"In the fifth volume of The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon, Arthur Seldon uses public choice economics research to support his theory of over-government. The term "over-government" was coined by Seldon and is defined as the failure of governments to govern well, leading the public to avoid government programs in favor of markets.
Seldon explains how the results of government programs are always at odds with what the people would have chosen for themselves, because governments seek to impose taxes and legislature based on their own agendas. This increasing control and restraint by the government will continue to force people to abandon those ineffective programs for more open markets and other countries that support them. Seldon argues that government bureaucrats rely too heavily on unions, labor groups, and lobbyists and act in their own interest instead of opening those options up to the people they serve.
Seldon purports that any government that continues to force its own views and desires on the unwilling public will lead to its own demise as the public searches elsewhere for a more representative democracy."
The Historic Delusion
Talk of “the retreat of the state” creates apprehension among the many
who have regarded it as the saviour of the sick and the poor. A dominant
anxiety is that democracy has taught the doctrine of Thomas Hobbes that its
creation of “sovereignty” (government power over economic life) is essential for the maintenance of good order and civilized life. The alternative to
the political state with the power to regulate economic life and to coerce the
people to conform to it, warned Hobbes, was “a state of nature” that would
create perpetual “war of all against all” in which life would be “nasty, brutish
and short.” This dire prospect has habituated the Western world into accepting and tolerating the political state with its over-government. Yet from
the start of the twentieth century, or earlier, over-government has been an
obstruction to the liberties that democracy was supposed to protect.
Hobbes wrote in the seventeenth century. His warning has long been
overtaken by the technological advances of the nineteenth century with its
massive rises in living standards. A century after Hobbes, at the end of the
eighteenth century, it was still plausible for Thomas Paine to urge, in his classic The Rights of Man, an early structure of Beveridge Plan beneﬁts from
maternity grants through a form of school vouchers all the way to funeral
Dr Arthur Seldon CBE (1916-2005) was joint founder president, with Ralph Harris, of the Institute of Economic Affairs, where he directed academic affairs for 30 years.
He studied at the London School of Economics where Arnold Plant and Lionel Robbins deepened his interest in classical liberalism and Friedrich Hayek introduced him to Austrian Economics. He received an honorary degree in 1999 from the University of Buckingham.
Seldon was Vice president of the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS), whose past presidents include von Hayek and Milton Friedman.
For over thirty years from the late 1950s Arthur Seldon was the Editorial Director of the London-based Institute for Economic Affairs, where his publishing program was one of the principal influences on governments all around the world, persuading them to liberalize their economies.
Arthur Seldon was a prophet of what came to be called Thatcherism. The Thatcherite revolution of the 1970s and 1980s had many roots, but one was certainly a sea change in the intellectual climate of the times, and Seldon played a huge role in that sea change.