Walter Eucken's Role in the Early History of the Mont Pèlerin Society
Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 14/02
42 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2016
Date Written: January 15, 2014
In the history of economic thought Walter Eucken is mostly known for his impact in establishing the Social Market Economy in post-war Germany. Even though there is a growing interest in his ideas especially from an Austrian and a Constitutional Economics perspective, his influence on the discussions within neoliberalism and, more specifically, his impact in the course of the foundation of the Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS) are not yet widely considered. In this paper we attempt to show that Eucken was very influential in the formation of the MPS and that German ordoliberalism had a significant imprint on the early history of the society. It is primarily Eucken’s correspondence with F. A. Hayek and Wilhelm Röpke in this context which we present and analyze, complementing it with some hypotheses about early influences between Eucken and Hayek in terms of methodology and epistemology. Subsequently we show, by regarding the first MPS meetings between 1947 and 1949 (general and organizational), that there was – even at this early stage in the development of the MPS – a widening gap between a Continental European and an Anglo-Saxon understanding of neoliberalism, despite the personal friendships and high collegial respect especially between Eucken, Hayek and Röpke; Ludwig von Mises playing a special role in this setting. We illustrate this development also by discussing personal memories of Leonhard Miksch, a student of Eucken and a participant of the MPS meeting in 1949, recorded in his so far unpublished diary.
Keywords: Mont Pèlerin Society, Freiburg School, Neoliberalism, Ordoliberalism, Political and Economic Order, Role of Economists
JEL Classification: A11, B25, B31, B41, H11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation