Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Road To Fake Think Tank-dom

BBC's Adam Curtis delves into the somewhat improbable history of the early think tanks created to promote pre-determined conclusions.
The Think Tank that Antony Fisher set up was very different. It had no interest in thinking up new ideas because it already knew the "truth". It already had all the ideas it needed laid out in Professor Hayek's books. Its aim instead was to influence public opinion - through promoting those ideas.
It was a big shift away from the RAND model - you gave up being the manufacturing dept for ideas and instead became the sales and promotion dept for what Hayek had bluntly called "second-hand ideas".
To do this Fisher and Smedley knew they had to disguise what they were really up to. In 1955 Smedley wrote to Fisher - telling him bluntly that the new Institute had to be "cagey" about what its real function was. It should pretend to be non-political and neutral, but in reality they both knew that would be a front.
Curtis' ultimate (and debatable) point is that think tanks don't come up with new or different ways to organize society and solve its problems. Instead, they act as PR institutions to reinforce some variation of Friederich Hayek's managed, technocratic free market theories.

...My point is that starting a pirate radio station dedicated to Hayek's views is a really weird PR strategy.

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