The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) is pleased to announce the recipient of its first “Blinking Lights” Award: Linda Whetstone of Sussex, England. The award was presented to Whetstone by FEE president Lawrence Reed on May 12, 2014 in London as part of FEE’s Blinking Lights Project that highlights and emphasizes the vital link between personal character and a free society.
Whetstone is Chairman of the Network for a Free Society and is a trustee of the Institute of Economic Affairs, both in London. She is a long-time member (and past board member and vice president) of the Mont Pelerin Society. She serves also on the board of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. She is the daughter of the late Sir Antony Fisher, the founder of both IEA and Atlas. In her spare time, she is active in the competitive equestrian sport of dressage, for which she is Britain’s Director of Judges. She and her husband Francis live in a 17th Century manor house south of London.
“Linda has worked for the worldwide spread of liberty ideas for more than half a century—tirelessly, effectively and almost always quietly behind the scenes,” said Reed in making the announcement. “She’s a pillar of integrity with the tenacity of a British bulldog. Hundreds of activists for liberty in dozens of countries have been beneficiaries of her wisdom and encouragement. Tens of thousands of people around the world have read their first book or essay about liberty because Linda had something to do with getting it in their hands.”
Whetstone developed a CD called “Ideas for a Free Society” to provide access to classic articles and texts that are not accessible in many countries either in the universities or via the web because of copyright issues and lack of high speed connections. Over 100,000 copies of these have been distributed in about 60 countries and work is now taking place on the production of the CD’s 3rd edition. Aside from English, versions of the CD exist in Portuguese, Turkish, Russian and Chinese. French and Arabic versions are being created in 2014. Even in remote Kyrgyzstan, Linda’s CD is being distributed and put to good use!
To read more about the distribution of these CDs and the other work of the Network for a Free Society, visit the organization’s web site or Facebook page.
Bardia Garshasbi of Iran, who now lives in England and works with Linda at the Network for a Free Society, says her passion can be understood best in the context of a 1945 conversation between her father, Sir Antony Fisher, and Austrian economist (and 1974 Nobel laureate) F. A. Hayek, as related by John Blundell in his book, “Waging the War of Ideas.” Fisher was seeking Hayek’s advice about the best way to influence the climate of opinion in society so it would be more favorable to liberty.
“What can I do? Should I enter politics?” he asked. Hayek replied, “Society’s course will be changed only by a change in ideas. First you must reach the intellectuals, the teachers and writers, with reasoned argument. It will be their influence on society which will prevail, and the politicians will follow.” Garshasbi says, “I think Linda Whetstone’s entire life is defined by the advice Hayek gave to her father. In fact, she has tried to live Hayek’s advice every single day.”
The farm owned by Linda and Francis is the focus of many long hours of hard work. It’s the income from it that allows Linda to carve out what seems to many a second full-time job promoting liberty. John Blundell, director general of the IEA from 1993 to 2009, notes, “Every coin has two sides and the obverse of liberty is hard work and personal responsibility. We cannot enjoy the former without fully and totally embracing the latter. Linda is a most worthy recipient of an award that recognizes that hard work, personal responsibility and individual liberty all go together.”
Linda’s work honors the immeasurable contributions to liberty of her father before her. On the Atlas web site, a short biography of Sir Antony can be found here, including a link to a book about his life.
“FEE recognizes in Linda Whetstone a woman whose light blinks for liberty as strongly today as it did decades ago,” said Reed. “She sets a very high bar for future recipients of this award.”
From all of us at FEE, congratulations Linda Whetstone!