La Sagesse des philosophes

John Maynard Keynes, peut-être le plus grand économiste politique du 20 ème siècle, disait un jour qu'à long terme, le cours de l'histoire est déterminé par les idéaux et les intellectuels que par les politiciens. Il ne pensait pas aux conseillers ou producteurs de programmes à usage immédiat ni aux auteurs de discours pour présidents et premiers ministres. Pas plus qu'il ne pensait aux commentateurs des médias (journaux et télévision) ni aux experts dont les rapports fournissent la toile de fond des discours politiques. Il parlait des penseurs, créateurs de la pensée fondamentale, comme la sienne à propos du capitalisme devant de temps à autre être sauvé par une intervention de l'État pour répondre à la demande globale.

Keynes, bien sûr, nous rappelait aussi qu'à long terme, nous finissons tous par mourir un jour. Au sommet de son influence, dans les années 50 et surtout dans les années 60, il était en fait déjà mort. D'autres, qui furent à la base de l'inspiration (si l'on peut dire) des menaces totalitaires du 20 ème siècle, étaient morts depuis belle lurette quand leurs idées furent mises à l'emploi. Ainsi, l'effet politique des intellectuels est rarement immédiat. Il doit attendre le bon moment.

Cela tient à une autre caractéristique des grands idéaux qui définissent les périodes historiques : le fait qu'ils proviennent de la marge des pensées dominantes. Quand ces idéaux sont produits et publiés, ils semblent presque inutiles, et assurément incompatibles avec l'air du temps.

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