History of Institut Coppet
The “Groupe de Coppet”, led by Madame de Stael and Benjamin Constant was at the dawn of the nineteenth century, the first European think-tank dedicated to the study of freedom in all its forms. Its work focused on the problems of establishing a limited constitutional government, the issue of free trade, imperialism and French colonialism, the history of the French Revolution and Napoleon, on free speech, education, culture, the rise of socialism and the welfare state.
The free market has often been wrongly conceived of as a mainly Anglo-Saxon phenomenon This philosophy of freedom has ancient roots, but it has undergone in France a particularly original development. Unlike the English, the French derive freedom from natural rights rather than utilitarianism. They defend free trade in the form of laissez faire capitalism. They were primary opponents of collectivist, interventionist and protectionist ideas. Historically, the French School prefigures the modern Austrian School.
Damien Theillier is a graduate in philosophy (Sorbonne-Paris IV, 1992) and has been working for a Jesuit private school as professor of philosophy.
As an intellectual entrepreneur, he has created the think tank “Institut Coppet” in October 2010, to play a key role in France in diffusing the ideas of the French classical liberal school and interacting with other French think tanks. He has created the whole design of the website: www.institutcoppet.org, and has recruited a network of contributors.
What are Institut Coppet’s goals?
Institut Coppet’s role for two years has been to learn the importance of freedom and present the vision of and the arguments for a truly free society through economic, moral and political philosophy.
True libertarianism is based on morals and values. One of the problems in France is that libertarians are only focused on economic issues. What is really the basis of a free society is the idea that people should be free to decide for themselves in any area — that means economically, but also in social issues, moral issues, or any issue. Institut Coppet aims to promote the free market not only as an effective technique for the management of resources but a fundamental philosophical choice. It is a societal choice, a moral and political choice, based on the dual belief that: firstly, companies have the right and ability to organize themselves freely on the basis of natural law of property, exchange and division of labor, and that on the other hand, the state does not create law but protects law and must be limited to its duties as guardian of order and security.
Our goal is to increase awareness of this tradition and legacy through self-education and self-improvement. We have a web site where we publish great articles, ebooks, translations in French, on culture, liberty, individual freedom, libertarianism and the free market that help us think about these principles, to try to define them and apply them to current issues.
The Institut Coppet focuses on Condillac, Say, Bastiat and Molinari
The thesis of the economists of the nineteenth century is that socialism disregards the law. But it was the first Physiocrats (Boisguilbert, Quesnay, Turgot) and the Ideologues (Condillac, Say, Destutt de Tracy, Constant) who laid the foundations of this philosophy, and who became a source of inspiration for Hume, Smith, and Jefferson then Menger, Mises, and Hayek.
The Institut Coppet, two centuries after the illustrious “Groupe de Coppet”, wants to help raise awareness about those great precursors. This work of archeology and dissemination includes the use of translated studies or articles in the American institutes and think-tanks where the French intellectual tradition continues to live and grow. Through the Austrian School in particular, many studies have focused, in the last 40 years, on Turgot, Condillac, Destutt de Tracy, Say, Constant, Bastiat and Molinari.
The Institut Coppet needs your help to expand its publications. Support Institut Coppet in the mission of rehabilitation of a forgotten heritage: the French classical liberal tradition. The Institute is a non-political, non-profit, educational organization and accepts no taxpayer money. Institut Coppet is supported solely by contributions from private individuals, foundations, and business.
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