Friday, May 27, 2005

"Investing in the Right Ideas"

At the WSJ, James Piereson did a wonderful article today about the flows of ideas and funding from foundations for conservative causes. It is a long article but details how a small investment in ideas created a tremendous stir in society. Pierson divides this level of funding into three phases - an early one where Hayek is predominant and a latter one with more conscious attention to morals rather than economics where ideas turned a bit less libertarian (Piereson calls this less utopian and theoretical) - thus the ideas ventured into areas like the humanities and religion.

What is striking about his analysis is that the relative investment by conservatives - from the early phases like the Liberty and Volker Funds to Anthony Fisher (in the UK) to the later period when foundations like Bradley and Olin and Scaife took over - is tiny when compared to the investments of the more liberal foundations.

This article should be read in conjunction with the recent one by Andrew Sullivan in the New Republic - which appeared in the May 2 issue and divides the conservatives into the politics of doubt and the politics of faith. I tend to think that Sullivan is a bit overly simple on his divisions - all dichotomies are false including this one - but when read with Piereson - you have a full set of the cross cuts in how conservatives got to where they are.

By the way, a plug for the New Republic online. It is well worth the less than $30 per year for a subscription - their emails of both the weekly edition and special articles come efficiently. While there is a lot that I do not agree with in TNR - there is also a lot of very good and interesting writing - you can subscibe to TNR at The New Republic Online Ditto for Commentary and their online subscription.

The original article can be found at the WSJ Investing in the Right Ideas
or in Commentary at Commentary

The Sullivan article can be seen at NEW REPUBLIC