The idea of an economist being interesting - other than to other economists - must be fairly difficult to swallow. The common perception would be of a man, who feels bound to say "On the one hand...On the other hand.." making you feel rather grateful that he is not a Ravan endowed with twenty hands. John Maynard Keynes, though, was rather an exception to this rule. To cite but one instance, though he belonged to the ilk of people who love saying, 'In the long run...", Keynes dismisses it with a pithy "In the long run, we are all dead."
Keynes is rated as one of the major figures in capitalist economics, being the originator of the idea of Government intervention to pull economies out of a depression AND, thus, the man whose ideas influenced the 'stimulus' packages in the recent past to pull economies out of the Recession. It is surprising to see his views on Capitalism - "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."
Capitalist economics places a huge premium on Stock Markets to direct the flow of funds into required investments. Keynes has this to say about the idea - “When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done”. Does not seem like a ringing endorsement of the basic premise. For speculators, who think that when the stock markets are irrationally high or low and wish to play for a reversal, Keynes' sage advice is “The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent." Advice that quite a few would have wished to have received much earlier in life! Though there is a Keynesian silver lining - “If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has.” THAT will explain how YOU lose money in all those Stock Market bubbles but the chaps who set it all off do not!
Keynes was, by no means, uni-dimensional or bereft of pithy thoughts on subjects other than economics. Well, you could say that when Keynes says, "The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that still carries any reward", he is still talking economics but you cannot deny that it is a surprising viewpoint for an economist to hold.
Apparently, it was a period where people were REALLY down on education. Like Einstein, who was a contemporary, Keynes too seems to have had no high regard for education. Unless you can see something laudatory in "Education: the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent." But, then, the problem with education has always been that it propagated the existing ideas and fails, even today, to inculcate a spirit of thinking for yourself. A person like Keynes, who held that "The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones" is unlikely to be very impressed by a system that freezes young minds into old ideas, making it impossible for them to escape from them.
I was surprised and gratified to see that I had been echoing Keynes, unconsciously, in a thought that forms the base of quite a few of my posts, though Keynes puts it far more caustically than I ever would have. He says, "When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals." Further along, he is even more caustic when he mentions that, "The love of money as a possession - as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life - will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease."
That, though, is a sentiment that is likely to be discarded. After all, again as Keynes says, “Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for (your) reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.” Particularly in a Society where the 'enjoyments and realities of life' have been so warped as to represent the mere possession of money!