Fighting Through Britain. The “Gift Dimension” of Keynes's Quest for a New Global Order
Dissatisfied with both Skidelsky's “Fighting for Britain” approach to Keynes's quest for a new global order and its specular competitor, the “Figthing despite Britain” view, we explore the possibility of a “Fighting through Britain” approach to the issue. We claim that though Keynes was fighting for the whole world rather than for Britain only, his (unsuccessful) fighting for Britain was a major component of his overall reform project and the true telltale sign of his defeat. As a consequence, the paper focuses in particular on the American Gift asked for by Keynes in 1945. The Gift is regarded as the last and a relevant episode of the economist's lifelong search for a global system efficiently coping with the dilemmas it necessarily gives life to. With the help of the anthropological and sociological literature on gift-giving, we move beyond the strategic dimension of Keynes's diplomacy to show that the request for an American Gift to revive multilateralism at the end of WWII embodies in full - and helps to understand - Keynes's attempt to construct a new system happily combining international discipline and national freedom to choose, the former being the instrument to promote the latter.
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