Never underestimate the influence of intellectuals, because the theories they are promoting today will be the basis of tomorrow's political programmes. This was the warning which Friedrich Hayek, the great architect of the 20th-century revival of classical liberal ideas, issued in 1949 with this essay. Hayek described intellectuals as 'professional second-hand dealers in ideas', people who are in a position to become familiar with new ideas and to promote them through their writings and speeches.
He believed the importance of this class had been ignoted by supporters of the free market, with serious consequences. For example, socialism had never, and nowhere, been at first a working-class movement. It adoption by policy makers had been preceded by a long period in which it had been of interest only to intellectuals, who had promoted it relentlessly.
Hayek believe that the classical liberal ideal of liberty and free markets had lost its appeal for young, intelligent people: the challenge was to 'make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure'. Hayek ended the essay by asking: 'Will it be in time?' A foreword by Edwin J. Feulner, President of the Heritage Foundation, and an introduction by John Blundell, General Director of the IEA, testify to the impact of this essay, together with Hayek's other writings, in stimulating the backlash against socialism through the many institutes founded by those who were won over to classical liberal ideas - just in time.