The Keynes Project: A Critical Analysis of the Economics of John Maynard Keynes from an Austrian School Perspective
John Maynard Keynes was the most influential economist of the twentieth century. This speaks poorly of the twentieth century.
In October 2009, I wrote an article for Lew Rockwell in which I outlined a plan to refute Keynes, line by line. Austrian economists are not found on major university campuses. I wrote it for a younger, untenured academic economist at some private college or obscure university who is willing to devote his career to the task. I still hope such a person takes up my challenge. I am not optimistic, however.
I have shifted focus here. The Keynes Project is a model for a multimedia effort. It focuses on his 1936 book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, but it is not limited to this volume. It considers his earlier writings as a prelude to The General Theory.
The Keynes Project project will be both offensive and defensive, as any comprehensive critique should be. It will show what was wrong with Keynes' economic theory, but it will use these critiques to provide an introduction to what is correct in economics -- specifically, Austrian School economics.
The project must be guided by a single principle, a single theme: to refute Keynes' single theme. The project must ask two questions.
1. If the problem is insufficient demand, where does the state confiscate the resources necessary to increase demand?
2. What would the original resource owners have done with these resources?
Keynes made the mistake that Bastiat warned against: the fallacy of the thing not seen. It is the broken window fallacy.
Then go to J. B. Say. Defend him. Show that Keynes misrepresented Say's law.
Then go to the classic refutation of Keynes: Henry Hazlitt's The Failure of the "New Economics" (1959).
Always return to these two questions. Never let the reader forget these two questions.
This project is governed by this presupposition: You can't beat something with nothing. It is not just that Keynes was wrong. It is that he was wrong in specific ways, violating specific insights of generations of previous economists, but especially those of Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek, Keynes' chief rival in 1935.
A full-scale critique involves the creation of multiple products:
Monographs on specific technical issues
Professional journal articles
Textbooks suitable for an upper-division course
Glossary for The General Theory: past usage, Keynes' usage
Line-by-line critique of The General Theory
Popular books aimed at non-economists
Study guides for general books
Magazine articles suitable for The Economist
Magazine articles suitable for The Atlantic Monthly
Newspaper articles suitable for The Wall Street Journal
On-line video/audio presentations suitable for an upper-division class
Shorter on-line video presentations suitable for YouTube
Blog sites on specific topics
Discussion forums on specific topics
Talking-head videos such as this PBS segment.
Rap videos as good as this one: