Since its inception in 1986, the Independent Institute has become well-respected in the worlds of academia, policy research, and public debate for its commitment to nonpoliticized scholarly excellence. Our program has enjoyed the benefits of working with many superb scholars, producing highly acclaimed books and other studies offering seminal insights into the workings of the political economy. However, the Institute has lacked a means to carry on a regular dialogue with the many people seriously interested in an informed public debate and the scholarship that must undergird such debate. With the publication of The Independent Review, we seek to fill that void.
In recent decades, the established sanctity of statecraft in general, and political institutions in particular, has increasingly been met with skepticism, cynicism, and distaste. Since the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War, politics has taken an increasingly anti-political turn with subsequent elections producing a more impatient electorate determined to throw the rascals out. Among academics, many of the shibboleths that long dominated economics, history, political science, philosophy and law and too often served to justify the regality of government programs in the twentieth century have been either abandoned or come to be viewed with suspicion.
American political culture no longer simply concurs with the powers or policies that have prevailed. What is liberal or conservative is no longer so clear, and new paradigms are beginning to appear on the horizon. Of course, in this new era of rethinking, bouts of confusion, apprehension, and conflict must be expected. Those who have benefited from existing policies, and the discredited ideas on which they have been based, will no doubt disparage the independent thinkers who now challenge the modern Leviathan state and seek to restore the vitality of civil society. At the same time, maverick thinkers may simply echo Luddite or other fallacies hostile to honest intellectual endeavor, individual liberty, and the rule of law, convinced that they have discovered the hidden path to Shangri-La.
The Independent Review, is a vehicle for independent scholarship produced by independent minds. In tracing the dynamics of political economy and, yes, challenging government failures, we remain ever mindful of the intellectual and cultural heritage of mankind. We seek not to fashion some sort of new view but, instead, to honor the lessons of history while restoring independent inquiry to center stage as the essential activity for enhancing our understanding of society, past, present and future.
For the first seventeen years, under the superb editorship of Robert Higgs and the outstanding scholars who serve on the editorial and advisory boards, The Independent Review has truly pioneered many important debates. In 2013, Dr. Higgs handed off editorial tasks to an new trio of excellent scholars who are serving as Co-Editors, Christopher J. Coyne, Michael C. Munger, and Robert M. Whaples. In the process, Dr. Whaples has also become Managing Editor and Dr. Higgs now serves as Editor at Large and continues his very popular “Etceteras” column in each issue.
David J. Theroux
Founder and President
The Independent Institute