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 Eighties, Ralph Harris and Arthur Seldon, as basic director and editorial director respectively of the IEA, battled opposed to a standard knowledge which used to be adverse to markets. ultimately, via strength of argument, they overcame a lot of the resistance to marketplace rules, and within the method demonstrated the Institute's bold impression 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 exceptional students, each one accustomed to the paintings of the Institute, then offer commentaries which check its impact on considering and the problem to govt which it constituted in the course of the Harris/Seldon years.

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Additional resources for A Conversation With Harris & Seldon (Occasional Paper, 116)

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SE: Did they get their idea of forming themselves from observing your IEA activities? AS: There is a view voiced here and there, that there are now something like sixty or a hundred institutes which to some extent are replicas almost of us and the work we did. I would say that it is true, that most of them did learn our methods, and they certainly picked up the underlying philosophic thinking that we had used and applied. RH: Well, this is a good opportunity to come back to the IEA and its foundation, and the relationship between Arthur and me, and Antony Fisher.

RH: I take my stand on the bedrock of human nature. I believe that man is imperfect, man is always doomed to setbacks and frustrations and struggles and re-struggles. I believe the market has something of the eternal validity of the laws of motion and the laws of gravity. I think the market, this concept of a way of bringing people together – not physically together, but linking them through phones, through brokers, through advertisements, through the internet and so forth – I believe that remains the only way for free people to accommodate themselves to one another, and to distant people of which they know little.

If I met public-school boys I would mock their county accents, because these were the people who would condescend to help workers along with little state hand-outs and subsidies and benefits. SE: I gather you divided up responsibilities, and you, Arthur, were mostly involved in publishing? AS: After the early years – when we had passed the first five years or so, during which it was difficult to get authors of the right calibre. So some things we did jointly. After that, the great virtue and value of Ralph for me, for my personal mission in life, which was to 35 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 get the ideas over, was that he was a past master at selling, at persuading and explaining and so on, with audiences of students, businessmen and journalists.

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