The best source of general information on the Mont Pelerin Society – its aims, leadership and details on how to apply and join – is the Society’s official web site: www.montpelerin.org
After World War II, in 1947, when many of the values of Western civilization were imperiled, 36 scholars, mostly economists, with some historians and philosophers, were invited by Professor Friedrich Hayek to meet at Mont Pelerin, near Montreux, Switzerland, to discuss the state and the possible fate of liberalism (in its classical sense) in thinking and practice.
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.
Members, who include high government officials, Nobel prize recipients, journalists, economic and financial experts, and legal scholars from all over the world, come regularly together to present the most current analysis of ideas, trends and events.
Milton Friedman (in light coat and with hat, in the centre) with friends in an excursion at the first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947.
Karl Popper (back row), Ludwig von Mises (front row to the right) and other participants during a session at the first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947.
Friedrich Hayek (far left) was the first President of the Mont Pelerin Society. George Stigler once quipped that the Society could be called “The Friends of F. A. Hayek.“ Hayek was one of the most influential and interesting thinkers of the 20th Century. His most famous book was his polemic against socialism, The Road to Serfdom.