In the 2017 Keith Joseph Lecture, to be delivered to the Centre for Policy Studies on Tuesday evening 11 July 2017, Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist and The Evolution of Everything, will argue for what he calls “free-market anticapitalism”.
Lord Ridley will make the case that commerce is a subversive, not a reactionary force in the world, an “egalitarian, liberal, disruptive, distributed and co-operative” concept and “the most radical and liberating idea ever conceived: that people should be free to exchange goods and services with each other as they please, and thereby work for each other to improve each other’s lives.”
He will say that the essence of a free commercial society is that people become more prosperous by working for each other and that networks of exchange and specialization create cooperation, collaboration and community, indeed common interest and common good, on an epic scale.
He will urge champions of free enterprise to “distinguish between free markets serving consumers, on the one hand, and crony capitalism addicted to corporate welfare on the other”.
He will go on to make the case that experiments, game theory models, historical data and the geography of war all support the proposition that voluntary exchange makes people nicer, not nastier, but that far too much modern business is dependent on government favours, insulating it from consumer preferences and from the disruptive effects of markets:
“Energy companies, airlines and car makers, farms and charities, to name the most prominent examples, may be ostensibly private, but are directly dependent on favours from government to bring subsidies, enforce regulations that raise barriers to entry for their competitors, and allow cartels that fix prices.”
The supporters of free markets must make clear that they oppose crony capitalism as much as they oppose state socialism.
NOTES TO EDITORS