Definition of the Mont Pelerin Society

What is the Mont Pelerin Society?

The Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) is a group of classical liberal economists, philosophers and historians. Although the members may be heterogeneous in their analysis of causes and consequences, the Society notes that its members “see danger in the expansion of the government, especially in the welfare of the state, in the power of unions and corporate monopoly, and in the continuing threat and reality of inflation. “

Key takeaways

  • The Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) is a group of scholars, writers, and opinion leaders who come together to discuss, debate, and promote the ideas of classical liberalism.
  • MPS was founded in 1947 by economist Friedrich Hayek and has met annually or every two years since.
  • MPS exists to preserve, develop and disseminate (through academia and think tanks) the classical liberal ideals of the free market, individual rights, and an open society.

Understand Mont Pelerin society

The Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) was founded in 1947, when Friedrich Hayek invited a group of 36 scholars – mostly economists, although some historians and philosophers were also included – to discuss the fate of modern liberalism. The group emphasized that it did not intend to create an orthodoxy or align itself with any political party. Rather, it was intended to act as a forum for like-minded scholars to debate the fate of classical liberalism and to debate and analyze the workings, strengths, and weaknesses of the market-oriented system that its advocates believed in. It currently meets once every two years.

Its members include some prominent subscribers to the more liberal, libertarian, and Austrian schools of economic thought; In addition to Hayek himself, Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises and William F. Buckley Jr. have also been members. The group has had nine Nobel laureates (eight in economics, including Hayek and Friedman, and one in literature) among its members.

History of the Mont Pelerin Society

The original statement by the Society’s founders noted concern about the growing “dangers to civilization” that they saw in the growing power of governments in many parts of the world. This statement (at the group’s first meeting in 1947) came during the post-WWII economic and political landscape. The Mont Pelerin Society was born in response to the formation of the Eastern Bloc, the domination of Western economies by socialism from the time of the Depression and war, and the rise of interventionist economic theories to completely dominate academic circles and of public policies.

Thus, the primary struggle in the early years of the Society was characterized as that between liberalism and totalitarianism, where the former was sidelined or actively repressed throughout the world, as the latter eliminated the rule of law, rights of the individual and the right to liberty. a free society.

More recently, the rise of “big government” in the West, as well as the resurgence of authoritarianism in parts of the world that had previously moved toward democratic and liberal ideas, have been cause for concern. The Society promotes the free market economy and ways to replace many functions currently provided by government with free enterprise. The Society also advocates for freedom of expression and the political values ​​of an open society.

Hayek served as president of the Society from 1947 to 1961. Other notable presidents were Milton Friedman (1970-72) and George Stigler (1976-78). The current president is Linda Whetstone.

The bottom line

Although the lack of a formal and homogeneous grouping (and therefore policy statements) makes it difficult to judge what impact the group may or may not have had on politics, the fact that there is considerable overlap between group members and academia , think tanks, and other organizations imply that their ideas are being diffused in the policy debate.

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Mark Holland

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