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Capitalism and Freedom

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  11,694 ratings  ·  717 reviews
Selected by the Times Literary Supplement as one of the "hundred most influential books since the war"

How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat it poses to individual freedom? In this classic book, Milton Friedman provides the definitive statement of his immensely influential economic philosophy—one in which competitive capitalism serves a
Paperback, 40th Anniversary , 208 pages
Published November 15th 2002 by University of Chicago Press (first published January 1st 1962)
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Popular Answered Questions
Drew Fascism is a form of socialism.
Communism/Socialism/Fascism are the greatest destroyers of human life, probably every, definitely of the 20th century.…more
Fascism is a form of socialism.
Communism/Socialism/Fascism are the greatest destroyers of human life, probably every, definitely of the 20th century.
Check history for: The Holocaust; Ukrainian Famine; Gulags; the Cultural Revolution of China; Khmer Rouge; etc etc etc
Do some research on these and I think you will find collectivism and centralized power are the most dangerous ideas humanity has produced; not Capitalism.(less)

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Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 04, 2020 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
One of the most destructive books ever written

Officer Barbrady: „Yes, at first I was happy to be learning how to read. It seemed exciting and magical, but then I read this: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I read every last word of this garbage, and because of this piece of s**t, I am never reading again.“
No, of course, I will keep on reading forever, don´t worry.

Most of why it´s so stupid has been/will be described in my reviews of books by Naomi Klein, David Graeber, others, and the rants about
Trevor (I no longer get notified of comments)
This book is an interesting case of modern day sophistry – where the worse argument is made to appear the better. If one needed proof that much of modern economics is an exercise in ideology and self-interested appeals on behalf of the obscenely wealthy then this book provides ample evidence.

The French Revolution was fought under a flag of three colours and for three causes, Liberté, égalité, fraternité – Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. Friedman is only interested in what he refers to as fre
Live and (hopefully) Learn...Before reading this book, I thought I was a fairly strong proponent of both free markets and limited government. TURNS OUT...I WAS WRONG!! Uncle Milt believed down to his very core in the rightness of free markets and after reading his passionate treatise on the benefits of same, I find I am not quite as far along the boulevard of laissez faire as I originally thought.

Despite being under 250 pages, this is a dense, meaty work designed to summarize the arguments
Nov 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: theory, democracy
Friedman has constructed an airtight bubble of neoliberal thought where freedom is the greatest value, and everything makes sense and fits together rationally only because it has no connection whatsoever to any kind of historical context, much less the current social and political realities of our time. None. Period. It is as though neither history nor reality as it is experienced by the poor exist, an astonishing tour de force to explain why those with extreme wealth should feel happy and conte ...more
Sep 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
Friedman is a good marketer. It's pretty clear why people without a deep logical background, or analytic training, would believe this book has something to say about freedom. Friedman slyly uses the terms free, freedom, and free enterprise, in every three sentences. Eventually the weary subconscious relents, and accepts that the man must be talking substantively about issues of freedom, why else is the word so omnipresent!? Of course he's not really. For Friedman, freedom is negative liberty, th ...more
Riku Sayuj
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it

Friedman is definitely one of the most eloquent economists ever to have ventured into public discourse and also one of the most influential. And his arguments are powerful and almost impossible to argue against without stripping oneself of intellectual integrity. No doubts about that. But the imaginary debating partner cannot help but wonder if staking a claim to the moral high ground in an argument is not exactly the most liberal way of conducting one. Friedman puts a lot of stock into how true
Oct 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have always opposed Communism because I have thought it worships an idea, and puts the idea before human life and the individual. I decided iwhen I was young. Lately I have come to the realization that libertarian neoliberal free market capitalist ideology does exactly the same. People like Ludwig von Mises , Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Yaron Brook. etc are not less fanatic and contemptuous of actual life than fanatics on the other end of the spectrum like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Honecker, Ceuces ...more
Jason Furman
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I last read Capitalism and Freedom as a teenager. Rereading it I was surprised about how contemporary and undated it is, even if the lectures it is based on were delivered more than 60 years ago. The lack of being dated is partly because much of the world has not changed (e.g., we still have occupational licensing—in fact more of it—and farm supports), Milton Friedman was prescient (e.g., the shift to floating exchange rates and lower top marginal tax rates), Friedman helped shape our thinking ( ...more
Jun 09, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: masochists.
No longer using this website, but I'm leaving up old reviews. Fuck Jeff Bezos. Find me on LibraryThing:

I read this book as part of a class on Political Thought. I had food poisoning at the time that this book was assigned, but I would have been puking even if I hadn't had those undercooked pancakes that day. This book is so full of ruling class whitewash that it is truly difficult to read.

The text, essentialized, was as follows: Capitalism offers rich peo
Dec 31, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
An important book to read for any student of economics - this is the basis of most American economic policy - but it's WRONG and I think Adam Smith would roll in his grave to hear how people like Friedman are using his theories to make their friends richer while the masses struggle. ...more
C. Scott
Apr 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Inequality is one of the most pressing issues facing the US today. Milton Friedman’s philosophy played a substantial role in creating the political environment that has allowed inequality to grow over the last four decades.

Friedman’s philosophy has currency to this day not because he was so smart or so right but because his ideas are so useful to those in power – those who have wealth and those who benefit from supporting those who have wealth.

My primary question as I read this book for the firs
Apr 25, 2012 added it
Reading this book is like looking at a mirror into your own beliefs: how you react to Milton Friedman's philosophy tells you more about yourself than about the validity of the system. Fault lies totally with MF, who does not offer enough evidence to support his worldview, which is to limit government and expand free market in order to maximize 19th-century liberalism (where everyone is free such that one person's freedom doesn't impinge upon another's.) The lack of concrete evidence completely d ...more
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: economics
The best way to describe Milton Friedman's manifesto is that while it has a laudable goal, the spreading of economic freedom to all, the means by which he would achieve them would ultimately do the opposite and leave people in continual poverty. His first chapter on how important economic freedom is is very good, but all of his arguments employ either strongman arguments that can't be reasonably argued against or straw man arguments that are too easy to knock down. Not only that, but his chapter ...more
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Capitalism and Freedom examines the ultimate pursuit of freedom and liberty through the absence of government interference in the market and politics. Although government is warranted in the market yet limited, the market will always prevail in the most efficient use of resources. In a free society, there is a fine line between economic and political freedom.
The role of government should be only limited to law and order, enforcing property rights, and maintaining the monetary system. Friedman is
Oct 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
If you're looking for a dry and cerebral argument for why markets tend to be a social good, and in most case the option which gives choice, encourages enterprise, is the preferable one -- then this book, though dated, is still relevant and worth taking a look into. Someone who hasn't studied economics at all probably should seek different primers before delving deep into Friedman's zany free market world.

That being said, Friedman delivers a solid utilitarian argument for limited government and f
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Friedman is the essence of the Chicago school of conservative/libertarian economics, and some say his is the driving idea behind Reagan's supply side economics.

Whatever you think about Reagan, Friedman is man of no small insight, both into economics and into politics. Some of the rationales for his economic policies sound like they came straight out of the political discussions of The Federalist Papers. Friedman, like Hamilton and Madison before him, realized that any power given to the governme
Patrick Peterson
Apr 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Good, very good, but not great. Several important errors. Read Ludwig von Mises by comparison.
Erik Graff
Apr 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: socialists
Recommended to Erik by: David Schweickart
I read this after Milton and Rose Friedman's Free to Choose as a text ancillary to those assigned for Dave Schweickart's course entitled "Capitalism, Socialism, Democracy" and found it less offensive and more thought provoking than that later text.

Personally, I share Friedman's libertarianism in the sense of favoring the freedom of everyone to do as they please so long as their so doing does not restrict the freedom of others. This is a political, not an ethical, claim amounting to the belief th
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a brilliant book with a cold, cold heart. I read it this spring for a course on politics taught by Noam Chomsky and Marvin Waterstone at the University of Arizona. They used it to establish the neoliberal argument for the way the world works, or should work. Needless to say, Chomsky and Waterstone’s views collided with Friedman’s in almost every way.

Friedman, who taught at the University of Chicago and won the Nobel Prize for Economics, was an idealist, an advocate for free-market purity
Dr. Tobias Christian Fischer
The best outcome of the book: if you have less state, people have more choice. Ok’s no rocket science but I honestly think: I did not think that the book was written for an audience beside academia. And that’s a pity and I hope that the book can be translated in a way that a broader audience likes and understands it. Easily digested!
Jan 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
A man with an enomorous intellect and education, yet little regard for human beings. He had a vision of a lasseiz faire society that he was only able to see attempted in places like Chile, Argentina etc. Probably the most influential economist save Smith or Keynes. In my opinion a very unfortunate fact.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic
Reread 2/21 I have read this several times; first in grad school, and then as a text I have assigned in advanced public policy and political economy seminars. Why? If anything else, this is the 'bible' of neoliberal thinking, promoting an idealized version of the 'free market' as basically the solution to most if not all social woes. No one would really care today about Friedman's arguments except that most politicians in the USA seem to utilize it has their policy handbook. Hence, Friedman's at ...more
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooked
Audiobook (7 hours) this for yourself before even considering what I think is the atrocious (half read) Atlas Shrugged or condemning Milton and the Chicago school. Most Republicans are only cafeteria Friedmanists at best, which is a truly horrible mix. I'd like to think that I've mentally progressed since I first read most of this formative work for a class sophomore year in college so it was nice to find that it held up so well. That class was taught by my fav professor who would have then and ...more
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is clear and short and full of dogma. Some of it I agree with and some of it I vigorously oppose (i.e. that the government should not at all be involved in enforcing anti-discrimination laws and that the market will figure it out). As the father of neoliberalism, this is a crucial read--even if some of you may hate-read it as I did in parts.
May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Friedman presents a simple, indeed often simplistic, argument in favor of an economic system characterized by the nearly unfettered operation of the free market coupled with a minimalist state apparatus. Though the book represented a radical position at the time it was written, many of Friedman's positions seem uncontroversial and common sensical today. It is a testament to Friedman's influence that this is so. In the forty or so years since Capitalism and Freedom first appeared, Friedman's thou ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was decent. He emphazised the threat that comes from socialist tendencies and had some good points to make. Other points were lackluster, but as this was a collection of unrelated points about government intervention (there is no cohesiveness to the work as a whole, aside from him referencing chapter II incessantly) it didn’t matter because many hit home very well. Nonetheless, his calculations were vague and inaccurate at times (him simply rounding up as he said in a footnote some $70 ...more
Esterina Terpollari
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
A book about how deep freedom has to be considered.
In the world we live, many is controlled by governments and we fail to think about freedom as a concept where government implication is not as much needed as it is. According to Friedman, we could do better with ‚laissez fair‘ and a less paternalistic attitude towards important topics such as monopoly, distribution of income and poverty.
Maybe we should take more time and groundly rethink the concept of freedom after reading this book. Maybe w
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you have a chance to read only one book this summer, just one book - this is it!

The introduction and classical liberal approach by Milton Friedman in relations between economic freedom and individual freedom has been a truly enlightening experience for me. At one point I received answers about things I have been thinking about for years, furthermore suddenly many issues regarding government legislations and policies, the effects of these and many others made much more sense than ever before.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-non-fiction
The driest book I ever read thus far, and I must admit I didn’t understand all the ideas deliberated in this book. Why did I read it then? Because I’m curious as to how capitalism promotes freedom and why capitalism had such bad reputation if such is the case. I’m more incline toward market economy, limited government, the freedom of an individual to choose for oneself be it occupation, lifestyle, etc as oppose to central planning, ever-expanding bureaucratic apparatus, welfare state; and I gues ...more
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Milton Friedman was an American Nobel Laureate economist and public intellectual. He made major contributions to the fields of economics and statistics. In 1976, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy. He was an advocate of economic freed ...more

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“In a much quoted passage in his inaugural address, President Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country." It is a striking sign of the temper of our times that the controversy about this passage centered on its origin and not on its content. Neither half of the statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society. The paternalistic "what your country can do for you" implies that government is the patron, the citizen the ward, a view that is at odds with the free man's belief in his own responsibility for his own destiny. The organismic, "what you can do for your country" implies that government is the master or the deity, the citizen, the servant or the votary. To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them. He is proud of a common heritage and loyal to common traditions. But he regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a grantor of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshiped and served. He recognizes no national goal except as it is the consensus of the goals that the citizens severally serve. He recognizes no national purpose except as it is the consensus of the purposes for which the citizens severally strive.” 69 likes
“There is still a tendency to regard any existing government intervention as desirable, to attribute all evils to the market, and to evaluate new proposals for government control in their ideal form, as they might work if run by able, disinterested men free from the pressure of special interest groups.” 9 likes
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