Know Your Enemy: Milton Friedman and the Making of Our Times, with Jennifer Burns

Know Your Enemy: Milton Friedman and the Making of Our Times, with Jennifer Burns

Matt and Sam interview historian Jennifer Burns about her new biography of Nobel Prize–winning economist and libertarian intellectual Milton Friedman.

Milton Friedman in 1993 (Jon Hargest/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)

Know Your Enemy is a podcast about the American right co-hosted by Matthew Sitman and Sam Adler-Bell. Read more about it here. You can subscribe to, rate, and review the show on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher, and receive bonus content by supporting the podcast on Patreon.

In this episode, Matt and Sam are joined by Stanford historian Jennifer Burns to discuss her new biography of Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize–winning economist whose influence would reach far beyond the academy when, during his last decades, he became one of the most effective popularizers of libertarian ideas—in books, columns, and even a ten-part PBS program, Free to Choose. How did the son of Jewish immigrants in New Jersey come to hold the often radical ideas that made him famous? How does Friedman’s variety of libertarianism differ from, say, that of Mises or Hayek? What made Friedman, unusually for the times, someone who valued the intellects and work of the women around him? And what should we make of Friedman now, as Trump and elements of the conservative movement and Republican Party supposedly jettison the “fusionism” of which Friedman’s free markets were a part?

As mentioned in the episode’s introduction, listeners might want to revisit episode 16 with economist Marshall Steinbaum for a broader, and more critical, look at the Chicago school.

Sources and further reading:

Jennifer Burns, Milton Friedman: The Last Conservative (2023)

Jennifer Burns, Ayn Rand: Goddess of the Market (2009)

Naomi Klein, 40 Years Ago, This Chilean Exile Warned Us About the Shock Doctrine. Then He Was Assassinated. The Nation (2016)

Tim Barker, Other People’s Blood, n+1  (2019)

Pascale Bonnefoy, 50 Years Ago, a Bloody Coup Ended Democracy in Chile, New York Times (2023)

 

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