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Book Review: The Lonely Libertarian by Ron Manners

The Austrian émigré economist Friedrich Hayek didn’t much like the label “libertarian”, which he considered a “singularly unattractive” Americanism. He preferred to call himself “an unrepentant Old Whig—with the stress on the ‘old’”. Old or young, he certainly was not lonely. When he founded the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947, he and his comrades (well, associates) numbered thirty-nine of the world’s most prominent intellectuals. Then again, there were no women invited to that first meeting in Switzerland, so perhaps the Old Whigs were lonely after all.

If there’s one message about Ron Manners that comes through loud and clear in his second memoir, The Lonely Libertarian, it’s that he’s rarely alone. The very cover of the book depicts him surrounded by twenty-four young Mannkal Scholars, participants in the flagship educational exchange program of the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, set up by Manners in 1997. Mannkal is a portmanteau of Manners and his hometown of Kalgoorlie, though the foundation is sensibly headquartered in Perth.

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“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time; but there is the broad feeling in our country that the people should rule, continuously rule, and that public opinion, expressed by all constitutional means, should shape, guide, and control the actions of Ministers who are their servants and not their masters.”

— Winston Churchill, in Parliament, 1947