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Contextualising the Walter Lippmann Colloquium: On the historical origins of Neoliberalism in the 1930s

30 gennaio 2014
Ex Boccherini - Piazza S. Ponziano 6 (Conference Room )
In most accounts of the history of liberalism, and especially neoliberalism, the Walter Lippmann Colloquium features as a prequel to a story that unfolds strongly after the war. Especially, the Lippmann Colloquium is mentioned as a prequel to the founding of the Mont Pèlerin Society in April 1947, where, again, leading intellectuals - all of them self-proclaimed 'real liberals' - gathered to save the agenda of liberalism. Little is known about the historical origins and context of the LIppmann Colloquium. Why was a Spanish lawyer, José Casillejo, such an outspoken, self-confident speaker at the Colloquium? Why was Louis Rougier the organiser? Why did it take place at Rue Montpensier, No. 2, in Paris? These questions arise because the historical analysis of the Lippmann Colloquium has so far concentrated on retelling the story of those economists and philosophers who became famous and highly influential in the 1970s. The colloquium was, however, part of a huge effort at carving out a transnational scietific landscape in the 1930s. The origins of this scientific landscape go back to the Treaty of Versailles and the emergence of internatioal studies as a scientific discipline. The discussion of what should become of liberalism and how it could be rejuvenated had begun within these institutional networks already in the early 1930s. The neoliberalism that was coined as a term in 1938 in Paris thus rests on a larger intellectual and institutional effort carried out in the 1930s.
Schulz-Forberg, Hagen