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The First Serious OptimistA. C. Pigou and the Birth of Welfare Economics$
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Ian Kumekawa

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691163482

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691163482.001.0001

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War, Peace, and Disillusionment

War, Peace, and Disillusionment

(p.83) Chapter Four War, Peace, and Disillusionment
The First Serious Optimist

Ian Kumekawa

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Pigou's life during World War I. At no time in his life were his private thoughts about noneconomic values more public than between 1914 and 1918. Economists often grant that war is a period of exception, that policies and rules considered wise in peacetime are not applicable during wars. For Pigou, this exceptionalism applied not only to matters of economic policy but also to his own silence on policy and ethical imperatives. Yet the war left Pigou disheartened by the human capacity for atrocity. Moreover, the byzantine machinations of politics and bureaucracy left him disenchanted with something else entirely: the state apparatus. Thus, the war and its aftermath hollowed Pigou out; his youthful idealism was shaken, and his conception of the state as a fundamental theoretical agent in his system of welfare economics shattered.

Keywords:   World War I, atrocity, politics, state apparatus, disillusionment, government, bureaucracy

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