Anti-liberalism 2000

David Henderson, former Head of the Economics and Statistics Department of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (1984-1992), presented the Thirtieth Wincott Lecture for London's Institute of Economic Affairs. Entitled "Anti-Liberalism 2000". Henderson's lecture argued that:

  • Economic liberalism declined for a century prior to the 1980s.

  • Many of the problems today blamed on the liberalisation of the 80s existed prior to that time and often liberalism was blamed for poor results in economic areas that were not liberalised.

  • In spite of some liberalisation many economic areas remained heavily controlled and regulated including education, health, social services, state financing and agriculture.

  • Large areas of the economic sphere have actually seen increased regulations and controls over the last few decades, including, the environment, occupational health and safety and employment,

  • In some areas where liberalisation has taken place it has been relatively recent such as international trade and energy policy.

    Henderson argues that the public often supports regulation because of widespread public acceptance of economic myths and fallacies that are very anti-liberal. Such views often attribute progress for workers and others to government regulations, thus condemning markets implicitly while explicitly praising state control. He contends that academics (particularly those outside the economics field), intellectuals such as journalists, and non-governmental organisations, are responsible for most anti-liberal propaganda.

    The anti-liberal coalition is held together by three fundamental but false views, according to Henderson: the idea of positive rights, a belief in "corporate responsibility" and the call for "sustainable development". He notes that no one, of course, supports corporate "irresponsibility" or non-sustainable development. Instead he argues that these terms are used to disguise various collectivist concepts.

    Source: David Henderson, Thirtieth Wincott Lecture Anti-Liberalism 2000, Institute of Economic Affairs, London.

    Henderson's lecture can be found in PDF format at:

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