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Mont Pelerin Society

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Mont Pelerin Society
Formation1947; 77 years ago (1947)
TypeEconomic policy think tank
HeadquartersTexas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, U.S.
(Gabriel Calzada, Guatemala (Acting President, December 2021–Present))
Revenue (2015)
Expenses (2015)$113,886[1]

The Mont Pelerin Society (MPS), founded in 1947, is an international organization of economists, philosophers, historians, intellectuals and business leaders. It has been described as neoliberal in its ideological orientation, though some scholars claim that it is classically liberal.[2] It is headquartered at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.[3][4][5][6] The society advocates freedom of expression, free market economic policies and the political values of an open society. Further, the society seeks to discover ways in which the private sector can replace many functions currently provided by government entities.


View of Mont Pèlerin from Vevey

The MPS was created in Fall 1947 at a conference organized by Friedrich Hayek during the International Trade Organization (ITO) drama of that year. As ITO delegates met in Geneva, Switzerland, to draft the world trade charter, another group of intellectuals convened at the opposite end of the lake at the base of Mont Pèlerin. Taking their name from the location, the Mont Pèlerin Society was formally established on April 10, 1947.[5][7]

It was originally to be named the Acton-Tocqueville Society. 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.[7]

In its "Statement of Aims" on April 8, 1947, the scholars were worried about the dangers faced by civilization, stating:

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.[8]

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:[8]

  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.[8]

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."[8]

Notably absent are the range of human and political rights traditionally embraced by liberals (including the right to form coalitions and freedom of the press).[9]

In 1947, 39 scholars, mostly economists with some historians and philosophers, were invited by Friedrich Hayek to meet to discuss the state and possible fate of classical liberalism, his goal being an organization which would resist interventionism and promote his conception of classical liberalism.[10] The first meeting took place in the Hotel du Parc in the Swiss village of Mont Pèlerin, near the city of Vevey, Switzerland.

Funding for the conference came from the William Volker Fund thanks to Harold Luhnow,[11] the Bank of England owing to the help of Alfred Suenson-Taylor,[12]: 84  the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York and the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (today known as Credit Swiss), which paid 93 percent of the total conference costs, 18,062.08 Swiss francs.[13]

William Rappard, a Swiss academic, diplomat and founder of the Graduate Institute of International Studies, addressed the society's inaugural meeting. In his "Opening Address to a Conference at Mont Pelerin",[14] Hayek mentioned "two men with whom I had most fully discussed the plan for this meeting both have not lived to see its realisation", namely Henry Simons (who trained Milton Friedman, a future president of the MPS, at the University of Chicago) and John Clapham, a British economic historian.

The MPS 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 MPS has continued to meet regularly, the General Meeting every two years and the regional meetings annually. The MPS has close ties to the network of think tanks sponsored in part by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.[15]



Hayek stressed that the society was to be a scholarly community arguing against collectivism while not engaging in public relations or propaganda. The society has become part of an international think tank movement and Hayek used it as a forum to encourage members such as Antony Fisher to pursue the think tank route. Fisher has established the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in London during 1955, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in New York City in 1977 and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in 1981. Now known as the Atlas Network, they support a wide network of think tanks, including the Fraser Institute.[16]

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 Federal Reserve Board and Secretary of State George Shultz. Among prominent contemporary political figures, former President Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic and acting[clarification needed] politicians, such as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe of Sri Lanka, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Geoffrey Howe of the United Kingdom, 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 all 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), John Davenport (holder of editorial posts at Fortune and Barron's) and Felix Morley (Pulitzer Prize-winning editor at The Washington Post), have also been members. Members of the MPS have also been well represented on the Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.[17]

Eight MPS members, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, Maurice Allais, James M. Buchanan, Ronald Coase, Gary Becker[18] and Vernon Smith have won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Graeme Maxton, and Jørgen Randers note that it is no surprise that so many MPS members have won a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences because the MPS helped to create that award, specifically to legitimize free-market economic thinking.[19] In contrast, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Romer attended a meeting of the MPS and found it "boring and depressing."[20]

In the 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, published by Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, MPS was ranked ninth out of 55 for "Best Think Tank Conference".[21]

In 2018, the Swiss blockchain banking Fintech company Mt Pelerin has named itself after the Mont Pelerin Society as an homage to the values that the organization advocates.[22][third-party source needed]

Past presidents


Numerous notable economic/political theorists have served as president of the MPS:[23]

Other notable participants


Other noted members


See also



  1. ^ a b The Mont Pèlerin Society (2015). Return of organization exempt from income tax [Form 990]. Foundation Center.
  2. ^ Higgs, Robert (1997). "Fifty Years of the Mont Pèlerin Society". The Independent Review. 1 (4): 623–625. ISSN 1086-1653. JSTOR 24560793.
  3. ^ Mirowski, Philip; Plehwe, Dieter (2009). The Road From Mont Pèlerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective. Harvard University Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-674-03318-4. United under the umbrella of the MPS since 1947, neoliberals mobilized for the first time a directed capacity for changing the world under peacetime conditions without the interruptions created by war and emigration
  4. ^ Mirowski & Plehwe 2009, p. 5: "The Mont Pèlerin Society and related networks of neoliberal partisan think tanks can serve as a directory of organized neoliberalism"
  5. ^ a b Slobodian, Quinn (2018). Globalists: The End of Empire and the Rise of Neoliberalism. Harvard University Press. p. 126. ISBN 978-0674979529. The postwar neoliberal movement was born in the midst of the ITO drama, and some of its members played a starring role in it. As delegates met in Geneva in the spring of 1947 to draft the world trade charter, a group of intellectuals gathered at the other end of the lake at the base of Mont Pèlerin. Taking their name from the location, the Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS) became the germ of what its organizer Hayek called 'the neoliberal movement.'
  6. ^ Biebricher, Thomas (2018). The Political Theory of Neoliberalism. Stanford University Press. p. 13. ISBN 9781503607835. It took almost a decade after the Colloque [Walter Lippmann] for a similar meeting to take place —the second birth of neoliberalism, if you will— in April 1947, when sixty participants gathered in Switzerland to form the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS), which, to this day, is considered to represent a 'neoliberal international'
  7. ^ a b Ebenstein, Alan (2014). "Mont Pèlerin Society." (Chapter 18). Friedrich Hayek: A Biography. New York: Palgrave for St. Martin's Press. p. 146. ISBN 978-1466886766. OCLC 223234103.
  8. ^ a b c d "Statement of Aims" Archived April 16, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Mirowski & Plehwe 2009, p. 26.
  10. ^ Baird, Charles (2008). "Mont Pelerin Society". In Hamowy, Ronald (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; Cato Institute. pp. 342–343. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n210. ISBN 978-1412965804. LCCN 2008009151. OCLC 750831024.
  11. ^ Birch, Kean (2017). A Research Agenda for Neoliberalism. Edward Elgar Publishing. ISBN 978-1786433596. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  12. ^ Shaxson, Nicholas (2011). Treasure islands: tax havens and the men who stole the world. London: Bodley Head. ISBN 978-1847921109.
  13. ^ Mirowski & Plehwe 2009, p. 15.
  14. ^ Hayek, F. A. (1992). The Fortunes of Liberalism: Essays on Austrian Economics and the Ideal of Freedom. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226320649 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ Mirowski & Plehwe 2009, p. 35, note 6: "Most of the think tanks populating the Atlas Economic Research Foundation network have been founded and are run with the help of at least one MPS member"
  16. ^ Mirowski & Plehwe 2009, pp. 448-9, note 20: "See, for instance, www.atlasusa.org, which describes how the Atlas Economic Research Foundation was founded in 1981 by Antony Fisher to assist others in establishing neoliberal think tanks in their own geographic locations. It claims to have had a role in founding a third of all world “market-oriented” think tanks, including the Fraser Institute (Canada), the Center for the Dissemination of Economic Information (Venezuela), the Free Market Center (Belgrade), the Liberty Institute (Romania), and Unirule (Beijing)"
  17. ^ Offer, Avner; Söderberg, Gabriel (2016). The Nobel Factor: The Prize in Economics, Social Democracy, and the Market Turn (1st ed.). Princeton University Press. pp. 104–05.
  18. ^ Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Gale. 2004. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  19. ^ Graeme Maxton, Jorgen Randers (2016). Reinventing Prosperity: Managing Economic Growth to Reduce Unemployment, Inequality and Climate Change. Greystone Books. ISBN 978-1771642521. p. 77.
  20. ^ "Paul Romer".
  21. ^ James G. McGann (Director) (February 4, 2015). "2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report". Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  22. ^ "About us". Mt Pelerin.
  23. ^ Past Presidents Archived 4 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine. The Mont Pelerin Society website.
  24. ^ Lutz was a professor at the University of Zurich in Switzerland during the time he was president.
  25. ^ Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Gale. 2008. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  26. ^ "Mont Pelerin Society Elects Peter Boettke as 2016-2018 President". September 30, 2016. Archived from the original on March 1, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  27. ^ "Linda Whetstone Named President of Mont Pelerin Society". September 10, 2020. Archived from the original on May 17, 2021. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  28. ^ Mirowski & Plehwe 2009, p. 13.
  29. ^ 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 ah Mont Pèlerin Society Directory (2010). Note: "DeSmogBlog recreated this directory in order to remove personal contact information."
  30. ^ Hopper, D. Ian (June 30, 2013). "Judges Failed to Disclose Junkets". Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 11, 2014.
  31. ^ "Meet Our Experts". Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  32. ^ Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Gale. 2009. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  33. ^ Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Gale. 2009. Archived from the original on June 11, 2014. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  34. ^ MacLean, Nancy (2018) [2017]. Democracy in Chains. Penguin Random House. p. 125. ISBN 9781101980972. OCLC 1029879485.
  35. ^ Contemporary Authors. Gale. 2004. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  36. ^ Mirowski & Plehwe 2009, p. 192.
  37. ^ Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Gale. 2009. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  38. ^ Churchill Archives Centre. The papers of Enoch Powell. File POLL 1/1/20.
  39. ^ "Economist Richard Rahn: Bulgaria Will Survive Financial Crisis". Sofia News Agency (Novinite Ltd). November 11, 2011. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  40. ^ Chafuen, Alejandro (March 26, 2014). "Away From Socialism: Mario Vargas Llosa Joins The Mont Pèlerin Society." Forbes.

Sources cited


Further reading