On the Art of Innuendo

J. M. Keynes’ Plagiarism of Silvio Gesell’s Monetary Economics

ABSTRACT: The allegedly revolutionary theory of money of J. M. Keynes was in truth inspired, if not borrowed. Or better, downright plagiarized from the early intuitions of a German social reformer by the name of Silvio Gesell. Gesell is, indeed,  a forgotten figure traditionally classed amongst the anarchist dissenters of the early XXth century.

This paper thus explores this connection and thereby attempts to re-establish some balance in the book of intellectual paternity. It does so especially by laying emphasis on the original monetary themes of Gesell, and on the Keynesian recasting of those self-same themes into the 1936 classic, The General Theory of Interest, Employment, and Money. In sum, it is here argued that Keynes appropriated Gesell’s insights into the nature of money. Namely, Gesell’s Theory of Interest; his explanation of investment dynamics, liquidity crises, and the eventual infirmity of State policy. Keynes stripped these insights of their radical implications, so as to fashion an explanation of the crisis that would pose no threat to the foundations of the financial System.

Finally, the message here is that the West has been worshipping Keynes as some kind of patron saint of the capitalist order. To this day, the discursive persona of the Cambridge don serves as a propagandistic “free port,” as it were. Though he was a thoroughgoing and corrupt elitist, Keynes, on the other hand, faked the progressive stance so deftly as  to have emerged as the economic icon of choice in the majority rite of the economists’ church.


In Research in Political Economy, Vol. 20 (2003): 217-253


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