If we’re being consistently woke about statues, Keynes must surely be the first of the Left to fall – Telegraph.co.uk

Posted: July 4, 2020 at 4:51 pm


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The Telegraph reports that Gonville and Caius, one of Cambridges oldest colleges, intends to remove a memorial window dedicated to Sir Ronald Fisher, a former President of the college, because of his connections with eugenics.

This follows acts of vandalism around the college and a student petition.

Another right-wing racist to bite the dust, after Oxfords Oriel College council voted that Cecil Rhodes must fall? Perhaps. But just the other side of the Senate House, my old college Kings must surely be next in line. And for a much more famous figure of the last century, John Maynard Keynes.

I am not the biggest fan of Keyness economics, but theres no doubt that he is a major figure in the discipline. His promotion of government spending in recession is as influential on the left as it ever was, and we may expect to hear more of it as unemployment rises post-lockdown.

Perhaps as importantly, Keynes is still widely revered by many for his wider contributions to the nation: his work for the Treasury during the First World War, and his opposition to excessive demands for reparations after it; his contributions to developing the post- WWII multilateral institutions at Bretton Woods, and negotiating the American loan which saved Britain from bankruptcy in 1946; and his patronage of the arts (he was first Chairman of the Arts Council, Chairman of the Royal Opera House and founder of Cambridges Arts Theatre).

But this will count as nothing to todays iconoclasts. Keynes, like Fisher, believed in eugenics.

This late 19th/first half of the 20th century doctrine, inspired by a misreading of Darwin, insisted that some genetic groups are superior to others. To maintain the strength of the race, governments should promote a sort of selective breeding of the kind which improved dogs, cattle, sheep and other domesticated animals.

This could be done by encouraging superior genetic stock (perhaps through giving financial bounties to mothers) and discouraging inferior types from having children.

In the USA, this way of thinking led to the feeble-minded being sterilised; in Nazi Germany to their murder. It now seems to us now to be barbaric, crazy nonsense.

But not to many of our great-grandparents generation, and not to Keynes - who was no mere dabbler in eugenics. In 1914, he held that almost any measures seem to me to be justified in order to protect our standard of life from injury at the hands of more prolific races. Later in life, he served as Director of the Eugenics Society from 1937 to 1944.

So Keynes must be for the chop, then, by current standards. But he will not be alone. Many of the Lefts heroes will have to join him in the tumbrils.

William Beveridge, the architect of the Welfare State; Sidney and Beatrice Webb, the formidable advocates of trade unionism and admirers of the Soviet Union; H. G. Wells, the great science fiction writer, social critic and propagandist of the Left; George Bernard Shaw, Keir Hardie not to mention the editorial staff of the New Statesman (whose board was chaired by Keynes) and the Manchester Guardian. All were advocates of eugenics and associated racist ideas.

And dont forget pioneer feminists such as the Pankhursts and Millicent Fawcett (only recently honoured by a statue in Parliament Square which must now surely come down).

So a consistent application of wokeness to Britains past demands a cancelling not just of fusty old right-wingers such as Rhodes, Baden-Powell and Rudyard Kipling, but of virtually the entire pantheon of the British progressive left as well.

There is of course another choice: we could all grow up and college councils and other no-cost-to-them virtue-signallers could just concentrate on 21st century problems rather than trying ostentatiously to eradicate unsavoury aspects of Britains chequered history.

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If we're being consistently woke about statues, Keynes must surely be the first of the Left to fall - Telegraph.co.uk

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July 4th, 2020 at 4:51 pm

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