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 (LSE). 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 Mont Pelerin in Switzerland, where they agreed to form The Mont Pelerin Society, of which Hayek was the President until 1961. The founding members included his teacher, Ludwig 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 University of Freiburg and University of Salzburg, until he retired in 1973. He died in Freiburg in 1992. Hayek was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1974 for his work explaining how individuals acquire and utilize knowledge through the market process. He is widely recognized 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 (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. Hayek’s best known works in political theory are The Constitution of Liberty (1960) and Law, Legislation and Liberty (1973-1979).