A New Classical-Liberal Initiative: The Property and Freedom Society

In an age when respect for the property and freedom of others is in decline and liberty is under assault and threatened, even by democratic governments, a new initiative is being launched: the Property and Freedom Society (PFS).

The PFS aims to promote “Austro-Libertarianism,” the economic and social philosophy most prominently represented during the 20th century by Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) and his leading American student Murray N. Rothbard (1926-1995), and tying back to the 19th century French economists Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) and Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912).

The PFS takes some of its inspiration from the establishment in 1947 by Friedrich von Hayek (1899-1992) of the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS). Hayek believed that, despite Hitler’s defeat, the free society was still under threat. He invited his teacher and mentor Mises and some forty others to Mont Pèlerin, Switzerland, to found an organisation for the defence of freedom and the principles of classical-liberalism. It was the first gathering of international scholars in a long series that has continued to this day. Today the MPS has approximately 500 members who convene regularly in general or regional meetings.

The MPS still continues the fight for a free society. However, some feel a more radical organisation of “culturally conservative libertarians” is needed now that the MPS has become so large and diverse. Hence Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Professor of Economics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and a Distinguished Fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute (Auburn, Alabama), has invited a group of friends and colleagues to Bodrum, Turkey, for the inaugural meeting of a new “Property and Freedom Society.” This meeting will take place from Thursday 18 May to Sunday 21 May.

The “Preliminary Statement of Purpose” of the new organisation will be discussed in Bodrum. It reads as follows:

The Property and Freedom Society stands for an uncompromising intellectual radicalism: for justly acquired private property, freedom of contract, freedom of association – which logically implies the right to not associate with, or to “discriminate against,” anyone in one’s personal and business relations – and unconditional free trade. It condemns imperialism and militarism and their fomenters, and champions peace. It rejects positivism, relativism, and egalitarianism in any form, whether of “outcome” or “opportunity,” and it has an outspoken distaste for politics and politicians. As such it seeks to avoid any association with the policies and proponents of interventionism, which Ludwig von Mises had identified in 1946 as the fatal flaw in the plan of the many earlier and contemporary attempts by intellectuals alarmed by the rising tide of socialism and totalitarianism to found an anti-socialist ideological movement. Mises wrote: “What these frightened intellectuals did not comprehend was that all those measures of government interference with business which they advocated are abortive … There is no middle way. Either the consumers are supreme or the government.”

As culturally conservative libertarians, we are convinced that the process of de-civilization has again reached a crisis point and that it is our moral and intellectual duty to once again undertake a serious effort to rebuild a free, prosperous, and moral society.
It is our emphatic belief that an approach embracing intransigent political radicalism is, in the long run, the surest path to our cherished goal of a regime of totally unfettered individual liberty and private property. In thus seeking a fresh and radical new beginning, we are heeding the old but frequently forgotten advice of Friedrich Hayek’s: "We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is a liberal Utopia, a programme which seems neither a mere defence of things as they are nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly liberal radicalism which does not spare the susceptibilities of the mighty..., which is not too severely practical and which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible. We need intellectual leaders who are prepared to resist the blandishments of power and influence and who are willing to work for an ideal, however small may be the prospects of its early realization. They must be men who are willing to stick to principles and to fight for their full realization, however remote…Unless we can make the philosophical foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark. But if we can regain that belief in the power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost.”

For more information on the Bodrum meeting contact Hans-Hermann Hoppe at [email protected]