Richard Cockett teaches history at a state-funded university in London, England. He supplements his taxpayer-provided salary by writing books such as this one - "Thinking the Unthinkable: Think Tanks and Economic Counter-Revolution, 1931-1983". However, the research for this book was also funded by taxpayers in the form of a Research Fellowship through the British Academy. He has shown continued and consistent success in reaping handouts from the State, gotten by confiscating the wealth of tax victims and redistributing it amongst others. That said, he has compiled a nearly exhaustive history of free-market think tanks and their usurpation by conservatives and Tories to camouflage their advancing of anti-capitalist corporatism. This is a very informative, well-researched, and necessary book to anyone who doesn't know what is happening.
After Antony Fisher died in 1988, percipient observers realized that this founder of Buxted Chickens (England's first factory chicken farm) was also the mainspring to the revival of free market ideas in Britain. These ideas, honed by the Mont Pelerin Society and evangelized by Fisher, gave the conservatives and Tories the cannon fodder that their propaganda guns shot at the British public in their successful attempts to replace British Keynesian-style socialism with a new corporatism - an anti-capitalist economic fascism that is kept hidden and camouflaged by their rhetoric of the free market. Hence, an interesting history of propaganda and disinformation in need of being fleshed-out and written.
Cockett is to be commended for fleshing out what he was able to flesh out. There is simply nothing comparable to his history of the rise of free-market think tanks and the usurpation of their rhetoric by conservatives and Tories. Cockett's book contains 394 pages that are nicely divided into 8 chapters preceded by a List of Illustrations, Acknowledgements, and an Introduction. These 8 chapters are then followed by an Epilogue, Appendices, Reference Notes, Sources, Bibliography, and an Index. The 8 chapters are 1) Keyenes and the Crisis of Liberalism, 1931-1939; 2) The Beveridge Report and `The Road to Serfdom'; 3) The Mont Pelerin Society; 4) The Vision of a Chicken-Farmer: The Institute of Economic Affairs; 5) `A Confounded Nuisance' - The IEA at Work; 6) The Failure of Edward Heath's Government and the Founding of the Centre for Policy Studies; 7) `The Heroic Age' I: The Years of Opposition, 1974-1979; and 8) `The Heroic Age' II: The Years of Government, 1979-1983.
In his index, one will find conservative and libertarian organizations listed (along with a rare error) such as the Adam Smith Institute, American Enterprise Institute, the Austrian Institue for Economic Research, the `Chicago School' of economics, the Foundation of Economic Education, George Mason University, the Heritage Foundation, the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Institute of Humane Studies[sic] instead of the correct name Institute for Humane Studies, the Libertarian Alliance, `Readers Digest', and Saint Andrews University in Scotland. Individuals who were major players are also listed (along with a rare error again) such as Lord Acton, John Blundell, Eugen von Boehm-Bawerk, Eamonn Butler, John Casey, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Disraeli, Milton Friedman, Sir James Goldsmith, Friedrich von Hayek, Henry Hazlitt, Ronald Reagan, Lionel Robbins, Wilheml Roepke, Murray Rothbard [incorrectly listed as page 187 rather than page 189], Arthur Seldon, and Margaret Thatcher. Missing from the Index are important players such as political scientist Nigel Ashford formerly of Stafforshire University, notorious state terrorist William Casey and his U.S. publishing house, historian Stephen Davies of Manchester Metropolitan University, and economist Ludwig von Mises.
Some of the juicy morsels that await the reader in this riveting history include "In what was then a comparatively novel intellectual formulation, anticipating George Orwell by almost a decade, Lippmann identified . . . Fascism and Communism, as . . . the same collectivist impulse"(p10) and "As Rougier and Lippmann had in Paris in 1938, Greenleaf identifies the two great currents of the British political tradition as the opposing ideological positions of `libertarianism' and `collectivism'(p13).
Cockett exposes Hayek as the British secret weapon who would promote a government-generated competitive business cycle (aka `corporatism'), which would benefit corporations at the expense of individuals, stating "This, of course, was very different from a state of `laissez-faire'"(p113).
Cockett also exposes `privatisation', or `privatization' as the Americans spell it, as `corporatisation' or `corporatization'. Although he doesn't discuss the corporation as a creation of the state or that the corporation behaves as inefficiently and as bureaucratic as it parent because it is the child of the state, he does see that it is simply restructuring without markets - thus no laissez-faire. In the conservative attack on the `welfare state' and unions, corporate welfare and the role of corporations as artificial persons in law were ignored. As long as corporations were behaving like Roman generals in a neo-Roman state, individuals who did not band together into a comparably sized army in the form of a labor union were left disadvantaged and unprotected from the whims of anti-capitalist corporations. Cockett laments "As it was, [the false rhetoric of] economic liberalism as applied in the 1980s effectively wiped out a large part of Britain's manufacturing industry and, at the end of decade of economic experiment and dislocation, left as many unemployed as there were in the 1930s"(p330).
Today with the Blair-n-Bush Gang waging World War III in Afghanistan and Iraq like Hitler's Nazis did in Czechoslovakia and Poland, Britain and America are mired in what Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas has described as a "soft Fascism" complete with secret prisons and blatant disregard for law or human rights. History tells that as we travel down the slippery slope of Nazi Germany, WW III will expand to include other countries until somebody BIG who cares about human rights decides to counter the fascists who have hijacked our once democratic nations. Already Israel is behaving like Mussolini when he attacked Ethiopia with the Israeli invasion of Lubnaan (Lebanon). How did we come to this? Britain and America behaving like Nazi Germany, and Israel teaming up with the Nazis like Mussolini did with Hitler? How did Hitler's faults take revenge on the Allies? Read Cockett's book - before it's banned and disappears down the memory hole.