Online Library of Liberty – Chapter 24: The Mont Pelerin Society – The Goodriches: An American Family

QUOTE:  The group of thinkers who attended the founding meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society realized that the war of recent ideas had been dictated by a long series of distinguished intellectuals dating back at least one hundred years to the time and writings of Marx and Engels. Among these thinkers were such notable scholars as John Maynard Keynes, Arnold Toynbee, Bertrand Russell, Oswald Spengler, T. S. Eliot, and J. A. Schumpeter. They argued collectively that capitalism was a flawed economic and social system for several reasons: It was immoral because it allowed a great inequality of incomes between rich and poor; because its short-sighted principles had led to two great depressions (beginning in 1894 and 1929); and because capitalism contained a corrupting influence and could be blamed for everything from environmental pollution to disregard for human dignity in search of profits.3

Coupled with the widespread criticism of capitalism was the equally broad belief that governmental intervention could serve to mitigate the pitfalls of capitalist principles. It was these beliefs, combined with a defeated Europe that was still smoldering after World War II, that confronted the founding members. The members of the society

concluded that the threat to freedom had its origins in theories about society [socialist interventionist ideas] that were demonstrably false but widely accepted almost unquestioningly; they agreed, therefore, that “the battle for ideas” had to be won before there could be a substantial reversal of political trends towards dirigisme. In forming a Society to combat intellectual error and doctrinal absolutism, the members also sought strength, courage, friendship, information, and ideas from each other, and they sought an institutional means of continuous association and of spreading their ideas widely.4

In furthering their objectives, this small group of a few dozen leading scholars set out to discuss what they believed were the critical questions that challenged the “free society”:

What are the essential characteristics of the competitive order, and how can competition be maintained? What should be done, therefore, about monopolies, both labor and industrial? . . . What, in particular, is the liberal response to the problems of inequality and poverty? How important are order, security, and solidarity compared with competition and increasing wealth? . . . How can the world be reeducated so that people understand liberal principles and their functions in a free society? Two other questions, of direct political relevance, were also asked. What should be the appropriate policy for the rehabilitation of Germany? What are the chances of achieving European federation?5  END QUOTE

via Online Library of Liberty – Chapter 24: The Mont Pelerin Society – The Goodriches: An American Family.

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