Moral Critique of Capitalism in Keynes


This paper is about Keynes’s moral critique of laissez-faire capitalism. Keynes fundamentally questioned the values embedded in the capitalist system. According to him, love of money “is the main motive force of the economic machine,” the means to bring societies from scarcity to abundance. But the fact that love of money, or the unlimited pursuit of wealth has become the goal is the “the greatest economic evil of our time.” According to Keynes, the object of economic activity is a “good life,” rather than the production of goods and services to satisfy human wants. Abundance would exist once human beings’ absolute needs are met, and this would pioneer a virtuous life. Keynes’s idea of the “good life” does not have the traditional separation of the state and market, and state intervention is justified for the welfare of the whole community. Although Keynes was mistaken about the good life occurring spontaneously and activities and behaviors that make people happier becoming prevalent when individuals’ income and wealth rise, when income and wealth are distributed more evenly, and when unemployment is not a problem, his analysis is important in terms of providing insight into various policy proposals as well as into what kinds of values and principles should be prioritized in today’s system where economic welfare coincides with material goods and “materialism dominates moral commitments.”


Keynes Capitalism Love of money Good life Social justice