” . . . the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.”
The last half of the last paragraph in John Maynard Keynes’s book General Theory of Employment Interest and Money. That quote has to be read and re-read slowly, reflectively, savoring the language, and the thoughts. Just read this: “Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.” Pure delight, like a sip of very fine cognac.