Economist England John Maynard Keynes was 'racist'

Economist and director of the Bank of England John Maynard Keynes was a ‘racist’ who supported sterilisation and eugenics, trust claims as it tells visitors about the ‘darker side’ of Bloomsbury Group

  • Economist John Maynard Keynes held racist eugenic theories about breeding  
  • Information was brought to light at his Sussex retreat, Charleston Farmhouse 
  • Visitors to the home where the Bloomsbury Group once met are told dark history

Economist John Maynard Keynes held racist eugenic theories about human selective breeding, The Charleston Trust who run his country haunt have claimed.

Keynes, who died in 1946, gave his name to ‘Keynesianism’ – a branch of economics based on the belief that government intervention can improve economic conditions. 

However new information provided to visitors via an app at his regular Sussex retreat, Charleston Farmhouse, suggests Keynes – considered a ‘left-wing’ thinker – subscribed to poisonous views that racial wars and global segregation would be needed to ‘protect our standard of life from injury at the hands of more prolific races’, the Telegraph reports.

The unsettling history has come to light following a re-examining of the beliefs held by the ‘liberal’ Bloomsbury Group, an early 20th- ‘bohemian’ circle of friends, that included writers Virginia Woolf, EM Forster and critic Lytton Strachey.

Economist John Maynard Keynes (pictured) held racist eugenic theories about human selective breeding, The Charleston Trust who run his country haunt have claimed

The group started as a set of intellectuals who had studied at Trinity and King’s Colleges, Cambridge, and began meeting at a salon in a house near Bloomsbury Square, central London – before spending more time at Charleston Farmhouse, Woolf’s sister Vanessa Bell’s home. 

The group defied Edwardian convention and shocked London society with their carousel of lovers, affairs and illegitimate children, however a darker side of history is now being highlighted.

The Telegraph reports that new information given to visitors at the Sussex home, now reopened to the public, will read: ‘Although many of John Maynard Keynes’ ideas and theories are still respected today, we need to address the darker side of his beliefs.

‘He was an active supporter of eugenics – a racist, ableist, and classist theory that the genetic quality of the human race could be improved through selective breeding and sterilisation.

Charleston Farmhouse, the Sussex home of the Bloomsbury group

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) the English novelist and critic (left), Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British author, 1930s, a novelist, essayist and critic (right)

‘He was particularly concerned with the growing populations of non-white people.’ 

The Charleston Trust added that acknowledging individuals’ ‘problematic beliefs’ was the only way to ‘accurately assess their impact on history’.

In his role as chairman of the Malthusian League for family planning Keynes stated that ‘quality’ of breeding of future populations should be considered.   

Critical of the re-examination Cambridge historian Professor Robert Tombs told the Telegraph: ‘Keynes is the most important modern economist, whose arguments are the foundation of progressive economic policies to combat poverty and unemployment.

‘He was also interested in eugenics, as were many leading progressive – it was one aspect of the utopian dream of a perfect society. Perhaps the “woke” will soon start to realise that not all objectionable views come from conservatives.’   

 MailOnline has contacted The Charleston Trust for comment.           

From the Bloomsbury set to the Treasury in the war years: How promiscuous homosexual John Maynard Keynes – who went on to become the husband of a Russian ballerina – became an icon of Left-wing politics

John Maynard Keynes (1883 – 1946) was, at first glance, an unlikely candidate to become a great icons of Left-wing politics.

Born in 1883 to a Cambridge economist and social reformer, he was brought up in an atmosphere of privilege and attended Eton and Cambridge – where he got top marks and gained academic distinction. 

Keynes was bisexual and known for being very sexually promiscuous in his younger years before eventually marrying Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova in 1925. 

The same year Keynes was building a reputation as the most brilliant and controversial economist in the western world.

March 1940, John Maynard Keynes, English economist and pioneer of the theory of full employment

After advising the Government during World War I, he seized attention in 1919 with an attack on the Treaty of Versailles, arguing that its punitive terms were bound to provoke a terrible German reaction. 

And during the Twenties he cemented his image with a series of onslaughts on economic orthodoxy, chipping away at the three pillars of the old order – the Treaty, the gold standard (the system whereby bank notes were literally exchangeable for gold) and laissez-faire government, the economic ideology which advocates minimal state intervention.

But one of the great myths about Keynes is that when the Wall Street Crash sent shockwaves through the world economy in 1929, politicians seized on his ideas as a solution to the Depression. They did nothing of the sort, for although Keynes’ brains were highly regarded, he remained a heretic.

His trademark notions – government borrowing and spending on public works to boost demand and alleviate recession – were unpopular on both sides of the political divide.

Although Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour government brought him on board in 1930, it did not take up his prescriptions. 

In fact, it was only at the margins of British politics than Keynesianism, as it eventually became called, really caught on.

March 1940, English economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) in his study at Bloomsbury, London. The ‘unofficial economic adviser to Great Britain’

March 1940, English economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) in his study at Bloomsbury, London. he ‘unofficial economic adviser to Great Britain’

During the Twenties, he had met a dashing young Labour politician, Sir Oswald Mosley, and it was he who made the most determined effort to introduce Keynes’ ideas into British economic life.

As early as 1925, Mosley was arguing for nationalised banks, an economic council and centralised planning for full employment.

And in 1930, Mosley, who was then a minister without portfolio outside the Cabinet, presented his famous Memorandum to the Labour Cabinet, recommending £200 million of public works and social spending to kick- start the economy into recovery.

This was Keynesianism pure and simple – and the Cabinet rejected it. To most Labour ministers, borrowing money to throw at public works during tough times smacked of profligate irresponsibility.

Mosley promptly flounced out of the Government and ended up founding the British Union of Fascists, horrifying his old friends and colleagues.

He remained an admirer of Keynes’s ideas, though – as did his great friend and mentor, Adolf Hitler.

Indeed, if there was one government that did embrace Keynesianism enthusiastically in the Thirties, it was Hitler’s Germany – where borrowing, spending and public works were the foundations of the Nazis’ economic appeal in a country ravaged by the Depression. 

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