history: How $2,000 Launched a Revolution

From Quin Hillyer’s review of Funding Fathers and Foundations of Betrayal:

The good news is that conservative philanthropy often gets more bang for its bucks. In Funding Fathers: The Unsung Heros of the Conservative Movement, Hoplin and Robinson tell a series of inspirational, sometimes heartwarming stories about how this happens. Perhaps the single best investment, penny for penny, of this sort was the $2,000 check that a man named William Volker gave to Friedrich Hayek in 1945 to pay travel expenses for 17 economists, thinkers and writers to travel to Mont Pelerin, Switzerland to help found the quintessential free-market Mont Pelerin Society — the society whose work has had a profoundly beneficial effect on world history ever since.

Historically minded conservatives will recognize many of the names (in addition to Hayek) of those 17: Milton Friedman, Aaron Director, Karl Brandt, Henry Hazlitt, Felix Morley, Ludwig von Mises, George Stigler…. All gathered together with other, like-minded free marketeers from around the world, to create thousands of publications promoting the cause of liberty. Eventually, eight Mont Pelerin Society members would win Nobel Prizes, while several others would become world political leaders (among them President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic).

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Friedrich Hayek is the twentieth-century social theorist who, probably more than any other, found himself vindicated by events — if not wholly, then at least in his central contention. He is also the one who, more than any other, himself exercised a significant political influence. — Michael Lessnoff

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