Mont Pelerin Society Meets at Hoover Institution: Forty-Year Anniversary

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Hoover Institution, Stanford University

The meeting focused on challenges to freedom that have arisen since the 1980 meeting held at Stanford and on renewing the fight for freedom

Hoover Institution (Stanford, CA) – The Hoover Institution hosted more than 375 members and guests of the Mont Pelerin Society for a three-day conference, from January 15–17 about the vital importance of “preservation and improvement of the free society,” an aim established at the first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947.

The 2020 conference took place in the Hoover Institution’s David and Joan Traitel Building and was organized John B. Taylor, the Mont Pelerin Society president and the George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics at the Hoover Institution.

“The Mont Pelerin Society and the Hoover Institution are committed to advancing the ideas of economic and political freedom,” said Taylor. “The 2020 conference convened an exceptional lineup of influential leaders in creating ideas and taking actions. The meeting not only shed light on the historical impediments to freedom but offered powerful and practical prescriptions for its preservation.”

The conference theme was “From the Past to the Future: Ideas and Actions for a Free Society” and featured keynote presentations by the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow George P. Shultz; Brazil’s minister of economy Paulo Guedes; and Paypal cofounder and entrepreneur Peter Thiel.

Session topics were divided into three categories: “The Past as Prologue to the Future,” “Ideas for a Free Society,” and “Actions for a Free Society.”

The Mont Pelerin Society was founded in 1947 by the renowned economist Friedrich A. Hayek with the mission to advance the ideas of free markets and the rule of law after World War II, and to counter socialist ideologies which emerged in the era.

The society received its name from the location of its first meeting at a hotel in Mont Pèlerin, just above Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The original conference featured three dozen intellectuals of various disciplines, including economists, lawyers, political philosophers, and journalists. Presidents of the Mont Pelerin Society over the years have included Hoover Institution fellows Milton Friedman, George Stigler, Gary Becker, and Allan Meltzer.

In 1980, the Hoover Institution hosted the general meeting of the Mount Pelerin Society with members and guests from thirty-six countries. The theme that year was “Constraints on Government,” and featured Hoover luminaries including Friedman, Thomas Moore, Alvin Rabushka, and Thomas Sowell. Sessions focused on such topics as “Limits on Taxation,” “Denationalization and Deregulation,” and “How Can Government Be Restricted?”

The records of the Mont Pelerin Society, as well as the papers of Hayek and Friedman, are among the collections in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

Read more on the 2020 Mont Pelerin Society Conference here.