Antony Fisher

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For other people named Anthony Fisher, see Anthony Fisher (disambiguation).
Antony Fisher
Born 28 June 1915
Died 8 July 1988
Nationality British
Education Eton College
Occupation Businessman
Children Linda Whetstone
Relatives Rachel Whetstone (granddaughter)

Sir Antony Fisher (1915–1988) was a British businessman and philanthropist. He participated in the formation of various libertarian organisations during the second half of the twentieth century, including the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Atlas Network. Through Atlas, he helped establish up to 150 other institutions worldwide.


Early life[edit]

Antony Fisher was born on 28 June 1915. He was only two years old when his father was killed by a sniper in Gaza during World War One.[1]

He was educated at Eton College.

Younger adult life[edit]

During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Air Force alongside his younger brother, who was killed in the Battle of Britain. These events profoundly affected him and he dedicated his life to what he saw as the fight against totalitarianism.[2]

After World War II, he was alarmed by the election of a Labour government, the nationalisation of industry, and the introduction of central economic planning.[1] In 1945 Fisher had read Road to Serfdom by Austrian economist F. A. Hayek which influenced his thinking.[2] Fisher sought out Hayek at the London School of Economics where he taught and talked about his plans to go into politics. Hayek, however, convinced him that think-tanks were the best medium for effecting political change.[2]

In 1952, he undertook a study trip to the United States, where he visited the new Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). F. A. Harper of the FEE introduced Fisher to former colleagues from the Agriculture Department of Cornell University, who showed him intensive chicken farming techniques with which Fisher was very impressed.[2] He returned home to start England's first battery cage chicken farm, Buxted Chickens, which eventually made him a millionaire.

He used his fortune to set up the influential Institute of Economic Affairs with Ralph Harris in 1955.

Later years[edit]

Some of Fisher's other business ventures did not succeed (including a turtle-farming operation).

In 1971 Fisher founded the International Institute for Economic Research, which went to spawn both the Atlas Network in 1981 and the International Policy Network in 2001. Through these operations, Fisher provided financial and operational support for a huge number of fledgling think-tanks, most of which would not exist without his influence. It was through the Atlas Network that Fisher was able to extend his beliefs worldwide. By 1984, Fisher was watching over eighteen institutions in eleven countries. [1] Today, Atlas supports and works with around 400 free-market think-tanks in over 90 different countries.

In his book Thinking the unthinkable, Richard Cockett sketched Fisher's role in supporting other emerging think-tanks around the world. Cockett wrote, "On the strength of his reputation with the IEA, he was invited in 1975 to become co-director of the Fraser Institute in Vancouver, founded by the Canadian businessman T. Patrick Boyle in 1974. Fisher let the young director of the Fraser Institute, Dr Michael Walker, get on with the intellectual output of the Institute (just as he had given free rein to Seldon and Harris at the IEA) while he himself concentrated on the fund-raising side". Cockett explained that after his success at the Fraser Institute, Fisher went to New York where in 1977 he set up the International Center for Economic Policy Studies (ICEPS), later renamed the Manhattan Institute. "The incorporation documents for the ICEPS were signed by prominent attorney Bill Casey, later Director of the Central Intelligence Agency". Cockett comments that "under the directorship of William Hammett the Manhattan Institute became probably Fisher's greatest success after the IEA".

In 1977, Cockett wrote, Fisher moved to San Francisco "with his second wife Dorian, who he had met through the Mont Pelerin Society, and founded the Pacific Research Institute in 1979" and Fisher and Milton Friedman lived in the same apartment block in San Francisco during the 1980s. In the late 1970s, Fisher assisted Greg Lindsay in the development of the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney. Cockett wrote, "In 1981, to co-ordinate and establish a central focus for these institutes that Fisher found himself start up all over the world, he created the Atlas Economic Research Foundation which in 1987 joined up with the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) (founded by the Mont Pelerin member F. A. Harper in 1961) to provide a central institutional structure for what quickly became an ever-expanding number of international free-market think-tanks or research institutes". According to Cokett, "Fisher used the local and international gatherings of the Mont Pelerin Society to find personnel, fund-raisers and donors for many of the Atlas Institutes" as the international think-tanks proliferated.

He was knighted four weeks before his death.

Think tanks[edit]

The most prominent think tanks founded by Fisher include:

Through the Atlas Network, Fisher helped establish up to 150 other think-tanks worldwide.

Personal life[edit]

He was the father of Linda Whetstone, who has been involved with many of Fisher's think tanks, and the grandfather of Rachel Whetstone, formerly Political Secretary to Conservative leader Michael Howard, now global head of communications and public policy for Google, who is married to David Cameron's Director of Strategy Steve Hilton.


He died on 8 July 1988.


External links[edit]