F.A. Hayek

Friedrich August von Hayek was born in Vienna in Austria in 1899, from a distinguished family of scholars: The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein was his cousin. He received his doctorates in law and in economics from the University of Vienna in the 1920s where he was the student of Ludwig von Mises, one of the best-known exponents of the Austrian School in economics. In 1931 Hayek became Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics. In the next few years he published a series of books on capital theory, monetary theory and comparative economic systems. His powerful polemic against socialism, The Road to Serfdom, published in 1944, made him both famous and notorious. In 1947 he invited a group of distinguished economists, philosophers and historians to a meeting at the Mont Pelerin in Switzerland where they agreed to form the Mont Pelerin Society of which Hayek was the President to 1961. The founding members included his teacher von Mises, his close friend and colleague at the LSE, the philosopher Karl Popper, and some famous economists of what came to be known as the Chicago School, including Frank H. Knight, and the Nobel Laureates Milton Friedman and George Stigler.

Hayek moved to the University of Chicago in 1950, where he was Professor of the History of Thought. Hayek returned to Europe in 1961, and was Professor of Economics at the Universities of Freiburg and Salzburg, until he retired in 1973. He died in Freiburg in 1992. Hayek was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974 for his work explaining how individuals acquire and utilise knowledge in and by the market process. He is widely recognised as one of the most important thinkers in the classical liberal tradition.

For decades, Hayek had been a voice in the wilderness, when suddenly in the 1970s and 1980s he gained prominence. One of his readers and admirers was President Ronald Reagan who received him and Dr. Ed Feulner (far right) of the Heritage Foundation in the White House.

Friends, colleagues and founding members of the Mont Pelerin Society: Popper and Hayek. Popper published The Open Society and Its Enemies in 1946, but Hayek’s best known works in political theory are The Constitution of Liberty (1960) and Law, Legislation and Liberty (1973-1979).