405. Harrod to R. F. Kahn , 17 November 1934 [a]

[Replies to 402 , answered by 410 ]

Christ Church, Oxford #

17 November 1934

My dear Kahn

Of course I was not in the least offended at anything you said.

Your last letter [1] contained a lot of paradox, so it seemed to me, but the one I chose as an illustration was perhaps the least fortunate, because that contains the very essence of your doctrine. So perhaps I shall have to pass that, provided that the methods of demonstration and general setting are not all paradoxical. If a proposition is true, it must clearly be advocated whether paradoxical or not. But the paradox can often be eliminated by a change of form or re-definition of certain terms. What I plead is that great efforts should be made to eliminate the paradoxical element wherever possible.

By equilibrium economics I dont think I meant the economics of full employment, on the contrary I think equilibrium economics has failed to analyse the conditions of full employment, but rather I meant the body of theory connected with marginal analysis. [2] I want your and Maynard's economics of full employment expressed in terms which are used in marginal analysis, so that it can be fitted in to the corpus of economic theory such as it is. 1

I think the equilibrium economists wrongly believe that they have demonstrated that the system tends to move, apart from rigidities, to a full employment position, [3] and that you can only disabuse them of this and impel them to take up your doctrines 2 if they are expressed in the same language as theirs.

Looking forward to Founders' Day.



P.S. The Haberler correspondence has been going strong, tho I think it will shortly peter out on his side. His last communication was on a postcard. [4] His arguments have been growing incredibly thin lately, but he refuses to retract. 3 I see I have an enormous letter by Durbin this morning. [5] I suppose I shall have to <consume> more precious time in answering it.

  1. 1. Letter 391 .

    2. Letter 392 , [jump to page] .

    3. See also letter 392 , [jump to page] , and letter 378 [jump to page] .

    4. Letter 401 ; The exchange was indeed suspended on Haberler's side, although he wrote a reply to Harrod's Economica article: see, for more details, note 1 to letter 401 .

    5. Letter 404 ; Harrod's reply was not found.

    1. a. ALS, two pages on one leaf, in RFK 13/57/67-68.

1. Marked with a vertical line in the margin by Kahn from "terms which are used ..." to this point.

2. Marked with a vertical line in the margin by Kahn from "the system tends ... take up your doctrine" to this point.

3. Marked with a vertical line in the margin by Kahn from beginning of the postscript to this point.

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