Full text: Steindl's speech

Dear friends, 
I have had so far the privilege of leaning back and listening only. If I 
now talk it is only to thank everybody who has contributed to this 
symposium: I thank my friends from abroad for coming in spite of the 
heavy work load which most of them have in the middle of term. I thank 
the Austrian Institute of Economic Research and Dr Kramer as well as the 
other institutions who have contributed to the funds - Bundesministerium 
fur Wissenschaft und Forschung, Rammer fur Arbeiter und Angestellte Wien 
and the Bank fur Arbeit und Wirtschaft AG. My most hearty thanks are due 
to my friend Lois Guger who organised the whole undertaking single handed 
with great circumspection. 
I am naturally touched by the interest which my work gets such a long 
time after it was written when at first a large response to it was sadly 
missing. The economic profession, always strongly impressed by the 
contemporaneous scene, was happy to forget all about the depression. 
May be my disappointment was not without my own making. Not only was the 
book badly presented but I left Oxford the moment I had finished it (and 
I had finished it in haste adding at the end a mathematical chapter which 
I wish I had never written). I abandoned it like a new borne babe 
(Kindesweglegung it is called in lawyers German ). Thus the publication 
took three years and the few people who were interested in it and wanted 
to talk to me did not find me in Oxford ( Vienna was at that time out of 
the way, a frontier town, end stop of the Orient Express ). I turned to 
other questions and did not work for many years on the problems raised in 
the book. When interest in the book began to emerge I did not notice it 
for quite a while. I was very puzzled that it came from unexpected 
quarters - for example from Japan. AS one of my Japanese collegues 
explained to me later, a mixture of Keynes and Marx was just the diet 
which many Japanese economists wanted. Also the mixture of empirical data 
and theoretical argument was well received there. Little did I think at 
that time that Japan would fairly soon advance on the road to maturity 
and have a structural crisis already in the 90s resulting from the 
inexorable decline in the growth rate. The other areas of interest in M 
St were Latin America especially Brasil, and in Europe it was Italy. Some 
of these countries may have been more open to new and unconventional 
ideas just because the native traditions were not as strong as in anglo 
saxon countries. Where traditions are strong readers are accustomed to 
well marked out ways which they do not want to leave because beyond it is 
wilderness. I do not very much like the well trodden paths. My friends 
are often victims of this prejudice; when they walk with me in the woods 
I tend to lead them astray. Indeed, I seem to have the idea that a hike 
is not a hike if you don’t loose your way and have to make an effort 
finding it again. You may guess that my friends are people with great 
patience and forbearing. 
It fits in with that that I am also very fond of disorder, and 
inclination which has somewhat increased with age. This shows on the one 
hand in my surroundings where it is usually impossible to find a book or 
a record when I want it and on the other hand in my memory where the 
random access meets with similar difficulties. The people who advise you 
on training your memory lay much stress on a one to one relation between 
the objects of your daily surroundings and the things your want to keep 
in your memory. Unfortunately with me the relation is between chaos and 
chaos. 
These things also predispose me to be hostile to the computer. In fact of 
all the plagues of my old age few are worse than the computer. It is an 
invention of the devil to distract people from proper work. 
Some people are very enthusiastic about communications, but I have my 
reservations about that. One of my favorite night mares is of a world in