The Hayek Institut and Austrian Economics Center hosted the annual Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award Gala on the evening of November 8 at the Ringturm of the Vienna Insurance Group. This year’s awardee was none other than Emilio Pacheco, Liberty Fund Senior Vice President and Pierre F. Goodrich Resident Scholar, for “his indefatigable dedication to the defense and promotion of liberty.”
The evening was auspicious for another reason: that very day saw the launch of The University of Chicago Press´ publication of what will surely be the definitive biography of F. A. Hayek, Hayek: A Life, 1899-1950, by Bruce Caldwell (Duke University) and Hansjörg Klausinger (WU Wien). Professor Klausinger was in attendance to present some of the salient themes in their work.
Indeed, it seemed at times as if that happy assembly was attended by the spirit of F. A. Hayek himself. Professor Gissurarson (University of Iceland), an old friend of Pacheco, gave a laudation that made clear just how much they owe to the Austrian economist. Where Klausinger was able to speak about Hayek, having sifted through mountains of private letters and archival documents, Gissurarson and Pacheco both knew Hayek personally, and their anecdotes livened an already buoyant occasion. In their time at Oxford, Gissurarson and Pacheco, along with other ardent followers of Hayek, created a Hayek Society in the 1980s. They received the blessing of Hayek himself, on one condition, said Hayek: “I have noticed that the Marxists are much worse than Marx and that the Keynesians are much worse than Keynes. Therefore you have to promise me that you do not become Hayekians. You have to maintain a critical attitude and think independently.”
They have been faithful to Hayek’s wishes. Pacheco’s intellectual trajectory would hardly suit him for obsequious genuflections to the author of The Road to Serfdom. Born and raised in Venezuela, the future President of Liberty Fund would study Social Sciences at the Universidad Católica André Bello (1975) before emigrating to the UK to take an MA in Intellectual History at the University of Sussex (1980), and finally a DPhil in Political Studies at the University of Oxford (1986). With the end of the cold war he would continue to uphold the tradition of liberty by taking a position at Liberty Fund, a private educational foundation based in Carmel, Indiana, before becoming its President from 2016 to 2020.
If Gissurarson’s laudation was permeated by the spirit of Hayek and touching personal anecdotes, Pacheco’s acceptance speech was full of sincere gratitude to the foundation to which he has given 32 years of his life. Established by Pierre F. Goodrich in 1960, Liberty Fund’s raison d’être is education in the purest sense of the word, “to the end that some hopeful contribution may be made to the preservation, restoration, and development of individual liberty through investigation, research, and educational activity.” Pacheco characterized Goodrich as a “Socratic businessman”, practically minded but constantly reflecting on how he was leading his life. Since Goodrich’s passing in 1973, Liberty Fund has organized close to six thousand conferences and published some 480 titles from an impressive array of authors whose works form the foundation of the ideal of a free society.
It is as a trustee of this venerable legacy, and on behalf of the foundation that Pierre F. Goodrich established, that Emilio Pacheco accepted the Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award, reminding us all that we are neither “custodians of the answers, nor keepers of a doctrine.” Our vocation is to learn.
Watch the recordings of the gala:
Scott B. Nelson is Research and Strategy Advisor at the Austrian Economics Center and Hayek Institut. He lectures on politics and philosophy and publishes books, scholarly articles, and commentary. His last book is Tragedy and History: The German Influence on Raymond Aron’s Political Thought. His next book is on Cicero and prudence in politics.
The AEC’s fundamental goal is to promote a free, responsible and prosperous society. Through education and improving public understanding of key economic questions, the AEC promotes the idea of a free market economy and the ideal of a free society.