I've often heard of Friedman talk about the 19th and early 20th century as the greatest era for economic prosperity and rebuff the 'Robber Baron' myth. Where do the Austrians stand and do they agree?
Austrians would likely agree that the late 19th century and early 20th century in America had the greatest conditions for the creation of wealth, not necessarily that it was in itself the most prosperous era. It is very doubtful that they would consider those conditions completely laissez-faire, though. Some of the 'robber baron' legends are indeed overblown, e.g. in the cases of Vanderbilt, Gould, Hill, Rockefeller.
Would you argue that it was fairly characterised (especially be people who advocate government intervention) on the whole? Would you argue there was a better example for prosperity through free enterprise in America?
I have to say, every time I hear a Friedman or a Sowell quote on here, I become more and more confused with the relationship between the Chicago School and the Austrian School. Is the Chicago School Minarchist, and the Austrian School Anarchist, or something?
Originally Classical Liberal, Classically Libertarian/radical classical liberal, increasingly anarchistic.
Originally moderate, classically moderate Libertarian, increasingly moderate libertarian.
There's a lot of overlap between AE and other schools of economic thought, especially on the matter of strictly microeconomics. Honestly the real differences between AE and all forms of neoclassical economics arises from the extent to which Austrianism takes subjective value and methodological individualism to heart, whereas NCE Supposedly adheres to them, but it really strays from the path the farther away you get from simple supply/demand stuff. It's also important to note that AE is the only school whose micro and macro theory are really linked, whereas for most adherents of NCE they're two totally different subjects which are only loosely linked.
Friedman was a straight libertarian, Sowell is an extremely pro free market conservative. Economic schools do not necessarily imply outlook or position because there is leeway for disagreement within an economic school, especially since part of your actual economic stance depends upon how you perceive our world to actually be in combination with the actual theory. For instance you could support government expenditure to help provide a stable set of prices if you were a big supporter of Lachmann and thought that equilibrium was extremely tentative and prone to change, an eventuality which is determined by facts of the actual world, not theory of how the world works.
It's also important to note that AE, Marxism, and Keynesian economics are three of the most prescriptive schools, there's a lot more room for variance within most other schools of economics. You can be a NC libertarian, for instance the "Supply side" economists were just NC economists who emphasized the benefits of growth, nothing that they talked about was at all revolutionary.
Anyway, much of what Friedman and Sowell talk about overlap with AE, and so they're popular around here
Ah, I see. A little off subject but...do you think libertarianism/anarcho-capitalism enables it's followers to be militant? I've heard of Insurrectionary Anarchism before, but I know it only seems to be used by the anarcho-syndicalists and anarcho-communists.