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The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism Paperback – August 19, 1989
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Top Customer Reviews
This book touches quite a bit on the issues that most libertarian anarchists find difficult to deal with, such as national defense and polycentric law. A good critique of government education is also offered as well as a two part section on monopolies. As a seasoned libertarian, I most enjoyed the postscript, which focuses on more advanced topics like private currency, law and econ, and anarchist politics.
In sum, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in anarcho-capitalism, from those new to political philosophy to well versed freedom fighters.
Friedman's distrust of intellectual orthodoxy and his distaste for complacency come through everywhere, as he systematically sketches out his ideas about the society he thinks would leave the vast majority of the world's inhabitants better off. Not infinitely better off -- there are no utopian dreams here -- but materially and spiritually better off.
Central to Friedman's thought is the notion that governments are finite, constrained institutions like any others -- hardly the infallible entities for which we simply design outcomes. Whenever someone says 'There's a case for government intervention here,' the implicit assumption is that the intervention will be done flawlessly and properly. That's not always, or even often, the case -- intervention has to be viewed as a tradeoff. If it makes little sense to assume that there are perfect markets, then it makes even less sense to assume that there are perfect governments. Friedman makes a convincing case that we should rarely, if ever, expect government to produce better outcomes than the market does, simply because of the different incentives those two processes present individuals.
I am not entirely persuaded by Friedman's argument, but I would be hard-pressed to give a good reason therefor. That means I am not thinking clearly, which is hardly Friedman's fault. At the risk of sounding redundant, I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Friedman presents a utilitarian case for anarchy, or as he refers to it, "anarcho-capitalism." Anarcho-capitalism is essentially a society that not only respects property rights, but has no government. If the two seem to be mutually exclusive, you have not read the book. Friedman slaughters the fallacy that since certain government services (police, fire department, etc) are essential, they must be provided by the government. As a teacher of mine once put it "he throws a monkey wrench into the sacred cow."
After reading the Machinery of Freedom, you will wonder why you didn't think like this all along.
The book has 4 parts. Part 1 is devoted to defending Human Rights in property. Part 2 is devoted to ideas for reducing the influence of goverment. The chapter "Buckshot for a Socialist Friend" is precious. Part 3 is an exploration of how a society might exist without a state, along with an admission that this might not always be possible. Finally, Part 4 is addressed to Libertarians in general.
David Friedman, a physicist by training, is the son of Nobel laureate and Chicago economist Milton Friedman. Don't let his natural science background turn you away - David Friedman understands economics very well. Maybe it was destiny. His writing style is good, and his insights are some of the best, as a whole, in the history of anarchist thought. This book is a great introduction to anarchy as well, but don't expect too much hand holding - the book is fast paced.
Friedman, while a "radical capitalist," does not go on tangents about the "revolution" or bringing down the system. The book is a scientific and philosophical inquiry, and as such is well thought out, well constructed, and well presented. The chapter on Iceland is well-researched, even if seemingly out of place. Overall, Friedman is a real thinker capable of presenting his major ideas concisely and in a readable fashion. Most educated readers will find it accessible, and I believe you will find it interesting if not completely eye-opening.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you are familiar with most of the ideas of Liberty, then this will reiterate many things. I especially liked the fact that it was originally written in 1970 (revised in '89)... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Kellyrh
If you read this book, I would suggest suspending critical thought. I admit I am not far through the book yet, but so far every point is only half thought out. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jon Steven
Let me first note, that the writing style of this book was very entertaining. Written in a conversational tone, as if sitting with a friend debating the subject over a couple of... Read morePublished 17 months ago by KoalaFace
Review by Jeff Graubart
At several points in his essays, Friedman acknowledges that libertarianism and land ownership have some degree of contradiction, but he fails to... Read more
This book is excellent. It's a great way to describe the functions and intricacies of a free, capitalist system. Read morePublished on December 13, 2013 by Patrick Kernan
David Friedman, son of hugely influential economist Milton Friedman, takes his fathers anti government, pro market views to the extreme with this book. Read morePublished on September 20, 2013 by Brian
This book is one of a trio of books that appeared during the 70's that made the case for a Libertarian society with the complete absence of government. Read morePublished on February 22, 2013 by RJ Miller