: Preparation. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. XIII. London: Macmillan Press. _____. 1973C. The General Theory and After: Defence and Development. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. XIV. London: Macmillan Press. _____. 1978. Activities 1939-45: Internal War Finance, edited by Donald Moggridge. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. XXII. London: Macmillan Press. _____. 1979. The General Theory and After: A Supplement. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. XXIX. London: Macmillan Press. _____. 1980. Activities 1941-6: Shaping the Post-War World: Bretton Woods and Reparations, edited by Donald Moggridge. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. XXVI. London: Macmillan Press. _____. 1982A. Activities 1931-9: World Crises and Policies in Britain and America, edited by Donald Moggridge. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. XXI. London: Macmillan Press. _____. 1982B. Social, Political and Literary Writings, edited by Donald Moggridge. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. XXVII. London: Macmillan Press. McCloskey, Donald. 1985. The Rhetoric of Economics. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press. Robertson, Dennis. 1931. "Mr. Keynes' Theory of Money". Economic Journal (Sept. 1931): 395411. Rylands, George. 1983. "Maynard Keynes: A Personal Note". In Maynard Keynes: Collector of pictures, books and manuscripts. Catalogue of an exhibition held at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 5 July - 29 August 1983 to mark the centenary of Maynard Keynes' birth. By Peter Croft and David Scrase. Cambridge: The Provost and Scholars of King's College, Cambridge.

17 Tarshis, L. 1933. Lecture notes from Keynes's Cambridge lectures of 1933. Mimeo. Winslow, E.G. 1986. "Keynes and Freud: Psychoanalysis and Keynes's Account of the 'Animal Spirits' of Capitalism". Social Research 53 (Winter 1986): 549-78.

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