623. R. L. Hall to Harrod , 9 February [1937] [a]

[Replies to a letter not found]

Trinity College, Oxford #

9 February [1937] [1]

Dear Harrod,

Very many thanks for your extremely generous letter: as I said, in some sense it was your previous one which encouraged me to go on writing and I think men of standing can do a good deal for their subject by encouragement as well as their own researches. [2]

I quite agree with you that it is extremely difficult to feel happy about any sort of violent change and that those who want it are very brave or very foolish. Personally I think that in an advanced country with so much to lose the evolutionary method is much to be preferred at any rate until the main structure of the country is in the hands of semi-public boards or perhaps such enlightened firms as I.C.I. [3] My analysis is as you say, of socialism per saltum: because there are a number of works already on the various practical steps to be taken and the more detailed they are the less satisfactory I find them. I suppose I adopted my own method because it enabled the theoretical requirements to stand out more clearly. So many socialists seem to think that good will is all that is necessary to produce co-ordination: I don't believe that, nor even that we can count on unlimited good will.

I have tried several times to write to you about "The Trade Cycle" but am still hesitating until I can feel that I have mastered it. [4] It is such a tremendous intellectual undertaking to give an analysis of the inter-relations of a moving system that I feel that hasty comment would be a poor compliment. I do not feel any doubt about the correctness of your main structure: but I am taking several of my more intelligent pupils through it this term and I hope to be able to express myself eventually. It will be an extraordinary achievement if you are able to come through the tests of detailed study--I am sorry that Mrs. Robinson rushed it so much. [5]

Yours ever

Robert Hall

  1. 1. Misdated 1936.

    2. Hall was working on The Economic System in a Socialist State, London: Macmillan, 1937. A copy of the book, presented by the author, is in HCN Roybooks.

    3. See for instance W. J. Reader, Imperial Chemical Industries. A History, London: Oxford University Press, 1975, in particular pp. 57-70 of volume II for the labour relations from the general strike to the outburst of the war.

    4. Harrod, The Trade Cycle ( 1936:8 ). No further correspondence with Hall on Harrod's book seems to survive.

    5. J. Robinson, "The Trade Cycle by R.F. Harrod" (1936). Harrod felt the review to be "fair" and "very decent on the whole", in spite of a few misunderstandings: see letter 607 to Robertson, [jump to page] and [jump to page] .

    1. a. ALS, three pages on two sheets, in HP IV-440.


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