"ARTHUR SELDON, THE
INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS, AND THE BATTLE FOR LIBERTY IN
BRITAIN” (November, 2013)
Arthur Seldon (1916-2005)
The Collected Works, 7 vols.
John Blundell, who headed the IEA between 1993 and 2009, discusses the
contribution of Arthur Seldon ((1916-2005) to the success of the London
based Institute of Economic Affairs in spreading free market ideas in
Britain. He attributes much of its success to Seldon's rigorous editing
of material which turned technical economic language into jargon free
prose which was readable by any educated person. In addition, Seldon's
vision was to secure the IEA a place midway between academia and the
production of actual government policies. Responding to Blundell are
Stephen Davies who is presently education director at the Institute of
Economic Affairs, Peter Boettke who is a Professor of Economics and Philosophy
at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and Nigel Ashford who
is the Senior Program Officer at the Institute for Humane Studies in
Arlington, Virginia. Ashord delves deeper into Seldon's skill as an author
and editor, Davies asks whether there can ever be another Seldon given
the current structure of universities, and Boettke ponders why a similar
entity has never emerged in the United States and what this says about
the task of changing ideas about the role of government there.
"ARTHUR SELDON, THE INSTITUTE
OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS, AND THE BATTLE FOR LIBERTY IN BRITAIN” (November,
Arthur Seldon (1916-2005)
The Collected Works, 7 vols. (2004)
"Liberty Matters" Online
This online discussion is part of the series “Liberty Matters: A Forum
for the Discussion of Matters pertaining to Liberty.” EBook versions
of these discussions in PDF, ePub, and Kindle formats can be found at <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/2516>.
This discussion can be found in EBook formats at <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/2579>.
[Will be put online at the end of the month.]
Copyright & Fair Use Statement
"Liberty Matters" is the copyright of Liberty Fund, Inc. This
material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund,
Inc. These essays and responses may be quoted and otherwise used under "fair
use" provisions for educational and academic purposes. To reprint these
essays in course booklets requires the prior permission of Liberty Fund,
Inc. Please contact the OLL Editor
if you have any questions.
John Blundell, who headed the IEA between 1993 and 2009, discusses
the contribution of Arthur Seldon ((1916-2005) to
the success of the London based Institute of Economic Affairs in spreading
free market ideas in Britain. He attributes much of its success to Seldon's
rigorous editing of material which turned technical economic language into
jargon free prose which was readable by any educated person. In addition,
Seldon's vision was to secure the IEA a place midway between academia and
the production of actual government policies. Responding to Blundell are
Stephen Davies who is presently education director at the Institute of
Economic Affairs, Peter Boettke who is a Professor of Economics
and Philosophy at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and Nigel
Ashford who is the Senior Program Officer at the Institute for Humane Studies
in Arlington, Virginia. Ashford delves deeper into Seldon's skill as an author
and editor, Davies asks whether there can ever be another Seldon given the
current structure of universities, and Boettke ponders why a similar entity
has never emerged in the United States and what this says about the task
of changing ideas about the role of government there.
Lead Essay: John Blundell, “Dr. Arthur Seldon
CBE and the IEA” [Posted: November 1, 2013]
Responses and Critiques
- Stephen Davies, "Is Another Arthur Seldon Possible Today?" [Posted:
6 November, 2013]
- Peter J. Boettke, "Why No IEA in the United States?" [Posted:
8 November, 2013]
- Nigel Ashford, "Arthur Seldon as Author" [Posted: 9 November,
- John Blundell, "Imagining Arthur Seldon Today" [Posted:November
- Nigel Ashford, "Where Is the Intellectual
November 15, 2013]
- Peter Boettke, "Captured by Whom and for What Purpose?"[Posted:
November 18, 2013]
- John Blundell, “You Are the Cause of All My Troubles!” [Posted:
- Stephen Davies, "What Work Would Arthur Seldon Be Encouraging Today?" [Posted:
- Stephen Davies, "Five Kinds of Think Tanks" [Posted: 26 November]
- Nigel Ashford, "IEA v. Heritage" [Posted: 27 November]
About the Authors
John Blundell is author of Waging the War of Ideas; Margaret
Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady; and Ladies for Liberty: Women
Who Made a Difference in American History. He is a Visiting Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and Distinguished
Senior Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs. He is a graduate of the
London School of Economics and holds honorary doctorates from the University
of Buckingham and Universidad Francisco Marroquin. He is a former president
of the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, the Atlas Economic
Research Foundation, and the Charles G Koch Foundation.
Nigel Ashford is the Senior Program Officer at the Institute for Humane Studies.
He joined IHS from the United Kingdom where he was professor of politics and
Jean Monnet Scholar in European Integration at Staffordshire University, England.
Dr. Ashford has also directed the Principles for a Free Society Project at
the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation in Sweden, and was a Bradley Resident Scholar
at the Heritage Foundation and Visiting Scholar at the Social and Philosophy
Policy Center in Bowling Green. He is a recipient of the International Anthony
Fisher Trust Prize for published work which strengthens public understanding
of the political economy of the free society. He has lectured in 16 countries.
He is author of Principles for a Free Society (Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation,
1999, 2003), which is available in six languages. He is co-author of US
Politics Today (Manchester University Press, 1999); Public Policy
and the Impact of the New Right (St Martin's Press, 1994) and A Dictionary
of Conservative and Libertarian Thought (Routledge, 1991), and numerous articles on how ideas influence
Peter Boettke is University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George
Mason University and the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at
the Mercatus Center. He is the author most recently of Living Economics:
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow and has been the editor of the Review of
Austrian Economics since 1998.
Stephen Davies is education director at the Institute of Economic Affairs
in London. Previously he was program officer at the Institute for Humane Studies
(IHS) at George Mason University. He joined IHS from the United Kingdom, where
he was senior lecturer in the department of history and economic history at
Manchester Metropolitan University. He has also been a visiting scholar at
the Social Philosophy and Policy Center at Bowling Green State University,
Ohio. A historian, he graduated from St. Andrews University in Scotland in
1976 and gained his Ph.D. from the same institution in 1984. He has authored
several books, including Empiricism and History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003),
and was coeditor with Nigel Ashford of The Dictionary of Conservative and
Libertarian Thought (Routledge, 1991).
LEAD ESSAY: John Blundell,”Dr.
Arthur Seldon CBE and the IEA”
“China will go capitalist. Soviet Russia will not survive the century.
Labour as we know it will never rule again.” Arthur Seldon, The
August 6, 1980.
As director general at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in London
(1993-2009), I positioned photos of its four founders above the fireplace
in the L-shaped first floor (or ground floor as the British say) board room
at 2 Lord North Street. When we had visitors new to the IEA, I would point
at the four and clockwise from about 10 o’clock move my finger saying, “Here
is the IEA in nine words”:
Hayek advised Fisher [1 o’clock].
Fisher recruited Harris [4 o’clock].
Harris met Seldon [7 o’clock].
And between the mid-1940s and early 1960s that is exactly what happened.
Antony Fisher read The Reader’s Digest condensed version of The
Road to Serfdom in April 1945 and sought out its author F. A. Hayek at the London
School of Economics. Hayek’s office was about halfway between Fisher’s
at the Ministry of Defence on Whitehall and Waterloo Station from which he
commuted home. Hayek was by then drafting The Intellectuals and Socialism.
He told Fisher rather than entering politics, he should create a vehicle to
reach the intellectuals with reasoned argument, since their influence would
prevail. (Hayek later claimed no memory of the meeting – Fisher’s
was very detailed. On balance I fully believe Fisher, because he recalled
quaking as he walked to Hayek’s door -- having to pass the room occupied
by Harold Laski.)
Fisher had no clue what to do with this advice and no really easily available
money, but he did meet the economist Ralph Harris in the very late 1940s and
shared the idea of a Fabian Society for nonsocialists. Enthused, Harris told
the slightly older man: When you’ve got the money together I’d
like to run the operation.
Fisher went on to build a company that sold in the 1960s for £21 million
(£250 million today). In 1955 he and two friends incorporated the IEA
as a charity, and that same year published its first book, The Free Convertibility
of Sterling by George Winder, advocating freely floating currency exchange
rates, a radical idea for the time. It sold out. Henry Hazlitt reviewed it
favorably in Newsweek.
Emboldened by this success, he sought out Harris in the summer of 1956 and
asked him to return from Scotland to London to build the IEA. Harris agreed
and opened up shop on Jan. 1, 1957. It was a part-time one-man operation.
For a young man with a wife and three children, this was a truly bold move
-- “mad,” as he once said to me. It amounted to a few pounds a
week from Fisher and plenty of time to freelance.
At this point Hayek was well out of the picture, at the University of Chicago,
and a real debate emerged between Fisher and Harris. Fisher loved short, popular,
easy-to-read pieces, such as articles in The Reader’s Digest or the
products of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) in Irvington-on-Hudson,
New York, which he would mark up and send to Harris. The latter seems to have
been unsure or torn among the approaches of his last three jobs, namely, working
in politics for the Conservative Party, lecturing at St. Andrew’s University,
and writing in the opinion columns for a prominent Scottish newspaper.
Enter Arthur Seldon.
He was born on May 29, 1916 (died October 11, 2005) in the working-class
East End of London to Jewish immigrant parents, Pinchas and Masha Margolis,
from the Ukraine and named Abraham. His parents died in the 1918 Spanish flu
epidemic, and Abraham and his four older siblings were split up. Fortunately
he was adopted by a local childless cobbler and his wife, Marks and Eva Slaberdain,
rather than being institutionalized like his siblings.
Now Abraham Slaberdain, he received a good education mostly due to the determination
of his new mom (who on being widowed married a local elderly tailor so as
to assure Abraham’s future), and he entered the London School of Economics
already market-leaning because of his high school history teacher. (His older
brother Cecil Margolis eventually achieved national fame as a councilman in
Harrogate, Yorkshire, where he sat as a Whig and opposed the growth of the
Abraham grew up in a society where one worked hard and assumed personal responsibility
while looking after others with quiet private acts of charity. When his adoptive
father died, it turned out he had a private insurance plan with a welfare
association, and his adoptive mother received a reasonably big check. She
worked hard, and the local Jewish community helped out before she remarried.
Abraham grew into his teens in an atmosphere of entrepreneurship and self-help,
rather than reliance on the state.
Abraham legally became Arthur, and then as World War II approached, he changed
Slaberdain to Seldon on the urging of an LSE professor who worried about what
might happen to Jews if Hitler were to invade. How very prescient of the professor!
At LSE Arthur fell under the spell of four great classical-liberal economists:
Hayek, Arnold Plant, Ronald Coase, and Lionel Robbins, serving for a time
as Plant’s research fellow. It was then that he met economist Basil
War took Arthur to North Africa and involvement in the invasion of Italy.
While stationed in Italy, he developed a serious elbow infection, so serious
that he needed surgery and was told that his joint would have to be fixed
in one position and would not in future bend. The doctor asked Arthur what
he did in peacetime. “I am a writer and editor,” he replied. So
the arm was set accordingly. Postwar he worked in journalism as editor of
Store, a magazine catering to shop owners, and then as chief economist for
eight years for a brewing-industry trade association. He also did some teaching
and examining, and was a middling prominent member of the Liberal Party, already
tilting at windmills. For example he tried to persuade brewers not to “tie” pubs
into buying only certain products – he wanted “free” houses.
In U.S. terms bars should be free to serve Pepsi and Coke, not just one of
Soon after Harris reached London, Lord Grantchester, a Liberal peer who knew
of this new creature called IEA, introduced him to Seldon and a brilliant
although sometimes strained partnership emerged.
Seldon quickly resolved the Harris-Fisher tension over format, producing
a paper entitled Pensions in a Free Society (1957). It became the
model for jargon-free economics in well-written English, fully footnoted,
with a reading list and questions for class discussion. Math and statistics
were not prohibited, but were suitably boxed away so as not to detract from
the flow of the argument. The idea was to make material accessible to the
educated layperson while still being of use to the expert and in the classroom.
It was a truly brilliant concept.
Fisher, however, got a bit grumpy about it, asking, “This is all so
dull – why can’t I have more fun for my money?” But as Arthur
gradually and cautiously eased from brewing to think-tanking, the model began
Arthur finally committed to fulltime at the think tank (with a nice pay rise),
and for close to three decades masterminded the editorial output, albeit with
helpful input from Harris, who was no slouch at economics. He had earned top
honors and could spot talent and topics too.
Oddly enough, a company called Harris and Sheldon (with an ‘h’)
supported the IEA and its market niche, fitting out the interiors of shops
with shelving and the like. Ralph would cleverly call the IEA “Harris
and Seldon” and would state that while he was out front selling the
goods, Arthur was in the back making them and stuffing them on the shelves.
The division of labor was simple. Seldon since childhood had a rather pronounced
stutter. This left Harris, from the 1950s well into the ’80s as the
front man for the IEA, and that perhaps explains some of the tensions that
Later Harris was awarded a peerage as Lord Harris of High Cross. Arthur did
not help his case for a major title when Margaret Thatcher came to lunch at
the IEA soon into her first term. Ralph proposed a generous, fulsome toast;
Arthur said sotto voce, “Well, I’ll take a sip!” She heard,
she glared, and I am sure the relevant body received a message.
At any rate, Arthur received a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order
of the British Empire); Fisher was knighted; and Hayek was awarded a Companion
of Honour. “You created the atmosphere which made our victory possible” was
Margaret Thatcher’s verdict in 1979, or later in 1987: “They were
the few; but they were right; and they saved Britain.”
Very Churchillian Battle of Britain stuff! As in: “Never in the field
of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” Fisher had
been a Hurricane pilot in III Squadron in that very battle, where he saw his
brother Basil go down to his death; he bailed out but his parachute was aflame.
Arthur’s daily task for three decades was to spot good men and women
(sometimes young, sometimes established, sometimes en route to Nobel prizes)
and to match their skills with important topics. Usually the research was
a sunk cost. Professor X had already had say three articles on topic Y in
obscure academic journals that had been read by a few friends and family members.
The IEA’s lure was a first print run of 3,000 copies (a monograph by
Yamey had four printings in five years), press coverage, and a following.
And the papers were often reprinted in other English-speaking countries and
translated. “You made me famous” was an often-heard comment in
Arthur’s editing was brutal, and he openly acknowledged that he always
set out to test his authors to the limit and glean the most he could out of
them. I can attest to this process personally, being deeply shocked – stunned
to my core – at his puncturing of my first offering. I went along and
felt I benefited. Others also agreed to go along but later recounted how scarred
they had felt and claimed he had pushed them too far, even putting words into
their mouths. I recall one think-tank CEO, now of great esteem, who went through
Arthur’s hands saying: “I would never mistreat one of my authors
like he did me!” I even remember one young author who had her manuscript
sent back 20 times for revision before Arthur was happy. But she was cheerful
when she told me that story. To balance these last two tales let me add that
when ill health threatened the completion of Hayek’s Law, Legislation
and Liberty, he requested that Arthur be asked to complete the three volumes.
Of course, Hayek with the help of friends finished the job.
Thousands of authors were nurtured (especially after he launched the journal
Economic Affairs) and hundreds of publications were printed, distributed,
and sold. He viewed himself as a captain in the artillery firing off shells
in the latest battle of the perpetual war of ideas. Some landed on target;
some missed; others did a bit of softening up!
He always cautioned authors to ignore constraints such as what reform might
be considered politically possible; rather, he said, go for what the establishment
thinks is “politically impossible.” He even recruited the economist
W. H. Hutt to do a paper, Politically Impossible?, urging economists not to
avoid going wherever their analysis led them merely to accommodate political
Together Seldon and Harris had many victories: serious thinking about unions,
inflation, central planning, economic controls, privatization of the commanding
heights, sale of public-housing units to sitting tenants, and contracting
out government services all changed 180 degrees. So did attitudes toward communism
and apartheid, all nudged along by the IEA. I recall classic papers on Soviet
statistics and why the color bar must collapse.
The Public Choice pioneer Gordon Tullock once said to me: “John, the
IEA’s The Vote Motive [his Public Choice primer] did more to spread
public understanding of ‘Public Choice’ than any other single
publication.” I am sure it was the most translated IEA book ever, at
something like 12 languages, and that it was reprinted a few times in the
United Kingdom alone. Harris, by the way, coined the books’ catchy title.
The big failure was educational vouchers, where Marjorie Seldon (Arthur had
met her at the Store) founded a lobby group outside the IEA called
Friends of the Education Voucher Experiment in Representative Regions. The
Seldons shared Milton and Rose Friedman’s passion for the voucher concept.
The organization was based in a leafy rural county run by the Conservatives
and the Seldons’ great friend Sir Keith Joseph Bt. [baronet], who was
secretary of state for education. Yet the vested interests prevailed. This
is all brilliantly documented in a Public Choice setting in an IEA postmortem
called The Riddle of the Voucher.
Arthur saw the IEA as a key bridge across the north Atlantic, bringing the
best ideas from the United States to a wider continental European and British
Commonwealth audience. The IEA was in Arthur’s day the Chicago (monetary
theory), Virginia (Public Choice), and New York University (Austrian School)
As an economist in his own right, Arthur was a man of at least these three
schools. A lot like Milton Friedman, he did not believe in just the Austrians
or just the Chicago boys or just the Public Choice school. Rather he believed
there was only good economics and bad economics, and he knew it when he read
it. As I mentioned earlier, he was influenced by Robbins, Hayek, Plant, and
Coase at the LSE, but looming behind them there was another figure, namely,
Edwin Cannan, who had taught Robbins, Plant, and even IEA author Hutt a decade
or more earlier. Cannan, the LSE’s first economics department chairman,
emphasized clear writing, and Arthur clearly was influenced by this. Coase,
with his emphasis on transaction costs and legal frameworks, was another great
Arthur never really retired. In 1990 he published Capitalism and followed
that with The Dilemma of Democracy, The Retreat of the State, Government
Whose Obedient Servant?, and The Making of the IEA. His collected works were published
in seven volumes by Liberty Fund in 2004.
I loved all of them – Hayek, Fisher, Harris, and Seldon -- and my IEA
book Waging the War of Ideas is dedicated to all four of them.
So how to summarize Arthur?
He is easily the hardest of the four founders to pigeonhole. He was the last
to emerge -- well over a decade after Fisher sought out Hayek for advice --
but he clearly set the tone for IEA.
The IEA allowed Seldon to spread his wings. If he’d chosen academia,
as he might well have, there would have been huge incentives to specialize
in one narrow area. As editorial director of the IEA, he was not only a general
but also a generalist, commissioning work on many fronts. To Arthur: “The
ultimate solution is nothing less than the displacement of ‘public officials’ and ‘public
servants’ by the revival of the authority of parents to reject inadequate
schools, crowded medical centres, and captive housing, by empowering them
to pay fees, medical insurance, or other costs.” What a noble vision!
For Seldon, the IEA was not a think tank in search of “the next big
idea.” It already had that at its founding in 1955, namely, that markets
are far superior (morally and economically) to central planning; that the
rule of law is infinitely preferable to the rule of some bureaucrat; and that
private property is better looked after than the commons. They set out to
apply such ideas to every topic under the sun, and big policy prescriptions
began to emerge.
I once went to some leftist, communist-leaning drinks party in Hampstead,
north London. I was, I swear, the only person present out of over 100 who
openly espoused liberty. A man who was about 40 introduced himself. I have
no idea who he was, but he must have been some high banker or lawyer or something
similar. I gave him my details, and he replied: “Oh my gosh. You run
the IEA! That’s amazing. I owe my entire career to you guys. I was at
Oxford and was always behind with my studies. You put out those little monographs.
Whenever I had an essay to write I knew all I had to do was go to the library
and find the IEA paper!”
I think Antony would have been very proud, as he always wanted an IEA paper
on every conceivable topic.
Arthur would probably have frowned at the lax study habits of said student,
but then privately would have chortled at the idea of Oxbridge kids searching
for answers in IEA papers.
Let me close with the following exchange of letters between Arthur and senior
conservative politician Geoffrey Howe, a major figure in successive Thatcher
administrations. Arthur was writing soon after the IEA has relocated from
Eaton Square to Lord North Street. (Hence his correction of location in his
opening line.) “Margaret” is Margaret Thatcher, “Enoch” is
Enoch Powell, and “Keith” is Sir Keith Joseph Bt.
Extract from Seldon’s letter to Howe, October 24, 1969:
May we hope for something better from Margaret. She said one day here (or
rather at Eaton Square) that she was one of a small group of Tory politicians
like Enoch, Keith and you who saw the value of the market in economic affairs.
Howe’s reply to Seldon, October 28, 1969:
I’m not at all sure about Margaret. Many of her economic prejudices
are certainly fairly sound. But she is inclined to be rather too dogmatic
for my liking on sensitive matters like education and might actually retard
the case by over-simplification. We should certainly be able to hope for something
better from her – but I suspect she will need to be exposed to the
humanizing side of your character as much as to the pure welfare marketmonger.
There is much scope for her to be influenced between triumph and disaster!
And what a triumph it was. On his 80th birthday Lady Thatcher wrote to Seldon
that he had made “an invaluable contribution to the political and economic
map of Britain. At a time when free enterprise and the free market were unfashionable
you championed their cause, laying the foundations for their revival in the
1970s… You always refused to accept Britain’s decline and through
your visionary work and rigorous preparation, you inspired much of our success
during the 1980s.”
 “Socialism Has No Future,” in Collected Works, vol. 7, pp.
Blundell, Waging the War of Ideas (London: Institute of Economic
RESPONSES AND CRITIQUES
1. Stephen Davies, "Is Another
Arthur Seldon Possible Today?" [Posted: 6 November, 2013]
John Blundell’s engaging account of Arthur Seldon captures well some
of the most important features of his character, career and influence. There
are some points where I would add further emphasis to what John says, and others
where I would qualify it. I think that in more general terms this account also
raises a large and significant question for anyone interested in the role of
ideas in public policy: Is a career of this kind, with its impact and consequences,
As someone who knew Arthur over many years and who was one of the young authors
he brought on and developed, I can confirm and endorse John’s account
of his character and style as editorial director. His editing style was indeed
severe; I can vividly recall getting back my first piece for Economic Affairs and
being dismayed by the swathe of blue penciled comments and directions in the
margins. Somebody once circulated a spoof of the Seldon style, in the shape
of his response to Hamlet’s soliloquy, such as: “the slings and
arrows of outrageous fortune – How many? What proportion of slings to
arrows? Be clear!” I certainly gained from my exposure to this, and it
made me a much better and, I hope, effective writer. Arthur was a demanding
editor, but what he wanted was clear and direct writing that incorporated only
arguments that were coherent and supported by evidence. Above all he valued
precision and clarity.
One point that John makes that I would expand and reaffirm concerns the nature
of his intellectual background and orientation. It was indeed the LSE that
was the source of this, and in particular Arnold Plant, whose seminar Arthur
had participated in as a student. This explains one of the consistent themes
of IEA work from the time that he arrived: a skepticism about Keynesianism
and particularly the policy of macroeconomic management aimed at securing full
employment (always in practice overfull for Arthur) as the central goal of
economic policy. This came from the views of the majority of economists
at the LSE in the 1930s and 1940s, which included people such as Hugh Dalton
and Evan Durbin, both leading Labour Party politicians. (Arthur always saw
Durbin’s untimely death in as a tragic loss since in his view he would
have moved Labour policy in a much more pro-market direction had he lived.)
Another point that bears emphasis is that of the nature and degree of Arthur
Seldon’s antistatist radicalism. He was throughout his career as definite
in this respect as any of the young turks he brought on and encouraged. He
never saw himself in any way as being a conservative, much less a Conservative,
and he remained always the thoroughgoing classical liberal to Ralph Harris’s
market conservative. One slight qualification I would make here is that while
the IEA did publish arguments in favor of contracting out public services,
Arthur preferred that local government paid for any remaining services through
user charges rather than taxes. His argument was not only that this would improve
the services by introducing market incentives, but also that it would change
the relationship between the public and government. I think it is fair to say
that Arthur’s relations with members of the political class was always
more distant and prickly than that of Ralph Harris, as the anecdote about the
toast that John recounts shows. He would not have wanted it any other way,
and this outsider’s stance was one of the keys to his success in what
This brings up another point where I would differ slightly from John in emphasis
rather than substance. John stresses the success and impact of Seldon’s
work, which was indeed considerable. Arthur himself, however, was more aware
of the “misses” than of the “hits,” partly because
of his radicalism, which meant that he judged the impact of the IEA by a high
standard. The education voucher was indeed his biggest disappointment,
and he was strongly opposed to much of the education policy the Thatcher government
did follow, in particular the national curriculum. However, there were a number
of other areas where he felt that the arguments of his authors had fallen on
stony ground. One in particular was the case for significant reductions in
government spending, with his feelings captured in an IEA monograph written
by his protégé John Burton with the title Why No Cuts? Another
was welfare policy in general, where politicians remained resistant to his
arguments for a radical reassessment of both the content and scale of government
However, for me the major point that comes from reading John’s essay
is the question I alluded to earlier. Is a career like Arthur Seldon’s,
with the impact that he had, possible today? The general goal and “big
idea” of the IEA was always clear from the start for Fisher and Harris,
but as John indicates, there was some lack of clarity before Arthur arrived
over how to realize this. If Antony Fisher’s instincts had been followed,
the IEA would have ended up as a popularizing educational outreach institution
like the Foundation for Economic Education. Alternatively it could have become
a networking organization aiming at identifying and nurturing an intellectual “remnant” of
the kind identified by Albert Jay Nock. Or it could have gone down the
route later followed by many think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation and
the Adam Smith Institute, concentrating on feeding definite policy proposals
into the later stages of the policy-making process. None of these would have
suited Arthur’s talents to the same degree as the route he identified
and realized. As John says, this was to identify scholars both new and aspiring,
and older and established, and persuade them to produce well thought-out monographs
of high scholarly quality that put the market-liberal perspective on whole
areas of public policy. The aim was to influence not so much the general public
or the politicians and civil servants, but the “second-hand dealers in
ideas,” identified all those years ago by Hayek – academics, teachers,
lay intellectuals, and journalists.
In this Arthur was very successful, as John says. The question, though, is
whether this can still be done. Arguably changes in the academy and the wider
world since Arthur retired have made this strategy for intellectual change
much more difficult to realize. John says, “Usually the research was
a sunk cost. Professor X had already had say three articles on topic
Y in obscure academic journals that had been read by a few friends and family
members. The IEA’s lure was a first print run of 3,000 copies,… press
coverage, and a following.” I fear this is no longer the way things often
are, for two reasons. The first is that often the papers and research simply
do not lend themselves to digestion and publication in this way because of
the introverted nature of the contemporary academy, where arguments and publications
are increasingly esoteric and directed only at a few insiders instead of being
of wider relevance and interest. For economists the additional problem
is the increasing formalism and mathematization of the field. The second problem
is the change in career incentives for scholars. Getting a following and a
publication with a wide readership now counts for much less in career terms
than an article in a refereed journal, even if it is indeed only read by a
handful of people. In fact writing for bodies such as the IEA now has
a considerable opportunity cost since it takes time away from turning out yet
another technical journal article to add to the research assessment. This makes
finding authors much more difficult.
Even more important is the change in the workings of the media. In Arthur’s
time a key part of the strategy was to influence journalists, such as Sam Brittan,
Andrew Alexander, and Patrick Hutber. They were the medium of transmission
between the academy and the politicians and civil servants, as well as the
wider educated public. Although there still are journalistic figures of this
kind, the contemporary media have an intense focus on the short term and do
not do the same kind of multiplier job that print journalism performed in the
past. One response is to adapt and follow a strategy of trying to capture the
daily media narrative and agenda, and at least ensure that the ideas are given
a hearing in the 24-hour news cycle. This is probably necessary, but it is
also a high-risk strategy: The contemporary media is rapacious and can easily
consume its story providers, turning them into nothing more than a source of
sound bites and arguments for phone-ins. This may have some passing impact
on the wider public, but the key class of opinion formers that Hayek and Seldon
identified are unlikely to be moved.
On balance I think that the career of Arthur Seldon can still be emulated,
but this will require significant new thinking and changes of tactics, if not
strategy. It is important, however, that this is done. Milton Friedman once
stated that the advent of the large policy think tanks in the 1970s and 1980s
had been bad for the freedom movement because it moved the focus away from
high-quality thought, research, and argument to the shorter time horizons of
politics. Gordon Tullock once posed the question why there was not an equivalent
of the IEA in the United States and argued that the lack of an institution
following Arthur’s kind of approach was a serious lack. It probably is
the case that the kind of institution the IEA became (and broadly remains with
his current editorial direction, Philip Booth) would not have been possible
without Arthur and that it was his strategy that gave the Institute a status
and intellectual standing that is unusual in the think-tank world. The question
is whether this was a phenomenon of his own life and times or whether it can
be reproduced. Let us hope so it can be.
Burton, Why No Cuts? (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1985).
2. Peter J. Boettke, "Why No
IEA in the United States?" [Posted: 8 November, 2013]
That is actually a rhetorical question that Professor Gordon Tullock put to
me and some others standing around Harper Library at the old Institute for
Humane Studies complex in Fairfax when I was a graduate student. We all were
puzzled because this was the early 1980s and free-market think tanks were in
full bloom. Cato had recently moved to D.C., where Heritage and AEI were already
in operation. New grassroots groups such as Citizens for a Sound Economy were
being established as well. FEE was entering its post-Leonard Read phase, but
it still was publishing The Freeman and conducting seminars. And,
of course, this was in the middle of the Reagan Revolution, with the Hoover
Institution brain trust commuting between D.C. and Stanford. But Tullock persisted:
None of these groups was like IEA.
And as he pushed us, we began to understand. IEA was an economic think tank
where the persistent and consistent application of economic theory to questions
of public policy took precedence over current policy debates. Its publications
provided an intellectual bridge between serious scientific economics and the
everyman’s interest in economic issues – whether those interests
were aimed at pure understanding of the forces that explain how the world works,
or the policy options currently being debated. A look at IEA publications
immediately revealed something different from what one saw at the American
think tanks. This difference had a lot to do with Arthur Seldon.
I met Arthur Seldon during this time, along with Lord Harris. Seldon seemed
very comfortable in his role as an economists’ economist, as well as
someone who wrote economics for the everyman. He wasn’t trying to be
a British Henry Hazlitt since he wasn’t an economic journalist and popularizer. He
was an LSE-trained economist who sought to make the teachings of economics
understandable to the general public. In this regard, Seldon was more or less
a public economist. In the process, not only did he work to keep Hayek’s
ideas alive within the economic conversation, through his work as the editorial
director at IEA he spread the ideas of Ronald Coase and property rights analysis;
the ideas of Milton Friedman and monetarism; and the ideas of James Buchanan,
Gordon Tullock and Public Choice to the English public.
As John Blundell points out, Seldon was a student of Coase, Hayek, and especially
Arnold Plant. Any history of the LSE during this time would be incomplete without
an extended discussion of Plant and his influence on the younger generation
of economists (including Coase). Of course, there were many “big players” at
LSE in the 1930s, with Lionel Robbins and Hayek being the towering figures
among the free-market liberals, but their direct influence on younger market-oriented
economists was not as widely acknowledged as that of Plant. Instead, from the
accounts I have read, the influence of Robbins and Hayek was more indirect
through their research and mentorship of graduate students and young faculty.
But discussions of Plant often stress the impact of his lectures and the questions
he raised for students to think about.
What were the components of Seldon’s public economics? First,
it appears he was not interested in cultivating sectarian schools of thought
within the economic discourse, but instead insisted on clarity of argument
and a straightforward appeal to evidence. While introducing readers in his
editorial capacity to the insights of Hayek, Coase, Friedman, Buchanan, and
Tullock, he made no appeal to exotic ideas of some forgotten brand of economics.
Instead, the arguments were presented as plain old commonsense economics based
on sound economic theory and attention to the empirical details. In short,
Seldon wasn’t producing “Austrian economics,” “monetarism,” or “Public
Choice”; he was producing good economics, encouraging debate on monetary
policy, and making sure that modern knowledge of political economy was incorporated
into the economic conversation.
Second, as an editor Seldon was aiming an audience of generalists in academia,
economic policy decision-makers, and those charged in the media with covering
economic ideas and economic policy. IEA books are sophisticated intellectual
works, but largely without jargon.
Third, Seldon entertained the most radical implications of the consistent
and persistent application of the economic way of thinking to the policy question
under examination. He was a radical classical liberal.
So let’s come back to Tullock’s claim and fit that in a larger
argument about the spread of ideas in a society. Hayek postulated in “The
Intellectuals and Socialism” that the reason socialism was so successful
as an intellectual movement in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
was that they had captured not only the intellectual imagination of the scholarly
class, but also the secondhand dealers in ideas. These secondhand dealers,
through their work as teachers, journalists, writers, etc., in turn influenced
the policymakers and general public. IEA under Seldon’s editorial direction,
as I understand it, focused on translating the technical scientific work of
the economists of the scholarly class into jargon-free, yet intellectually
rigorous prose for the second-hand dealers.
To put this in perspective, consider the following comparative cases: Thomas
Jefferson Center at the University of Virginia and American Enterprise Institute/Heritage
Foundation. Warren Nutter and James Buchanan were fellow graduate students
at the University of Chicago after World War II. Economics was in the process
of transforming itself on two fronts: 1) the neo-Keynesian synthesis with its
emphasis on macroeconomic aggregates, and 2) mathematical formalism and statistical
testing as the scientific mode of economic expression and analysis. Nutter
and Buchanan agreed that the great discipline of political economy – the
ideas of Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and Frank Knight – were under
threat of expulsion from the consciousness of the young generation of economists.
They decided that if they ever found themselves teaching together they would
work to “save the books.” Such an opportunity did arise in the
mid to late 1950s at UVA, where they founded the Thomas Jefferson Center for
the Study of Political Economy. Nutter, Buchanan, Coase, Tullock, and Leland
Yeager were the primary faculty, and the group of graduate students they worked
with went on to have significant scholarly impact within the economics profession
over subsequent decades. Their focus was on the scholarly/scientific class
Compare that with AEI/Heritage, both of which were founded with the purpose
of informing the policy discussion among politicians in D.C. Their concern
was more politically immediate. The model of a policy think tank has since
spread through the United States at the state level, and internationally as
well. Ironically, many of these think tanks are the byproduct of an initiative
of Sir Antony Fisher – who founded IEA on Hayek’s advice. But they
didn’t have Arthur Seldon as an intellectual leader, so they replicate
not the IEA model, but the Heritage model. They are policy think tanks
focused on politicians, or grassroots think tanks focused on the voting
public. What they don’t provide is intellectually rigorous arguments
directed at the second-hand dealers of ideas to impact their general framework
of analysis about economic issues.
This is a huge hole in the U.S. think-tank market. Tullock was right: There
is no American IEA, and that is because the individuals in charge did not have
the intellectual temperament and disposition of Arthur Seldon. Organization
leadership matters; and strategic focus especially matters. IEA was able to
make a difference because under Seldon’s editorial direction its authors
contemplated not merely day-to-day policy, but rather applied the economic
way of thinking consistently and persistently – regardless of what was
regarded as politically impossible.
remark is somewhat unfair to Hazlitt. He was in fact much more than a journalist
and popularizer of economic ideas. As I argue in a pair of papers, he was an
intellectual middleman who also attempted to make original contributions to
philosophy, politics and, economics. See Boettke, “The Economists
as Public Intellectual: The Case of Henry Hazlitt,” online at: <http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2030464>;
and Boettke and Liya Palagashvili, “Henry Hazlitt as an Intellectual
Middleman of ‘Orthodox Economics,’” History of Political
Economy (2013). Still there is something different about Hazlitt, who
earned his livelihood as a journalist, and Seldon, who worked full time as
what I refer to as a public economist.
3. Nigel Ashford, "Arthur Seldon
as Author" [Posted: 9 November, 2013]
John Blundell demonstrates Arthur’s significant role in challenging
the three pillars of the postwar consensus in the United Kingdom. First
was Keynesian management of the economy. Second was a mixed economy in
which certain industries are considered so important they had to be state-owned,
such as energy or telephones. Third was a universal welfare state, in which
certain benefits or services had to be provided for all, such as education
or health. Arthur contributed to demolishing the first two pillars, but had
less success with the third, the one he cared about the most. I
want to focus on his own writings (rather than on his role at the IEA as editor)
and specifically on two topics that dominated his thinking. First was how to
achieve policy change, through ideas or interests, which continues to drive
debate among libertarians. The second theme is his critique of the welfare
state. Finally, I will make some suggestions on how libertarians can
build on Arthur’s work, by developing a coherent theory of government
failure in the realm of ideas, and by promoting opportunities for producers
to exit, in the realm of interests.
Before that, I want to briefly mention my own personal experience with Arthur
as editor, which was only positive. He invited me to contribute to a
book he edited, The New Right Enlightenment (1985), published by his
own (alas short-lived venture) Economic and Literary Books; an edited
volume on Re-Privatising Welfare: After The Lost Century; and
several essays to the IEA journal Economic Affairs. I also spent
several very pleasant occasions receiving hospitality at his home with his
wife, Marjorie, who was active on education vouchers. Beyond that I met
him at numerous IEA events, where he always pleasant and forthright.
The role of a think tank is to change public policy. The most effective
method depends on what you believe determines public policy. In 1959 Harris
and Seldon presented a paper to the Mont Pelerin Society on their model
of political change, which said:
There are three basic requirements for the establishment of and maintenance
of a free society.
1. The philosophy of the market economy must be widely accepted; this
requires a large programme of education and much thought about how to finance
2. The transformation from a controlled economy must be eased by compensating
those interests whose expectations will be disturbed;
3. Policies must be designed to make otiose all pleas for protection from
the consequences of change that democratic politicians would have difficulty
They added: “Education at varying levels must be directed first at the
influencers of opinion; i.e. intellectuals, politicians, businessmen and all
(not least journalists) who help form public opinion.”
Arthur frequently quoted (and the IEA prominently displayed) Keynes on the
power of ideas: “The ideas of economists and political philosophers,
both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is
commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men,
who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences,
are usually the slaves of some defunct economist…. I am sure that the
power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment
Hayek expressed similar sentiments in his essay “The Intellectuals and
which scholars and intellectuals changed policy by their influence on public
opinion. The IEA was clearly committed to the Hayekian approach to winning
the intellectual battle without regard to short-term political battles. Arthur
described it this way: “The IEA was the artillery firing the shells (ideas) … but
the Institute would never be the infantry engaged in short-term, face-to-face
grappling with the enemy.” Authors were told to rigorously follow
their analysis and policy conclusions and ignore objections that their proposals
were “politically impossible.”
Yet this view about the power of ideas compared to interests was challenged
by Arthur’s deep interest in Public Choice. Another major contribution
of Arthur was to introduce Public Choice to the United Kingdom, (while adding
some interesting twists of his own), by publishing Gordon Tullock, The
Vote Motive. Arthur
preferred the term ’‘the economics of politics” to Public
Choice. The essential theme of Public Choice is that political actors pursue
their own self-interest, just like economic actors. This challenged the
assumption behind many policy proposals that there is market failure caused
by the economic actors’ pursuit of their own self-interest, which required
the government to step in to correct those failures, motivated by the public
interest. Tullock identified some themes of Public Choice analysis: rent-seeking,
log-rolling, and bureaucratic size maximization. Seldon followed up the success
of Tullock with many other Public Choice books.
Arthur provided his own contribution to this school. Most valuable was
his contrast between political and economic democracy. If democracy is “rule
by the people,” do the people rule more effectively through elections
or through the market? He argued forcibly that the market empowered the
workers and the poor much more than voting.
His critique of political democracy is that it makes decisions by majorities,
or counting heads, in contrast to capitalism, which provides for all heads,
including minorities and even individuals. Access to goods and services can
never be equal. The issue is whether the distribution is determined by cultural
or economic power. Inequality in economic power can be corrected by giving
cash to the poor, while cultural power cannot be corrected, giving power to
the elite. He described political democracy as “Government of the Busy,
by the Nosy, for the Bully.”
However, there is a tension between the belief that policy can be changed
by good ideas and the matter of whether those ideas can be suppressed by the
power of interests. This was a theme of several IEA volumes, such as
the anthology Ideas, Interests, and Consequences. I
am not sure that Arthur ever resolved this tension, which was reflected in
his own passion for reforming the welfare state.
Arthur was opposed to the universal welfare state as established in the United
Kingdom, while supporting a largely cash-based safety net. This for him
was personal: He described his own experiences as a child in the poverty-stricken
East End of London. He criticized Conservative politician Lord Balniel’s
welfare reforms in these words:
You have never been poor. I have. The poor do not thank those who give them
gifts in kind which question their capacity and affront their dignity. Cash
gives the power of choice; service in kind, denies choice. But much more
than that; the poor who are given care or kind will never learn choice, judgment,
discrimination, responsibility. 
His criticisms of the welfare state were manifold. It deprived the poor of
the opportunity to make decisions about their own lives. The middle class was
able to capture most of the benefits for themselves. There was an adverse effect
on the supply of welfare goods and services, such as education, as incentives
to provide for one’s own life were reduced. The welfare state created
excessive demand by providing services for free at the point of delivery. The
administrative costs were excessive because there were no incentives to be
efficient. The welfare state resulted in low-quality services for the
poor, and it was fiscally unsustainable. Policies were usually “conceived
in fear, composed in haste, adopted in ignorance.”
Arthur sought ways to extend the free market to health care, housing, education,
and pensions by injecting prices, competition, and incentives, supported by
cash benefits or vouchers for the poor. He demonstrated widespread
dissatisfaction with the welfare state through a series of unique public-opinion
surveys, which showed great demand for contracting-out of state services, and
rapidly declining support for universal provision once the costs in taxes were
So why was there so little progress in welfare-state reform? He concluded,
for example, that education vouchers had failed due to producer interests and
opposition from the civil servants. Intellectual arguments were not enough. Nonetheless
he remained deeply optimistic. He had faith in the power of exit, or
escape. Economic laws are stronger than political power. People
would find ways to escape the state to satisfy their wants, perhaps by resorting
to the shadow economy.
So how can we improve on Arthur's work? One suggestion is that we need to
formulate a more coherent theory of government failure. Almost any educated
person will be familiar with the concept of market failure and its key features:
public goods, negative externalities, monopolies, and asymmetric information. Yet
there is no similar awareness of the key areas of government failure, such
as the problems of collective action, rent-seeking, principal-agent problems,
concentrated beneficiaries, the problem of democratic decision-making, and
knowledge problems. We need to make the educated person as aware of these
as he is of market failure.
Second, Arthur placed great emphasis on the value of exit, or opting out,
for consumers. We should also look at giving producers the power of exit.
To undermine opposition to change, we must identify and empower producers who
are dissatisfied with the status quo. Many welfare-state producers, such
as teachers, are as dissatisfied as consumers and know that given autonomy
and control of resources, they could produce better services and obtain greater
Our best homage to the work of Arthur Seldon is to build on his insights.
Welfare: After The Lost Century ( London: Institute of Economic Affairs,
Seldon and Ralph Harris, “The Tactics and Strategy of the Advance
to a Free Society.” Quoted in Richard Cockett, Thinking the Unthinkable (London,
Fontana 1995), p.140.
Hayek, “The Intellectuals and Socialism,” The University of
Chicago Law Review, Spring 1949, pp. 417-33. Online at: <http://library.mises.org/books/friedrich%20a%20hayek/Intellectuals%20and%20Socialism.pdf>.
Tullock, The Vote Motive (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1976).
Interests, and Consequences (London: Institute of Economic Affairs,
archives, 16 November 1967. Quoted in Cockett, p. 139.
Robinson, ed., The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon (Indianapolis,
Liberty Fund, 2005), p.47.
1. John Blundell, "Imagining
Arthur Seldon Today" [Posted:November 11, 2013]
First let me thank Dr. Ashford, Professor Boettke, and Dr. Davies for their
insightful responses to my appreciation of Arthur Seldon. While we have slight
differences of emphasis, it is mostly hard to squeeze a cigarette paper between
Before turning to some of the issues they raise, let me amplify one point in
my opening paper, namely the tensions that arose when in 1979 Ralph Harris
received a peerage and Arthur got nothing. (Incidentally, Ralph’s story
of his choice of title with Garter King of Arms at the College of Arms is hilarious.
Before settling on “of High Cross,” a local focal point in Tottenham,
where he grew up, they argued over many other possibilities, the first of which
was “of Cambridge,” where Ralph had studied. He wanted to cock
a snook at the Keynesians, but Garter would have none of it for heraldic, not
Ever the politician, Ralph immediately knew there would be tensions. At IEA
lunches and at outside speeches to free-market conferences, such as the one
I ran in Oxford in late 1979, he would proclaim that his peerage was to be
shared by all of us who had fought for a market-based society before Margaret
Thatcher’s spring 1979 victory. We little band of warriors were now all
members of the House of Lords!
From then on, until well into the current century, Ralph did everything he
could to redress the balance. He lobbied intently behind the scenes for Arthur
to receive due recognition, and honors began to come his way. He was made an
Hon. Ph.D. by the University of Buckingham, then the United Kingdom’s
only private university, founded at the IEA based on a paper Arthur had edited,
Toward A Private University by Harry Ferns (1969). He was made a Commander
of the British Empire, or CBE, by the Queen – which is one notch short
of a knighthood. The LSE made him a Fellow and the Mont Pelerin Society made
him its first ever such.
I was recruited into all of this, and when we remodeled the ground floor of
the IEA, creating a big rectangular function room, we called it The Arthur
Seldon Room and hung in it a large color portrait of him. Ralph insisted nothing
be named after him, so the board room was not rebranded and a two-room area
on the first floor was remodeled and became The Fisher Room.
I was so tuned into this program of Ralph’s that when a representative
of Liberty Press called me one day to say, “We are thinking of doing
the Selected Works of Arthur Seldon,” I replied, “I think the Collected
Works might go down better!” and he speedily agreed. When Liberty Fund
later inquired about filming Lord Harris for its Intellectual Portrait Series,” I
replied: “I’m sure Lord Harris would be happy to participate, but
he’d be ten times happier if the film was of him and Arthur!” Liberty
Fund agreed, and it was done over two days at the IEA offices. Watching the
finished product, it is obvious to me that Ralph several times holds back (sticking
his pipe into his mouth and looking off into the distance) to ensure Arthur
gets a clear run at answering the question, or I should write, “Dear
Arthur,” as that is what Ralph always said.
Let me turn to the three comments.
Dr. Ashford is spot on to write of Arthur’s big frustrations. Yes, there
were many victories (too many to list here) in the broadly economic sphere,
but with health, education, and welfare Arthur’s artillery shells just
bounced off the armor plating. I earlier mentioned education vouchers. Let
me amplify. It is the height of Thatcherism. Margaret made Keith Joseph (her
closest, longest standing friend in the Commons and her soul mate) as her secretary
of state for education. Arthur launched his artillery shells. In Tory
Kent, where he lived, his wife built a grassroots campaign for a countywide
experiment. Yet still the educational establishment, bureaucrats and unions,
(This episode reminds me of how shocked Margaret Thatcher was when, as secretary
of state for education herself, she attended the annual dinner of a big teacher
trade union only to see her entire senior staff being very friendly with the
Let me pick up on two of many points made by Dr. Davies.
First, is a career
like this still possible? He makes the excellent point that the university
research assessment exercise (RAE) employed to rank departments and steer money
does not reward you for an IEA monograph, however famous it might make you.
I would counter that those affected are but a small subset of the potential
talent pool; there are many good IEA writers in industry; banking; the City
of London, the capital's financial district; and operating as independent consultants.
The IEA’s first ever book was written by
a financial journalist no less. Also my hunch is that the RAE is not so critical
once faculty become well-established. But the point does remain. I would also
add that Arthur had three main successors, Dr. Cento Veljanovski, Professor
Colin Robinson, and Professor Philip Booth, and they have not been too bad – as
Dr. Davies makes an excellent point about the media. The number of outlets
has exploded since Ralph and Arthur’s era. Because of his stutter, Arthur
to my knowledge did only one TV program and that with Ralph at his side; Ralph
once told me that in 30 years he went on TV thrice. Back then there were three
radio stations and three TV stations, of which only four were relevant to the
IEA, and on the print side there were, say, three major national newspapers
with serious economics correspondents.
Intellectual Portrait Series:
So Ralph and Arthur focused, as noted above, on bringing in the heavyweights
such as Jay and Hutber and Alexander and exposing them to Friedman, Hayek,
and Buchanan. And it worked.
Dr. Davies ponders how to respond in today’s open freer media market,
one created by the IEA for whom competition in broadcasting was a long-running
theme. My own strategy (1993-2009) was to continue doing what Ralph and Arthur
did, write as much as possible for the quality press, and appear myself a little
more than they did. But what I added was to make the IEA a resource for names
of experts for the media, and then when our referrals did well, they ended
up as regulars and we dropped out of the picture. With the size of the IEA
staff, that is clearly the best way to address Dr. Davies’s concern.
Professor Boettke comments on the nonsectarian nature of the IEA, or as I
used to say, “We are a broad church.” And he is spot on. Arthur created
a pipeline that was a blend of Austrian, Chicago School, and Public Choice
economics, mixed with good micro, a healthy skepticism of macro, and a dash
of law and economics.
Professor Boettke pegs his whole response on the Gordon Tullock question: “Why
no IEA in the United States?” Tullock and Buchanan first asked this question
in “Why No American IEA?,” included in an IEA collection of papers,
The Emerging Consensus? (1981). Their answer then was that the United
States has no London; in other words, that D.C. is more like a Brasilia or
a Canberra, and that you’d have to roll up New York, Boston, Washington,
Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and San Francisco into one to create a U.S. “analogue
to London.” It is because the IEA is at the heart of London, they said,
it is at the heart of all the centers of gravity: intellectual, cultural, commercial,
and political. They commented that the IEA had not been taken over by vested
interests, but believed that (even with “the devotion, wisdom, and integrity” of
both Ralph and Arthur) an IEA in D.C. “would have … become at
least partially captured” by the monkeys (my word) in the “jungle.” This
would have made it “incapable of exhibiting the long-range coherence
of purpose that has been its London hallmark.”
Just as this essay came out in 1981, the Cato Institute was packing up its
bags in San Francisco before moving to Washington D.C. Milton Friedman warned
founder/president Ed Crane that he would be captured. For once Milton was wrong,
as by implication were Buchanan and Tullock.
The capture threat is there, however, as I wrote in The Sunday Times in
July 2009. In Ralph’s day there was really only one think-tank, the
IEA, and he dealt with top chairmen and CEOs. By the end of my 17 years, there
were, say, a dozen, maybe 20 if you include the one-man outfits. Companies
now have think tank budgets run by directors of public affairs who want something
for their money. Professor Boettke really juices things up in his final two
He references “an initiative of Sir Antony Fisher,” which must
mean the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, now trading as Atlas Network.
By the early 1970s Ralph and Arthur had done such a good job that people the
world over were asking, “How do you do this?,” and Antony began
a final phase of his life helping to start, or helping soon after their launch,
new IEAs, initially in cities such as Vancouver, B.C.; New York; San Francisco;
Sydney; and Dallas. By 1981 he incorporated Atlas to give a focal point for
this burgeoning industry.
Boettke’s complaint is that none of them have an Arthur Seldon and so
they have slipped down the structure of production and have become more like “the
Heritage model.” The new IEAs, he states, are “policy think tanks” or “grassroots
think tanks.” He goes on: “What they don’t provide is intellectually
rigorous arguments directed at the second-hand dealers of ideas to impact their
general framework of analysis about economic issues.“
I have been involved with the Atlas Network for 26 years and have served on
its board for over 20 years, nearly 25 maybe. There is more than a germ of
truth in Boettke’s claim, but let me say this:
1. I think he is a bit too sweeping. The early Atlas institutes led by men
such as Dr. Michael Walker and Dr. John Goodman learned a great deal from
the Seldon modus operandi.
2. You can only do, without an endowment, what your donor base will support.
3. Some (many?) of the newer institutes in Africa and Asia are operating
in extreme conditions.
4. Some institutes are consciously downstream, such as London’s Adam
Smith Institute, still very rigorous but enjoying the benefit of upstream
5. Many institutes take IEA products and translate them. Arthur and Ralph
published Tullock’s The Vote Motive, and it was I was told translated
12 times. Gordon once said to me, “The Vote Motive did more to spread
public understanding of Public Choice than any other single paper.”
6. And finally the liberal tradition has been so lost for so long in so many
countries that maybe they do not need an Arthur for the moment. I think of
the late Donald Stewart in Brazil, who translated classic texts into Portuguese
because, he said, there was just no base to build on with none of the fundamental
texts available. And I recall over two decades ago friends in Austria and
Sweden taking great risks to smuggle copies of Hayek, Friedman et al. behind
the Iron Curtain.
But I do agree with Boettke’s main thrust, and as an Atlas trustee I
do not hesitate to complain when I see a so-called think tank teaching Tea
Party members how to paint placards or putting messages on beer mats. The latest
vogue at the state level in the United States is to hire redundant investigative
reporters. I spoke at one such think tank recently, which even publishes its
own paper. I must have frowned or something because they immediately became
defensive and one staffer blurted out, “But we’ve just put three
Democrats in jail!”
This might all be very well and good – the more scoundrels of all parties
in jail the better – but it’s not think-tank work and if Arthur
were here he would be cautioning us: “The artillery should never desert
the high ground.”
Blundell, “Fight to Keep Dirty Thoughts at Bay – John
Blundell on the Need to Guard Think Tanks against Undue Influence,” Sunday
Times, July 5, 2009; online at < http://www.iea.org.uk/in-the-media/media-coverage/fight-to-keep-dirty-thoughts-at-bay>.
Tullock, The Vote Motive (London: Institute of Economic
Affairs, 1976. <http://www.iea.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/files/upldbook397pdf.pdf>
2. Nigel Ashford, "Where
Is the Intellectual Progress?" [Posted: November 15, 2013]
I want to draw attention to Arthur Seldon’ unfairly neglected book, Capitalism (Blackwell,
is a masterful and wide-ranging defense of capitalism. He presents the virtues
of capitalism, rebuts the case for socialism, directly challenges a large
number of capitalism’s critics by name, and illustrates his passion for
capitalism with episodes from his own personal history. I speculate that
it was neglected because his critique was directed at socialism, which, due
partly to his own efforts, was no longer the chief alternative of capitalism,
having already largely been discredited. Opposition has since taken a number
of different forms, such as Rawlsianism, postmaterialism, and environmentalism
I want to focus on chapters
7 and 8, which identify 10 intellectual developments that explain the
revival of capitalism as an ideal. My
challenge is: how successful have these arguments been since he presented
them in 1990? To what extent have classic liberals built on those insights,
given them greater strength, or added new powerful arguments to our
ammunition. Or are classical liberals still living off of an intellectual
legacy of over 20 years ago?
The 10 developments (p. 146, or p. 206 in the LF ed.) were:
- A new interpretation of capitalist history
- The new analysis of property rights
- The new emphasis on the market as a process
- The economics of politics (Public Choice)
- The critical examination of government regulation
- The skeptical view of public goods
- The nature and effect of externalities
- The monetary control of fluctuations
- The economics of self-investment in human capital
- The limited and minimal state
My inclination is to say that classical liberals have made very little progress
in building on these foundations or in creating new ones. I also note
that these were all developments in economics. Have we seen any progress in
the intellectual arguments in favor of capitalism in other disciplines (for
example, in political science, philosophy or history)?
 Capitalism appears
in vol. 1 of The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon: The Virtues of Capitalism (Indiana;olis:
Liberty Fund, 2004), pp. 51-465. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1449>.
Unfortuantely it is only available here in PDF format at the moment. An HTML
version of Chapters 7 and 8 can be found here <http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=0&Itemid=369>.
7 "Intellectual Reinforcement for Capitalism," pp. 205-26; Chap.
8 "More "Intellectual Reinforcement for Capitalism," pp. 227-46.
3. Peter Boettke, "Captured
by Whom and for What Purpose?"[Posted: November 18, 2013]
John Blundell points to Buchanan and Tullock’s own argument about why
there is no American IEA, which refers to London’s unique intellectual
and cultural characteristics, compared to New York (commercial/artistic) and
Boston (academic/scientific), let alone D.C. (policy). Because London is the
cultural center of all three intellectual classes, the IEA couldn't become
a tool just for the political class. I don’t find this argument completely
convincing, though I do believe it has some intuitive merit. John uses the Cato
Institute as counterexample, with its ability as a think tank to think
outside the box of its geographic cluster and intellectual culture, and he
also points to the spread of think tanks that Atlas has
helped create. Again, while I find Blundell’s evidence intuitively compelling,
I don’t find it convincing. And ironically -- and this is indeed ironic
because of the role that John played at IEA, as well as IHS and
Atlas – I am unconvinced because I believe John underestimates how unique
IEA and Arthur Seldon was. Cato might not be captured by special-interest groups,
as Milton Friedman warned, but there is no doubt it is part of the Washington,
D.C. intellectual culture. It is a policy wonk shop, not a research center.
I don’t say that with any normative assessment, but as a positive analysis
of the situation. The state-level think tanks that Atlas has formed are also
policy wonk shops, but tied into a local level. Again, what they aren’t
are economic research centers.
A pivotal monograph for IEA, which I would contend sets it apart, is W.
H. Hutt’s Politically Impossible?(1971, 2010. The
argument in that monograph -- which is that economists should never direct
their messages with the eye to what is politically possible, but always to
what is scientifically true -- permeates IEA works. This is why IEA was able
to think the unthinkable and to encourage scholars to do so. IEA and Seldon
carved out a unique niche in the intellectual structure of production. They
did not reside at the highest stage of production, nor did they reside at
the lowest (if the lowest is considered selling economic policy to politicians).
They resided instead at the higher stages of production where the raw scholarly
material of the Austrian, Chicago, and Virginia schools of economics is translated
into useable material for dissemination to secondhand dealers in ideas --
teachers, journalists, and intellectuals. They were the first-level translators. The
United States never developed a sustainable clone of IEA, as the equilibrium
tendency in the market for charitable funds seemed to always pull a group
more and more toward being a policy wonk shop in the hope for relevance.
FEE -- the original market-oriented think tank -- comes the closest to the
IEA, but doesn’t actually fit because the focus has rarely been on
translating cutting-edge scientific research in order to pose an intellectual
challenge to the conventional wisdom. FEE is farther down the structure of
production, focusing instead on the elementary principles of economics.
In the United States the kind of conversation that the IEA and Seldon generated
is not being generated by Cato and the state-level network of free-market policy
wonk shops; instead, it is being generated in economic blogosphere, for
example at Marginal Revolution,
where cutting-edge academic work is getting a first translation. Also see Project
Syndicate and Vox. One
of the great innovations along these lines is Russ Roberts’s podcast
series, EconTalk. The conversation
in all these media is more scientific/scholarly and yet more in line with Hutt-
and Seldon-style pursuit of truth. Policy relevance is not the first principle
guiding their work. It is hard to stay focused on this kind of work when located
amid a culture of policy concerns, or financial concerns, or artistic concerns.
The Buchanan-and-Tullock intuition as to what can go wrong isn’t that
far off the mark, and the fact that London had/has this great diversity of
coexisting intellectual cultures does make it unique. But the more unique aspect
I would argue was the attitude of Seldon as he guided the research and publication
projects of IEA. There is such a thing as pivotal people at pivotal times --
and Arthur Seldon was one of those people. I do believe he left such an imprint
that the folks who have followed in his footsteps have preserved his attitude
and purpose, namely, to be the first-level translators. That continues to make
IEA unique in the worldwide network of free-market think tanks.
H. Hutt, Politically Impossible? An Essay on the Supposed Electoral Obstacles
Impeding the Translation of Economic Analysis into Policy (1971, 21 Oct
2010). About the book: <http://www.iea.org.uk/publications/research/politically-impossible>.
PDF download: <http://www.iea.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/files/upldbook523pdf.pdf>.
4. John Blundell, “You
Are the Cause of All My Troubles!” [Posted: 25 November]
Every think tank reflects a range of factors or interests, and it is hard
to think of two that are identical. The interests of the founder, the
proclivities of the board, the market in available talent, the desires of investors,
the prevailing climate of ideas – all and much more come into play and
produce very different outcomes. And they come at matters via different
routes. Recently, for example, Washington D.C.’s The
Heritage Foundation added a separate action organization; so a think
tank, or policy shop, deeply influenced by the IEA (its founder/president Dr
E. J. Feulner Jr. has often spoken fondly of his year at the IEA in the late
1960s and what he learned by working for Arthur) rightly or wrongly adds a
campaigning dimension. Meanwhile in London, The
Taxpayers’ Alliance (founded by IEA alumnus Matthew Elliott),
which is clearly a campaigning group and says so loud and clear and up front,
develops an in-house think tank dimension such that at a November 2013 meeting
of the Atlas Network in New
York City it won the $100,000 Templeton Prize against competition from all
around the world.
It would be wrong to say that Arthur and Ralph were totally free of vested
interests and completely immune from the thrill of a short-run victory. In
the early days Ralph toured advertising agencies collecting financial support
for studies on their role in a free society. At that time the industry
was much vilified in intellectual circles. And earlier in this conversation
I referenced Basil Yamey’s Resale Price Maintenance and Shoppers’ Choice,
which quickly and directly led to a bill that created the entire supermarket
industry as well as the Virgin empire. The minister who promoted
the bill came to lunch at the IEA when he was under severe attack on all sides,
pointed at Arthur and bellowed, “You are the cause of all my troubles!” It
has been estimated that the resulting law so annoyed small shopkeepers (who
would tend to vote for the Conservative Party) that they abstained from voting
in the 1964 general election in sufficient numbers as to hand victory to Labor,
which would rule for the next six years.
It’s all a bit like baking a cake or a pastry. Try making a lemon
meringue pie in Guatemala. You will fail as there are no lemons in that
country, only limes.
Finally, let’s bring this back to Arthur.
He loved young inquisitive minds and was famous for his Sunday afternoon
tea parties in the garden of his and Marjorie’s home in Kent, a short
train ride from central London. There was always a generous sprinkling of such
youngsters there being prodded and pushed along by Arthur about their intellectual
or career paths. He even published many of them in a volume, The
New Right Enlightenment, from
his own private publishing firm and set up the IEA’s publication The
Journal of Economic Affairs specifically to give newer younger talent
a spot to spread its wings.
He would, I am sure, have reveled in the company of the many young intellectual
entrepreneurs recently assembled by the Atlas Network in New York
New Right Enlightenment (London: Economic and Literary Books, 1985).
5. Stephen Davies, "What
Work Would Arthur Seldon Be Encouraging Today?" [Posted: 25 November]
I think the points made by Nigel are challenging and should give all of us
pause. I agree with the list of areas of intellectual enquiry that Arthur pioneered
or encouraged work on. I am afraid that I broadly agree with Nigel’s
gloomy view that little progress has been made in the 10 areas Arthur identified.
However, I would qualify this. I think work has been done in all of these areas,
but what has failed is the translation process from academic research and publications
to the wider audience of the educated public and the academy in general. As
a result, all kinds of analyses have been made by scholars that have not so
far had any real impact on semi-popular discussion or on textbooks. One example
would be Alberto Alesina’s work on the optimum size of political units. There
are signs that this is starting to change, such as the popular success of Daron
Acemoglu and James Robinson’s work, but
these are very much at the “green shoots” stage. In other areas
this is clearly still not the case. For example, in the first on the list,
a huge amount of work has been done by economic historians on the history of
capitalist modernity and related topics such as the nature of early industrial
society in Britain or the nature of post 16th century slavery and the reasons
for its demise, or the nature and effects of the New Deal, but popular discussion
of these issues is still dominated by ideas and narratives that were formed
in the 1950s. A related problem is that many of the scholars doing these kinds
of work have done it in an explicitly non-ideological way. The difficulty is
that as a result, the findings and arguments float free of any specific context
of general principles and concerns, and the conclusions that follow from the
work for the bigger questions are not spelt out. The need is to persuade people
in the academy that intellectual integrity and high academic quality are perfectly
compatible with an explicit commitment to a broad ideology (or explicit Weltanschaung if
you prefer). That combination was crucial to Arthur’s intellectual project
and needs to be recovered.
Nigel also asks if there have been intellectual developments in other disciplines
than economics that would be added to Arthur’s list if we were to draw
it up today. I think that there have been, particularly in history, philosophy,
and psychology, although there are major gaps such as anthropology, theology,
and sociology. I would note work on the nature of the self, personal identity,
and consciousness; the connections between capitalist modernity and the gradual
lenifying of personal behavior and a corresponding decline in violence (an
old idea but now put on much more robust foundations); the nature, origins,
and development of political power and of different kinds of state; in particular
a much better understanding of the history and nature of empires; and a much
clearer grasp of the nature of the modern state and its conflicted connection
What kinds of project would somebody in Arthur’s kind of position look
to encouraging today? I would identify firstly the one Nigel pointed to, that
of producing a worked out theory of government failure (as opposed to entertaining
accounts of particular examples of government cock-ups). Another would
be to explicitly examine and criticize the emerging consensus view that we
may be facing a condition of secular stagnation. Yet another would be to try
to revive the traditional liberal form of class analysis and produce a rigorous
economic sociology of ruling-class composition and power. There others that
I can think of, but those would be a good start.
Alesina, “The Size of Countries: Does It Matter?” Journal of
the European Economic Association, 1:2-3 (2003), 301-16.
Acemoglu and James Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity,
and Poverty (London, Profile Books, 2013).
6. Stephen Davies, "Five
Kinds of Think Tanks" [Posted: 26 November]
The more I think about Arthur and his role and consider the responses of
John, Nigel, and Pete, the more I am seized by the realization that there was
something unique about the combination of the time and place (British political
and media culture in the period from the early 1960s through the later 1980s)
and the personal qualities and interests of Arthur Seldon that led to something
appearing that hadn’t existed before and has proved hard to replicate.
Not impossible, however, as I would argue that the model of intellectual inquiry
and advocacy that he created is not so connected to specifics of personality
and contingent environment that it cannot be reproduced once its main features
(which Pete describes well) are known and identified. There are indeed other
think tanks like the IEA in terms of the kind of work they produce – I
would point to the Brookings Institution as
one prominent case.
John makes some rejoinders to me and Pete. Some of these are well taken,
but on the whole I’m not persuaded. He is quite right that there are
many good authors located outside conventional academia, and indeed many of
the works produced by the IEA under Philip Booth’s direction fall into
this category. Interestingly some of them are by authors you might call refugees
from academia, and I think the point about this is that it tells us something
about the state of the academy and the decline of work of wider
relevance and interest within it as compared to 20 years ago. As for
the media, the strategy John describes is indeed what the IEA has done, with
considerable success, but there are two persistent challenges. The first is
to avoid being sucked into the contemporary media’s own agenda and letting
your work be driven by the whirligig of media fads. The second is the difficulty
of putting over the kind of deeper, more basic questions that Pete mentions
when the media tend to focus obsessively on the immediate present.
Like Pete, I don’t find the arguments about the peculiar nature of London
convincing. I think the point about the focus of donor interests is spot on – the
challenge is to find donors such as Fisher or the Liberty Fund’s own
Mr. Goodrich, who have a longer term focus. I would add that I think we are
seeing a reshuffling of think tanks at present, which may provide hope. There
are basically five types of think tank:
- networking clubs for policy makers such as Council
on Foreign Relations,
- scholarly ones like the IEA,
- policy production shops like Heritage or
the Adam Smith Institute,
- media-oriented or campaigning organizations such as the Center
for American Progress, and
- educational ones.
The third kind are currently the predominant type, but the model has stopped
working. As a result wonk shops of the kind Pete describes are changing into
one of the other types. In the UK the ASI is moving towards the last type (of
which FEE is the premier example), Heritage has clearly become one of the fourth
type, while the American Enterprise Institute is
moving towards the second model. Cato is
poised between becoming a type-four or a type-two institution.
The hope is that we will end up with at least a few clearly identifiable
Arthur Seldon-type institutions. What we really need is a pluralism of think
tanks but with the distinctions of type and method very clear – what
I do not think is possible is to combine the different types in one organization,
no matter how large it may be.
7. Nigel Ashford, "IEA
v. Heritage" [Posted: 27 November]
A theme of several contributions here is the unique nature of the IEA as
conceived by Arthur Seldon and why other think tanks have not followed this
model. Blundell describes this accurately as making material accessible to
the general educated layperson, while still being of use to the expert and
Blundell mentions that the IEA focused on the high end of the structure of
production. He is talking about the production and distribution of knowledge.
There is no consensus on the precise nature of that structure. I follow Hayek
(as did Seldon) as outlined in “The Intellectuals and Socialism.” Political
change begins with the scholars of original thought, whose ideas then reach “the
second hand dealers in ideas,” such as professors, journalists, teachers,
church ministers, artists, etc. What professions should we add today to the
list of intellectuals? Hayek assumes that intellectuals are those who work
full time in the realm of ideas. Are there now intellectuals whose income
may come from other sources but whose passion is writing and distributing ideas,
through a blog, website, or Facebook group? According to Hayek, the intellectuals
form the opinions of ordinary people. Politicians and policy makers then respond
to public opinion. In this model of political change, the scholars and the
intellectuals are at the top. Seldon was focused on the interchange between
these two groups. Ed Lopez and Wayne Leighton describe this structure in much
more detail than Hayek in Madmen, Intellectuals and Academic Scribblers.
Reviewing the work of many think tanks, I think very few would meet Arthur’s
standards. They have, in Blundell’s phrase, “slipped down the structure
of production.” Boettke contrasts the IEA with policy think tanks such
as the Heritage Foundation. “They are policy think tanks focused on politicians
or grassroots think tanks focused on the voting public.” I would
amend that. Most are directed towards specialist “policy communities.” There
are at least three problems with the think-tank books of today. First, they
are directed at a narrow audience of specialists, not the educated layperson. Second,
they seek to solve current policy issues within the existing paradigm, rather
than shifting the paradigm. Third, they are written in the jargon that Seldon
worked so hard to avoid, thus excluding not only the general public and politicians
but also economists in other fields. There is value in this specialist literature,
but it leaves “a deep hole.” Why does this gap exist?
Is the problem on the supply side, the academics? Davies suggests that changes
in the academic world are a major factor: narrow specialization, mathematical
formalism, and the lack of career incentives. Blundell suggests that
the problem can be overcome by drawing upon other sources than academia, that
a wider talent pool exists in industry, banking, finance, and consultants. While
many such writers have produced fine books, I believe that academics have unique
advantages. First, they are able to conduct basic research. Second, they have
a high degree of credibility with general audiences. Third, they are thought
be neutral. So why are academics less interested? At IHS, our FIND
Scholars program encourages professors to reach out to a wider audience.
The two biggest obstacles are that: it never occurs to them and they
are never asked; and they do not know how to translate their academic research
into a form accessible to the educated reader. So this would suggest two steps
are necessary. First, it requires think tanks to actively reach out to academics
and offer them opportunities. Second, it requires professional editors who
can replicate the skills of Arthur Seldon.
Is there a problem on the demand side? Davies identifies changes in the workings
of the media. Journalists are less likely to be the medium of transmission
between academics and policy makers. The explosion of outlets makes any particular
outlet or journalist less important. Davies rightly warns of the danger
of trying to satisfy the 24-hour short-term news cycle of daily commentary.
The mass media have certainly changed, but the multiplication of outlets has
not reduced the amount of serious journalism still to be found in quality newspapers,
opinion magazines, and increasingly on the Internet, as Boettke suggests. If
anything, the number of intellectual consumers is larger now than ever before
in history. In a more competitive media environment, more attention needs to
be paid to promoting books. I am amazed at the number of academics who feel
that their work has ended once the book has been published. They need a marketing
strategy. This is an area in which think tanks could assist, including promoting
books they themselves have not published but that further their mission. Holding
one book forum in London or Washington, D.C. is not enough. More attention
should also be given by think tanks to how to make their books appealing for
teaching purposes, course adoptions, and university libraries. Seldon
always included questions for class discussion. One valuable project that would
be ideal for an IEA-type think tank is to support the one-volume version of
Deidre McCloskey’s work on the bourgeois virtues, in
cooperation with Art Carden.
We should encourage the adoption of the IEA (Seldon) model, rather than the
Heritage model, while adapting to both the demand and supply side of a much
different market for knowledge than the one facing Arthur Seldon. He successfully
met the challenges of his day. Who will do the same for today?
A.. Hayek, The Intellectuals and Socialism (London: IEA, 1998). <http://www.iea.org.uk/publications/research/the-intellectuals-and-socialism>.
See also, F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, with 'The Intellectuals and
Socialism' (19 Jul 2005). The Reader's Digest condensed version of 'The
Road to Serfdom'. Now includes 'The Intellectuals and Socialism’. <http://www.iea.org.uk/publications/research/the-road-to-serfdom>.
A. Leighton and Edward J. Lopez, Madmen, Intellectuals and Academic Scribblers:
The Economic Engine of Political Change (Stanford, Cal.: Stanford Economics
and Finance, 2013).
N. McCloskey, The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (University
of Chicago Press, 2006), and its sequel Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics
can't explain the Modern World (University of Chicago Press, 2010). Art
Carden's homepage <http://www.artcarden.com/>.
Guest blogger at Econlib <http://econlog.econlib.org/authoracarden.html>.
The Institute of Economic Affairs website <http://www.iea.org.uk/>.
The journal Economic Affairs <http://www.iea.org.uk/publications/economic-affairs>
Arthur Seldon, The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon, 7 vols., ed. and with
Introductions by Colin Robinson (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004-5). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1825>.
- Volume 1: The Virtues of Capitalism (September 2004)
- Volume 2: The State Is Rolling Back (November 2004)
- Volume 3: Everyman's Dictionary of Economics (January 2005)
- Volume 4: Introducing Market Forces into "Public" Services (February
- Volume 5: Government Failure and Over-Government (May 2005)
- Volume 6: The Welfare State: Pensions, Health, and Education (October
- Volume 7: The IEA, the LSE, and the Influence of Ideas (December 2005)
Of which parts of the following are available online:
Contents of the Collected Works of Arthur Seldon [mentioned in
volume 1 The Virtues of Capitalism
- Corrigible Capitalism, Incorrigible Socialism, 1980
- Capitalism, 1990
volume 2 The State Is Rolling Back
- The State Is Rolling Back, 1994
volume 3 Everyman’s Dictionary of Economics
- Everyman’s Dictionary of Economics (with F. G. Pennance), 1965,
volume 4 Introducing Market Forces into “Public” Services
- Which Way to Welfare? 1966
- Taxation and Welfare, 1967
- Remove the Financing Flaw in “Public” Services (from Catch ’76),
- Charge, 1977
- Micro-economic Controls (from The Taming of Government), 1979
- The Riddle of the Voucher, 1986
volume 5 Government Failure and Over-Government
- Change by Degree or by Convulsion (from The Coming Confrontation), 1978
- Individual Liberty, Public Goods and Representative Democracy (from Ordo),
- Avoision: The Moral Blurring of a Legal Distinction (from Tax Avoision),
- The Dilemma of Democracy, 1998
- Public Choice in Britain (from Government: Whose Obedient Servant?),
- On the Liberal Emancipation of Mankind (from Vordenker einer neuen Wirtschaftspolitik:
Festschrift für Christian Watrin), 2000
volume 6 The Welfare State: Pensions, Health, and Education
- The Reluctant Crutch: Replace the Repressive State by the Liberating
Market (from Time and Tide), 1959
- Pensions for Prosperity, 1960
- The Future of the Welfare State (from Encounter), 1967
- After the NHS, 1968
- The Great Pensions “Swindle,” 1970
- Wither the Welfare State, 1981
- Pensions without the State and The Verdict of History (from Re-privatising
Welfare: After the Lost Century), 1996
- The Retreat of the State in Social Welfare (from The Retreat of the
volume 7 The IEA, the LSE, and the Influence of Ideas
- The Essence of the IEA (from The Emerging Consensus), 1981
- New Hope for Economic Policy in a Changing Polity (from Agenda for Social
- Recollections: Before and after The Road to Serfdom (from Hayek’s
Serfdom Revisited ), 1984
- Economic Scholarship and Political Interest (from Ideas, Interests and
- From the LSE to the IEA (from Economic Affairs), 1998
- The Making of the Institute, 2002
Arthur Seldon wrote prefaces to the following IEA Papers [from vol. 7 of the Collected
I. The Hobart Papers
- Resale Price Maintenance (2/60) Prof. Basil S.Yamey LSE
- Rents (3/60) Norman Macrae The Economist
- Purchase Tax (1/61) Prof.Alan R.Prest Cambridge
- Growthmanship (3/61) Colin Clark Oxford
- Health through Choice (10/61) Prof.D. S.Lees Keele University
- Common Market (4/62) Prof. J.E.Meade Cambridge
- Wage-Fixing (6/62) Henry Smith Oxford
- Rate-Paying (3/63) A. R. Ilersic Bedford College,London
- Primary Producer Prices (10/63) Sir Sydney Caine LSE
- Education (2/64) Prof. Alan Peacock & University of York; Prof. Jack
Wiseman University of York
- Taxation (7/64) Colin Clark Oxford
- Vacant Possession (7/64) John Carmichael
- Incomes Policy (9/64) Prof.F.W.Paish & LSE; J.Hennessy
- Land in the Market (12/64) Dr.Donald Denman Cambridge
- International Money (2/65) Prof.Gottfried Haberler Harvard
- Inheritance Taxing (3/65) Prof. C.T. Sandford University of Bath
- Privatise Telephones (6/66) Michael Canes University of Chicago
- Companies, Shareholders and Growth (8/66) F. R. Jervis
- Monetary Policy (2/67) Dr.N. J.Gibson University of Manchester
- Housing and Town Planning (8/67) Prof.F.G.Pennance College of Estate Management,
- The Price of Blood (3/68) M.H.Cooper & University of Exeter; A. J.Culyer
University of Exeter
- Education (6/68) Prof.E.G.West Carleton University,Canada
- Paying for TV (7/68) Sir Sydney Caine LSE
- Money (1/69) Prof.A.A.Walters LSE
- UK and Floating Exchanges (5/69) Prof.Harry G. Johnson LSE & John E.Nash
- Incomes Policy (6/69) Prof.F.W. Paish LSE
- Housing Market (8/69) Prof.F.G. Pennance & Prof.W.A.West College of
Estate Management, Reading
- Industrial Mergers (7/70) Dr.Brian Hindley LSE
- Competition in Banking (12/70) Brian Griffiths LSE
- Housing and Whitehall (3/71) Dr.Robert McKie Cambridge
- Macromancy (4/73) Douglas Rimmer University of Birmingham
- Macro-thinking (8/73) Prof. L.M.Lachmann University of Hull
- Aircraft (2/74) Keith Hartley University of York
- The Price of Prosperity (3/74) Prof.G.C. Allen formerly University of London;
Prof. Chiaki Nishiyama International University, Japan
- Energy Crisis (7/74) Prof.Colin Robinson University of Surrey
- Theft in Markets (10/74) Prof.R. L.Carter University of Nottingham
- Participation without Politics (4/75) Sir Samuel Brittan The Financial
- Choice in Education (10/75) Prof.Alan Maynard University of York
- Pricing for Pollution (12/75) Prof. Wilfred Beckerman Oxford
- British Disease (5/76) Prof.G.C.Allen formerly University of London
- Too Much Money? (6/76) Gordon Pepper (Greenwell); Prof.Geoffrey Wood City
- Gold or Paper? (9/76) Prof. E.Victor Morgan University of Wales; Ann D.Morgan
- The Mixed Economy (6/78) Prof. S. C.Littlechild University of Birmingham
- How Japan Competes (7/78) Prof.G.C.Allen formerly University of London
- The Myth of Social Cost (10/78) Prof. Steven N. S.Cheung University ofWashington
- Protectionism (12/79) David Greenaway University of Buckingham;
- Christopher Milner University of Loughborough
- Sport in the Market (4/80) Prof. Peter Sloane University of Stirling
- For Love or Money? (7/80) Dr. Ivy Papps University of Newcastle, England
- 1980s Unemployment and the Unions (7/80) Prof. F. A.Hayek Universities
in USA and Europe
- Monopoly of Money (7/81) Prof. H. G.Brennan George Mason University; Prof.
- Future for British Coal? (6/81) Prof.Colin Robinson University of Surrey;
- Unemployment (2/82) Robert Miller & John B.Wood IEA
- Land and Heritage: Public Interest in Personal Ownership (4/82) Dr.Barry
- Will China Go Capitalist? (4/82) Prof. Steven N. S.Cheung University of
- Government As It Is (2/88) Prof. William C. Mitchell University of Oregon
- Invisible Hand in Economics and Politics (8/88) Prof.Norman P. Barry University
II. The Hobart Paperbacks
- Politically Impossible? (5/71) Prof.W. H.Hutt
- Government and the Market Economy (5/71) Sir Samuel Brittan The Financial
- A Tiger by the Tail (1/72) Prof.F. A. Hayek Universities in USA and Europe;
Dr. Sudha R. Shenoy University of Newcastle, Australia
- Bureaucracy: Servant or Master? (9/73) Prof.William A. Niskanen University
- The Cambridge Revolution (10/74) Prof. Mark Blaug University of London
- The Vote Motive (7/76) Prof. Gordon Tullock Virginia Polytechnic Institute;
Dr. Morris Perlman LSE
- Keynes v. the Keynesians (7/77) Prof. T.W.Hutchison formerly University
- Choice in Education (10/84) Prof. S.R.Dennison formerly University of Cambridge
III. The IEA Readings
- The Long Debate on Poverty (9/72)
- The Economics of Charity (8/73)
- The Economics of Politics (9/78)
- Reprivatising Welfare: After the Lost Century (10/96)
Works Mentioned in the Discussion
Think Tanks and Reserach Centres
Economic Commentary and Analysis
Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power,
Prosperity, and Poverty (London, Profile Books, 2013).
Alberto Alesina, “The Size of Countries: Does It Matter?” Journal
of the European Economic Association, 1:2-3 (2003), 301-16.
John Blundell, Waging the War of Ideas (London:
Institute of Economic Affairs, 2007).
John Blundell, “Fight to Keep Dirty Thoughts at Bay – John Blundell
on the Need to Guard Think Tanks against Undue Influence,” Sunday
Times, July 5, 2009; online at < http://www.iea.org.uk/in-the-media/media-coverage/fight-to-keep-dirty-thoughts-at-bay>.
Peter Boettke, “The Economists as Public Intellectual: The Case of Henry
Hazlitt,” online at: <http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2030464>.
and Boettke and Liya Palagashvili, “Henry Hazlitt as an Intellectual
Middleman of ‘Orthodox Economics,’” History of Political
[Buchanan], The Intellectual Portrait Series: A Conversation with James
M. Buchanan (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1030>.
John Burton, Why No Cuts? (London: Institute of Economic Affairs,
Richard Cockett, Thinking the Unthinkable (London, Fontana 1995).
[Friedman], The Intellectual Portrait Series: A Conversation with Milton
Friedman (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/975>.
[Harris and Seldon}, The Intellectual Portrait Series: A Conversation
with Lord Ralph Harris and Arthur Seldon (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/964>.
Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (University of Chicago Press, 1944).
Friedrich Hayek, "The Intellectuals and Socialism" in Studies
in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (University of Chicago Press,
1967), pp. 178-94. First published in The University of Chicago Law Review,
vol. 16, no. 3, Spring 1949. Avaliable online at the Mises Institute [PDF]
F. A.. Hayek, The Intellectuals and Socialism (London: IEA, 1998). <http://www.iea.org.uk/publications/research/the-intellectuals-and-socialism>.
See also, F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, with 'The Intellectuals and
Socialism' (19 Jul 2005). The Reader's Digest condensed version of 'The
Road to Serfdom'. Now includes 'The Intellectuals and Socialism’. <http://www.iea.org.uk/publications/research/the-road-to-serfdom>.
Friedrich Hayek, Law, Legislation and Liberty: A New Statement of the
Liberal Principles of Justice and Political Economy, 3 vols. (University of Chicago
[Hayek], The Intellectual Portrait Series: The Life and Thought of Friedrich
A. Hayek (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/977>.
W. H. Hutt, Politically Impossible?
An Essay on the Supposed Electoral Obstacles Impeding the Translation of
Economic Analysis into Policy (1971, 21 Oct 2010). About the book: <http://www.iea.org.uk/publications/research/politically-impossible>.
PDF download: <http://www.iea.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/files/upldbook523pdf.pdf>.
Other IEA publications;
- George Winder, The Free Convertibility of Sterling
- Arthur Seldon, Pensions in a Free Society
- W. H. Hutt, Politically Impossible?
- The Riddle of the Voucher
- Re-Privatising Welfare: After The Lost Century, ( London: Institute
of Economic Affairs, 1996).
- Ideas, Interests, and Consequences (London: Institute of Economic
- Harry Ferns, Toward A Private University (1969).
- The Emerging Consensus? (1981)
WayneA. Leighton and Edward J. Lopez, Madmen, Intellectuals and Academic
Scribblers: The Economic Engine of Political Change (Stanford, Cal.:
Stanford Economics and Finance, 2013).
Deidre N. McCloskey, The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (University
of Chicago Press, 2006), and its sequel Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics
can't explain the Modern World (University of Chicago Press, 2010).
Arthur Seldon, “Socialism Has No Future,” in Collected Works,
vol. 7, pp. 279-80.
Arthur Seldon and Ralph Harris, “The Tactics and Strategy of the
Advance to a Free Society.”
Gordon Tullock, The Vote Motive (London: Institute of Economic Affairs,
Basil Yamey, Resale Price Maintenance and Shoppers’ Choice,
(London: Institute of Economic Affairs,