- Paperback: 267 pages
- Publisher: Open Court; 2nd edition (August 19, 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812690699
- ISBN-13: 978-0812690699
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #522,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism Paperback – August 19, 1989
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More About the Author
In recent years I have created and taught two new law school seminars at Santa Clara University. One was on legal issues of the 21st century, discussing revolutions that might occur as a result of technological change over the next few decades. Interested readers can find its contents in the manuscript of _Future Imperfect_, linked to my web page. Topics included encryption, genetic engineering, surveillance, and many others. The other seminar, which I am currently teaching, is on legal systems very different from ours. Its topics included the legal systems of modern gypsies, Imperial China, Ancient Athens, the Cheyenne Indians, ... . My web page has a link to the seminar web page.
I have been involved in recreational medievalism, via the Society for Creative Anachronism, for over thirty years. My interests there include cooking from medieval cookbooks, making medieval jewelery, telling medieval stories around a campfire creating a believable medieval islamic persona and fighting with sword and shield.
My involvement with libertarianism goes back even further. Among other things I have written on the possibility of replacing government with private institutions to enforce rights and settle disputes, a project sometimes labelled "anarcho-capitalism" and explored in my first book, _The Machinery of Freedom_, published in 1972 and still in print.
My most recent writing project is my first novel, _Harald_. Most of my interests feed into it in one way or another, but it is intended as a story, not a tract on political philosophy, law or economics. It is not exactly a fantasy, since there is no magic, nor quite a historical novel, since the history and geography are invented. The technology and social institutions are based on medieval and classical examples, with one notable exception.
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 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 16 days 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 13 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
I would recommend this book to people of a wide variety of political persuasions if you want to convince them the government is not helpful to human flourishing. Read morePublished on December 3, 2012 by LemonMonkey