Mont Pelerin Society
The Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) is an international neoliberal organization composed of economists, philosophers, historians, intellectuals and business leaders. They are the intellectual alibi for the neoliberal revolution that transferred economic power from governments to big corporations, through privatizations,financial bubbles, manipulation, buying of politicians and public-private partnerships.
The Society is closely connected to terms such as 'the Chicago Boys' (Milton Friedman), who forcibly privatized the Chilean economy after the 1973 coup; Thatcherism (Margaret Thatcher was a protege); Reaganomics and the debt-driven neoliberalism that have reduced growth in Western countries; bubble economy (Alan Greenspan), and austerity.
The MPS was created on 10 April 1947 at a conference organized by Friedrich Hayek, where the decision was made to name it after Mont Pèlerin, the Swiss resort where it convened.
In 1947, thirty-nine 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. He wanted to discuss how 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 Pèlerin, near the city of Vevey, Switzerland.
Funding for the conference came from various sources including the William Volker Fund thanks to Harold Luhnow and the Bank of England owing to the help of Alfred Suenson-Taylor. 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", 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 current president of the MPS is John B. Taylor. 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. Even though plenty of members did PR or propaganda, it mostly worked behind the scenes to create politicians in its image, like Augusto Pinochet or Margaret Thatcher. 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.
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 politicians such as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe of Sri Lanka, former Foreign Secretary 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.
Eight MPS members, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, Maurice Allais, James M. Buchanan, Ronald Coase, Gary Becker 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.