When the guns finally fell silent in 1918 and peace was forced on Germany at Versailles (in the Carthaginian terms that Keynes decried so eloquently), the Bidens, Johnsons and Macrons of the time tried to restore the old world order of free trade and liberal harmony — and comprehensively failed.
The situation for liberal economics was so dismal that, by the mid-1930s, Keynes himself had abandoned free-market liberalism as a lost cause and was campaigning for national self-sufficiency.
Ukrainian immigrants are being welcomed by nations that only a few months ago were shunning foreigners, and, after a decade of slumber in Brussels, the momentum for integration is increasing.
And look at the West’s leaders! Joe Biden hardly conveys an image of world-changing dynamism; after his initial heroics, Olaf Scholz greeted Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s speech to the German parliament with pudding-like inertia; Emmanuel Macron is bent on winning an election while trying to look like Zelenskiy, in hoodie and stubble; while Boris Johnson has dared to compare the Ukrainian resistance to Brexit.
In the great intellectual battle of the 1990s between Francis Fukuyama, who wrote “The End of History and the Last Man” (1992), and his Harvard teacher Samuel Huntington, who wrote “The Clash of Civilizations” (1996), CEOs have generally sided with Fukuyama.
In 1944, with the defeat of Hitler seemingly inevitable, President Franklin Roosevelt invited the Allied powers to a conference to design the postwar order — under the aegis of Keynes and, on the American side, the economist Harry Dexter White.
Keynes, no longer a protectionist, played a leading role in designing the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the infrastructure of the postwar Western order of stable exchange rates. He helped persuade the U.S. to lead the world rather than retreating into itself. He helped create the America of the Marshall Plan. This Bretton Woods settlement created the regime that eventually won the Cold War and laid the foundations for the second age of globalization.
At the closing banquet on July 22, the great man was greeted with a standing ovation. Within two years he was dead
Bloomberg 24 March 2022