The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon spans 65 years of Seldon’s influential thought and includes all his pivotal works that helped to shape current economic thought. His arguments are as compelling and relevant today as they were over a half century ago.
In 1956 in London, England, Ralph Harris became the Director of the newly formed Institute of Economic Affairs, or IEA. The IEA, originally created by Antony Fisher, is dedicated to improving public understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society, especially the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. In 1957, Arthur Seldon joined Harris as the IEA’s Editorial Director. Together, Harris and Seldon began publishing what were at the time rarely heard views of economic reform based on free-market principles. Through their efforts, the IEA has had enormous influence on governments, public policy, and economic thought and has been the model for organizations like it around the world. In December 1993, the Economist summed up the IEA’s influence as follows: “Governments in search of advice looked to think tanks such as the Institute of Economic Affairs in Britain. . . rather than to Oxford or Harvard.”
Everyman’s Dictionary of Economics, the third volume of The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon, translates the often obscure jargon and technical terminology of economics into direct, plain English understandable by both the academic and the layperson. The most abstruse topic becomes clear as he conveys the sense in ordinary language, without loss of meaning through oversimplification.
In the fifth volume of The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon, Arthur Seldon uses public choice economics research to support his theory of over-government. The term “over-government” was coined by Seldon and is defined as the failure of governments to govern well, leading the public to avoid government programs in favor of markets.
Volume 7 of The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon includes six works that discuss the role of the Institute of Economic Affairs, where Seldon spent most of his working life.
Introducing Market Forces into “Public” Services is the fourth volume in Liberty Fund’s The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon. It brings together six of Seldon’s most pivotal essays that discuss his alternative proposals for paying for “public” services rather than through coercive taxation. Specifically, Seldon focuses on the varied use of vouchers and the choices people have regarding purchasing or receiving such public services as health care and education. The recurring theme, as noted in Colin Robinson’s introduction, is that “non-market provision, financed by taxpayers, leads to a fatal disconnection between suppliers and consumers.”
The State Is Rolling Back, the second volume of Liberty Fund’s The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon, brings together a comprehensive collection of fifty-four articles reflecting Arthur Seldon’s scholarly development. By the late twentieth century, Arthur Seldon was one of the most powerful exponents of classical liberalism, helping to stimulate its revival, through both his own writings and the publications of the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs, of which he was Editorial Director for more than 30 years.
The Virtues of Capitalism lays the foundation of his views and theories of capitalism and its alternatives. The first part, Corrigible Capitalism; Incorrigible Socialism, was first published in 1980. It explains why, Seldon believes, “private enterprise is imperfect but redeemable,” but the “state economy promises the earth, and ends in coercion to conceal its incurable failure.”
Volume 6 of The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon examines the failure of state-supported welfare programs to benefit the people most in need of help. The eight articles and one book in this volume encompass almost forty years of criticism of the welfare state.