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

By Ralph Harris, Arthur Seldon

From the mid Nineteen Fifties to the overdue Eighties, Ralph Harris and Arthur Seldon, as basic director and editorial director respectively of the IEA, battled opposed to a traditional knowledge which was once opposed to markets. finally, by means of strength of argument, they overcame a lot of the resistance to industry rules, and within the procedure proven the Institute's bold impact in shaping either opinion and coverage. This Occasional Paper starts 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 distinct students, each one acquainted with the paintings of the Institute, then offer commentaries which check its impression on considering and the problem to govt which it constituted through the Harris/Seldon years.

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The idea that advertising was uniquely powerful, or that it was uniquely wasteful, or a complete distortion of the whole market system was one that we had to combat not only in the Labour government. ’ There was press advertising and we had just had television advertising. So really it was quite time we took that as a very serious threat to our whole belief in free choice. AS: But academically, Ralph, the whole world of academics who were thinking like us, or were beginning to think like us, did see that conference paper and the book as establishing the moral right for us to be accepted as new young men who were beginning to spread the right doctrines.

I would consult Arthur about financial matters and all of that, and he would always let me see manuscripts and even proofs. But he was publications. ’ And I learned not to try and breathe down his neck too fiercely. On the other hand, he was happy for me to raise money. The only arguments we ever had were: ‘Why don’t we spend more on publicity? ’ And it was a good point. If we had had unlimited money, we could have saturated the market with some of our writings much more quickly than we did. SE: I gather early on there was an important need to be provocative in what you wrote and said in order to gather some further attention?

Did they want to read what you wrote? AS: At first, no. At first they were very doubtful about these two odd guys who were saying something that no one had said in this kind of way. And it took us five or ten years to win the confidence of some respected journalists. SE: How did you interest them? AS: By sending them copies. They were invited to launches. In this very room. 31 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 RH: Launches and lunches. Journalists like lunches with a drink and snacks.

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