Final-jacket-files_in-the-long-run-we-are-all-dead-max_221 more images image

In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Keynesianism, Political Economy, and Revolution

A groundbreaking debunking of moderate attempts to resolve financial crises

In the ruins of the 2007–2008 financial crisis, self-proclaimed progressives the world over clamoured to resurrect the economic theory of John Maynard Keynes. The crisis seemed to expose the disaster of small-state, free-market liberalization and deregulation. Keynesian political economy, in contrast, could put the state back at the heart of the economy and arm it with the knowledge needed to rescue us. But what it was supposed to rescue us from was not so clear. Was it the end of capitalism or the end of the world? For Keynesianism, the answer is both. Keynesians are not and never have been out to save capitalism, but rather to save civilization from itself. It is political economy, they promise, for the world in which we actually live: a world in which prices are “sticky,” information is “asymmetrical,” and uncertainty inescapable. In this world, things will definitely not take care of themselves in the long run. Poverty is ineradicable, markets fail, and revolutions lead to tyranny. Keynesianism is thus modern liberalism’s most persuasive internal critique, meeting two centuries of crisis with a proposal for capital without capitalism and revolution without revolutionaries.

If our current crises have renewed Keynesianism for so many, it is less because the present is worth saving, than because the future seems out of control. In that situation, Keynesianism is a perfect fit: a faith for the faithless.

FREE EBOOK! Download The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money 

A reader's companion to In the Long Run We Are All Dead, and a beginner’s guide to The General Theory - useful for anyone interested in what the book actually says and does not say; explaining Keynes’s ideas, the reasons he thought they were new, and the older theories he hoped to supplant.

Reviews

  • “A detailed, fast-flowing account of how repeatedly guileful Keynesianism crisis management has saved the elite by reengineering tragedy … rewarding reading.”
  • “Mann’s treatment of Keynes is a very interesting effort to situate his work in a longer political and philosophical debate going back to the French revolution. He treats Keynesianism as the alternative to economic collapse and/or revolution and argues that insofar as leftists have come to embrace it, they have quite explicitly given up hope for an alternative to capitalism.”
  • “Mann makes it clear that Keynes’s critique of liberalism can be found already in Hegel; and that now we need to leave behind the caution of the great philosopher and the great economist, thus realizing a radical alternative to capitalism. This is a provocative, original and brilliant book.”
  • “Urgent and lucid … A bravura inquiry into the intellectual history of the present and the ambiguous vitality of Keynes’s General Theory.
  • “A critical rereading of Keynes, who comes across less as the liberal reformist intent on keeping capitalism (and the bourgeois order) intact, than someone attentive to the tensions within the system and, for all of its flaws, fearful of the grave dangers of leaping toward an unknown revolutionary future. In the Long Run We Are All Dead makes for a startling, bracing and important read.”
  • “They say that we are all Keynesians in a foxhole, but In the long run we are all dead goes much deeper. Profound and provocative, the book turns political and intellectual history inside out, offering nothing short of an original critique of the political economy of liberal government and capitalist modernity. Far from a pedantic discussion of what Keynes really meant, Mann takes us from Hegel to Picketty, and much in between, in search of what Keynes and Keynesianism really mean. His answers are sometimes surprising, occasionally unsettling, and never less than urgently relevant.”

Blog

  • Keynes 2030

    In 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes published a "letter to our grandchildren," in which he speculated about what kind of future industrial societies would have a hundred years later. Here Pascal Riché of L'obs interviews André Orléan, who has written a preface to this astonishing text. Translated by David Broder. 


    From an illustration by Edward McKnight Kauffer for
    The World in 2030 A.D. (1930) by the Earl of Birkenhead. 

    Les Liens qui libèrent have republished John Maynard Keynes’s odd little essay Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren, under the title Lettre à nos petits-enfants [Letter to Our Grandchildren]. Here Keynes journeyed a hundred years forward in order to imagine the society of the future. According to Keynes, by 2030 growth will have put an end to poverty. We will live in a society of abundance, in which we will work very little; an era in which "we prefer to devote our further energies to non-economic purposes." "The love of money … will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity." For André Orléan, the interest of this text lies in the break with capitalism that Keynes foresees therein.

    Do you think this little text is a visionary one?

    It really is an astonishing text. Here we discover that even at the end of the 1920s Keynes foresaw that economic activity would be "between four and eight times as high as it is today" a century later. And already today, in constant currency, the Western countries’ GDP is over four times higher than it was in 1930. This prediction is all the more remarkable given that he made it during a very troubled period — the crisis of 1929 — at a time when few statistics were available. To get a measure of the boldness of Keynes’s text, imagine the difficulties an economist today would face if she set out out to predict the level of development in a hundred years’ time.

    Continue Reading

  • In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Verso's Economics Bookshelf



    “Before capitalism will go to hell, it will for the foreseeable future hang in limbo, dead or about to die from an overdose of itself but still very much around, as nobody will have the power to move its decaying body out of the way.” - Wolfgang Streeck

    After years of ill health, capitalism is now in a critical condition. Growth has given way to stagnation; inequality is leading to instability; and confidence in the money economy has all but evaporated.

    We present a reading list of titles that examine our current economic state, including Wolfgang Streeck's critically-acclaimed analysis, 
    How Will Capitalism End? and Geoff Mann's provocative new book on Keynesianism, political economy, and revolution.

    All these books are 40% off (with free shipping) until Feb 5th, midnight UTC. Click here to activate your discount.

    Continue Reading

  • The Year in Review: Verso authors reflect on 2016

    From the explosion in border walls to the rise of Donald Trump to the books that they've read along the way, Verso authors reflect on one of the most shocking years in recent history in this 2016 review.

    With contributions from: Franco Bifo Berardi, Christine Delphy, Keller Easterling, Nick Estes, Liz Fekete, Amber A'Lee Frost, Andrea Gibbons, Owen Hatherley, Eric Hazan, Helen Hester, Karen L. Ishizuka, Reece Jones, Costas Lapavitsas, Andreas Malm, Geoff Mann, Jane McAlevey, Ed Morales, David Roediger Nick Srnicek and Wolfgang Streeck.


    Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi
    , author of Heroes

    Ninety-nine years after the Soviet Revolution the stage is set for precipitation into global civil war. While the financial class exacerbates its agenda fuelling  unemployment and social devastation, the dynamics that led to Nazism are deploying worldwide. Nationalists are repeating what Hitler said to the impoverished workers of Germany: rather than as defeated workers, think of yourself as white warriors so you’ll win. They did not win, but they destroyed Europe. They will not win this time neither, but they are poised to destroy the world.

    After two centuries of colonial violence, we are now facing the final showdown. As worker’s internationalism has been destroyed by capital globalisation, a planetary bloodbath is getting almost unavoidable. 

    After centuries of colonial domination and violence, the dominators of the world are now facing a final showdown: the dispossessed of the world are reclaiming a moral and economic reward that the West is unwilling and unable to pay. The concrete historical debt towards those people that we have exploited cannot be paid because we are forced to pay the abstract financial debt.

    The collapse of capitalism is going to be interminable and enormously destructive, as long as a conscious subjectivity does not emerge.


    Christine Delphy, author of Separate and Dominate 

    The year now coming to an end has abounded with bad news on the political front. After a foul and very long debate on how we could ‘strip’ French citizens of their nationality – ultimately reaching the conclusion that this was impossible with regard to both French laws and international conventions – the government abandoned the bill. Immediately after that, a fresh bill was presented to ‘reform’ the labour code, largely getting rid of the majority of the guarantees enjoyed by workers. There was a mass mobilisation against this plan, lasting across the whole spring and part of summer. It opposed demonstrators in all France’s towns and cities to a police which, as the prime minister Manuel Valls put it, ‘had not been given any orders to show restraint’.

    Continue Reading

Other books by Geoff Mann

Other books of interest