Capitalism and Freedom: Rethinking What It Means

June 4, 2015

Being disgusted with Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, was one of the many reasons I wrote Beyond Liberty Alone: A Progressive View of Freedom and Capitalism in America.

Introduction:  Capitalism and Freedom. A Progressive Critique.

What inspired me to write Beyond Liberty Alone?

I felt increasingly that I was being asked to choose between my own sense of responsibility and justice, on the one hand, and what it meant to be an American and a modern who embraced “freedom” or “liberty,” on the other. Over the last thirty to forty years, popular and academic discourse has argued that liberty in America and in modernity means and should mean: individual rights and minimal government. This view of liberty, it was argued, was consistent with the convictions of the founding generation in America and with the best convictions of modernity. This view has been put forward in a whole host of books, political speeches, and academic writings. Among the most obvious examples of the latter are Milton Friedman’s, Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose,  F. A. Hayek, The Road To Serfdom and The Constitution of Liberty, and more recently by Richard Epstein, Principles for a Free Society. The views of such thinkers have been taken up and reiterated in popular political books and speeches and dominate the rhetoric of the political Right since the time of Reagan.

I found the views of liberty articulated in these and other writings troubling for a number of reasons. They represented a mistaken view of liberty as it emerged in modernity; they mis-characterized the commitments of the American founding generation, and this view of liberty, I came to believe, had destructive consequences for America and the world. This sense of feeling pressed to choose between my commitments as an American and my sense of responsibility and justice led me to investigate the meaning of liberty and to re-articulate a progressive view of liberty. The rest of this book sets out to do just that. I hope it helps others who are asking the same questions.

You can download the free copy of the introduction here: Capitalism and Freedom