A Conversation With Harris & Seldon (Occasional Paper, 116) by Ralph Harris, Arthur Seldon

By Ralph Harris, Arthur Seldon

From the mid Fifties to the past due Nineteen Eighties, Ralph Harris and Arthur Seldon, as common director and editorial director respectively of the IEA, battled opposed to a traditional knowledge which used to be antagonistic to markets. ultimately, by means of strength of argument, they overcame a lot of the resistance to industry principles, and within the approach validated the Institute's bold impact in shaping either opinion and coverage. This Occasional Paper starts off with a transcript of a talk with Harris and Seldon which gives many insights into how they labored and what stumbling blocks they encountered. 8 amazing students, each one accustomed to the paintings of the Institute, then offer commentaries which investigate its impact on pondering and the problem to executive which it constituted through the Harris/Seldon years.

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Sample text

It does more things than it was authorised to do by the voters. And not least, once it’s in, it stays too long. The welfare state goes on and on, whatever the circumstances. It is impossible to make government accept the logic of their function, that at the most they have been called for a short time, to do little, and get the hell out of 49 a c o n v e r sat i o n w i t h h a r r i s a n d s e l d o n it. But they don’t, and this is the lesson. This lesson we have yet to learn. RH: Arthur and I both had experience of living through the Second World War, a nation at war.

Since then there are another three or more, established mostly in the mid 1970s. Overseas also it surprised me that it seemed to take a fair time before someone said, ‘Look, we ought to have an IEA here’, wherever ‘here’ was. And that I can’t explain. RH: I have explained it. Forgive me, I have explained it. The particular ingredient you require is academic something, business something and finance, and you would get one or even two of these, but not three. AS: Once we started we needed some years in order to make our work widely known and accepted, and then it was easier, I think, to raise funds.

But when after that we began to go around a lot of countries, Fisher and I went round Europe. We went to Germany, to France, to Spain, to Italy, to Switzerland, to try and create an IEA, not as a sub-office of ours – we didn’t want anything to do with it – but to bring people together. We could find academics, 44 t h e c o n v e r s at i o n but we couldn’t find people like me who would reliably dig their heels in and get an office and money going. There were no entrepreneurs. Whereas there is a tradition here of businesses supporting education, university and academic things, there doesn’t seem to be that kind of tradition elsewhere.

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