737. L. C. Robbins to Harrod , 13 January [1938] [a]

The London School of Economics, Aldwich, London W.C.2. #

13 January [1938] [b]

Dear Harrod,

If the British Ass. met at Xmas or Easter, I should nearly always be there. But August is my sacred month. If I dont keep that free I dont see my family at all: they are always in bed when I get home during the term. Hence I almost always arrange to fly the country in the summer so that I can truly say that I shall not be available, and that, I'm afraid, will be the case this time. [1]

I have just seen, rather belatedly, a copy of your review of my book in the Oxford Mag. [2] I'm glad you liked parts of it. But Im sorry that I cant convince you that I am not opposed either to spacing out public works or to many measures designed to reduce inequality. I thought our earlier correspondence might have done something there. [3]

As regards public works--just in case you have not seen it--I enclose an article which I wrote for Lloyds Bank Review when I was <finishing> this book. [4] It represents in this respect, views which I have held ever since I started to think about these things.

As regards inequality, I do in fact in my book say exactly the contrary of what you accuse me of. If you will reread the last section of the chapter on International Liberalism, you will see that I explicitly said that inequality was a deficiency of a system of free market & went on to mention, among other things, a drastic application of the Succession Duty principle as one way of dealing with it. [5] The whole section is very compressed because I didnt want to interrupt the main discussion, which was essentially a discussion of international issues. But it took a long time to write--was indeed the most recalcitrant passage--and was quite definitely designed to sidetrack such strictures as yours without too much upsetting the proportion of the general argument.

So now I dont know what to do. Im not particularly anxious to write a book or an essay, saying that it would be a good thing to mitigate inequality--I seem somewhere to have read as much elsewhere .... But, if I dont, as the years go on, you and your friends will gradually succeed in persuading people with whom I would like to stand well that I am opposed to all such measures.

Probably capacity to endure will grow with the growth of problems. It has so far thank God.

Ever yours


  1. 1. Robbins seems to have changed his mind: see letter 789 , [jump to page] .

    2. Harrod, "Economic Planning and International Order, by L. Robbins" ( 1937:14 ).

    3. Letters 624 and 626 .

    4. L. Robbins, "How to Mitigate the Next Slump", Lloyds Bank Monthly Review NS 8, 87, 1937, pp. 234-44.

    5. L. Robbins, Economic Planning and International Order, London: Macmillan, 1937, pp. 262-65.

    1. a. ALI, three pages on two leaves, in HPBL Add. 71188/139-40.

      b. Ms: «13.1.18».

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