By Walther Rathenau
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In June, the Austrian Archduke was assassinated at Sarajevo. In the next year, Hayek would confront the disaster of World War I in person. The fertile soil of the British and Austrian empires had nurtured three distinctive identities. As the Great War engulfed Europe, these three young men found themselves in very different communities. Maynard Keynes lived in a commune, but worked in the lair of the establishment. Harold Laski, expatriate in Canada and now at Harvard, entered a community of progressive intellectuals at odds with their patrimony.
How a person comes to decide that it is up to them to address the leading issue of their time will always be something of a mystery, though we shall attempt to penetrate some of its secrets. These three lives illustrate the force of such a redemptive presumption. For Keynes, there was the preparation of a prodigy in the academies of his family, Eton, and Cambridge. At each step, he was at the center of a private world of high aspiration and burgeoning self-confidence. Laski’s debut on the stage of history passed through the realm of youthful rebellion.
Within a year, he was in charge of all questions on the external financing of the war effort. Here he got his first glimpse of the financial power of the Americans. ”~ In the next war, he would try charm. ”j For imagination, he had another venue: London’s Bloomsbury district. Just as his ferocious intellect insulated him from the banalities of ordinary discourse, the financial independence and cultural apostasy of Bloomsbury set him and his friends apart, and deliberately so, from the homely, His participation in the semiprosaic, ingrained realities of life around communal arrangements of the famous “Bloomsbenies” began with his employment at the Treasury in 1915 and extended for more than two decades.