Mont Pelerin Society
Mont Pelerin Society Abbreviation MPS Formation 1947 Type Economic policy think tank Headquarters Switzerland President Kenneth Minogue Website www.montpelerin.org
The Mont Pelerin Society is an international organization composed of economists (including 8 winners of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences), philosophers, historians, intellectuals, business leaders, and others who favour classical liberalism. Its founders included Friedrich Hayek, Karl Popper, Ludwig von Mises, George Stigler, and Milton Friedman.
In its "Statement of Aims", April 8, 1947, the scholars were worried about the dangers faced by civilization. "Over large stretches of the Earth’s surface the essential conditions of human dignity and freedom have already disappeared. - - The position of the individual and the voluntary group are progressively undermined by extensions of arbitrary power. Even that most precious possession of Western Man, freedom of thought and expression, is threatened by the spread of creeds which, claiming the privilege of tolerance when in the position of a minority, seek only to establish a position of power in which they can suppress and obliterate all views but their own."
The group also stated that it is "difficult to imagine a society in which freedom may be effectively preserved" without the "diffused power and initiative" associated with "private property and the competitive market", and found it desirable inter alia to study the following matters:
- "The analysis and exploration of the nature of the present crisis so as to bring home to others its essential moral and economic origins.
- The redefinition of the functions of the state so as to distinguish more clearly between the totalitarian and the liberal order.
- Methods of re-establishing the rule of law and of assuring its development in such manner that individuals and groups are not in a position to encroach upon the freedom of others and private rights are not allowed to become a basis of predatory power.
- The possibility of establishing minimum standards by means not inimical to initiative and functioning of the market.
- Methods of combating the misuse of history for the furtherance of creeds hostile to liberty.
- The problem of the creation of an international order conducive to the safeguarding of peace and liberty and permitting the establishment of harmonious international economic relations."
The group "seeks to establish no meticulous and hampering orthodoxy", "conduct propaganda" or align with some party. It aims to facilitate "the exchange of views - - to contribute to the preservation and improvement of the free society.
The Mont Pelerin Society was created on 10 April 1947 at a conference organized by Friedrich Hayek (Friedrich August von Hayek). Originally, it was to be named the Acton-Tocqueville Society. After Frank Knight protested against naming the group after two “Roman Catholic aristocrats” and Ludwig von Mises expressed concern that the mistakes made by Acton and Tocqueville would be connected with the society, the name of the Swiss resort where it convened was used instead.
In 1947, 39 scholars, mostly economists, with some historians and philosophers, were invited by Professor Friedrich Hayek to meet to discuss the state, and possible fate of classical liberalism and to combat the “state ascendancy and Marxist or Keynesian planning [that was] sweeping the globe”. The first meeting took place in the Hotel du Parc in the Swiss village of Mont Pelerin (Mont Pèle-rin), near the city of Montreux, Switzerland. In his "Opening Address to a Conference at Mont Pelerin" Hayek mentioned "two men with whom I had most fully discussed the plan for this meeting both have not lived to see its realisation": Henry Simons (who trained Milton Friedman, a future president of the society, at the University of Chicago) and Sir John Clapham, a senior official of the Bank of England who from 1940–6 was the president of the British Royal Society.
The resulting Mont Pelerin Society aimed to “facilitate an exchange of ideas between like-minded scholars in the hope of strengthening the principles and practice of a free society and to study the workings, virtues, and defects of market-oriented economic systems.”
The Society has continued to meet on a regular basis, the General Meeting every two years and the regional meetings annually. The current president of the Society is Kenneth Minogue.
It has close ties to the network of think tanks sponsored in part by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.
Hayek stressed that the society was to be a scholarly community arguing against collectivism, while not engaging in public relations or propaganda. However, the society has always been a focal point for an international think-tank movement; Hayek himself used it as a forum to encourage members such as Antony Fisher to pursue the think-tank route. Fisher went on to establish the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in London during 1955, the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., during 1973, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in New York City during 1977 and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in 1981. In turn the Atlas Foundation supports a wide network of think-tanks, including the Fraser Institute.
Prominent MPS members who have advanced to policy positions include Chancellor Ludwig Erhard of West Germany, President Luigi Einaudi of Italy, Chairman Arthur F. Burns of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe of Sri Lanka, Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe of the U.K., Italian Minister of Defence Antonio Martino, Chilean Finance Minister Carlos Cáceres, New Zealand Finance Minister Ruth Richardson and President Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic. Of 76 economic advisers on Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign staff, 22 were MPS members.
Several leading journalists, including Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Walter Lippmann, former radical Max Eastman (then roving editor at Reader’s Digest), John Chamberlain (former editorial writer for Life magazine), Henry Hazlitt (former financial editor of The New York Times and columnist for Newsweek), and Felix Morley (Pulitzer Prize-winning editor at The Washington Post), have also been members.
- F. A. von Hayek U.K., 1947-61
- Wilhelm Ropke Switzerland, 1961-62
- John Jewkes U.K., 1962-64
- Friedrich Lutz Germany, 1964-67
- Bruno Leoni Italy, 1967-68
- Günter Schmölders Germany, 1968-70
- Milton Friedman U.S., 1970-72
- Arthur Shenfield U.K., 1972-74
- Gaston Leduc France, 1974-76
- George Stigler U.S., 1976-78
- Manuel Ayau Guatemala, 1978-80
- Chiaki Nishiyama Japan, 1980-82
- Lord Harris of High Cross U.K., 1982-84
- James M. Buchanan U.S., 1984-86
- Herbert Giersch Germany, 1986-88
- Antonio Martino Italy, 1988-90
- Gary Becker U.S., 1990-92
- Max Hartwell U.K., 1992-94
- Pascal Salin France, 1994-96
- Edwin J. Feulner U.S., 1996-98
- Ramon P. Diaz Uruguay, 1998-00
- Christian Watrin Germany, 2000-02
- Leonard P. Liggio U.S., 2002-04
- Victoria Curzon-Price Switzerland, 2004-06
- Greg Lindsay Australia, 2006-08
- Deepak Lal United States, 2008-2010
- Kenneth Minogue New Zealand, 2010-2012
The original participants were
- Maurice Allais, French physicist and economist
- Carlo Antoni
- Hans Barth
- Karl Brandt, German-American agricultural economist
- Götz Briefs German economist
- Herbert Cornuelle
- John Davenport
- Stanley Dennison, British economist
- Aaron Director, professor at the University of Chicago Law School
- Walter Eucken, German economist, father of Ordoliberalism
- Erick Eyck,
- Milton Friedman, American economist
- Harry Gideonse, Dutch-American economist, President, Brooklyn College
- Frank Graham,
- Friedrich Hayek, Austrian economist
- Henry Hazlitt, libertarian philosopher, economist and journalist
- F. A. Harper
- Trygve Hoff, Norwegian economist and journalist
- Albert Hunold
- Carl Iversen, Danish economist
- John Jewkes, British economist
- Filip Jolevski
- Bertrand de Jouvenel, French philosopher and political economist
- Frank Knight, Chicago school economist
- Fritz Machlup, Austrian-American economist
- Salvador de Madariaga, Spanish diplomat and writer
- Henri de Lovinfosse,
- Loren Miller, civic reformer and libertarian activist
- Ludwig von Mises, Austrian economist
- Jose Isidro Morante
- Felix Morley
- Michael Polanyi, Hungarian/British chemist, economist and philosopher of science
- Karl Popper, Austrian/British philosopher
- William Rappard, academic and diplomat
- Leonard Read, founder, Foundation for Economic Education
- George Révay
- Lionel Robbins, British economist
- Wilhelm Röpke, social market economist
- George Joseph Stigler, U.S. economist
- Herbert Tingsten, Swedish political scientist and journalist
- François Trevoux
- Orval Watts
- Cicely Wedgwood
Board of Directors 2008-2010
- Deepak Lal, President (USA/UK)
- Greg Lindsay, Senior Vice President (Australia)
- Carl-Johan Westholm, Secretary (Sweden)
- Edwin J. Feulner, Treasurer (USA)
- Victoria Curzon-Price, Vice President (Switzerland)
- Eamonn Butler, Vice President (UK)
- Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, Vice President (Denmark)
- Michael Zoeller, Vice President (Germany)
- Veselin Vukotic, Director (Montenegro)
- Giancarlo Ibárgüen, Director (Guatemala)
- Suri Ratnapala, Director (Australia)
- Linda Whetstone, Director (UK)
- Enrique Ghersi, Director (Peru)
- J.R. Clark, Vice President(USA)
- Hiromitsu Ishi, Director (Japan)
- This article uses content from the SourceWatch article on Mont Pelerin Society under the terms of the GFDL.
- R. M. Hartwell (1995), History of the Mont Pèlerin Society (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund)
- Mont Pelerin Society, the official site
- Marc Haegeman, The general meeting files of the Mont Pèlerin Society (1947-1998). 108pp pdf.
- William H. Peterson, A History of the Mont Pelerin Society by R. M. Hartwell (book review), The Freeman, Foundation for Economic Education, July 1996.
- Greg Kaza, The Mont Pelerin Society’s 50th Anniversary, The Freeman, Foundation for Economic Education, June 1997.
- The Mont Pelerin Society records at the Hoover Institution Archives.
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