A friend has asked me whether I see any similarities between Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of today’s Labour Party in England and John Maynard Keynes, so far the most quoted economist of the last century.
My answer is that they are very similar in having what can only be interpreted — from everything that is known about them — as a genuine sympathy for the poor. Also, their policies — injecting more printed money into the consumer demand side of the economy — are almost identical.
Even though they both hailed from middle-class parents of about the same socio-economic level they both went in opposite career directions as soon as they left school.
Not surprisingly, their motivations have been entirely different. Corbyn’s candidature for the leadership of the Labour Party had to be thrust on him. He’d previously spent 30 years as an MP as a thorn in the side of whatever government, Labour or Tory, happened to be in power with absolutely no attempt for preferment.
In contrast, Keynes rapidly leaped upwards as a young man and, long before he was 30 years of age, was a member of the social elite — indeed on close terms with the highest levels of the social, political and business elite in Edwardian England. Whatever he did and wrote was impelled by personal publicity.
This doesn’t detract in any way from Keynes’s sincere feelings for the poor but his feelings were strictly from on high — to be compared with Corbyn who, by the way he rides a bike, dresses, speaks and the friends he makes, regards himself as a fellow worker.
A whole book could be written on the Corbyn-Keynes theme but the above will have to do for the present.