Socialism: H. White’s and J. Keynes’ Ideas Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

In regards to Harry Dexter White (1892 – 1948) and John Maynard Keynes (1883 – 1946), it will be thoroughly appropriate to suggest that neither of the mentioned economists can be considered a Socialist, in the classical sense of this word. Nevertheless, there are indeed a number of clearly Socialist overtones to how they used to theorise what accounts for the objective prerequisites of the market-based economy’s proper functioning.

Keynes’s line of reasoning, in this respect, can be outlined as follows: Contrary to what it used to be assumed by the 19th century’s economists, America’s market-based economy is not self-regulated – something that was illustrated by the Great Depression. The reason for this is that it is not the availability of goods and services, which triggers popular demand for them, but vice versa – it is people’s demand for a particular product, which ensures that this product is being supplied in adequate numbers. Nevertheless, because people’s economic behaviour can hardly be considered thoroughly rational, it establishes the objective preconditions for the unpredictable demand-related fluctuations in the market to have a strongly negative effect on the economy’s overall stance. According to Keynes, this problem can be effectively dealt with by the mean of enabling the government to act as the active participant of the process of demand-creation (Piereson 2012). In other words, the government must invest in the labour-intensive infrastructural projects (such as building highways, for example), which in turn will result in increasing the buying power of citizens and consequently – in helping the country’s economy to get out of depression. It is needless to mention, of course, that this idea is clearly Socialist.

Throughout the course of his professional career, Harry Dexter White used to position himself as a ‘subtle Socialist’, as well. The validity of this statement can be well illustrated, in regards to White’s strive to work out a strategy for making the U.S. economy less sensitive to the externally induced stimuli. After having conducted much research on the subject matter in question, he came to conclude that, in this respect, the government’s involvement will prove indispensable (Boughton 2002). It appears that the mentioned point of view, on the part of White, has been reflective of the fact that, throughout the thirties, he began to realise that the implementation the Socialist economic paradigm (as it was done in the USSR), does benefit the economy, in the sense of ensuring the stability of its structural elements.

There, however, was much flexibility to White’s Socialist attitudes. That is, the economist believed that America should never cease taking advantage of what happened to be the qualitative dynamics in the arena of international politics, as the mean of ensuring the continual improvement of living standards in the U.S. – even if it comes at the expense of lowering living standards in the rest of the world. The establishment of the Bretton Woods system of monetary management in 1944 (conceptualised by White) exemplifies the validity of this statement (Bordo 2014). This is exactly the reason why the country’s economy experienced growth through the fifties and sixties.

The recent rise of the anti-capitalist movement in the world has been triggered by people’s growing awareness of the fact that the wealth of Western countries comes as the result of the Second and Third world countries being mercilessly exploited by the transnational corporations (based in the West), and by the international monetary organisations, such as the WTO and IMF. Apparently, the situation when the tons and tons of valueless ‘green paper’ (the U.S. Dollar) are being traded in exchange for the world’s most valuable natural resources, such as oil and natural gas, can no longer be tolerated. Given the fact that the representatives of the world’s financial elites no longer try to conceal their true agenda (it is commonly suggested in the West that ‘developing’ countries are being ‘overpopulated’), it naturally causes many people to raise their voices again the impending ‘dictatorship of bankers’, associated with America’s strive to spread ‘democracy’ all over the world, by the mean of subjecting civilians in ‘underdeveloped’ countries to missile-strikes (Revel 2004). This simply could not be otherwise – due to the rise of informational technologies, it now becomes increasingly clear to more and more people that there is simply no way for them to be able to benefit from Globalisation – unless they happened to be billionaires.


Bordo, M 2014, ‘Tales from the Bretton Woods’, Open Economies Review, vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 981-991.

Boughton, J 2002, Why White, not Keynes? Inventing the postwar international monetary system. Web.

Piereson, J 2012, ‘John Maynard Keynes and the modern revolution in political economy’, Society, vol. 49, no. 3, pp. 263-273.

Revel, J 2004, ‘Anti-globalism = anti-Americanism’, The American Enterprise, vol.15, no. 4, pp. 36-38.

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