Smiles, Miracles and Markets
New Thinking in Political Economy series
Chapter 1: Jumping onto the galloping horses – even in India
The first major work to challenge the role of governments in education was E.G. West’s Education and the State, published in 1965 by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). West was the first to really question the accepted wisdom of the role of the state by looking back into British and US history. At the first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) in 1947 a group of 39 liberals, made up of economists, philosophers, historians, political scientists and jurists, discussed a range of potentially damaging issues that were threatening Western liberal civilisation. Friedrich A. Hayek, one of the leading free market and Austrian economists who had gained acclaim owing to his 1944 publication Road to Serfdom, invited the 39 to the first meeting. The group highlighted six main aims of the MPS with a central issue of ‘combating the misuse of history for the furtherance of creeds hostile to liberty’. Indeed four years later the 1951 MPS meeting solely focused on how opponents of capitalism, such as Marx and Engels, had distorted the history of capitalism in the industrial revolution in Britain and the US. According to Hayek, historical facts were being misrepresented in order for the socialist cause to be strengthened.