Mont Pelerin Society

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Mont Pelerin Society
Abbreviation MPS
Formation 1947; 67 years ago (1947)
Type Economic policy think tank
Headquarters Switzerland
President Deepak Lal
Budget Revenue: $136,740
Expenses: $138,748
(FYE March 2012)[1]
Website www.montpelerin.org

The Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) is an international organization composed of economists (including eight winners of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences), philosophers, historians, intellectuals, business leaders, and others committed to personal and political freedom.[2] Its founders included Friedrich Hayek, Karl Popper, Ludwig von Mises, George Stigler, and Milton Friedman.[2] The society advocates freedom of expression, free market economic policies, and the political values of an open society. Though its foundations and emphasis lie in classical liberalism, Marxist social theorist David Harvey credited MPS with spreading neoliberalism.[3]

Aims[edit]

In its "Statement of Aims", 8 April 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. In others they are under constant menace from the development of current tendencies of policy. 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[4]

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:[4]

  1. "The analysis and exploration of the nature of the present crisis so as to bring home to others its essential moral and economic origins.
  2. The redefinition of the functions of the state so as to distinguish more clearly between the totalitarian and the liberal order.
  3. 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.
  4. The possibility of establishing minimum standards by means not inimical to initiative and functioning of the market.
  5. Methods of combating the misuse of history for the furtherance of creeds hostile to liberty.
  6. 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."[4]

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.[4]

Name[edit]

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.

History[edit]

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”.[citation needed] The first meeting took place in the Hotel du Parc in the Swiss village of Mont Pèlerin, near the city of Vevey, 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 British economic historian.

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 regularly, the General Meeting every two years and the regional meetings annually. The current president of the Society is Deepak Lal. It has close ties to the network of think tanks sponsored in part by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.

Influence[edit]

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 advanced to policy positions included the late Chancellor Ludwig Erhard of West Germany, President Luigi Einaudi of Italy, Chairman Arthur F. Burns of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board and U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz. Among the contemporarily prominent personalities, former President Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic as well as acting politicians such as former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe of Sri Lanka, former Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe of the U.K., former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence Antonio Martino, Chilean Finance Minister Carlos Cáceres and former New Zealand Finance Minister Ruth Richardson are to be mentioned as MPS members. 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.

Eight MPS members, F. A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, Maurice Allais, James M. Buchanan, Ronald Coase, Gary S. Becker[5] and Vernon Smith have won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Criticism from Hans-Hermann Hoppe[edit]

In 2006, libertarian theorist and Austrian School economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe founded The Property and Freedom Society as a reaction against what he perceived to be the Mont Pelerin Society's drift towards "socialism."[6] Hoppe stated that individuals, whom he did not identify, had been "skeptical concerning the Mont Pelerin Society from the beginning" in 1947, and that even Ludwig von Mises himself had doubted as to whether "a society filled with certified state-interventionists" could pursue libertarian ideals.[7]

Past presidents[edit]

Numerous notable economists have served as president of MPS:[8]

Founding participants[edit]

Board of Directors 2008–2010[edit]

Other noted members[edit]

References[edit]

This article uses content from the SourceWatch article on Mont Pelerin Society under the terms of the GFDL.
  1. ^ "Quickview data". GuideStar.  Also see: "Charity Rating". Charity Navigator. "Income Amount: $468,923; Form 990 Revenue Amount: $214,097 [FYE Mar 2013]" 
  2. ^ a b Michael Novak, 'The Moral Imperative of a Free Economy', in The 4% Solution: Unleashing the Economic Growth America Needs, Bush Institute, Crown Business, 2012, p. 294
  3. ^ David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism", Oxford, 2005, pp. 20–22
  4. ^ a b c d Statement of Aims, [Excerpt] MPS
  5. ^ Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Gale. 2004. Retrieved 25 May 2013 (from HighBeam Research). 
  6. ^ Belien, Paul. "The Property and Freedom Society: Standing Athwart History, Yelling Stop". Brussels Journal. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  7. ^ Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. "The Property And Freedom Society – Reflections After Five Years". lewrockwell.com. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  8. ^ List of presidents, The Mont Pelerin Society website
  9. ^ Lutz was a professor at the University of Zurich in Switzerland during the time he was president.
  10. ^ Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Gale. 2008. Retrieved May 25, 2013 (from HighBeam Research). 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag "Mont Pelerin Society Directory". DeSmogBlog. Retrieved 28 Jan 2014. 
  12. ^ Hopper, D. Ian (30 June 2013). "Judges Failed to Disclose Junkets". Associated Press. 
  13. ^ Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Gale. 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2013 (from HighBeam Research). 
  14. ^ Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Gale. 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2013 (from HighBeam Research). 
  15. ^ Contemporary Authors. Gale. 2004. Retrieved 25 May 2013 (from HighBeam Research). 
  16. ^ Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Gale. 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2013 (from HighBeam Research). 
  17. ^ "Economist Richard Rahn: Bulgaria Will Survive Financial Crisis". Sofia News Agency (Novinite Ltd). 11 November 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2013 (from HighBeam Research). 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]