Book Review: Capitalism & Freedom
Author: Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman’s Capitalism & Freedom is one of the most important books regarding economics of the 20th century. His thoughts laid the groundwork for the emerging modern conservative movement, which was an evolution of the 19th century beliefs surrounding liberalism. Friedman’s major themes of his most famous work consist of the roles of competitive capitalism, as well as the role that government should play in a society “dedicated to freedom and relying primarily on the market to organize economic activity.” The book touches on a multitude of other economic issues; however, his first two chapters regarding the major themes of the book are most relevant in today’s study of economics. Most of Friedman’s viewpoints I agree with in terms of promoting freedom and its necessity to promoting prosperity and growth. Friedman, however, lacks a certain level of clarity regarding the specificity of his definition of “economic freedom” and the other variants of “freedom.”
Friedman argues that a free market economic policy is by definition part of freedom, or in his words, “…freedom in economic arrangement is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself.” This is one of his prime arguments supporting his claim that free market economic policies are critical for a free society. The implications surrounding this statement are that anyone who is against a free market economic policy is also against the American values of liberty and the liberal tradition, or as Friedman puts it, “Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.” What he lacks in his explanation concerning the connection between freedom and economic freedom is his disregard to define the concept of freedom, whether concerning its origins, how it developed, or what it means specifically relative to all the different economic...