Keynes's official biographer, Robert Skidelsky, says that
Keynes changed his mind on the virtues of Soviet Russia in
1928, but that review was written in 1936.(4) Keynes probably had a certain fascination for Russia due to his
hatred of profit and speculation (even though he himself
made a fortune) while clearly and virulently abhorring its
horrors. However, it is the destruction of the profit motive
and the elimination of private property that were at the
root of those horrors. Keynes refused to consider them as
root causes and blamed "some beastliness in the Russian
nature―or in the Russian and Jewish natures when, as now,
they are allied."(5)
He viewed Soviet Russia as a social experiment in planning.
He also seemed to hold the same view concerning Fascist
Italy and Nazi Germany.(6) In the German preface of Keynes's
perennial work The General Theory of Employment, Interest
and Money, Keynes wrote the following, which has been
dismissed and disregarded by several of his defenders:
of the following book is illustrated and expounded
mainly with reference to the conditions existing in
the Anglo-Saxon countries. Nevertheless the theory
of output as a whole, which is what the following
book purports to provide, is much more easily
adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state
[emphasis added], than is the theory of the
production and distribution of a given output
produced under conditions of free competition and a
large measure of laissez-faire.
Keynes actually considered in his essay National self-sufficiency
that fascism, Nazism and communism were "social experiments"
whose failures and tragedies could be explained by
administrative bungling.(7) Nazi Germany's economic disaster
occurred because it was run by "unchained incompetents,"
according to Keynes. Although he considered that Mussolini
was acquiring wisdom, he said that Soviet Russia was the
result of "administrative incompetence." Keynes disregarded
any other explanations that a "liberal" would consider for
these failures; he only viewed them as experiments.
Keynes was a man who
often changed his mind (which is not a reproach in and of
itself) but harboured very deep inconsistencies. While he
probably never tried to destroy capitalism or liberalism, he
never tried to save it either. Instead, he unconsciously
adhered to ideas that were to have disastrous impacts on the
course of human history. Keynes was never a liberal.