The master-economist must possess a rare combination of gifts … He must be mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher—in some degree. He must understand symbols and speak in words. He must contemplate the particular, in terms of the general, and touch abstract and concrete in the same flight of thought. He must study the present in the light of the past for the purposes of the future. No part of man’s nature or his institutions must be entirely outside his regard. He must be purposeful and disinterested in a simultaneous mood, as aloof and incorruptible as an artist, yet sometimes as near to earth as a politician.
John Maynard Keynes
What a wonderfully correct quote of Keynes. It is correct in every word and is demonstrative of the nature of wisdom as in the integration of the truths in opposites. Of course when you’re one of the originators of a new discipline like macro-economics you inherit a lot of cultural bias and the blinding effects of the current long term paradigm as well. Keynes work was the monetarily indirect fall back position of finance which after the great depression and C. H. Douglas’ Social Credit which with its universal dividend and compensated retail discount was indeed monetarily direct and so a threat to their paradigm of Debt Only. It was also way ahead of its time as heterodox economists have come back to it with QE for the people, UBI and debt jubilees.
Your observation that economists don’t have a good sense of history is also accurate. Several years ago when I mentioned to Steve Keen that Douglas was the first disequilibrium theory he appeared to have no idea who Douglas was despite it being a world wide movement between the world wars, Douglas being a citizen of the British empire and Australia being a part of same and a place where Social Credit took root, albeit a rather religio-fied version of it.
Unfortunately Douglas had a little too much of the tory in him and never really looked at private finance with a totally objective eye, but who else even now has the guts and paradigm perception to call private finance not an actually legitimate economic/productive business model….and not for the reasons it’s normally criticized for? That plus Douglas and his followers since never really recognized the paradigm changing potential of their policies. Well, Kuhn had not written his seminal book yet, so like with so many other things it’s an awareness problem that prevents full vision.