The recent passing of Arthur Seldon merits more than summary notice. Seldon was one of the leading libertarian voices in the 20th century. Though hardly known in the United States, he was a key intellectual inspiration for the Thatcherite revolution in Great Britain.
Margaret Thatcher herself wrote Seldon in 1996: “At a time when free enterprise and the free market were unfashionable you championed their cause, laying the foundations for their revival in the 1970s…. You always refused to accept Britain’s decline and through your visionary work and rigorous preparation, you inspired much of our success during the ’80s.”
Milton Friedman wrote Seldon the same year that he had “always been a very strong, very outspoken, very honest voice in the fight for human freedom. Your fellow fighters have benefited from your persistence and effectiveness.”
Seldon was the editorial director of the London-based Institute for Economic Affairs for three decades, from the late 1950s to the mid-1980s. In this position/he published hundreds of articles, pamphlets, and books that helped to move Britain intellectually from a socialist to a capitalist view. Friedrich Hayek said of the Institute of Economic Affairs that, as a result of Seldon’s work, it became “the most powerful maker of opinion in England.”
Seldon died in England in October 2005. He was 89.