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The Mont Pèlerin Society: The ultimate neoliberal Trojan horse

October 29, 2012

Walter Lippmann, the American journalist and CFR co-founder whose ideas led to the birth of the Mont Pèlerin Society

Far from being merely a “debate club”, the Mont Pèlerin Society is an elite globalist organization that played a leading role in shaping the economic policies of several countries and in creating numerous think-tanks devoted to propagating the theories of the Chicago and Austrian schools of economics. In this article, Memehunter delves into the origins and goals of the MPS, and analyzes its impact on postwar economic policies.

 

The globalist origins of the Mont Pèlerin Society: Lippmann, Rappard, and Rockefeller money

Although the birth of the Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS) officially took place in 1947, its conception can be traced back to 1938. Capitalizing on American journalist Walter Lippmann’s visit to Paris, French right-wing philosopher Louis Rougier decided to organize a “Walter Lippmann Colloquium” (WLC) that would build upon the ideas presented in Lippmann’s recent book The Good Society and promote the neoliberal ideology that was threatened by the emergence of fascist and communist regimes in Europe.        

Lippmann (1889-1974), who came from an upper-class German-Jewish background, was initially very influenced by the views of the Fabian Society: he was a founder and president of the Harvard Socialist Club as a student. Soon, Lippmann began moving in elite circles. Already in 1917, he was working with “colonel” Edward Mandell House as an advisor to President Woodrow Wilson and participated in drafting the famous “Fourteen Points” speech.

Together with House, Lippmann was one of the founding members of the Council on Foreign Relations. Lippmann, who viewed journalism as “intelligence work”, was very interested in the manipulation of public opinion, as evidenced by his book by that same title published in 1922. His political views apparently changed in the 1930s, and he openly began discussing liberalism as a viable alternative to socialism.

Upon hearing the news about Lippmann’s visit, Rougier, who already in 1934 had received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to investigate totalitarianism in Central Europe, contacted Swiss academic William Rappard to discuss a list of attendees for the colloquium. Rappard, a hardcore globalist, had known both Lippmann and House for several years (he taught at Harvard in 1911-12), and had been instrumental in convincing Wilson to choose Geneva for the seat of the League of Nations in 1920. Rappard’s globalist achievements are celebrated nowadays in the form of the Center William Rappard, the headquarters of the World Trade Organization in Geneva.

Rappard was also the co-founder of the Graduate Institute for International Studies in Geneva. The Institute for International Studies, which hosted several professors and visiting scholars associated with the neoliberal or Austrian ideologies, such as Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Michael Heilperin, and Wilhelm Röpke, was almost entirely funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Not surprisingly, Rougier’s list of invitees to the WLC included, in addition to the above-mentioned scholars, the name of Tracy B. Kittredge, a longtime trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation.

As pointed out in The Road from Mont Pèlerin, the list of attendees to the WLC reads like a who’s who of postwar economic and political prominence: we find a future Nobel Prize (Hayek), the first general secretary of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (Robert Marjolin),  De Gaulle’s financial adviser (Jacques Rueff), the director of the Bank of International Settlements (Roger Auboin) and its manager (Marcel van Zeeland), Ronald Reagan’s adviser on the Star Wars project (Stephan T. Possony), and a prominent French philosopher (Raymond Aron), to name but a few.

From the Walter Lippmann Colloquium to the Mont Pèlerin Society

Although there were some dissensions between Austrian economists such as Mises and “softer” neoliberals like Lippmann and German economist Alexander Rüstow, WLC participants agreed on an agenda which would provide the cornerstone of the postwar neoliberal propaganda. One of the fundamental tenets of this agenda was that “only the mechanism by which prices are determined by the free market allows the optimal organization of the means of production and leads to the maximal satisfaction of human needs”.

The WLC led to the creation of the “Society for the Renovation of Liberalism”, whose activities were interrupted by the onset of World War II. Nevertheless, the seed was planted, and as soon as the war ended, Hayek, Mises, Röpke and their colleagues devoted their energies to creating a society that would further the neoliberal aims enunciated at the WLC. This led in 1947 to the first meeting of the Mont Pèlerin Society in Switzerland, a reunion which was sponsored by the Volker Fund, the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), and most notably the multinational bank Credit Suisse, which paid 93% of the total conference costs.

The continuity between the WLC and the MPS becomes obvious when one considers than 12 of the 26 participants to the WLC participated in the first meeting of the MPS, and another four eventually joined. Moreover, it was the arch-globalist Rappard, who was at the center of the WLC network, who gave the opening address of the first-ever MPS meeting.

From a modest gathering of 36 attendees in 1947, the MPS grew quickly to include 167 members in 1951, and 500 members by the late 1990s. Nevertheless, the MPS remained an exclusive club whose members are co-opted and must generally first attend as guests.

The impact of the Mont Pèlerin Society on postwar economics and politics

Hayek’s goal was to mold the MPS into an intellectual meeting place which would help disseminate the neoliberal agenda. He was keenly aware that ideas were more powerful in the long run than politics, and he knew that the opinions of scholars carried more weight than those of businessmen and bankers.

However, this should not be construed to mean that the MPS was merely a “debate club”. On the contrary, MPS members often ended up occupying leading positions in their respective countries, and ideas first enunciated behind closed doors at MPS meetings were eventually disseminated to a wider public by think-tanks and journalists, and became official policies a few decades later.

Chancellor Ludwig Erhard (West Germany), President Luigi Einaudi (Italy), Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Arthur Burns, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus (Czech Republic) are among the best-known examples of MPS members who later occupied prominent public positions. In addition, no less than eight MPS members, including Hayek, Milton Friedman, and George Stigler, won Nobel prizes in economics.

In essence, the MPS became the prototype for all the neoliberal think-tanks that proliferated in the decades following WWII. The first of the neoliberal think-tank breeders was Antony Fisher, a successful chicken farmer who was elected to the MPS in 1954. The following year, he founded the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in London and was soon joined by Ralph Harris, who eventually became president of the MPS from 1982 to 1984. Over the ensuing decades, the IEA spawned a dozen of think-tanks (including the Atlas network), that mostly function as fronts for the MPS.

Harris candidly admitted in a 1996 interview that “the Mont Pèlerin Society created the IEA, which comes to be called ‘Thatcher’s think-tank,’ but we were running long before Thatcher. We weren’t Thatcherites, but she was an ‘IEA-ite.’ ” Harris added that MPS founder Hayek was dubbed a “Companion of Honor” of the British Empire by the Queen, one of only 60 to ever receive that title. Following Thatcher’s election, Harris himself became Lord Harris of High Cross, while Fisher was knighted.

Edwin Feulner, MPS president (1996-1998) and treasurer (2004-2006), emulated Fisher on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and co-founded the Heritage Foundation in 1973. The impact of the neoliberal wave was similarly powerful across the pond: Of 76 economic advisers on Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign staff, 22 were MPS members. In Chile, “free-market” policies inspired by the Chicago school of economics and supported by Friedman and Hayek were implemented soon after Pinochet took power. In fact, according to Corey Robin, author of The Reactionary Mind, “Hayek admired Pinochet’s Chile so much that he decided to hold a meeting of his Mont Pèlerin Society in Viña del Mar, the seaside resort where the coup against Allende was planned.”

Mont Pèlerin Society, Black Nobility, Bilderberg, and Pan-Europa: all in it together

The MPS was also, from its inception, associated with elite European aristocrats. Thus, Max von Thurn und Taxis, the head of an ancient and extremely wealthy family, as well as Otto von Habsburg, putative heir to the throne of Austria, were both influential members of the MPS. Von Thurn even served as the general secretary of the MPS from 1976 to 1988. This association between neoliberals and members of the Black nobility lends credence to the suspicion that the MPS ultimately seeks to promote a neo-feudalist society under the guise of the “free market” utopia.

Moreover, MPS members often took part in Bilderberg meetings, a clear indication of high-level connections between neoliberal thinkers and globalist policymakers: Frenchmen Aron, Rueff, and Marjolin attended multiple annual meetings in the 1950s and 60s, whilst economist Heilperin was invited twice in the 1950s.

Finally, several MPS members had close ties to pan-European organizations. Besides Otto von Habsburg, who was president of the Pan-Europa Movement from 1973 until 2004, the best example is probably Marjolin, recipient of a Rockefeller scholarship in 1931, whose name is associated with the 1962 “Marjolin Memorandum”, the official starting point of monetary integration in Europe.

The relationship between the Mont Pèlerin Society and Austrian economics

Austrian sympathizers, when confronted with the apparent paradox of Hayek’s and especially Mises’ prominent role in an elitist organization such as the MPS, often emphasize the distinctions between the Chicago and Austrian schools. They also conclude from the oft-told anecdote that Mises stormed out of the initial MPS meeting shouting “You’re all a bunch of socialists” that he quickly became disenchanted with the MPS.

To be sure, there were two antagonistic factions in the MPS, identified by longtime MPS secretary general Albert Hunold as “the laissez-faire liberals… and the neoliberals,” and Mises was not alone in complaining about the collectivist tendencies of some of his colleagues. A group of American businessmen led by Jasper Crane of the DuPont company, along with the Volker Fund and the FEE, wanted Mises and his “hardcore” Austrian followers to play a larger role in the MPS.

However, after being urged by Harold Luhnow (director of the Volker Fund) to attend the second MPS meeting in 1949, Mises seems to have gotten over his initial disappointment, as he became an active participant to MPS meetings until 1965 (when he was 84 years old), even giving a keynote in 1958 at Princeton.

In spite of his sometimes tense relationship with the neoliberal wing, there is no doubt that Mises himself was a globalist. Indeed, he wrote in 1927 that “the [classical] liberal therefore demands that the political organization of society be extended until it reaches its culmination in a world state that unites all nations on an equal basis,” even going so far as to hope that “a world superstate really deserving of the name may someday be able to develop that would be capable of assuring the nations the peace that they require”. Later, Mises worked on currency issues for the Pan-Europa movement, founded by his fellow Austrian exile Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi.

Following Mises, several prominent Austrian economists have been active in MPS circles, including Murray Rothbard, Israel Kirzner, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Jesus Huerta de Soto, and Thomas Di Lorenzo. In addition, George Roche III and Larry Arnn, the last two presidents of Hillsdale College, a conservative institution which houses Mises’ personal library, were MPS members.

In a blatant display of the close links between the MPS, the globalist elites, and the most anti-statist factions of the Austro-libertarian movement, Otto von Habsburg, an active MPS member and noted pan-Europeanist whom Mises served as economic advisor, was the first-ever winner (in 1999) of the $10,000 Schlarbaum Prize, awarded by the Ludwig von Mises Institute “to a public intellectual or distinguished scholar” for “lifetime defense of liberty”.

Conclusion

From its earliest origins to its contemporary incarnation, the MPS has served globalist interests. Despite its appearances as a mere intellectual meeting place, the MPS became the ultimate neoliberal Trojan horse, influencing the public opinion and infiltrating political movements worldwide, with a pronounced impact on economic policies. Although there have been tensions between the “laissez-faire” and “true neoliberal” wings of the MPS, Austro-libertarian economists in the Mises/Rothbard mold have always found a home in the MPS, indicating the close ties between the “free-market” anti-statist ideology and the “one-world” agenda of the transnational plutarchy.

 

Libertarian network chart:

We have updated our chart depicting the networks orchestrating the Libertarian propaganda.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Tao Jonesing permalink
    October 30, 2012 4:14 am

    Mirowski’s The Road from Mont Pelerin is an excellent reference that seems to fairly characterize the source material it cites (at least that which I can get my hands on; they seem to have had access to Rockefeller archives that are not available to the rest of us). There are several other relevant articles available online from Mirowski and other authors of the book. See the following link, for example:

    http://coolessay.org/docs/index-66143.html

  2. October 30, 2012 6:45 am

    Reblogged this on Recovering Austrians.

  3. May 22, 2014 1:36 pm

    Reblogged this on djmilosz and commented:
    A good though brief overview of the Mont Pelerin Society and its connections to other informal elite meetings. For German-speaking readers interested in this think tank, Bernhard Walpen’s “Die offenen Feinde und ihre Gesellschaft” is mandatory reading.

  4. August 27, 2014 3:14 pm

    Reblogged this on janamurray and commented:
    “Austro-libertarian economists in the Mises/Rothbard mold have always found a home in the MPS, indicating the close ties between the “free-market” anti-statist ideology and the “one-world” agenda of the transnational plutarchy.”

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