Ideology and Utopia in Milton Friedman

Ideology and Utopia in Milton Friedman

The economist Milton Friedman, best known as the leading American proponent of laissez faire economics, has been a central figure in the recent upsurge of conservative thought. I propose here to criticize the
political theory he sets forth in his most widely read book, Capitalism and Freedom, and will seek:

(1) to establish how improbable is the realization of his wish to end interest-group politics, while explaining why his ideal political economy is most unlikely in any advanced industrial state—which makes him, in the undesirable sense, a utopian theorist; (2) to show that his ideal political economy and many of his policy prescriptions would either centralize power or atomize the public, thus undermining his claim to favor genuine decentralization; (3) to contend that there is little historical or empirical evidence for the claim that political freedom is dependent on market freedom in Western representative political systems with mixed economies; (4) to demonstrate that much of Friedman’s work represents a condition of ideological and political closure; (5) to show that it contains inconsistently applied value criteria.

...

tote | University of California Press Lima