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Autarky is the characteristic of self-sufficiency, usually applied to societies, communities, states, and their economic systems.


  • Currency devaluations stimulated recovery in two ways: allowing nominal interest rates to fall and, so long as people began to anticipate less deflation and perhaps even inflation, reducing real interest rates and real wages. Employing people began to look as if it might become profitable again - though the rate of recovery was not closely correlated to movements in real wages, suggesting that other inhibitions were at work, especially in the United States. Unfortunately the paroxysm of protectionism that by now had swept the world, persuading even the British to abandon free trade, meant that looser monetary and fiscal policies could do little to stimulate trade. Globalization was over; flows of goods were constrained by import duties, flows of capital by exchange controls and other devices, flows of labour by new restrictions on immigration. Indeed, Keynes came to believe that economic recovery could be sustained only in a more or less closed economy that aimed at autarky. As he remarked casually in the preface to the German edition of his book, 'The theory of output as a whole . . . is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state, than is the theory of the production and distribution of a given output produced under conditions of free competition and a large measure of laissez-faire'
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p. 196
  • This ground-plan, conceived by a great architect, exhibits a fundamental metaphysical dualism in Plato’s thought. ... In politics, it is the opposition between the one collective, the state, which may attain perfection and autarchy, and the great mass of the people—the many individuals, the particular men who must remain imperfect and dependent, and whose particularity is to be suppressed for the sake of the unity of the state (see the next chapter). And this whole dualist philosophy, I believe, originated from the urgent wish to explain the contrast between the vision of an ideal society, and the hateful actual state of affairs in the social field—the contrast between a stable society, and a society in the process of revolution.”
    • Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume One: The Spell of Plato

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