As you will know if you've read any of the articles listed in the left hand column of this page, I am not a Keynesian. That is to say I don't believe a return to the Keynes-inspired fiscal polices that served western society so well in the decades after 1945, could deliver social justice today.
Keynesianism is a pretty good method for dealing with the failure of an unregulated market economy - one which inherently favours the already wealthy - to provide an equitable distribution of economic opportunities and resources. But it is a sticking plaster; and for anyone committed to the principle of social justice, an admission of failure. Advocating a Keynesian approach is to say, 'well we can't do anything about root causes or the structural failings that promote injustice, so let's just try to alleviate the worst symptoms without screwing up the economy too much'.
The question remains, however, that if no progress is being made in respect of root causes, is there a short-term, stop-gap role for Keynes-based policies? Having read this piece by Austin Mitchell MP (old Labour) in Monday's Independent, I'm beginning to think there is.
As Mitchell says, the problem with private investment is that its biggest impact is asset inflation: making the things owned by people who hold assets (like land) worth more, while doing nothing to produce more of the goods, or create more of the economic opportunities, which are needed by people at the poorer end of society.
As Polly Toynbee reminds us in today's Guardian, for all the faults (and they are many and considerable) the Labour government does still seem keen to do something about child poverty. And it can only get anywhere near its vaunted targets by following a more Keynesian agenda.
Of course it's no long-term substitute for tackling the crazy foundations of the current (un)free market economy: the private appropriation of economic rent, allowing privately owned banks to create money at will, and allowing surplus cash that should be used for much needed investment in trade and manufacturing to be used as casino chips on global financial markets. But it's worth a second look. Especially with the global economy poised on the brink of recession. The usual argument against a return to Keynesianism is that it would spark massive and damaging capital flight. But with economic conditions as they currently are, that capital would not find many welcoming destinations at present.