Macroeconomic Consequences of Peace: American Radical Economists and the Problem of Military Keynesianism, 1938–1975

Including A Symposium on 50 Years of the Union for Radical Political Economics

ISBN: 978-1-78769-850-5, eISBN: 978-1-78769-849-9

ISSN: 0743-4154

Publication date: 7 May 2019

Abstract

This chapter is a contribution to the intellectual history of the anxiety that full employment in the modern United States depended somehow on military spending. This discourse (conveniently abbreviated as “military Keynesianism”) is vaguely familiar, but its contours and transit still await a full study. The chapter shows the origins of the idea in the left-Keynesian milieu centered around Harvard’s Alvin Hansen in the late 1930s, with a particular focus on the diverse group that cowrote the 1938 stagnationist manifesto An Economic Program for American Democracy. After a discussion of how these young economists participated in the World War II mobilization, the chapter considers how questions of stagnation and military stimulus were marginalized during the years of the high Cold War, only to be revived by younger radicals. At the same time, it demonstrates the existence of a community of discourse that directly links the Old Left of the 1930s and 1940s with the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s, and cuts across the division between left-wing social critique and liberal statecraft.

Keywords

Citation

Barker, T. (2019), "Macroeconomic Consequences of Peace: American Radical Economists and the Problem of Military Keynesianism, 1938–1975", Including A Symposium on 50 Years of the Union for Radical Political Economics (Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 37A), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 11-29. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0743-41542019000037A004

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