Galbraith, John Kenneth

John Kenneth Galbraith, economist, writer (b at Iona Station, Ont 15 Oct 1908; d at Cambridge, Mass 29 Apr 2006). Having graduated from Ontario Agricultural College (Guelph) in 1931, Galbraith received a doctorate in agricultural economics at University of California, Berkeley. Most of his active life was spent connected with Harvard, where postdoctoral work at Cambridge, England, had fitted him to replace Robert BRYCE as resident Keynesian.

An activist liberal, Galbraith was personal adviser to every Democratic candidate for the US presidency from F.D. Roosevelt to L.B. Johnson, and thus held a number of public positions including controller of prices in WWII and US ambassador to India (1961-63). He was active in Americans for Democratic Action, a group of eminent liberal intellectuals, particularly during its opposition to the Vietnam War.

Galbraith's contribution to social science is an alternative to the established, neoclassical concept of capitalism. In a number of books, including American Capitalism (1952), The Affluent Society (1958) and The New Industrial State (1967), he established a basis for liberal policy on the ideas of "countervailing power,""conventional wisdom," the "technostructure" and the institutional "convergence" of communist and capitalist systems. In 1956 he testified before the Royal Commission on CANADA'S ECONOMIC PROSPECTS and, at the request of CANADIAN PACIFIC, he watched over the production of R.E. Caves and R.H. Holton on Canadian Economy: Prospect and Retrospect (1959).

The Scotch, Galbraith's entertaining account of his boyhood environment in southern Ontario, was published in 1964. His Age of Uncertainty (1977) was televised in a series on BBC. He is the author of Anatomy of Power and A View from the Stands: Of People, Military Power and the Arts (1986).

His liberal interventionist theories became displaced in the 1980s when conservative fundamentalism became an attractive alternative. A Journey Through Economic Time (1994) and The Culture of Contentment (1992) were Galbraith's rebuttals to conservative economic policy and their failure to revive Western economies from recessionary trends and succeeded in bringing many of his theories back into vogue. In The Socially Concerned Today (U of T Press 1998) Galbraith recorded his views on what the socially concerned society should be today, and reflected on the principles of distribution of wealth, flaws in the market system and the state of higher education.