Thinking the Unthinkable: Think-tanks and the Economic Counter-revolution, 1931-83

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9780002236720: Thinking the Unthinkable: Think-tanks and the Economic Counter-revolution, 1931-83

There is another modern British history - an alternative tradition in our government, politics and economics. It is a history kept rather quiet, a tradition largely hidden from view - suspiciously well hidden, some would say. Thatcher seemed to hit Britain like a thunderbolt from the blue, but her ideas, her policies, her strategies and her vision had all been forged long before she ever arrived at Downing Street. They were first contrived by the anti-Keynesian economist, Friedrich Hayek, the man whose writings inspired Thatcher in all she did. He and his followers began, after World War II, the difficult and uphill task of countering the rise of socialistic collectivism. They were the economic liberals. Among their shock troops, their vanguard of revolutionaries, were Milton Friedman, Alan Walters, Keith Joseph, Ralph Harris, Alfred Sherman, John Biffen and Geoffrey Howe. Theirs was a long, gruelling fight, but in the mid-1970s, they found their ideal secret weapon. Within five years that weapon was running the country, and the rest is history, retold here in a new way. Richard Cockett is the author of "Twilight of Truth: Chamberlain, Appeasement and the Manipulation of the Press", and "David Astor and the 'Observer'".

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"Between the years of triumphant Keynesianism in the 1930s and the administration of Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s there was a tremendous swing of the pendulum of public opinion away from collectivism and welfarism towards economic liberalism and acceptance of the working of free market forces. All the while between those extremities there rose and fell organisations, such as the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Centre for Policy Studies, which worked away explaining and promoting the operation and the blessings of a 'free economy'. It is a story which Richard Cockett has brilliantly and excitingly reconstructed… in his remarkably well documented and organised study."
J. ENOCH POWELL, ' Spectator '

"Cockett's book is intellectual history of the most readable and persuasive kind. He describes and analyses the intensive interplay between ideas and politics in a most lucid manner."
HARRY REID, ' Glasgow Herald '

"When intellectuals and politicians conspire, the outcome can be complicated – and unpredictable. Richard Cockett's superb book traces the 50-year campaign by a band of economic liberals, inspired by Austria's Friedrich von Hayek, to smash Britain's post-war Keynesian consensus."
ECONOMIST

"Fascinating… Cockett has put together, in highly manageable form, an intellectual political history of our times. The British often affect to be non-ideological. This proves that affectation to be false."
PATRICK COSGRAVE, ' Literary Review '

"Cockett has produced a first-rate narrative that is both gripping and enlightening."
STEVE BRIGGS, ' Scotland on Sunday '

"Cockett has seized on a superb subject. It is a case-study in the way that ideas are dangerous, for good or evil. He ends by anticipating a counter-revolution against economic liberalism: a provocative conclusion to a provocative book."
PETER CLARKE, ' London Review of Books '

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