F. A. Hayek never published the grand project he conceived in a letter to Fritz Machlup in 1939. As described in the introduction, this work would “incorporate intellectual history, methodology, and an analysis of social problems, all aimed at shedding light on the consequences of socialism.” He told Machlup that “a series of case studies should come first, . . . leading to the fundamental scientific principles of economic policy and ultimately to the consequences of socialism,” and the work would “form the basis of a systematic intellectual historical investigation of the fundamental principles of the social development of the last hundred years.” (Introduction, p. 1)
In the essays in this volume Hayek contributed to economic knowledge in the context of socialism and war, while providing an intellectual defense of a free society. The connection between the two topics is illuminated through essays containing some of Hayek’s contributions to the socialist-calculation debate, writings pertaining to war, and the cult of scientific economic planning from the late 1930s and 1940s.
Contra Keynes and Cambridge is composed of three parts: Part I consists of two essays, the first being a recollection by Hayek of his time at the London School of Economics in the 1930s, followed by his contribution to an early debate about the paradox of saving; Part II reprints the full debates between Hayek and Keynes in Economica in the early 1930s, and Hayek’s exchanges with Sraffa that followed; Part III includes some of Hayek’s reminiscences on Keynes. F. A. Hayek challenged one of the world’s leading economists, John Maynard Keynes, and his economic theories, which sparked a spirited debate that has influenced economic policy in democratic countries for decades.