Defaming Milton Friedman

Naomi Klein's disastrous yet popular polemic against the great free market economist

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, by Naomi Klein, New York: Metropolitan Books, 576 pages, $28.

In the future, if you tell a student or a journalist that you favor free markets and limited government, there is a risk that they will ask you why you support dictatorships, torture, and corporate welfare. The reason for the confusion will be Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

In a very short time, the book has become a 21st-century bible for anticapitalists. It has also drawn praise from mainstream reviewers: "There are very few books that really help us understand the present," gushed The Guardian. "The Shock Doctrine is one of those books." Writing in The New York Times, the Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz called it "a rich description of the political machinations required to force unsavory economic policies on resisting countries."

Klein's basic argument is that economic liberalization is so unpopular that it can only win through deception or coercion. In particular, it relies on crises. During a natural disaster, a war, or a military coup, people are disoriented, confused, and preoccupied with their own immediate survival, allowing regimes to liberalize trade, to privatize, and to reduce public spending with little opposition. According to Klein, "neoliberal" economists have welcomed Hurricane Katrina, the Southeast Asian tsunami, the Iraq war, and the South American military coups of the 1970s as opportunities to introduce radical free market policies. The chief villain in her story is Milton Friedman, the economist who did more than anyone in the 20th century to popularize free market ideas.

To make her case, Klein exaggerates the market reforms in question, often ignoring central events and rewriting chronologies. She confuses libertarianism with the quite different concepts of corporatism and neoconservatism. And she subjects Milton Friedman to one of the most malevolent distortions of a thinker's ideas in recent history.

Exhibit A against Friedman is a quote from what Klein calls "one of his most influential essays": "Only a crisis-actual or perceived-produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable." This, says Klein, is "the shock doctrine." In a not-very-subtle short film based on the book, the quote appears over images of prisoners being tortured.



Click above to watch Johan Norberg discuss the The Shock Doctrine and the defaming of Milton Friedman.


The quote is not, in fact, from one of Friedman's most influential essays; it's from a very brief introduction to a reprint of his book Capitalism and Freedom. And it is not a rationale for welcoming disasters; it's about the uncontroversial fact that people change their minds when the old ways seem to fail. Friedman provides a telling example, which Klein neglects to quote: Young Americans joined him in opposing the military draft after the Vietnam War forced them to risk their lives on another continent.

She also distorts other Friedman quotes to support her case. She pretends that Friedman's concept of "the tyranny of the status quo" refers the tyranny of voters, and that he believed crises were needed to bypass the democratic process. But for Friedman, the tyranny was something entirely different: an iron triangle of politicians, bureaucrats, and specialinterest groups (businesses, for example) that deceive voters.

Discussing Friedman's proposal to reduce inflation through sweeping market reforms, Klein writes, "Friedman predicted that the speed, suddenness and scope of the economic shifts would provoke psychological reactions in the public that ‘facilitate the adjustment.' " This gives the impression that Friedman wanted to disorient people through pain in order to push through his reforms. But the quote in its entirety shows that Friedman had something very different in mind. If a government chooses to attack inflation in this way, he wrote, "it should be announced publicly in great detail....The more fully the public is informed, the more will its reactions facilitate the adjustment." In other words, if voters are not ignorant and not disoriented, but fully informed of the reform steps, they will facilitate the adjustment by changing their saving, consuming, and bargaining behavior. Friedman's view was the opposite of what Klein claims.

Not content to misrepresent Friedman's opinions, Klein blames him for various crimes committed around the world. Most notably, she links him to Augusto Pinochet's brutal military dictatorship in Chile in the 1970s, writing that Friedman acted as "adviser to the Chilean dictator."

In fact, Friedman never worked as an adviser to, and never accepted a penny from, the Chilean regime. He even turned down two honorary degrees from Chilean universities that received government funding, because he did not want to be seen as endorsing a dictatorship he considered "terrible" and "despicable." He did spend six days in Chile in March 1975 to give public lectures, at the invitation of a private foundation. When he was there he met with Pinochet for about 45 minutes and wrote him a letter afterward, arguing for a plan to end hyperinflation and liberalize the economy. He gave the same kind of advice to communist dictatorships as well, including the Soviet Union, China, and Yugoslavia.

Klein twists this relationship beyond recognition, claiming Pinochet's 1973 coup was executed to allow free market economists ("the Chicago Boys," as the economists from Friedman's University of Chicago were called) to enact their reforms. This false link is crucial for giving the impression that the Friedmanites have blood on their hands, since the most violent period of the regime came right after the coup. But Friedman's visit, which Klein claims started the real transformation, came two years later. Klein insists on having it both ways.

The reality was that Chile's military officials were initially in charge of the economy. They were corporatist and paternalist, and they opposed the Chicago Boys' ideas. The air force controlled social policy, for example, and it blocked market reforms until 1979. It wasn't until this approach led to runaway inflation that Pinochet belatedly threw his weight behind liberalization and gave civilians ministerial positions. Their success in fighting inflation impressed Pinochet, so they were given a larger role.

Klein could have used the real chronology to attack Friedman for visiting a dictatorship that tortured its opponents-a commonly heard criticism of the economist-but that's not enough for her. To find support for her central thesis that economic liberalism requires violence, she has to make it look like torture and violence were the direct outcome of Friedman's ideas.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • texas_libertarian||

    Naomi Klein is such a cunt.

  • I love Ron Paul||

    I don't think I've ever hated anyone more in my life.

    Nobody says bad things about Milton Friedman.
    Nobody!

  • ||

    I guess you hate Rothbard then.

  • Rothbard_is_a_loser||

    Friedman's practical minarchism >> Rothbard's market-worship

  • JMR||

    This is just the latest symptom of antilibertarian media bias. I hereby predict plenty of interviews with Ms. Klein, none of which will ask the obvious questions regarding her politically motivated distortions. Sadly, Stewart & Colbert will be among the first to fall into the pit, if my guess is correct.

  • texas_libertarian||

    Sadly, Stewart & Colbert will be among the first to fall into the pit, if my guess is correct.

    Right. And most people actually believe half the shit on Stewert and Colbert.

    Check out this debate between Klein and Alan Greenspan on Democracy Now!

  • crabass mcgee||

    I can't get the damn video to work!

  • ||

    Klein's responses to Norberg's criticisms are absolutely woeful. She tries to cover her ass on her claim that Friedman supported the war in that disingenuous way only Klein can get away with. Norberg says that Friedman was against the war from the start, and to counter this, Klein quotes Friedman as saying something along the lines of "as long as we're in it, we should try to be successful." Are her readers really so mesmerized by her that they fail to see that this isn't even close to a counterexample? And she relies on her own translations of an article published in German? Really??

    It's surprising that Klein has any credibility with anybody. Instead of tempering her claims to fit the reality, she does what George W. Bush does: distort the facts to fit her preconceived thesis. That makes her a phony intellectual and a terrible person. I've got my own criticisms of corporate power, but Klein way outside the bounds of reasonable debate. She's the book version of a troll.

  • ||

    Thanks for writing this, Johan. I'm constantly amazed, even though experience tells me I shouldn't be, at the lengths to which anti-capitalists will go to distort the truth about anyone who advocates for free markets.

  • taz||

    Good timing. The Huffington Post just put up an interview with her about the current "shock" to the economy. Somehow she still believes that it fits her thesis. Wow.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wajahat-ali/the-economic-shock-an-int_b_128977.html

    In my defense, I don't read the HO regularly; I just went to school with the interviewer (I thank Facebook for the tip).

  • adrian||

    she sounds like a fucking bitch.


    Johan, really liking your book so far (yeah i'm a few years late). Good work.

  • ||

    I'm constantly amazed, even though experience tells me I shouldn't be, at the lengths to which anti-capitalists will go to distort the truth about anyone who advocates for free markets

    What amazes me is the extent, in their minds, to which "free markets" are this insane Bela Lugosi-level monster that will drain the blood of the children and grind old people into hamburger to feed to slightly less old people.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Ah . . . Klein. Is there nothing you can't bash?

  • T Maz||

    "Klein's basic argument is that economic liberalization is so unpopular that it can only win through deception or coercion. In particular, it relies on crises. During a natural disaster, a war, or a military coup, people are disoriented, confused, and preoccupied with their own immediate survival, allowing regimes to liberal-ize trade, to privatize, and to reduce public spending with little opposition. "

    Of course!! That is why the current 'crisis' is being greeted with cries to put government in charge of the banking system and spend $700 bn of our money on junk loans. haha

    Klein is 180 degrees out of phase with reality.

  • Dagny T.||

    Somewhere in the bowels of YouTube, there is a crudely cobbled-together video of actual Friedman quotes, and Klein blatantly ignoring each and every one. That her argument is absurd really ought to be common knowledge.

    She's an embarrassment to Canadians everywhere.

  • ||

    Naomi Klein: How refreshingly dishonest!™

  • classwarrior||

    "Business corporations in general are not defenders of free enterprise. On the contrary, they are one of the
    chief sources of danger....Every businessman is in favor of freedom for everybody else, but when it comes to himself that's a different question. We have to have that tariff to protect us against competition from abroad. We have to have that special provision in the tax code. We have to have that subsidy."

    Exactly. So why is it again that libertarians believe that corporate donations to politicians should be unregulated because it's "free speech" or that they be given the all the rights of legal personhood?

  • Amakudari||

    I remember reading his Cato paper back in May. Without RTFA (well, I skimmed), I'll assume his case or more or less the same. I'm content enough to know that none of my friends who desire any real influence in economics or finance take her work seriously.

  • ||

    From her wikipedia page: "Klein ranked 11th in an internet poll of the top global intellectuals of 2005, a list of the world's top 100 public intellectuals compiled by the Prospect magazine in conjunction with Foreign Policy magazine. She was the highest ranked woman on the list."

    Oh. My. Fucking. God.

  • Salvius||

    You just aren't following her logic: Klein hates Friedman, therefore everything she hates is "Friedmanite".

    "'All wood burns,' states Sir Bedivere, 'therefore [he concludes], all that burns is wood.' This is, of course, pure bullshit."

  • ||

    Epi--All that's left now is for her to get a Macarthur "Genuis" award.

  • ||

    In fact its Disaster Socialism that's happening right now in this country. Every disruption is viewed as a chance for more state control.

  • ||

    I would say "In fact its Disaster Socialism that's happening right now in this country. Every disruption is viewed as a 'reason' for more state control."

  • ||

    During a natural disaster, a war, or a military coup, people are disoriented, confused, and preoccupied with their own immediate survival, allowing regimes to liberal-ize trade, to privatize, and to reduce public spending with little opposition.

    That may be the most delusional sentence I have ever read. Since when have wars, disasters, etc. ever led to smaller government?

    While, on occasion, a war will result in the overthrow of one regime and the elevation of one that is less tyrannical, that is usually the express purpose of the damn thing, not some sneaky side effect put over on the proletariat by a cabal of illuminati.

  • ||

    So why is it again that libertarians believe that corporate donations to politicians should be unregulated because it's "free speech"

    Not all libertarians believe that. Some of us olde schoole types think that corporation donations of any kind, charitable or political, are ultra vires, violations of the corporation's duty to the shareholders. If the corporation has spare cash to give away, it should be distributed as a dividend, so the shareholder can do what they like with it.

    Of course, non-profit corporations are a different matter. They are generally free associations of persons seeking a specific end. I see no reason not to allow people to pool their resources to pursue mutually agreeable goals, which can include communicating with their fellows.

    or that they be given the all the rights of legal personhood?

    The usual statement is that a corporation is a "legal" person, meaning that they can sue and be sued, etc. Unless you can find me someone who thinks corporations should have the right to vote, I don't think anyone believes they should be given all the rights of a natural person, which is what you are implying.

  • ||

    Friedman may not be responsible for the neoconservative interventions Klein describes, but he's certainly used for intellectual cover.

    Libertarianism keeps getting defined by what it isn't. Fine, it's not the same thing as corporatism (though they both favor deregulation). Can anyone tell me exactly what it is, why it's so great, and provide historical examples to support this thesis?

  • Michael Price||

    So the fact that he's used as "intellectual cover" for people he argues AGAINST means it's OK to equate his views with their opposite? And no corporatists do NOT favor deregulation and never have. Libertarianism is simple, you don't beat people up or take their stuff. Stop pretending it's this amazingly complex thing that can't be defined.

  • ||

    Naomi Klein's diatribes are typically shrouded in contorted factoids, lies, half truths, and non sequiturs.

    What's new? She can't stand the idea of business organizations existing, human beings trading natural resources, and private property; that goes without saying. Doesn't that reveal her mind is foggy and lacks any real perspective of how the western world works?

  • ||

    Naomi Klein, basically, is a purveyor of black propaganda.

    Her mission in life appears to be to craft carefully designed disinformation to undermine support for free markets and drum up support for socialist policies.

    She's no so much interested in the truth as in advancing a radical leftist political agenda through any means necessary. So she's identified the main pillars of market-oriented philosophy and has decided to systematically attack them though dishonest polemics.

    It's a strategy that is essentially Gramscian in nature. Hence the close relationship between her style of debate and that of Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, et. al. Tell half the story, twist the facts to fit your narrative. Adopt a pose of outraged moral self-righteousness while associating your opponents with all that is evil.

    In other words, socialism can't win through honest argument, so it is forced to resort to dishonest demoagogury to take power.

  • ||

    Other Tony: Assuming you aren't deliberately trolling...

    Can anyone tell me exactly what [Libertarianism] is, why it's so great, and provide historical examples to support this thesis?

    Bad question. It's like stumbling into a deep discussion of "Othello" and asking "who was Shakespeare, and why should I care?"

    There are many, many resources on teh interwebs. As with all things, start with Wikipedia. The article may not be accurate, but it will certainly give you a starting point and a list of where else to look for info.

  • ||

    Tony-

    Corporatism doesn't favor deregulation. It favors regulation and other government intervention targted at benefiting the large, oligarchal businesses that form one half of the mutually supportive corporate-government complex.

    They use free-market rhetoric because that's a lot easier to sell than economic fascism, and their enemies on the left eat it up and repeat it to bolster their fundamental opposition to actual free markets.

  • economist||

    So Naomi Klein is a fucking bitch who fantasizes about being raped by Karl Marx.
    Is that supposed to be news?

  • ||

    We should have free-elections too. Why all the rules. And free-driving too, I hate the man telling me how fast to drive. And free-child-rearing is also another good idea. Give child free reign, without rules, and they will be able regulate themselves without parental interference and grow up great, if not better than there fascist brothers and sisters.

    Why do we just have anarchy in the business world? The invisible hand can work everywhere!
    If only others had the idea of doing nothing and hoping/knowing everything will work out for the better.

  • Bill||

    Andrew, if you are truly interested, do some reading on Hayek and his concepts of spontaneous order and the use of knowledge in society.

    The internet as it currently exists, and academic research are very good examples of the "free market" at work. As are flea markets and farmer's markets. These all arise from voluntary associations. It's funny that lefty academics never argue that the college administration should make more of the decisions for the faculty or that the government should regulate their research and keep track of who is studying what and partition it all out. After all, these are highly complex areas where many individuals have to cooperate, but they instinctively realize that it would be impossible and counter-productive. But everyone thinks that if THEY don't understand how it all fits together that it can't possibly work and that somehow the government can get a group of experts to plan it all out. Juvenile.

  • economist||

    What I love is when leftists like Naomi Klein explain how corporatism and fascism are the same as laissez-faire capitalism, and in other arguments will explain why all of the communist regimes of the past century were "not what Karl Marx advocated". That is, once they gave up trying to deny the crimes of said regimes.

  • economist||

    andrew,
    While you're whacking to the thought of killing a straw man, I'll be getting drunk.

  • ||

    I assume that's what economists do.

  • ||

    ... and I'm finished. Does anyone have a towel?

  • ||

    DIE, STRAW MAN!!! DIIIIEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • economist||

    Actually, andrew, what the hell are you arguing? Or are you just a troll?

  • economist||

    "Sadly, Stewart and Colbert will be the first to fall into the pit."
    While Stephen Colbert mocking of the right is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, Stewart is a complete hack.
    Main reason I watch the Colbert Report, not the Daily Show.

  • ||

    No I'm trolling accidentally...?

    I respect what libertarians have to say about personal freedoms, ending the drug war, etc., that's why I hang out here. But I've yet to be convinced the second tier of their ideology, economic libertarianism, is anything but a vague set of first principles nobody is allowed to question and that have never been enacted in the real world. A dogma that misses a central point of the philosophy of liberty--that lacking certain pragmatic rules, freedom becomes impossible.

    I didn't ask the question because I don't know what libertarianism is; I asked it because I don't think any of you do either. Wikipedia defines like 10 different versions, some of which even champion redistribution of wealth!

    Which brings us to Klein. Libertarianism--personal freedom, government downsizing--is pretty much a wispy academic thing EXCEPT as used by conservatives in power today. Then it's used as an excuse to gut governments and to essentially pillage countries for the benefit of corporations and elites. Whatever the actual motives of American Republicans from the 80s to today, whether they actually believe government is too intrusive and shouldn't provide safety nets, etc., or if they're just using that as an excuse to plunder its treasury for their corporate puppet masters, I find the philosophy abhorrent.

  • Gutted??||

    Yes, I see your point. The government keeps getting smaller all the time. You are a first-class thinker.

    And I'm sure that you know more about the ten types of libertarianism from Wiki than I do after reading and thinking about it for 32 years.

  • economist||

    "Lacking a certain set of pragmatic rules, freedom becomes impossible"
    or
    "We had to kill the patient to save him"
    Of course, whether or not this comparison is valid depends on what "pragmatic rules" means.

  • economist||

    Tony,
    Quick question: how would this "pillaging of countries" be effected by protecting property rights and not interfering in voluntary transactions between consenting individuals? The "corporate plunder" argument only works if you ignore everything that libertarians actually say about economic policy, rather than the words or ideas attributed to them by others. Gee, maybe you could read the article again, and it will make more sense.

  • economist||

    "Wikipedia defines 10 different versions(of libertarianism), some of which even champion the redistribution of wealth"
    In general, I would argue that the farthest leftward one can go in describing redistribution as "libertarian" is with geolibertarianism, which is chiefly concerned with the Lockean proviso that warned against unlimited private property in unused private resources e.g. claiming an entire uncultivated valley as one's own property without having labored or produced anything with the resources. This actually seems like a reasonable view, and because it usually recognizes private property in capital and labor and individual rights, it is also libertarian.

    However, other "left-libertarian" or "libertarian socialist" philosophies are just anarchistic forms of collectivist ideologies. They generally lack well-defined ideas of what constitutes legitimate possession or the initiation of force, and thus tend to see all inequalities (whether created by force or arising naturally) as injustices that must be remedied by collective action. This philosophies are not truly libertarian, and ought not be described as such.

  • Sam Grove||

    Then it's used as an excuse to gut governments

    Excuse me!?

    Libertarianism used as an excuse to gut governments?

    Show me anything to that effect.

  • Paul||

    During a natural disaster, a war, or a military coup, people are disoriented, confused, and preoccupied with their own immediate survival, allowing regimes to liberal-ize trade, to privatize, and to reduce public spending with little opposition.



    Wow, this is false on its face. Let's take a little test:

    We're currently in a "crisis" (or so we're told).

    Choose one of the following:

    Congress and the Washington establishment are rushing to:

    A: Liberalize trade and reduce public spending and deregulate the economy.

    B: Nationalize major aspects of the economy declared as "not working".

    C: Boost public spending and and create a New New Deal.

    D: Re-regulate and create entirely new market "oversight" through SEC and FED interventions.

    E: B, C & D

  • paul||

    Like George Shultz said, "Everybody loves to argue with Milton, particularly when he isn't there."

    RIP compadre.

  • Paul||

    Here's another one.

    During WWII, FDR Moved to:

    A: Liberalize trade, allow people to own gold. let the market dictate prices.

    B: Provide price and wage controls and declare the ownership of gold illegal.

  • Joel||

    Somewhere in the bowels of YouTube, there is a crudely cobbled-together video of actual Friedman quotes, and Klein blatantly ignoring each and every one. That her argument is absurd really ought to be common knowledge.

    This might be the one you mean:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2kTy7glZ9s

  • ||

    Tony, there's a difference between a "set of pragmatic rules" designed to facilitate voluntary transactions between informed, consenting, individuals, and a set of rules designed to implement social welfare programs and wealth redistribution schemes.

    Many libertarians are perfectly fine with contract enforcement and transparency. (Well, some are more radical than others.) We have a problem with using regulations as a means of social engineering or economic manipulation, which is what most of our current regulations do.

    In truth, IMO, the regulation of mortgage backed securities failed in the area of transparency. People didn't, and weren't able to, know what they were buying, because these instruments were too opaque. I.e. even an informed investor could not make an informed decisions. Another take would be to argue that the securities were effectively fraudulent and the sellers should be taken to court. The distinction between libertarians who accept some regulations and those who don't is the degree to which we're willing to permit an agency to play the role of the courts in contract enforcement.

    Unfortunately, this crisis will probably be used to ram through not just improved financial regulations aimed at transparency. but a whole massive agenda of social engineering projects and wealth redistribution initiatives.

  • Andy||

    First off, to anyone dissing the promotion of free markets: it's a question of degree. While most libertarians philosophically advocate close to complete freedom (morally speaking, everyone should understand that position), in reality it isn't going to happen. So, look to degrees.

    America is pretty free, and also pretty rich. China and India are booming after freeing up their economies. Places like Hong Kong do very well by being free. Europe is coasting on its free-market foundations and will be for some time. They are a good example of how free markets create wealth and prosperity, allowing average people the comfort to entertain socialist-lite ideas.

    But my original point: Naomi Klein sucks. Complaining about corporations exploiting poor workers in foreign countries; well Naomi, what kind of policies make those workers poor? India, China, Africa, Latin America, bastions of free markets?

    Arguing the Bush administration had a plan for post-invasion Iraq, a documentary about a collective factory in Argentina (how cute). And yes, the argument that crises lead to radical free-market reforms.

    She is pretty cute though.

  • Mike||

    In the future? College kids say that *now*, and have since the early 20th Century.

  • Jeff||

    Keep fighting the good fight Johan.

  • John||

    What an uneducated person. Poor guy.

  • ||

    Tony: "I didn't ask the question because I don't know what libertarianism is; I asked it because I don't think any of you do either. Wikipedia defines like 10 different versions, some of which even champion redistribution of wealth!"

    Because you find a subject complex, and because it eludes understanding at a cursory glance, your rationalization is that nobody understands it?

    Libertarianism is to one of its subsets as monotheism is to Protestant Christianity. It is a loosely defined category of philosophies, in other words, not a school of thought unto itself, and to properly "understand" a libertarian philosophy, be it Hayek's or Friedman's, you must open a book or two, not read Wikipedia entries or sample the comments section of a libertarian website. The same can be said of any other serious political ideology.

    And, to explore the monotheism analogy further (but not literally), the philosophy of a Hayek or Smith contrasts with common libertarian doctrine like academic theology does with vulgar fundamentalism.

    Tony: "Which brings us to Klein. Libertarianism--personal freedom, government downsizing--is pretty much a wispy academic thing EXCEPT as used by conservatives in power today. Then it's used as an excuse to gut governments and to essentially pillage countries for the benefit of corporations and elites."

    What you mean to say is that neoliberal economic arguments have been used to advocate an interventionist foreign policy. I have no objections save the inappropriate and sensational choice of terms.

    Tony: "Whatever the actual motives of American Republicans from the 80s to today, whether they actually believe government is too intrusive and shouldn't provide safety nets, etc., or if they're just using that as an excuse to plunder its treasury for their corporate puppet masters, I find the philosophy abhorrent."

    This is a false dichotomy, of course, but I find the moralistic simplicity of it to be more damning.

  • ||

    Johan Norberg does a great job of refuting Naomi Klein's lies about Milton Friedman.

    My only criticism is that he is too polite to call her a liar. But she IS a g**d****ed liar ... an utterly reprobate liar who calls evil good and good evil.

  • ||

    Naomi Klein and the anti-market types surely must consider Friedman their most vexing opponent. With Friedman's recent passing, only now do these people sense that they have a chance to win arguments against him.

  • ||

    Actually Milton Friedman is a communist.

    See, Milton Friedman developed the idea for a Negative Income Tax, a flat tax + a government handout so the poor could have some money.

    Obama's ideas stem somewhat from this, and as we all know Obama is a communist. Therefore Friedman is as well.

  • ||

    isn't the fact that we have and allow corporations legal protections part of the problem in the free market? Say if we didn't and the actual people who ran them were liable for their actions wouldn't we then see more care taken in their running?

  • ||

    Is Klein a pheonemon cast in the Paris Hilton mold - famous for being famous? She's not particularly well educated, nor is she a gifted writer and she isn't a hottie. What the hell is it that gets attention - oh, that's right, incredible mendacity for a noble cause.

  • Nick||

    Thank you so much, Johan, for your thorough debunking.

    This is why the only way libertarians will even get through the Left's thick heads: start criticizing corporations more. Friedman did it, Adam Smith did it, etc. but not enough to get the far Left to believe them. Unless we completely dislocate any connection between libertarianism/classical liberalism and corporatism, we're never going to make any progress in that direction.

    I would even advocate replacing the personal and corporate income tax with a corporate value tax, creating disincentive for corporations to merge and reduce market competition. Such a tax is justified because the corporate entity is a protection granted by government, and the larger a corporation gets, the more legal protection required for their property. This would also encourage corporations to return excess profits to their stockholders instead of hording them for themselves. Combined advocating for easier piercing of the corporate veil for corporate criminals who commit fraud or violations of rights and property, this would potentially change the Left's view of laissez-faire economics (as corporations are automatically not laissez-faire by their very nature, and reducing their power by taxing government protections and forcing individuals to be personally responsible for their actions actually encourages a freer market.)

  • shoefly||

    I have read numerous memoirs, biographies, histories, and political economic studies of modern China. I have had numerous discussions with Chinese colleagues in my academic career. I have traveled widely in China and discussed the 89 uprisings with Chinese people (and they say different things alone than when they are in groups, naturally). While opinions differ on whether the Chinese leaders needed to put a stop to the protests (their methods as well, the degree of violence, etc.) I have never heard it argued anywhere that the reason that the leaders acted in the way they did was that they, the leaders, actually wanted to speed up the reforms which the protestors (according to Klein) opposed! This is surely a parody.

  • ant||

    Klein responds to some of this or rather to another article on Cato, same topic.

    http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2008/09/response-attacks

    btw, I was trying to read the original article and came close to stopping because those pop-ups kept blocking my view of the text. If you actually want a wider audience to read your posts, you might consider doing something different with these fucking pop ups. Really really annoying.

  • ||

    I agree with the "corporation vs {personal responsibilty'" opinions super. I will also point out that for every hard-core Friedmanite, there are moar than 9000 corporatists who will quote what Friedman they like when it's convenient for them, but ditch him when desired...similarly, on the American Right, I can recall loads of vigourous defence of the Pinochet régime on the basis of "at least they're doing Free Market [Heavenly Choir: Aaaaah!] reforms.

    I don't blame Friedman entirely for the Friedmanites, but he certainly came in handy for them....

  • JMR||

    Reason, are you listening on the pop-ups? Get rid of them, or make them blockable by normal pop-up blockers so we can't see them 1000 times. If people want to donate to Reason in these hard times, they will, but if anything the popups REPEL donations. I've given money to libertarian causes before, but I hereby urge all donors NOT to give to Reason until they get rid of that fucking screen. Just kill it. Now. Give up. It sucks. If you don't have things that suck, you'll do better financially. Just beg normally, not annoyingly.

  • ||

    The situation in the economy just goes to show where a totally deregulated free market economy takes you. Now which instituations have to come to the rescue? Big surprise, the goverment, in the form of taxpayers who the majority og will never see the salaries and bonuses the bankers enjoyed and have now stashed away. Thankfully free market ideology is looking dead, along with friedman, and good riddance.

  • Josh||

    That's right. You are real smart. We have had a totally deregulated free market economy for real long. I predict you will go fore.

  • ||

    Hmmm...wasn't part of the problem with the current crisis was that the Federal government required institutions to make loans that they normally would not make, i.e. regulation can, in part, be blamed for the current mess?

  • ||

    It's surprising that Klein has any credibility with anybody. Instead of tempering her claims to fit the reality, she does what George W. Bush does: distort the facts to fit her preconceived thesis.

    Unfortunately, it's not surprising in the least. Her readers share her preconceptions are looking to her for support and confirmation. They're not looking critically for distortions, lies by omission, and contradictions.

    But Klein, on the other hand -- I think she knows exactly what she's doing. The distortions are not an accident. The way she justifies this to herself, I'm sure, is that this is all in service of a 'deeper truth', that the selective portions of Friedman's writings that she cites are the ones that reveal the 'true' blackness of his heart while the exculpatory passages she intentionally excluded would only have obscured this 'truth' and confused her readers.

  • ||

    What exactly are young Johan's credentials for pontificating on economics?

  • ||

    classwarrior:

    So why is it again that libertarians believe that corporate donations to politicians should be unregulated because it's "free speech"

    This completely misses the point. Of course libertarians believe that corporations (or anyone else) should be free to give as much money as they like to politicians (or anyone else).

    But in your dishonesty, you neglect to mention the rest:

    Libertarians believe that politicians should not have the power to do anything worth paying a bribe for. So, give the politician $1million, $5million, $10million, whatever...fine. But he should not have the power to take that money and bestow some kind of state favor to that corporation (or anyone for that matter). That's the whole point of libertarianism, the free market and laissez-faire capitalism.

    As for the shareholders - it is up to them whether or not they agree to such donations. But in a libertarian world, there would be no point in making such a bribe in the first place.

  • ||

    I didn't read all of this ranting against Naomi Klein, so maybe somewhere in there, someone has replied to some of the distortions in the first part of this thread.

    Here is a big one. Lamar says: "Klein's responses to Norberg's criticisms are absolutely woeful. She tries to cover her ass on her claim that Friedman supported the war in that disingenuous way only Klein can get away with."

    Really? What is woeful and disingenuous about showing how in 2004 when Friedman was asked if he judged the war criticially said "A clear no. US President Bush only wanted war because anything else would have threatened the freedom and the prosperity of the USA."

    Lamar fails to mention the content of the translation which he, on no grounds, insinuates should not be trusted.

    What is woeful and disingenuous are the bulk of the comments in this thread. Does anyone here actually know of a more objective and careful critical review of Klein's work?

  • oxgrind||

    Benson,
    Isn't it strange that the only source that Klein can find where Friedman allegedly supported the war was a German magazine? Doesn't that strike you as just a bit fishy?

    For more on this, Klein had a response to Norberg, then Norberg responded to Klein's response. I haven't seen if she responded back to this. But I found Klein's website and then on wikipedia I found a reference to Norberg's latest response. I think he covers just exactly what Friedman said in that German magazine interview and how Klein distorted it. But read it and judge for yourself.

  • ||

    oxgrind, No, i don't find that particularly fishy. Why should I? Is Friedman talking about this everywhere all the time? Does it not count that it was in Germany? What I find fishy is Lamar not mentioning the content of this. I doubt he searched out Norberg's response. Klein gave the exact cite to the site where Friedman's comments can be found. On the other hand, I cannot find what you are referring to. Why can't you provide a link to it?

  • ||

    Okay, I found it (google "Three Days After Klein's Response, Another Attack"). No, that is really not very impressive as a reply, I'm afraid. In any case, it was Lamar's (and similar ranting) that I was complaining about above.

  • Bill||

    Here is the link:

    It's pretty good. Should be persuasive even for lefties if you have any pretense of caring about the truth.

    www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9626

  • shoefly||

    Dave,
    The market was "totally deregulated." Wow, I didn't even know it was partially deregulated.

    Bensen,
    You say you didn't find his comments convincing but then you don't provide any reasons. He does address what Friedman actually said in the article. Do you read German fluently yourself? I also think it interesting that Klein doesn't address any of the comments about China that Norberg made. Perhaps because deep down she knows she's got China completely backwards, as anyone with even the vaguest familiarity with Chinese culture and modern history can tell you.

    If you don't find it fishy that Klein was only able to find one source on Friedman's views ( journal in a foreign language ) than that just demostrates a personal bias or ignorance of Friedman's career on your part. Friedman was not known for hiding his views on any political or political economic subject.

  • ||

    I am no Milton Friedman scholar to say her depiction of him is correct or not. But the reality is Naomi Klein's shock doctrine observation is right on the spot. Look at the oil-price and off-shore drilling. And the "we-have-no-other choice" $700 billion for Henry Paulson. You may try to argue the past, but she is right at the present.

  • Huh?||

    Only if you conflate something with its exact opposite.

    Friedman and most people who frequent this site are against ANY bailouts.

    Bailouts are NOT FREE MARKET.

    Free enterprise and Corporatism are OPPOSITES.

    What do we call it when the government is involved in the economy to this extent? Economic fascism perhaps?, or corporate/democratic socialism (not complete ownership of means of production but heavy involvement).

    Asinine to call something its opposite. But perhaps this is a way the mind has of protecting itself. Otherwise someone would have to admit they were wrong and some of their assumptions are nonsense. Or you are just too intellectually lazy or incompetent to do anything but lump people and beliefs into two camps as Klein does. Even then she puts corporatism in the wrong camp so she is doubly wrong.

  • ||

    shoefly, let me first make one point clear. I want to see Naomi Klein taken down as much as anyone else here, but for different reasons. I am a left winger, and I think she makes left wingers look bad with her fast and easy and manipulative approach. But I don't want to do this viscerally or through name calling or through any argument that contains any weak components that seem just to be ideological and dismissive.

    Many of the comments here are like this, and the one I chose to make a comment on was an example. That I do not speak German is irrelevant. Until Klein's translation is shown wrong, we should be able to use that, and we should not dismiss it as Lamar did, simply because it is in German. He did not even refer to the content of it, instead referring to other parts that were far easier to explain away.

    I didn't say it wasn't fishy that Klein was able to find only one source (again, so what if it is not from the US and in English? I am not from the US either). I don't know how many sources she could find. I don't think its fishy that she cited this one, is what I said.

    I know in general a certain kind of "libertarian" line that generally Friedman tends to support considers most wars to be "aggression" and thus not legitimate (with the simplistic analysis of "aggression" typical of that sort of libertarian). I think that is neither here nor there in this case. Note that Rose Friedman for example disagrees with him in this case. So it is not obvious that he would hold one particular view in all cases like this.

    Friedman doesn't hide his views, maybe not, but can you find any sources from the early days of the war that contradict the one Klein supplies? The only source I find that contradicts it is the much later one (recited very frequently so it looks like a lot more). The one where Rose herself supports the war.

    I didn't provide reasons for why I was not impressed with Norberg's reply for two reasons. One it would take a bit of time, would have to quote him and the translation etc., and two, because as I said it was not that important, I was referring to Lamar's comments on this specifically.

    But to say a little, he does not quote a translation directly, and he tries to make it look

    shoefly, let me first make one point clear. I want to see Naomi Klein taken down as much as anyone else here, but for different reasons. I am a left winger, and I think she makes left wingers look bad with her fast and easy and manipulative approach. But I don't want to do this viscerally or through name calling or through any argument that contains any weak components that seem just to be ideological and dismissive.

    Many of the comments here are like this, and the one I chose to make a comment on was an example. That I do not speak German is irrelevant. Until Klein's translation is shown wrong, we should be able to use that, and we should not dismiss it as Lamar did, simply because it is in German. He did not even refer to the content of it, instead referring to other parts that were far easier to explain away.

    I didn't say it wasn't fishy that Klein was able to find only one source (again, so what if it is not from the US and in English? I am not from the US either). I don't know how many sources she could find. I don't think its fishy that she cited this one, is what I said.

    I know in general a certain kind of "libertarian" line that generally Friedman tends to support considers most wars to be "aggression" and thus not legitimate (with the simplistic analysis of "aggression" typical of that sort of libertarian). I think that is neither here nor there in this case. Note that Rose Friedman for example disagrees with him in this case. So it is not obvious that he would hold one particular view in all cases like this.

    Friedman doesn't hide his views, maybe not, but can you find any sources from the early days of the war that contradict the one Klein supplies? The only source I find that contradicts it is the much later one (recited very frequently so it looks like a lot more). The one where Rose herself supports the war.

    I didn't provide reasons for why I was not impressed with Norberg's reply for two reasons. One it would take a bit of time, would have to quote him and the translation etc., and two, because as I said it was not that important, I was referring to Lamar's comments on this specifically.

    But to say a little: First he poo-poos the accurate truth, which is that Friedman's views can have been very influential in regardless of what Friedman thinks on this issue. Second, he snarls that the quotation is not found in her book, so it must be recently found, etc. So? The first accurate truth above is that she did not have to include this in the book if she is talking about the attitude of others, not Friedman himself, who does not set US policy. Third, he says she can do this "only by" certain actions, but he doesn't argue that this is the only way. He could say "all that she does" to do this, implying her treatment of this case is inadequate, but he more strongly implies that no other treatment would be adequate, and ironically his own account on that point is inadequate, since he does not provide a single reference to the "many" statements Friedman allegedly made against the war. I have seen only the one statement, the one where Rose is in favour, and the one which is made quite late on.

    Norberg then deals with this quotation, without giving it. He should give it so we can see what he is trying to do with it. Klein at least did that:
    "President Bush only wanted war because anything else would have threatened the freedom and the prosperity of the USA"

    Klein did take it slightly out of context. But I am not impressed with Norberg's treatment. In context, it could be interpreted as saying "I don't say anything one way or the other about whether I support the war, no, not at all. However, I am strongly not critical of Bush because he believes that it threatens our freedom and prosperity".

    But, it is hard to imagine he would say this, if he himself was opposed to the war. He would take the opportunity to say he did not support it. And he would at least explicitly say that it was Bush's belief here. However, in the quote he gives the condition as a fact. He says "Bush did this because P", not "Bush did this because he believed P". Well, P is "ANYTHING ELSE WOULD THREATEN FREEDOM AND PROSPERITY". He states that as a fact. So, that strongly implies support of the war. After all, not going to war would be something that threatened freedom and prosperity. And also, if it was not a fact, he would at least criticize Bush for believing this falsehood and then going to war based on it. But he doesn't do *any* of that.

    Enough on that, turning to Klein's treatment of China. Well, maybe you are right. But that is not what I was talking about, was it. I have not seen her reply. It is *very* fishy, indeed, that she did not address this point, instead spending time on the mostly irrelevant Friedman interpretations. But your own dismissive claim about what "anyone" can tell you, I also cannot accept.

    But let me reiterate, this is indeed very fishy behavior on Klein's part. This sort of thing is what leads me, a leftist, to want to see her taken down. But that is only a starting point. Let's call her out on that, specifically, and continue, and force her up against the wall. It is not adequately satisfying to let her bob and weave and she has successfully done on the Friedman issue.

    And why doesn't she even address this point (or does she): her claim really is not general enough. The general claim is that for any ideology, many of its advocates will take advantage of crisis, or perhaps even create crisis, in order to install the system they prefer. Communists are well known to have supported that. Why doesn't she try to produce a more general thesis where possible? It's like saying "black guys like to beat their wives" and citing some examples. One criticism (valid) is that she cherry picks and ignores all the decent black guys. Another criticism (this one) is that why has she focussed on black guys? White guys also do, and every kind of guy.

    (Klein is actually closer to libertarians than I am. Really, you guys both oppose big states. She just erroneously cannot separate "big state" from capitalism and thinks her vague musing about how things could go instead are not equally just as statist, and to my mind, probably more onerous (a matter of the devil you know versus the devil you dont).

  • Joe||

    Read the 3 days later response.

    www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9626

  • ||

    Super Hero, this is the kind of breathless, vague claim that gives Klein and her disciples (justly) a bad name. The Shock Doctrine is a general thesis. You can't just say "she is right at present". And what exactly is she right about? How is the rescue bill "shock therapy"? What is wrong with the claim "we have no choice"? Maybe we do have another choice, but is that less shocking? The claim "we have a choice", what is that? Shall we put Klein in power and let her decide what shall be produced, how it shall be distributed, who shall do what? What is her solution that is not "shocking"? And some people take advantage of the situation? Yeah, what else is new. Naomi Klein gets money from the Canadian government's "art funding" to fly around promoting her book. A small example. But the point is that whatever set of institutions you have, they will not work ideally as intended, there will be corruption and also just plan failures from time to time, especially when they are very complex, coordinating hundreds of millions of people. Where is her proof, or at least her honest attempt at some kind of proof, that this particular set is intrinsically corrupt or error prone and that we would not have a similar amount of corruption and error in her own (rather underspecified) set of alternative institutions. Alan Greenspan makes this point fairly well in his interaction with her available at Democracy Now.

  • shoefly||

    Friedman here states that he opposed the war. It's from the WSJ.

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008690

    Here he says "We should not have gone in," but then adds that once in, we should get the job done - a position no different from mainstream Democrats who also opposed intervention but believed that once we were already in we had a responsibility to clean up our own mess.
    http://www.mskousen.com/sknews-031201.html

    On China, I believe the burden of proof is on those who believe Klein's idiosyncratic view (that the leaders favored reforming the country faster than the students) to produce evidence for such a view, since the overwhelming evidence and standard view is the other way around (from both groups - Chinese students who favored moving the country towards democracy and those who opposed the reforms or rationalized the leaders actions at the time - they feared the country was moving too fast towards capitalism and could end up like Russia).

  • ||

    It is difficult to believe that anyone outside of Hollywood and academia is going to read this book, still less take it seriously.
    I genuinely appreciate Mr. Norberg's going through the hardship of reading the book, and saving me the same hardship; still, I think it will disappear once Hugo Chavez gives it his endorsement.

  • Benson Bear||

    shoefly, the first citation you give, of course, is the one that was repeated all over, the one Klein even quoted, the one where as I said Rose explicitly supports the war, the one many years after the war started. But I could not find the other one, can you tell me how you found it. I spent a lot of time googling. In any case, you still can't blame Klein on this very much because her quote is from a large professional newsmagazine and the other quote is what some guy reports he heard Friedman say at lunch.

    But I wouldn't say his position expressed there is simply about "cleaning up our own mess" either. From reading the rest of the thing it's about "not letting the terrorists win" and all that sort of thing (seemingly buying into the bogus claim about the role of Iraq in 911 (maybe not, it's vague enough he could be referring to Hussein's funding of suicide-bob attacks against Israel I suppose))

  • shoefly||

    Benson Bear,
    How is it relevant that Rose supported the war?

    As far as that being the only quote, the other one I found was on a page by Mark Skousen, respected economist. That "some guy" you mentioned was Doug Casey, a noted financial investor and journalist. I found it by simply googling Milton Friedman Iraq War and then going through the sites. The address is above.

    I think there are a few main points that deserve focus: the preponderance and quality of the evidence needs to be weighed, not only in relation to Friedman on just this quote (and it's possible he didn't make a lot of public pronouncements about it) but to Friedman's career and general, as well as (perhaps even more relevant), Klein's blurring the distinction between neocons and libertarians (which Norberg shows she has explicitly done through quotations, despite her denials). As mentioned here a few times, we also need to look further to Klein's claims on other subjects - how she has cherry picked evidence and then twisted it around when it didn't suit her thesis.

    Exhibit A is this claim: "Sorry boys, Milton Friedman supported the war."
    Considering that his position was no different from many mainstream Dems (we shouldn't have gone in, I opposed going in, but since we already did go in, let's get the job done) it's rather disengenous to make such a blanket statement. If you didn't know anything else Friedman had said about the war (or anyone else including Barack Obama) you would just assume he had favored invasion in the first place, which was obviously not the case. This is a deceitful style of argumentation. Furthermore, her evidence here, came from only one source, a magazine in the German language. We have to either be able to competently read German or trust that an unbiased German translator would accurately represent his remarks. Most reasonable people would call that piss poor evidence.

    Exhibit B: Her general twisting of Friedman's remarks. Notice that she has completely misrepresented what he meant by the tyranny of the status quo, stated in plain English to mean business and government leaders in both Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose. Once again, it's obvious she had an agenda and needed to twist this statement in order for it to fit that agenda.

    It should also be noted that Friedman was the one who got us the all-volunteer army, ending conscription, the closest thing to chattel slavery in modern times. Is this taken into account by Klein?

    Exhibit C: China: not going to say it again. I think the burden of proof should be on her or her followers to produce credible evidence to overturn the reams of documentation and evidence presenting the opposite view.

    Exhibit D: As mentioned, she had conflated libertarians and neocons. This is the biggest crock she has told in that libertarians are not only much more anti-war than neocons, they are generally even much more anti-war than many Democrats or even more hard-core leftists, save for total pacifists of the left. Many libertarians opposed the war in Kosovo, the first Gulf war, and some opposed the invasion of Afghanistan (Ron Paul was one, I believe).

    Exhibit E: Norberg has already pointed out how she has simply picked economic indicators that suited her purpose so I won't repeat all those here, but it is again, a telling example of her style and dishonesty.

    In short if you simply weigh the body of evidence, the quantity and quality of it, I find it hard to believe you could not indict Klein for her argumentative sleight of hand. If not, then it's clear that no amount of evidence could possibly sway you.

  • shoefly||

    For anyone else interested, I believe this was Norberg's last word on the Klein debate. She responded to his article, then he responded to her with this:

    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9626

  • Benson Bear||

    That Rose favored it (and that Friedman favored Vietnam, and originally favored Iraq in some ways it still definitely seems) is relevant because it shows the idea that people of Friedman's professed ideology would *not* favour it is not at all obvious.

    The "some guy" is not Doug Casey but a guy with Doug Casey, and it would still be some guy at lunch reporting on one of his heroes no doubt in what he hope to be a favourable light, it is not a formal interview in a very large respected newsmagazine.

    I agree Klein confuses ideologies, particularly neocon and libertarian. Of course however ideologies are ideal types, there are a lot of overlaps and strange bedfellows, etc. Everybody does this, with monolithic enemies of "the right" and "the left". But she is particularly bad. (Like describing the current "bailout" as "shock doctrine" by "the right" when it is supported widely by all sorts of ideologies).

    Exdhibit A: Not really "mainstream democrat". Not just "clean up mess" like you said but victory against the terrorist and again "anything else would be harmful to freedom". And note now that his main objection appears to be not the horrible harm it is doing to Iraqis (let along violating some sort of "rights" they have) but how it is "killing the Republican Party". Regarding the source: show her translation wrong. One guy at lunch is the other source so far. And also, this is kind of irrelevant, as she has pointed out even in this response. Trying to protect herself, while still trying to win points.

    Exhibit B: Volunteer army doesn't imply being against many military engagements. It does imply letting off rich guys, though, and forcing (through economic force -- something he ideologically denies to exist) poor people to fight for everyone else. That is arguably closer than chattel slavery than fairly requiring everyone able to take on some of the onerous burdens. Re: twisting. Yes, I agree. Like most other ideologues on all sides, but she is worse than most. However, one should overlook this when there are substantive theses and deal with those in the best light they can be put. That is intellectual fairness.

    Exhibit C: I didn't disagree with you on China did I. Looks fishy. I suspend judgement pending seeing further research.

    Exhibit D: I agree. Even many non-ideologues do this. because they agree on a lot and this someimes also leads to strange bedfellows (Even social conservatives support libertarians a lot of the time because when you dismantle the welfare state, their so-called "traditional communities" get more power: see Charles Murray. Libertarian or conservative? Opinions differ in the ranks). Very many who support free markets also support strong military for various reasons (some even the honourable one of spreading free markets -- libertarians wouldnt of course because they feel no moral obligation to help others unilaterally)

    Exhibit E: Like "libertarians" including Norberg do not? His argument on this very point is also guilty. (See WHO documents on effects of inequality for example -- but this is getting far afield for obscure comments on a specific point in an obsure thread. If you want to set up a new one...)

    In short: Klein: like the ideologues of the other side, only, probably, better at it when preaching to the nonconverted. Ironically, a much better marketer.

  • Benson Bear||

    Oh yeah, my point about the Friedman quotes. It was said there were "many" where he was against the Iraq War. I asked you to show them. I looked for a long time and found none (from an early point in the war). I asked how you found the one you did. Can you please say more precisely. What was the Google search you used, so I can locate the quote. My point here is that I tried quite a while, and could not find any. Despite the claim that there were "many". I could not find one and I looked in very good faith. So, however Klein found the FOCUS one, it does not seem "fishy" to me. The original point about disparaging her on this therefore remains.

  • shoefly||

    Benson Bear,
    There are many points here but since I have other things to do I'm going to just respond
    to some of your points as I've got a busy weekend ahead. Perhaps more later:


    On the forum with Mark Skousen. No, you are wrong on that. It *was* Doug Casey who asked him that question, not "just some guy" or "friend of Casey's." I've quoted the response for you below:

    'My "anarchist" friend and investment speculator Doug Casey accompanied me, along with coin dealer Van Simmons. Doug asked Friedman about the war in Iraq, and Milton replied, "We should not have gone in, but now that we are there, we must make the best of it, and should not retreat."'

    Go back and read it for yourself if you like.

    In any case, you appear to not see a distinction between, "We shouild not have done X. I wouldn't have done X if I had the power to do X. But since other people did X, we should do X to the best of our ability" ("should not retreat" if you will)

    And "I'm in favor of X."

    So, you see no distinction there? Interesting.

    Similarly, you seem to blur the distinction between

    A: legal force, where resistance would mean imprisonment or deadly police power if necessary if resistance to arrest follows.

    and

    B: a situation where the circumstances provide less than ideal options.

    In the first case, rich *and* poor could be sent to a fiery death against their will, but that is a preferable option, and more akin to chattel slavery to you because rich and poor would have an equal shot at being killed in gruesome circumstances against their will, where they would equally be robbed of their life and liberty.

    Even if you isolate out the *poor* from this case, I fail to see how they are better off having no choice than having other choices available to them, however less than ideal they may be. Obviously, they also see it this way in that not everyone who is poor ends up choosing the military. Most do not. Some work at low paying jobs until they move up the ladder or find higher paying jobs as their skills develop. While it is true that some do not lift themselves out of poverty, some do improve their circumstances over time. You would take that choice from them, just so that rich and poor have an equal chance at a gruesome military death?

    It strikes me as a form of Orwellian doublespeak to say that no choice equals freedom and increasing choices (however less than ideal) where no choice existed before equates to slavery.

    On the point about Rose Friedman:
    Klein was addressing Milton's stance in this particular case. Of course, her underlying point is about libertarians in general and how this worldview allegedly is alligned with militarization. So, in that sense, it's fine to mention Rose's view. But then, we might also dig around and find out that David is more anti-interventionist than either one of them or that their weird uncle in the basement is a radical zionist. As you acknowledge, libertarians in general though are more anti-interventionist than either conservatives or liberals.

    I found this interview in Reason online where Friedman says a bit more about his view on war and its relationship to libertarianism in general. It's sort of interesting in that, unlike some other libertarians, Friedman does not seem to think there is a "libertarian policy" or "philosophy" on war. Yet, it also conveys a view in favor of scaling down the military, which is consonant with his position on the draft and on being wary of interventions in general:

    (Reason: Do you consider yourself in the libertarian mainstream on foreign policy issues?

    Friedman: I don't believe that the libertarian philosophy dictates a foreign policy. In particular I don't think you can derive isolationism from libertarianism. I'm anti-interventionist, but I'm not an isolationist. I don't believe we ought to go without armaments. I'm sure we spend more money on armaments than we need to; that's a different question.

    I don't believe that you can derive from libertarian views the notion that a nation has to bare itself to the outside without defense, or that a strong volunteer force would arise and defend the nation.

    Reason: What did you think about the Gulf War?

    Friedman: I always had misgivings about the Gulf War, but I never came to a firm decision. It was more nearly justified than other recent foreign interventions, and yet I was persuaded that the major argument used to support it was fallacious.

    After all, if Iraq took over the oil, it would have to do something with it. If they don't want to eat it, they'd have to sell it. I don't think the price of oil would have been much affected. The more important consideration was the balance of power with Iran and Iraq. I have mixed feelings about that war; I wouldn't be willing to write a brief on either side.) End Quote

    Certainly, Friedman does not come across as a pacifist here. But he also certainly does not come across as the war-monger, the man who want to create "shock" circumstances that Klein presents. He was also not in favor of the first gulf war (so certainly it contradicts Klein's central thesis again). I think it was in the WSJ interview mentioned above that he says he's against wars of aggression in general.

    On Vietnam. I do remember something vaguely about his support for that war. So, you might be right on that one, but I'd like to see the quote or the website, or the location. Do you have that?

    I also remember him saying in an interview that he thought Reagan could have accomplished more if not for his getting involved in wars in Central America, appearing to be opposed to that. My initial digging though didn't turn anything up on that so I won't state that unequivocally he was opposed to Central American intervention. I'll have to dig some more at another time.

    In any case, even if Friedman favored the Vietnam war (and I want to see more on that), the body of his work and positions suggested he was less in favor of wars of aggression and was more in favor of demilitarization than either mainstream conservatives or liberals. Certainly, his position (and the position of most libertarians) is very distinct from the neo-con view.

    On this most recent invasion of Iraq: bear in mind that the invasion began 5 years ago, when Milton was winding down his career. He was in his mid to late 80's by then, and not conducting as many interviews as he had in the past; by 2007 this had slowed even more. Secondly, since as he states above, he didn't think there really was a libertarian philosophy of war, it's clear that he didn't really think of it as his specialty or major focus (so advocating war to create his alleged "shock" policies would also not follow), so as I stated previously, it's possible he simply might not have made many public pronouncements about it. So, what does Klein do. She doesn't have any support for this heavy pro-war view on Friedman's part, so it's not even originally sourced. Then, the one article she does fish out to demonstrate unequivocal interventionism, is in German, with a translation that non-native speakers are supposed to take at face-value. She uses this to unequivocally state: "Milton Friedman supported the war" removing the essential nuance to his position that he only supported continuing to fight on, to not retreat, since troops had already been committed. But notice that if her intention was to demonstrate that *initiating* wars was part and parcel of the economic doctrine of Friedman that his nuance demonstrates he sought nearly the opposite - in other words, *it would have been better to have not gone in* vis a vis a libertarian economic and political policy. Klein tries to give the impression that it was Friedman's and other libertarians' position from the beginning to *initiate* these wars in order to jump start their policies into a country. That's demonstrably false for anyone who is able to parse out an argument.

    Last point, related to the previous point: I did not claim there were *many* sources for Friedman's view of the war. Go back and find out where I said that. It appears there are only a few sources on this war specifically, and see my point above for why this might be so. Sorry, but I do not see how you can continue to claim that Klein has presented a credible thesis that Friedman supported the war, and more critically, that this alleged support is a necessary element to Friedmanesque economics.

  • ||

    Klein looks pretty right on this last few weeks.

  • puck||

    Right on what?

  • Benson Bear||

    jackie: "Klein looks pretty right on this last few weeks." On what? The "shock doctrine" is a general thesis. One data point that fits it is not being right. But anyway, how does the last few weeks fit it? On an interview with Maher she said it was "absolutely" an example, but then went on to say it only would be if McCain was elected and used the situation to privatize social security, cut taxes, etc. This current situation is at best a "shock". The shock doctrine requires that it now be used to install "unpopular" market reforms. Maybe she meant getting people to cave on the bailout is the payoff of the shock doctrine, but that is a very big stretch, because it is not just her amorphous "the right" who supported that, but all sorts of people, and it is in fact logically tied to the crisis, and not an opportunistic non-sequitur.

    shoefly, it's not worth the trouble to reply to all of the confusions and bad pro-libertarian arguments in your reply (almost all of them irrelevant to my original point) so let me just mainly say where I agree. While I think Klein is right, based on what I have seen, that Friedman supported the Iraq war originally (and even later, his main argument against it mainly being that it was costly for no real benefit), I don't think she is right that in general Friedman supported "shock doctrine", if she in fact claimed this (and if she didn't actually claim this, there is (apparently -- I haven't read her book, but now I will!) unacceptable innuendo that he did and that is one more aspect of her book that is slimy and misleading, similar to the work of many of her opponents).

    As for Friedman and the Vietnam War, that is easy to find, I think the first thing I found was the Independent Institute site where the article seemed
    to praise Friedman so I took it as accurate. Perhaps not though. Anyway, just google: "milton friedman" "vietnam war". Easy to find, on the first page. But it was hard to find quotes where he came out against the Iraq war early, so I asked you how you found that one that you did (you didn't say). It remains "non fishy" to me that Klein quoted the one she did. (Although I also suspect if she couldn't find that one she would have just shut up and not admit anything to the contrary). Sorry if no one here said there were "many" quotes to find, people say that elsewhere, but implied by the accusation of "fishiness' is that Klein passed over contrary quotes that were easy to find.

    Re: the other quote, "the some guy" was this Mark guy with the web page. As I said he says he heard some other guy, this Doug guy, ask Friedman a question at lunch, and reports what he heard. Not the same as a formal interview not with just a bunch of pals and admirers of Friedman, but presumably a professional interviewer for a major newsmagazine.

    Many other points to clear up, not worth the trouble. Just one: I did not "acknowledge" anything about "libertarians" simpliciter contra conservatives and liberals regarding intervention. Note that I referred to "a kind of libertarianism". And since there is no principled conception of "aggression" that is not already moralized by a theory, the whole foundation given for various forms of libertarianism ("NCP" for example) will allow no clear agreement on this. (thus the disagreement between Rose and Milt: "its not aggression"/"of COURSE its aggression"). Etc.

  • Allen||

    I think one of the most admirable characteristics of Milton Friedman was his willingness to question and revise some of the views he held earlier in his life:

    http://reshapingmisconceptions.....mself.html

  • nfl jerseys||

    myud

  • Sheepskin Boots Sale||

    Because the administration of the affidavit of all equipment in the Classic Ugg Boots Online Store Boots Shorten, will charge a mild cleanser or cleaner natural that affidavit could be assertive with the highest absolute accuracy delicate added. And Ugg Boots Outlet need to adulterate your vacuum bubbler baptize according

  • joshr||

    Im pretty impartial, but you're factually incorrect on this 'But Friedman's visit, which Klein claims started the real transformation, came two years later. Klein insists on having it both ways.' to quote shock Doctrine, she talks about the revolution in 1973 and then says 'in march 1975, milton friedman and Arnold Harberger flew to Santiago'

    she doesn't ask for it both ways im afraid.

  • Michael Price||

    Yeah she did. She tried to claim that the coup was about putting Milton Friedman's philosophy into action. If it was then why would they need him to come down and write a letter to Pinochet 2 years later?

  • Cal||

    The only thing more risible than this awful, skewed article are the idiotic comments underneath it. Apologists for outrageous abuses of corporate power and disinformation on a grand scale.
    Americans!!

  • John Snew||

    Does that sort of response pass for reason in your neck of the woods, Cal? If you are going to criticize a population, at least have the decency to address their objections.

  • ||

    norberg works at the kato institute.does he want us to believe in what he says? how ironic is that?

  • ||

    At least this'll mean that you can pounce on any mainstream journalists who talk about this book in a favourable light. It'll only hurt her cause, hopefully

  • ||

    Funny that a freedom loving guy like Friedman didn't say one peep about Pinochet's murder and torture of thousands upon thousands of Chileans. Had those things been carried out by some leftist dictator I doubt Friedman would have been so silent. Friedman hated democracy and loved dictators, so long as they free marketers and fascists. Yep, Friedman, the favorite economists of fascists. Pinochet should have been put up against a wall and shot after he was finally driven out of power and Friedman should have been right next to him against that wall.

  • Michael Price||

    No what's funny is you can't even make something up that isn't disproved by the article you're commenting on.
    :" He even turned down two honorary degrees from Chilean universities that received government funding, because he did not want to be seen as endorsing a dictatorship he considered "terrible" and "despicable." :"

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement