On the Spread of Classical Liberal Ideas

Date: 1 March, 2015

David M. Hart, “On the Spread of (Classical) Liberal Ideas” (March 2015) Liberty Matters Online Discussion Forum. I wrote the Lead Essay for this discussion as well as extensive appendices on

  • “Historical Examples of Radical Change in Ideas and Political Structures”,
  • “The Spread of Pro-Liberty Ideas in the Post-WW2 Period”,
  • A List of Different Kinds of Strategies for Change: From Retreatism to Cadre-Building and Beyond
  • A Brief History of Key Movements, Individuals, and Events in the Evolution of the Classical Liberal Tradition

Abstract: In this Liberty Matters online discussion forum we explore a number of issues concerning the role ideas have had in changing societies by examining several historical examples such as the anti-slavery movement in Britain and America in the first half of the 19th century, Richard Cobden and the free trade movement, and the rebirth of classical liberal and free market ideas after the Second World War. In the Lead Essay David Hart surveys the field of ideological movements and present a theory of ideological production and distribution based upon Austrian capital theory as it might be applied to the production of ideas. The commentators are Stephen Davies who is education director at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London; David Gordon who is a Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute; Jason Kuznicki who is a Research Fellow at the Cato Institute and Editor, Cato Unbound; Peter Mentzel who is a Senior Fellow at Liberty Fund; Jim Powell who is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute; George H. Smith who is an independent scholar and contributor to <libertarianism.org>; and Jeffrey Tucker who is a distinguished fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education, editor at Laissez Faire Books, and founder of Liberty.me http://liberty.me/ .