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Friedman and Political-Economic Freedom

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LandJ Posted: Sat, Dec 22 2012 1:53 PM

 

Even though, I am in the beginning of searching Libertarianism I found out that political and economic freedom are indivisible. Milton Friedman and others have said that economic freedom results in political freedom.
 
But, Milton Friedman, in his book Capitalism and Freedom 40th Edition and especially in Chapter 1 Relation between Political and Economic Freedom, writes:
"..Fascist Italy, fascist Spain, Japan and Russia before World Wars were societies that could not be considered as politically free. However, in all of them private business was the dominant type of economic organization. Therefore, of course it is feasible to have a capitalistic economy without political freedom."
 
I am somewhat confused because I think I have read an interview of the same economist about Chile case I think, saying that he suggested Pinochet that economic freedom should accompanied with political freedom.
 
So, on the one hand economic freedom leads to political freedom. On the other hand, as Friedman said, fascist governments can provide capitalistic economies. Isn't it contradictious?
 
Please, can you provide your opinions about this issue to help me clear this up?
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Gero replied on Sun, Dec 23 2012 9:48 PM

“However, in all of them private business was the dominant type of economic organization.”

Private in name only.

“Therefore, of course it is feasible to have a capitalistic economy without political freedom.”

The conclusion does not follow from the flawed premise, but his conclusion is true. Consider China. It is capitalist (crony capitalist or corporatist to be specific). There is much leeway in economic activity, but don’t criticize the government or expect unfiltered internet access.

“So, on the one hand economic freedom leads to political freedom.”

Economic freedom is commonly used as a metric to measure nations. The problem is not country is economically free. Nations do not grant their citizens economic freedom. They grant economic privilege. You can trade because I allow you to do so. You can set up a lemonade stand provided you have a license.

“fascist governments can provide capitalistic economies.”

Fascism is not capitalism. It can look like capitalism since private business owners still run their stores, but they are under orders from the government.

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It doesn't matter what name is in the papers, what matters is who is in charge.

You can make more money than your wife, but if she's the one who has the final word about where to put the money you make, the money you've been making is actually hers.

In totalitarian fascist societies, a party or political machine is in charge of most big business operations, regardless of nominal property rights.

The business owners are not overthrown entirely from their positions, since they are useful minions. They have the specific know how that outsiders appointed by party leaders generally lack. And if they are integrated to the party, the party can now leverage their personal influences. 

And if they choose not to cooperate, the party can get rid of them.

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That being said, it's important to distinguish the old school caudillo, like Franco or Pinochet, from the fascist political thugs, such as Mussolini.

Caudillos are autocrats that come to power to preserve a given general pecking order. Generally when the church, the traditional military and the burgeosie are feeling threatened by a political machine that is hijacking the democratic or otherwise costumary political process. These sectos then mobilize a resistance and put some strong man in charge.

Fascism is the totalitarian takeover by the raging political machine, who proceeds to overthrow or emasculate the traditional powers and to subvert the pecking order.

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Bogart replied on Wed, Dec 26 2012 10:23 AM

There is only freedom and that is:  The ability of an individual to use and dispose of justly acquired private property according to their own preferences with the only restriction being that they do not violate the rights of other individuals to do the same.  All other rights follow from this and and are completely valueless without it.

So there is no Economic Freedom, or Political Freedom, or Freedom of Speech, or Freedom of the Press, ... There is just freedom. 

For example: I can not speak freely on the property of someone else without their permission.  But I certainly can not get a large audience without the permission of some property owner like the owners of YouTube or a television station.  So I might believe I have some right to free speech, but without a vehicle to get the message out, that right has no value.

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z1235 replied on Wed, Dec 26 2012 12:08 PM

Bogart:
So there is no Economic Freedom, or Political Freedom, or Freedom of Speech, or Freedom of the Press, ... There is just freedom.

+1

"Political" freedom, especially, is an oxymoron under any meaningful definition of the term. One can only be politically free to the extent they are free from politics (collectivist violence/aggression) itself. 

 

 

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LandJ replied on Sat, Apr 6 2013 11:06 AM

Can you explain me something?

Libertarians claim that the more economic freedom the more political freedom. Thus, decline in econ. freedom leads to restriction in political freedom.

 

Here, in Greece, government has restricted economic freedom extremely the last 3 years. High taxation, red tape, high social security costs etc.. But people, are still politically free. They vote, they express their opinion etc..

How do you explain this?

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gotlucky replied on Sat, Apr 6 2013 11:39 AM

That's really cool that they can vote.

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LandJ replied on Sat, Apr 6 2013 11:46 AM

ok, ignore this and concentrate just on the right of freedom of expression that Greeks still have.

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These are deep waters. Here is how I see it.

If you have economic freedom, meaning allowed to keep your money and do with it as you please, then 99% of your life is free. The govt may not allow you to criticize them or replace them, but who cares?

If you do not have economic freedom, it means the govt is taking your money. Meaning you work, and they take the money you earn. This is slavery, not frredom. Even if you are allowed to vote, express an opinion, change the govt, if the new govt is certain to keep all the old laws in place that take your money, you are not free. The Greeks have no way of getting rid of those high taxes and red tape and high social security costs etc. All the elections in the world will not change that, nor will all the opinions they express. Because whoever they vote for will want to keep all those things. Anyone who wants to change them is prevented from running for office by various tricks. 

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It's easy to refute an argument if you first misrepresent it. William Keizer

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LandJ replied on Sat, Apr 6 2013 12:11 PM

A government that does not allow me to criticize or replace them, inevitably will restrict my economic freedom. Because in real word, such governments are communists, left wing fascists, right wing fascists, nationalists, military juntas etc. These governments will ban the trade of products that express different/oppossing messages, values, opinions.  

For example a communist government will not allow me to buy Mises's books.  Am I free? No.

Other example, a right wing nationalist junta will not allow me to buy Lenin's books, or a newspaper that opposes government policies. Am I free? No.

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What is understood as economic freedom is a subset of political freedom.

Your freedom to trade, start business and establish voluntary commercial contracts and to keep the proceedings of your activities to yourself are actually some of the possible concessions allowed by the groups that concentrate political power in your region.

And so are freedom of speech and thought and press, the rights to keep and bear arms and so on.

These politically powerful groups will make these concessions insofar as they perceive the inherent tradeoffs as favorable to their own persistence in power.

In some countries and regions, the political elites may find it more useful to be very restrictive regarding certain and not other liberties.

And the nature and character of the political tradeoffs faced by a warlord in post-colonial central Africa, a political gangster in the Weimar Germany and an army general in a Chile ruled by a KGB asset are not always analogous to those that occupy republican and democrats in the U.S.

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LandJ replied on Sun, Apr 7 2013 5:20 AM

Other claim that only economic freedom matters, without emphasizing civil liberties.

  • If we are economically free why Libertarians support freedom in general?
     
  • If we can find happiness/prosperity with economic freedom, we do not need civil liberties. Is that true?
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LandJ:

Other claim that only economic freedom matters, without emphasizing civil liberties.

  • If we are economically free why Libertarians support freedom in general?
  • If we can find happiness/prosperity with economic freedom, we do not need civil liberties. Is that true?

 

There's no freedom in general. And there's not even "political" or "economic freedom" in general.

Much of modern political debate is orbits around this dichotomy of political/economic freedom, but that's a frail conception.

What exist are the practical constraints that groups are subjected by or impose on other groups.

What libertarians call "individual freedom" is basically a situation where power is distributed in such a way that individuals are able to secure a larger role in the social-decision making process.

Every right is a claim by an individual or group that imposes constraints on the behavior of everyone else, and it exists insofar as the claimant is able to secure using his power.

There's no political or economic decisions. There are only consequential decisions about what to do with allotted scarce resources. Some are highly tradable, like money and commodities and services, others are less tradable, like time, honor, dignity and love.

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LandJ:

Other claim that only economic freedom matters, without emphasizing civil liberties.

  • If we are economically free why Libertarians support freedom in general?
  • If we can find happiness/prosperity with economic freedom, we do not need civil liberties. Is that true?

 

There's no freedom in general. And there's not even "political" or "economic freedom" in general.

Much of modern political debate is orbits around this dichotomy of political/economic freedom, but that's a frail conception.

What exist are the practical constraints that groups are subjected by or impose on other groups.

What libertarians call "individual freedom" is basically a situation where power is distributed in such a way that everyday individuals are able to secure a larger role in the social-decision making process, as opposed to being cogs in a system where decisions are ultimately taken by elites.

Every right is a claim by an individual or group that imposes constraints on the behavior of everyone else, and it exists insofar as the claimant is able to secure using his power.

There's no political or economic decisions. There are only consequential decisions about what to do with allotted scarce resources. Some are highly tradable, like money and commodities and services, others are less tradable, like time, honor, dignity and love.

"Blood alone moves the wheels of history" - Dwight Schrute
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