Das Kapital och Koranen

”Ingen annan bok har åstadkommit så mycket förödelse och elände i världen som Das Kapital och Koranen. Hur kan någon annan än en komplett idiot tro på sådana sagor och kannstöperier är omöjligt att begripa”.

Ungefär så kan man i korthet sammanfatta vad 1900-talets störste ekonom, John Maynard Keynes,  har skrivit till sina vänner i några brev på 1930- och 1940-talet, observationer som är minst lika aktuella i dag.

Så här skrev han till George Bernard Shaw 1935:

“Thank you for your letter. I will try to take your words to heart. There must be something in what you say, because there generally is. But I’ve made another shot at old K. M. last week, reading the Marx-Engels correspondence just published, without making much progress. I prefer Engels of the two. I can see that they invented a certain method of carrying on and a vile manner of writing, both of which their successors have maintained with fidelity. But if you tell me that they discovered a clue to the economic riddle, still I am beaten – I can discover nothing but out-of-date controversialising”.

”My feelings about Das Kapital are the same as my feelings about the Koran. I know that it is historically important and I know that many people, not all of whom are idiots, find it a sort of Rock of Ages and containing inspiration. Yet when I look into it, it is to me inexplicable that it can have this effect. Its dreary, out-of-date, academic  controversialising seems so extraordinarily unsuitable as material for the purpose. But then, as I have said, I feel just the same about the Koran. How could either of these books carry fire and sword round half the world? It beats me.

Clearly there is some defect in my understanding. Do you believe both Das Kapital and the Koran? Or only Das Kapital? But whatever the sociological value of the latter, I am sure that its contemporary economic value (apart from occasional but inconstructive and discontinuous lashes of insight) is nil”.

Till Joan Robinson som hade skrivit ”An Essay on Marxian Economics” (1942):

”…the fact that there is something intrinsically boring in an attempt to make sense of what is in fact not sense…I am left with the feeling, which I had before on less evidence, that he [Marx] had a penetrating and original flair but was a very poor thinker indeed. – and his failure to publish the later volumes probably meant that he was not unaware of this himself”.

Och då hade Keynes lyckan att dö redan 1946 och behövde inte uppleva vad vi får göra i dag.

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