Skip today’s blog if you don’t want to read about sexual predators.
Following a fairly throwaway line about John Maynard Keynes’ sexual pecadillos whilst quoting him in the previous post, I’ve been stalked contacted by a person on Twitter who has seemed to have taken offence at my statement.
As anyone who reads this organ on a regular basis will have realised, I;
1. Believe that offence can only be taken, never given (i.e. if some words have upset you, that’s your problem and yours alone), and
2. Don’t give a flying fuckeroo.
I’m a libertarian. That is, I want the maximum personal freedoms for everyone within some simple parameters of personal safety, laws of tort and property and national defence. If you’re not harming others I don’t care who or what you do in your room with or without your clothes off.
But it did set me off checking the facts just in case I had sullied the name of the man who launched a thousand central bank printing presses (which begs the question how much further can that name be sullied) by claiming he was a child molester.
What I discovered was illuminating. There’s a whole bunch of “economists” (come on, it’s as much of a science as homeopathy or sociology) out on the internet stressing over whether their hero was a kiddy fiddler or not. It becomes one of those left/right issues; reasonable people like us think he wasn’t while nasty Tea Party nazis think he was.
First of all, definitions. According to The Collins Dictionary, a paedophile is a person, usually a man, who is sexually attracted to children.
This is important because, depending where you look, you’ll find some spirited defences of the man based on a definition of the word which has the additional limiters of “predominately” and “pre-pubescent”. So Jimmy Savile wasn’t one, by that measure.
Who did John Maynard Keynes put his penis in?
Well, quite a few people, according to his extensive sex diaries. Mostly male but at least two females.
How old were they? Many were his own age, he was a member of a loose club known as the Bloomsbury Set. Without putting too fine a point on it, they were all doing each other at various points in time. Fair enough, consenting adults and all that.
Keynes didn’t have his sexual encounters exclusively within the WC1 postcode though. His sexual diaries and correspondence with Lytton Strachey (what a great lost first name; “hello Mrs Strachey, is your Lytton allowed to play today?”) list other hunting grounds. Eton School, for example, where the age of exit is 16. Perhaps he checked birth certificates before acting on his desires, but given that homosexuality was illegal at the time, one suspects he’d assume it made little difference if he were to be hung for a lamb rather than a sheep.
The Bloomsbury Set did a lot of things together, and not just each other. Holidays, for example. The highlight destinations of The Grand Tour were popular as were other Mediterranean locations.
It must be remembered that Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Greece, Turkey and certainly the north African countries were practically third world at the time. For anyone who’s visited modern day Naples or Marseilles this concept wouldn’t necessarily be a big stretch of the imagination. Poverty could be extreme and it was not uncommon for families to force their children into prostitution.
Keynes, Strachey and others of the Bloomsbury Set visited these places like present day sex tourists to Asia do now and because of the same factors; currency arbitrage, poverty-induced opportunity and distance from the prying eyes at home. In fact, in a letter to Strachey, Keynes tells him of Tunis, “where bed and boy are not so expensive”. I’m not sure of the age of the boys he is discussing paying for, but do we feel confident that he checked that they had a driver’s licence?
My personal distaste here is not the homosexuality; again, I don’t care a fig what two consenting adults do. The exploitation is the issue. As we’ve seen with the Richmond Game, all relationships have elements of inequality, just some more than others. The game we play on this blog pokes fun at some of the more ridiculous and extreme “transactions” called relationships. The difference between these and the sex tourism of Keynes or his predatory returns to Eton decades after finishing his education is the comparative disadvantage of his prey and the leverage he capitalised on to bed them.
Sexual preferences are complex issues, who can really be sure what element is due to genetics and what is due to conditioning? It matters not, though. What matters is the action, not the desire. This is not yet quite an Orwellian reality; if a person desires intercourse with someone at a mental or physical disadvantage to them, such as a minor, they cannot be prosecuted for thought crime. If they act on that desire however, they have made a conscious decision to transgress another person’s rights. It’s the difference between putting your date in a taxi at the end of the dinner appointment versus dragging her into an alley and skipping the courtship phase altogether.
What bearing does this behaviour have on Keynes’ academic work? None whatsoever, I’d suggest. I found myself humming a Gary Glitter tune last week and reflected on the fact that, despite his terrible crimes, his hits were still quite catchy (I bet the BBC don’t play them on the radio anymore though). Keynes, on the other hand, is good for a couple of one liners (another favourite is, “in the long run, we’re all dead”) but his theories of government stimulus spending are neatly disproven in reality by looking at the 1920/21 depression versus the Great Depression of the 30′s or simply booking a flight to Japan today. I prefer Hayek and Mises’ solutions, or as Meltzer put it, “capitalism without failure is like religion without sin; it doesn’t work”.
Ultimately though, most of the political class in Australia, the UK and many so-called democracies embrace Keynesian intervention without hestiation or a thought about the morailty of a policy of ongoing inter-generational governement theft. Not only did he rape kids when he was alive but he’s raping a generation after his death.
The written evidence for the bedding of minors by Keynes is not extensive, after all, that quote above is admission of a crime punishable by hard labour (ask Oscar Wilde about Reading Gaol) so it’s not surprising that Keynes’ two volumes of sex diaries were written in code. The hints and innuendo point us in a very clear direction though and, as he’s maggot-food, he can’t sue me for libel and there are no descendants to upset so I’m going to stick with my views safe in the knowledge no dead person every hired Peter Carter-Luck on a no-win/no-fee basis.
Maybe Keynes was a paedophile. Maybe he wasn’t. You can decide for yourself based on whatever definition of the word you prefer. Perhaps it doesn’t matter anyway; personally I don’t give a stuff as I have little respect for the man’s academic work so he doesn’t have the status of hero to fall from in the first place and, anyway, a dead kiddly fiddler is the only good kiddly fiddler.
However, if you are one of those inclusivity, anti-heteronoramativity, everyone-who-disagrees-with-me-is-a-racist-and-a-homophobe types, answer me one question; would you be happy driving off to the cinema with John Maynard Keynes sitting on your sofa babysitting this evening?
adj & noun Relating to the molestation of young children either sexually or ecomonically through the imposition of massive governement debt requiring future rises in taxation to repay.