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Walter Eucken's role in the early history of the Mont Pèlerin Society

Listed author(s):
  • Kolev, Stefan
  • Goldschmidt, Nils
  • Hesse, Jan-Otmar

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memories of Leonhard Miksch, a student of Eucken and a participant of the MPS meeting in 1949, recorded in his so far unpublished diary.

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Paper provided by Walter Eucken Institut e.V. in its series Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics with number 14/02.

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Date of creation: 2014
Handle: RePEc:zbw:aluord:1402
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  1. Nils Goldschmidt, 2013. "Walter Eucken’s place in the history of ideas," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 127-147, June.
  2. Michael Wohlgemuth, 2013. "The Freiburg school and the Hayekian challenge," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 149-170, June.
  3. Joachim Zweynert, 2013. "How German is German neo-liberalism?," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 109-125, June.
  4. Hayek, F. A., 2014. "The Market and Other Orders," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226089553 edited by Caldwell, Bruce, December.
  5. Viktor Vanberg, 2011. "Liberal constitutionalism, constitutional liberalism and democracy," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 1-20, March.
  6. Nils Goldschmidt & Michael Wohlgemuth, 2008. "Social Market Economy: origins, meanings and interpretations," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 261-276, September.
  7. Kolev, Stefan, 2010. "F. A. Hayek as an ordo-liberal," HWWI Research Papers 5-11, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
  8. Rainer Klump & Manuel Wörsdörfer, 2011. "On the affiliation of phenomenology and ordoliberalism: Links between Edmund Husserl, Rudolf and Walter Eucken," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(4), pages 551-578, October.
  9. Köhler, Ekkehard & Kolev, Stefan, 2011. "The conjoint quest for a liberal positive program: "Old Chicago", Freiburg and Hayek," HWWI Research Papers 109, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
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