Ideas and Actions for a Free Society: Still Relevant After a Year

Exactly one year ago, on January 15-17, 2020, a special meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society was held at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. The Mont Pelerin Society was founded in 1947 for the “preservation and improvement of the free society,” and the 2020 meeting was the 40th anniversary of the meeting held at Stanford in 1980.

It is difficult to even think about all that has happened in the year since that meeting. The Coronavirus—not even mentioned at that meeting a year ago—has wreaked havoc around the world, and changed government policy in major ways. Nevertheless, the presentations at the meeting are still quite relevant, perhaps more relent than ever before, as a host of speakers presented new ideas and actions for a free society, looking at the past as prologue to the future. Fortunately, all have been documented in this volume

In describing the theme of that meeting, the introduction to the volume notes that “the challenges to the free society are again mounting and threatening economic growth and rising prosperity. We hear calls for a return to socialism, for restrictions on trade, for regulations on firms and individuals that go well beyond cost-benefit calculations.” These challenges and calls have clearly accelerated, but the appropriate responses and the case for preserving and improving freedom are still the much same.

The meeting, and the volume, begins with my interview of George Shultz on Choosing Economic Freedom and ends with Peter Robinson’s interview of Peter Theil on China, Globalization, Capitalism, Silicon Valley, Political Correctness, and Exceptionalism. Throughout the meeting and the volume there are extraordinary presentations about freedom by Robert Chitester, Robert Chatfield, Eamonn Butler, Jennifer Burns, Bruce Caldwell, Alberto Mingardi, Peter Boettke, David Henderson, Condoleezza Rice, Victor Davis Hanson, Amity Shlaes, Robert Skidelsky, Niall Ferguson, Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, Douglas Ginsburg, Jeff Bennett, John Cochrane, Lars Peder Nordbakken, Paulo Guedes, Anthony Kim, Fred McMahon, Valeria Perotti, John Cogan, Susan Dudley, Lars Feld, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Samuel Gregg, Bridgett Wagner, Axel Kaiser, Ernesto Silva, Arnold Harberger, Terry Anderson, Lee Ohanian, Russell Roberts, Jamie Borwick, Thomas Gilligan, Edwin Feulner, Gabriel Calzada, Henry Butler,  Benjamin Powell, Nicolás Cachanosky, Inchul Kim, Annelise Anderson, Jeff Sandefer, Tyler Goodspeed, Ruth Richardson, Dominique Lazanski, Joe Lonsdale, and Sally Pipes. There were many more who enthusiastically participated in the discussions.

Take a look, and you will find much that is relevant today.

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