Lonergan’s Summary of the Argument

The present inquiry is concerned with relations between the productive process and the monetary circulation.  It will be shown 1) that the acceleration of the process postulates modifications in the circulation, 2) that there exist ‘systematic,’ as opposed to, windfall profits, 3) that systematic profits increase in the earlier stages of long-term accelerations but revert to zero in later stages – a phenomenon underlying the variations in marginal efficiency of capital of Keynesian General Theory, 4) that the increase and decrease of systematic profits necessitate corresponding changes in subordinate rates of spending – a correlation underlying the significance of the Keynesian propensity to consume, 5) that either or both a favorable balance of trade and domestic deficit spending create another type of systematic profits, 6) that while they last they mitigate the necessity of complete adjustment of the propensity to consume to the accelerations of the process, 7) that they cannot last indefinitely, 8) that the longer they last, the greater the intractability of ultimate problems.  From the premises and conclusions of this analysis it will the be argued 9) that prices can not be regarded (by the stewards of the economy) as ultimate norms guiding strategic economic decisions, 10) that the function of prices is merely to provide a mechanism for overcoming the divergence of strategically indifferent decisions or preferences (by households and firms), and 11) that, since not all decisions and preferences possess this indifference, the exchange economy is confronted with the dilemma either of eliminating itself by suppressing the freedom of exchange or of certain classes of exchanges, or else of effectively augmenting the enlightenment of the enlightened self-interest that guides exchanges.   [CWL 15, 5-6]

And, without more satisfactory rules human liberty will perish:

The old political economists were champions of democracy; and if the content of their thought has been found inadequate, its democratic form is as valid today as ever.  That form consisted in the discovery of an economic mechanism and in the deduction of rules to guide men in the use of the economic machine, a rule of laissez faire for governments and a rule of thrift and enterprise for individuals … but it is still insufficiently grasped that new and more satisfactory rules have to be devisedWithout them human liberty will perish. For either men learn rules to guide them individually in the use of the economic machine, or else they surrender their liberty to be ruled along with the machine and a central planning board …the one issue is the locus of control.  Is it to be absolutist from above downwards?  Is it to be democratic only in the measure in which economic science succeeds in uttering not counsel to rulers but precepts to mankind, not specific remedies and plans to increase the power of bureaucracies, but universal laws which men themselves administrate in the personal conduct of their lives. [CWL 15, Editors’ Introduction, lxxi]

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