Category Archives: Great Humans

THE ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF THE PEACE by JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES, C.B. Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge – Introduction. 

A warning for our times. 

The writer of this book was temporarily attached to the British Treasury during the Great War and was their official representative at the Paris Peace Conference up to June 7, 1919; he also sat as deputy for the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Supreme Economic Council.

He resigned from these positions when it became evident that hope could no longer be entertained of substantial modification in the draft Terms of Peace.

The grounds of his objection to the Treaty, or rather to the whole policy of the Conference towards the economic problems of Europe, will appear in the following chapters.

They are entirely of a public character, and are based on facts known to the whole world.

J.M. Keynes. King’s College, Cambridge, November, 1919.

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Introduction


The power to become habituated to his surroundings is a marked characteristic of mankind. Very few of us realize with conviction the intensely unusual, unstable, complicated, unreliable, temporary nature of the economic organization by which Western Europe has lived for the last half century.
On this sandy and false foundation we scheme for social improvement and dress our political platforms, pursue our animosities and particular ambitions, and feel ourselves with enough margin in hand to foster, not assuage, civil conflict in the European family.

Moved by insane delusion and reckless self-regard, the German people overturned the foundations on which we all lived and built. But the spokesmen of the French and British peoples have run the risk of completing the ruin, which Germany began, by a Peace which, if it is carried into effect, must impair yet further, when it might have restored, the delicate, complicated organization, already shaken and broken by war, through which alone the European peoples can employ themselves and live.
Perhaps it is only in England and America that it is possible to be so unconscious.
In continental Europe the earth heaves and no one but is aware of the rumblings. There it is not just a matter of extravagance or “labor troubles”; but of life and death, of starvation and existence, and of the fearful convulsions of a dying civilization.

In this lies the destructive significance of the Peace of Paris.
If the European Civil War is to end with France and Italy abusing their momentary victorious power to destroy Germany and Austria-Hungary now prostrate, they invite their own destruction also, being so deeply and inextricably intertwined with their victims by hidden psychic and economic bonds.

The British people received the Treaty without reading it. But it is under the influence of Paris, not London, that this book has been written by one who, though an Englishman, feels himself a European also, and, because of too vivid recent experience, cannot disinterest himself from the further unfolding of the great historic drama of these days which will destroy great institutions, but may also create a new world.

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1919 – Keynes predicts economic chaos

At the Palace of Versailles outside Paris, Germany signs the Treaty of Versailles with the Allies, officially ending World War I. The English economist John Maynard Keynes, who had attended the peace conference but then left in protest of the treaty, was one of the most outspoken critics of the punitive agreement. In his The Economic Consequences of the Peace, published in December 1919, Keynes predicted that the stiff war reparations and other harsh terms imposed on Germany by the treaty would lead to the financial collapse of the country, which in turn would have serious economic and political repercussions on Europe and the world.

In January 1919, John Maynard Keynes traveled to the Paris Peace Conference as the chief representative of the British Treasury. The brilliant 35-year-old economist had previously won acclaim for his work with the Indian currency and his management of British finances during the war. In Paris, he sat on an economic council and advised British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, but the important peacemaking decisions were out of his hands, and President Wilson, Prime Minister Lloyd George, and French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau wielded the real authority. Germany had no role in the negotiations deciding its fate, and lesser Allied powers had little responsibility in the drafting of the final treaty.

The treaty that began to emerge was a thinly veiled Carthaginian Peace, an agreement that accomplished Clemenceau’s hope to crush France’s old rival. According to its terms, Germany was to relinquish 10 percent of its territory. It was to be disarmed, and its overseas empire taken over by the Allies. Most detrimental to Germany’s immediate future, however, was the confiscation of its foreign financial holdings and its merchant carrier fleet. The German economy, already devastated by the war, was thus further crippled, and the stiff war reparations demanded ensured that it would not soon return to its feet. A final reparations figure was not agreed upon in the treaty, but estimates placed the amount in excess of $30 billion, far beyond Germany’s capacity to pay. Germany would be subject to invasion if it fell behind on payments.

Keynes, horrified by the terms of the emerging treaty, presented a plan to the Allied leaders in which the German government be given a substantial loan, thus allowing it to buy food and materials while beginning reparations payments immediately. Lloyd George approved the “Keynes Plan,” but President Wilson turned it down because he feared it would not receive congressional approval. In a private letter to a friend, Keynes called the idealistic American president “the greatest fraud on earth.” On June 5, 1919, Keynes wrote a note to Lloyd George informing the prime minister that he was resigning his post in protest of the impending “devastation of Europe.”

“If we aim at the impoverishment of Central Europe, vengeance, I dare say, will not limp. Nothing can then delay for very long the forces of Reaction and the despairing convulsions of Revolution, before which the horrors of the later German war will fade into nothing, and which will destroy, whoever is victor, the civilisation and the progress of our generation.”

This Day In History 

Fidel Castro was a ‘champion of social justice’ despite obvious flaws. 

As the US embarked on a decades-long attempt at destabilisation, Castro’s fight for survival became synonymous with his country’s battle for autonomy.

Many on the left of British politics feared that the CIA was intent on regime change across Central and South America, and started to champion the Caribbean island and its charismatic leader, whose influence and appeal grew with each day that he remained in power.

“Fidel himself became a beacon of resistance, demonstrating that there was the possibility for a small people to win their power and hold on to their power despite every possible provocation and blockade. The fact that Cuba still stood independent despite the deprivations is a real, lasting legacy.

Today, people are looking for alternatives, something different, and the relevance of the politics – socialism, if you like – in the Cuba embodied by Fidel, by Che, is becoming more interesting to people. They’re fed up with the current political infrastructure, which doesn’t really empower most people to play an active part within their societies. At a time of austerity, people will look for alternatives, and Cuba is one of those alternatives. I’m not saying it’s the only one or the best one, but it’s one we can look at.” – Rob Miller

“Although responsible for indefensible human rights and free speech abuses, Castro created a society of unparalleled access to free health, education and equal opportunity despite an economically throttling US siege. His troops inflicted the first defeat on South Africa’s troops in Angola in 1988, a vital turning point in the struggle against apartheid.” – Lord Hain

“Fidel Castro’s death marks the passing of a huge figure of modern history, national independence and 20th-century socialism, for all his flaws Castro will be remembered as an internationalist and a champion of social justice.” – Jeremy Corbyn 

“Of course, Fidel did things that were wrong. Initially he wasn’t very good on lesbian and gay rights, but the key things that mattered was that people had a good education, good healthcare, and wealth was evenly distributed. He was not living as a billionaire laundering money off into a Panamanian bank account or anything like that – he was good for the people.” – Ken Livingstone

The Guardian 

Celia Lashlie Documentary Film: Research and pre-production – Givealittle. 

New Zealand has the worst domestic violence record in the world. Last year 13 babies and toddlers were killed by their parents or step parents. Domestic and child abuse is estimated to cost the country $7billion (2014). The statistics show no sign of an improvement. Yet, Celia Lashlie had the vision, the international credibility and the determination to change all that with her simple message to the world: “Turn to the mothers.” 
It’s only by working with the mothers that we will get to save the lives of these children.

Givealittle.co.nz

Helen Kelly – a fearless campaigner and a fine New Zealander. 

Helen Kelly, the trade unionist who died yesterday after a brave and public battle with cancer, never shirked a fight.

She campaigned tirelessly for safe workplaces, advocated vigorously for women’s rights and employment equity, and was always willing to embrace unpopular causes and confront sacred cows.

Her courage made her a valuable asset to the union movement, and gave workers’ groups political momentum when their ranks thinned through economic change and workplace transformation.

Her qualities earned her respect too from those on the other side of the negotiating table because employers and industry leaders came to recognise a woman with fierce intelligence and tactical skill.

Kelly’s style favoured issues over individuals. “I’m just not into these personality politics,” she told the Weekend Herald this year during a break in treatment for her incurable cancer. “I think values matter.” NZ Herald 

Tractors cross the finish line for Sir Ed’s hut. 

Three tractors on a journey to raise money for the conservation of Sir Edmund Hillary’s hut in Antarctica have made it to the finish line.

The Expedition South team collected donations towards the $1 million needed for the hut between leaving Piha Beach on August 23 and arriving in Mt Cook village about 2pm on Monday. Stuff.co.nz