The Lock Down Log: A Glimpse of Keynes’ Future

Credits: John King (Lockdown Leisure Time)

People have taken up to new activities during the lock down. Some are baking breads and cooking sumptuous meals, some are creating art and some others are writing, a friend of mine has been taken up to playing the virtual Kalimba and another friend is catching up on TV shows with her mother, and some others are just spending meaningful time with their families.

Not that work or domestic chores have decreased during the lock down. But the zero commute time, having no where to go to and few things to do outside homes has expanded the leisure hours. People have discovered ways to occupy their new found leisure hours.

This reminded me of economist Keynes’ essay ‘Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren.’ Writing in 1930, he observed that the technological progress and mass production systems of the modern era has brought in multi-fold improvements in economic productivity and a general increase in standards of life (in the Western world), and it will only continue to improve in the coming years. In a hundred years or less, Keynes contemplated aloud, mankind would have solved the ‘economic problem.’ Economic pursuits would no longer be the central pillar of the common man’s life as economic abundance would have been assured by technology, mass production and compound interest.

With the advantage of hindsight, it’s easy to come up with a variety of reasons why “Keynes’ future” did not pan out. But that’s not the point I brought this up.

In the essay, Keynes writes that the age of abundance, when it comes, could only be enjoyed by “those peoples, who can keep alive, and cultivate into a fuller perfection, the art of life itself and do not sell themselves for the means of life…

Some of the people I talked about in the opening of this blog belong to that category which Keynes writes about.

I was first introduced to Keynes’ essay a few years ago by a Brain Pickings post Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren: A Hopeful Vision for Post-Occupy Humanity circa 1930. It’s a short piece that draws out the most illuminating parts of Keynes’ essay. Do give it a read.

Good night!