Volume 7 of The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon includes six works that discuss the role of the Institute of Economic Affairs, where Seldon spent most of his working life.
Friedrich Hayek regarded himself as partly responsible for the creation of the IEA. The Institute, founded by Sir Antony Fisher, was influential not only in the United Kingdom—where it had a major impact on the policies of the Thatcher governments of the 1980s—but all around the world. Many of the classical liberal and free market think tanks in the United States and other countries were established by Fisher and were modeled on and took their inspiration from the IEA.
In the works in this volume, Seldon emphasizes the power of ideas to transform society and provides insight into how he saw the place of the IEA (and his own role within it) in starting to bring about that transformation.
"The Making of the IEA
The thinking I developed at the IEA from 1960 was based on the teaching at the LSE in the mid-1930s. It was fundamentally derived from the understanding that had been reﬁned during the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century from Adam Smith: that individual men and women best escape from poverty and inadequacy by exchanging in free markets the products of the skills they acquired by concentrating on their individual faculties.
This was the origin of the markets they had been developing from the mid-eighteenth century into the nineteenth, twentieth and now the twenty-ﬁrst century. The power and necessity of markets has been neglected by politicians in recent years. This book recalls their value and necessity.
My free market thinking was strengthened at the LSE by Professor Arnold Plant from 1934, by Professor Lionel Robbins and Friedrich Hayek and the younger Ronald Coase, and continued after the 1939–45 war as a tutor and LSE staﬀ examiner for 20 years, 1946 to 1966, when I became increasingly involved with the IEA.
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.