What I said on my weekend

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Tony Harris
17 years ago

It was mentioned in a post on Kevin Rudd that Greg Lindsay of CIS is the new President of the Mont Pelerin Society. More about the society can be found at the John Quiggin site including some tales from the regional meeting in Christchurch in 1989.

The foundation membership included Milton Friedman, Frank Knight, Ludwig Mises and Karl Popper, so that there was plenty of room for disagreements on details, including some very large details like the degree of state intervention that is OK and some esoteric topics like the status of a priori truths.

Mises was not happy with the degree of intervention that most of the others were prepared to tolerate, and that would have applied especially to Popper who was a social democrat despite his concern about the downside of big government. It has been reported that Mises was carerful how he formulated propositions about a prioris when Popper was in the room to minimise the risk of an explosion. It is amusing to note how two of the most powerful and effective intellectual supporters of liberalism in the 20th century managed to avoid all public mention of the massive achievements of the other. Similarly their admirers have also not been able thus far to generate the synergy that should be achieved from the merger of their strong points and the elimination of their errors.

Colin Simkin, Popper’s friend from Christchurch was there in 1989 and fiercely challenged the Austrians from the floor one morning, casting scorn on the apoditic a priori. His timing was bad because it was near the end of the morning session and the Austrians were more interested in lunch than debating with an old social democrat.

Thomas Sowell was there as well. Just before the closing dinner some of the local Young Socialists formed a ragged picket line in the street to protest the presence of fascists in god’s own country. They all looked a bit second hand and as I stood beside Sowell I said aloud, to nobody in particular “Sort of takes you back doesn’t it”

17 years ago

What, no Hayek?!?

Tony Harris
17 years ago

Deepak Lal, a leading commentator on Third World issues and globalizaion is in Sydney on Monday to talk about the future of foreign aid.