Sir James was an advocate for a free market where competition could fuel efficient and innovative management, and entrepreneurship and small businesses could be allowed to thrive. He was passionate about the deadening effect of bureaucracy, and the ossification and losses that could occur when institutions were protected or ‘enshrined’. In his view, Britain had declined both socially and economically due to a class-based society that restricted opportunities for entrepreneurship, and was creating a dangerous ‘welfare state’ that could not be sustained due to its ‘unbearable’ economic costs and social consequences.
“You cannot have a community which protects everybody. Struggle is what we’re built for. You can kill everyone, every animal, by totally protecting them. The secret of a successful community is to be able to align the results achieved by those making money to the interests of the community at whole.” – The Thoughts of Sir James Goldsmith (Article from May 1987)
During his Lubbock lecture at Oxford University in 1974, Sir James was highly critical of Britain’s pervasive attitude of ‘muddling through’. He warned the financial system was in danger of collapse, and British democracy itself was under threat:
“The epitaph on the grave of our democracy would be: ‘They sacrificed the long-term for the short-term, and the long-term arrived”
Instead, he believed in harnessing the energy released from the class system’s destruction, calling for a meritocracy where anyone with ability, from whatever class, should be allowed to rise to the top.
“My views can be summed up as having believed that the best way to freedom and prosperity is competitive free enterprise within a meritocratic society; that national solidarity should take the form of a safety net for those who desperately need it and not a suffocating blanket for all; that the dominant geopolitical problem is the imperial and totalitarian ambition of the Soviet Union and that this can only be controlled through strength and even intransigence.” – Introduction to Counter Culture Volume One [provide link]]
“In Britain, freedom is severely impaired by the class system. At the top sits the old aristocracy and upper class which is now decadent. It served the country well for a very long time. Below comes the gentrified middle classes. Underneath is the repository of a great deal of vigour. Unfortunately it is trapped. Under such circumstances who can be surprised that the under class has become alienated and that its vigour, instead of serving the community, is in conflict with it.” – Introduction to Counter Culture Volume one (link)
Many of Sir James’s views on market freedom were also reflected in his belief that takeovers and competition were good for the economy and for businesses.