Looking through Madsen's "Think Tank – the story of the Adam Smith Institute," the one achievement that stands out is the seismic shift it helped to make in popular thinking. Starting out in a world dominated by the postwar consensus, the leftist assumption that only the state could run an economy, the ASI played a leading role in shifting that over to a belief in enterprise and private initiative.
How was it done? It was done by a mixture of policy and populism. Armed with a self-confident narrative, they took every opportunity to push for radical, free-market policies, while at the same time propounding those ideas through every outlet available. They wrote articles in the Mail, the Sun and the Sunday Post, as well as in the more highbrow journals. They regularly appeared on popular radio and TV shows. The fact that this was done with minimal resources makes the story all the more compelling.
The book has the effect of making the reader more determined to oppose the banker-bashing anti-achievement culture that the left seems intent on peddling today. "Think Tank" shows how a belief in enterprise transformed national thinking, as well as the nation itself. It is a stirring lesson.