The war of ideas
The war of ideas
At the same time as Keynes was celebrating success at Bretton Woods, neoliberal economist Friedrich Hayek started to publicly campaign against the liberal economic order, in what he called the ‘war of ideas.’ He fired the first shots in this war with the publication of The Road to Serfdom, and then established the Mont Pèlerin Society, where he hoped to rally fighters for his war. He turned out to be a poor field general and it looked like the war might be over before it started. Hayek, however, did inspire a young fighter pilot, Antony Fisher, who did have fire in his belly and was keen to face grapeshot in the war of ideas. In 1956, Fisher established the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). This think tank, together with others modelled on the IEA, helped spread pro-market ideas. The high point of their campaign came when Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were elected, establishing neoliberalism as the new economic orthodoxy. In 1980, Hayek advised Fisher that he needed to seed the world with neoliberal think tanks. The result was the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which networks over 400 think tanks worldwide and they have helped spread the war of ideas.
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