model of influencing politics. He identified neither with conservatives nor with the bourgeois but rather withthe entrepreneur and the common man who just opened his business. In contrast to Hayek’s top-downapproach, he moved throughout the spectrum of players: he went beyond academic circles, writing forNewsweek and interviewing with Playboy magazine. Hence he broadened the reach and discussion of hisphilosophy.The final section of the book recounts Friedman’s intellectual rise and his increasingly active role in politics-advising Barry Goldwater in 1964 and then, more famously, Ronald Reagan. He was the “leader” of the free-market movement in the 70’s and 80’s. During this time Friedman and his Chicago colleagues made the mostprofound intellectual attacks on the dominant Keynesian orthodoxy; Mr. Burgin’s description of Friedman’smaneuverings in those years is careful, precise and fascinating.In conclusion the book is an exceptionally well-written, semi-academic endeavor that tells the evolution of anintellectual institution and the repercussions it had in the practical public policy world. It encompasses varioussubjects ranging from economic methodology in American politics, but yet it is simultaneously quite succinct(226 pages of text), while still profoundly covering much of what it aims to achieve. Burgin offers a book thatdives deeply and skillfully into the world of think-tanks and intellectual organizations that are entangled in thebattle of ideas. He sketches complex interrelationships between ideas, politics, business, foundations andacademic centers. He provides meaningful insights into how ideas cross-fertilize among fields of research andhow ideas evolve as generations pass and social conditions are altered. While telling the evolution andmaturation of these ideas alongside MPS society, Burgin proposes intellectual biographies of MPS’s keymembers- ranging from the critical role of the society’s early administrator Albert Hunold to personalities such asKarl Popper, Michael Polanyi and George Stigler.
The book teaches us about the shared belief by Keynes and Hayek that ideas matter- often quite a lot and thattiming and social context are crucial for their success. Ideas need successful political long-term projectmanagement since they remain a long time in underground lives only to burst out later into common viewsunder the right conditions and the proper leverage of the ‘already-built’ international network sharing thatvision. Mr. Burgin concludes with an open ending: which vision of the world will endure? Which ideas will shapethe economic and political decision of our post-financial crisis era? Will a new Hayek or Keynes challenge thepopular wisdom and current consensus? Will this start a whole new process of paradigm-building? The answerswill depend on how successfully these future organizations and institutions can leverage networks of intellectualcommunities, how well they will engage in the discussion with the public and civic media, and finally howsuccessfully their academics and “second-hand” dealers of ideas will be at articulating their next persuasion.
“I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or latter, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil”.
John Maynard Keynes