Derek Wall writes in Comment is Free:
Being an open-minded fanatic, I am dipping into Towards a Liberal Utopia? from the free-market, Thatcherite, Institute of Economic Affairs.
I am on the Green team and teach economics, so I am interested to look at what my polar opposites are saying. Economic thinktanks, it can be argued, whether left, right or green, have huge power to change the world. Maynard Keynes, whose centre-ground ideas of economic intervention dominated politics between the 1940s and 1970s, argued that economic ideas are astonishingly influential. He said:
“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 influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”
In Thinking the Unthinkable, a highly entertaining and valuable book, Richard Cockett showed how the free-market economists formed a variety of thinktanks that were used to attack Keynes and ultimately led to the victory of Thatcherism. The Institute of Economic Affairs, the Adam Smith Institute and similar bodies changed the world: the decline of council housing, cuts in the Post Office, runaway globalisation and greater workplace insecurity are all examples of the rising profile of neoliberalism propelled by these institutions.
A series of dynamic green thinktanks are fighting back and shaping a new ecologically sustainable and socially just future.