Mont Pelerin Society Day I

I’m one of around a dozen Kiwis who are amongst the 200+ attendees at the annual conference of the Mont Pelerin Society.

The has as its membership, the leading classical liberal academics (and others) from around the world. It was founded in 1947 by Professor Friedrich von Hayek at a time where western values of classical liberalism were imperilled. Named after the place of its first meeting:

The group described itself as the Mont Pelerin Society, after the place of the first meeting. It emphasised that it did not intend to create an orthodoxy, to form or align itself with any political party or parties, or to conduct propaganda. Its sole objective was 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 first meeting was comprised of high government officials, Nobel prize recipients, journalists, economic and financial experts, and legal scholars, including Milton Friedman. Only one survivor is alive today – his message being read out last night at the opening dinner. You need to be invited to join. As the Centre for Independent Studies is effectively hosting the meetings, its members (such as me) can attend as guests. Also a number of young researchers or academics can win fellowships to attend.

So MPS is not a think tank – it does not publish research (apart from that done by members for the conferences), and it definitely does not lobby. It is purely for the exchange and critique of the ideas of market and political freedom.

Today’s sessions include:

  • Ideas of the Enlightenment: Their Contemporary Relevance
    • The French Enlightenment & its Implications for Liberty
    • Lessons from the Scottish Enlightenment
    • Jurisprudential Legacy of the Enlightenment
  • Towards a New Enlightenment: Understanding Human Nature
    • Building Political Structures with the Crooked Timber of Humanity
    • After Freud: What do Neuroscience Advances Tell Us About Human Nature?
  • Reconciling the Traditional with the Modern in a Liberal Society
    • Noel Pearson, a leading Aboriginal rights activist
    • Reconciling Modernity with Tradition in a Liberal Society
    • Reconciling the Traditional with the Modern

The conference lasts until Friday. I am unsure if there is Internet access in the conference room, so blogging may be limited.

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