Jacques Barzun is one of our most distinguished cultural historians. Born in 1907 in France, he emigrated to America at a young age and attended Columbia University, remaining there, as a student and then as a teacher, for the rest of his academic career. He is one of the most influential writers on liberal education in America, and his books include The House of Intellect, Teacher in America, The American University, and The Modern Researcher. As a cultural historian, he has written widely, including his recently published From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life. A prize-winning bestseller, the work is destined to become a classic in its field.
In 1986, James M. Buchanan was awarded the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Universally respected as one of the founders of the “public choice” school of economics, he is the author of numerous books and hundreds of articles in the areas of public finance, public choice, constitutional economics, and economic philosophy. He is best known for such works as The Calculus of Consent, The Limits of Liberty, The Power to Tax, and The Reason of Rules. Buchanan has devoted himself to the study of the contractual and constitutional basis for the theory of economic and political decision making. In part one of this conversation, Buchanan discusses the theory of public choice, his exchange theory of economics, and constitutional thought. In part two, the conversation turns to such topics as the work ethic, the logic of free markets, subjectivism, anarchy, federalism, the Nobel Prize in Economics, and Buchanan’s personal experiences and philosophy.
John Hospers is Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at the University of Southern California and author of such important philosophical texts as: Meaning and Truth in the Arts, Human Conduct, and An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis. His numerous philosophical essays are well known for their clear and careful style. As editor of The Personalist, John Hospers opened the pages of that highly respected philosophy journal to a generation of young thinkers interested in basic questions of liberty. He also authored a now classic statement on behalf of liberty in his work Libertarianism. In 1972, John Hospers served as the first Libertarian Party candidate for president. He has served from then until now as a reference point and inspiration for scholars interested in basic questions of liberty.
Trained in both economics and law, Ljubo Sirc combines the perspective of a scholar with his firsthand observations of the dangers of communist regimes. Born in Kranj, Slovenia, he participated in the Resistance and served in the Yugoslav Army between 1941 and 1945. In 1947, due to his political opposition and friendship with Western diplomats, he was sentenced to death. His sentence was ultimately commuted to twenty years in prison, of which he served seven, much of it in solitary confinement. In his various teaching posts since then, including twenty years at the University of Glasgow, Sirc has been a leading expert on socialist economics and communist regimes. Since 1983, he has served as Director of the Centre for Research into Post-Communist Economies in London. He is the author of numerous books and articles in a variety of languages. His autobiography, Between Hitler and Tito, was published in 1989.
Lord Peter Thomas Bauer has been one of the twentieth century’s leading thinkers on the relationship between free trade and the economics of developing countries. Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1915, he emigrated to the United Kingdom to study at Cambridge in the 1930s. Through more than forty years of prolific writing, he presented a new view of the role of government intervention in the development of so-called “third world” economies, demonstrating that private entrepreneurs were more likely to be engines of development and that Western aid was often more likely to perpetuate poor government policies and corruption. Lord Bauer taught at the London School of Economics from 1960 through 1983. In 1983, he became a life peer in the House of Lords in recognition of his distinguished service.
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.”
M. Stanton Evans is the former editor of The Indianapolis News and founding director of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C. The Journalism Center is dedicated to teaching young journalists not only the technical skills of their trade but also a deep understanding of the issues they will be covering. More than 1,300 young journalists have trained at the center and have gone on to jobs at all the major news channels, magazines, and newspapers across the country. Evans has been a columnist for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and a commentator for CBS radio-TV, NPR, and the Voice of America. He is the author of seven books, the latest entitled The Theme Is Freedom.
Manuel Ayau is the founder and former rector and teacher of economics at Universidad Francisco Marroquin. Begun as an alternative to the prevailing statist views of higher education in Guatemala, Francisco Marroquin is now regarded as that country’s finest university. In addition to being a successful businessman, Ayau is a former Chairman of the Guatemala Stock Exchange, was a member of the Guatemala House of Representatives, and served as President of the Mont Pelerin Society.
Max Hartwell is among the twentieth century’s foremost historians of the Industrial Revolution. Born in New South Wales, Australia, he emigrated to England for his graduate training and taught in Nuffield College, at Oxford University, for many years. His research set in motion the continuing debate about the quality of life and standard of living for those who lived through the industrialization of the West, as well as the causes and explanations for that “great discontinuity.” In addition to being a prolific writer in economic history, Hartwell served as president of the Mont Pelerin Society and has written an important history of that influential body of thinkers.
Recipient of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Milton Friedman has long been recognized as one of our most important economic thinkers and a leader of the Chicago school of monetary economics. A senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution since 1977, he is also the Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Chicago, where he taught from 1946 to 1976. He is the author of many books and articles in economics, including A Theory of the Consumption Function; The Optimum Quantity of Money and Other Essays; A Monetary History of the United States (with A. J. Schwartz); Monetary Statistics of the United States; and Monetary Trends in the United States and the United Kingdom. Friedman has also written extensively on public policy, always with a primary emphasis on the preservation and extension of individual freedom. His most important books in this field are Capitalism and Freedom (with Rose D. Friedman, University of Chicago Press, 1962); Bright Promises, Dismal Performance (Thomas Horton and Daughters, 1983), which consists mostly of reprints of columns he wrote for Newsweek from 1966 to 1983; Free to Choose (with Rose D. Friedman, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980); and Tyranny of the Status Quo (with Rose D. Friedman, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984). Friedman was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988 and received the National Medal of Science the same year.
Paul W. McCracken’s influence on how we think about economic policy has reached from the academy to the popular press to the highest reaches of government. He served as a member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors under President Eisenhower and as its Chairman under President Nixon. He was also a member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board and was the author of a regular and influential column for the Wall Street Journal. He is Edmund Ezra Day Distinguished University Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1948.