John Blundell (1952 – 2014)
The freedom movement has lost one of its most influential institution builders. Atlas Network has lost a dear friend, its past President and Board Member. John Blundell died July 22, 2014.
John Blundell spent two decades as the General Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, the “grand-daddy” think tank to the Atlas Network and (in the estimation of Andrew Marr of the BBC) “undoubtedly the most influential think tank in modern British history.”
Prior to his service at the IEA, Blundell was President of the Charles G. Koch and Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundations, aiding in their evolution into some of the most active philanthropies for the advancement of libertarian ideas.
Earlier, Blundell led (simultaneously) the Institute for Humane Studies and the Atlas Network (then, Atlas Economic Research Foundation), organizations that served as catalysts to the creation of new generations of classical liberal academics and think tank entrepreneurs, respectively.
During the last decade, Blundell established himself as an accomplished historian. He followed his own Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of the Iron Lady (2008) with an edited collection, Remembering Margaret Thatcher: Commemorations, Tributes and Assessments (2013). He wrote Ladies For Liberty: Women Who Made a Difference in American History (2nd expanded edition 2013) to also showcase American women that contributed to individual freedom.
One of his greatest written contributions is a slender volume, Waging the War of Ideas (most recently published in 2007 in its third expanded edition), that has served as a primer for audiences around the world looking for cost-effective ways to affect social change in the direction of greater liberty.
He continued to play active roles with the Atlas Network, Institute for Humane Studies, Heritage Foundation and Mont Pelerin Society (after having organized its largest-ever meeting in London in 2002). He received honorary Ph.D. degrees from the University of Buckingham in the UK and Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala.
John was born on October 9, 1952, in Congleton, Cheshire. He was educated at the King’s School, Macclesfield, and at the London School of Economics.
John had a keen sense of how history moves, and the principles that will be vindicated over the long term. He celebrated bold leadership on behalf of those principles, and also the quiet behind-the-scenes work that often matters more than what’s most visible to a general audience.
John was a beloved figure – full of good cheer, dry wit, and a winking British formality – and a great and generous friend. He delighted in designing and giving elaborately thoughtful, one-of-a-kind gifts. John looked out for friends in need, while shying away from recognition himself. John is survived by his wife Christine and their two sons. He will be missed.