“Capitalism and Freedom” Summary, Chapter 13: Conclusion

by Danny Fenster

This chapter is a free excerpt from Quicklet on Capitalism and Freedom.

In the 1920s and 1930s, US intellectuals declared capitalism a failure. Inspired by a nascent Russian communism, they sought an ideal of central control. If there were earlier examples of failed central control, modern science and politics could do the unthinkable.

These attitudes remain. Government intervention is looked at in the ideal, the market as evil. "The proponents of limited government and free enterprise are still on the defensive."

Things have changed. "We can compare the actual with the actual." The workers have not won in Russia as they have in the West.


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In the 1920s and 1930s, US intellectuals declared capitalism a failure. Inspired by a nascent Russian communism, they sought an ideal of central control. If there were earlier examples of failed central control, modern science and politics could do the unthinkable.

These attitudes remain. Government intervention is looked at in the ideal, the market as evil. "The proponents of limited government and free enterprise are still on the defensive."

Things have changed. "We can compare the actual with the actual." The workers have not won in Russia as they have in the West.

Social reforms have not achieved their objectives.

"There have been some exceptions. The expressways crisscrossing the country, magnificent dams spanning great rivers, orbiting satellites are all tributes to the capacity of government to command great resources." The school systems has provided opportunity for many despite its faults.

But in balance, these public efforts have proved dismal.

Because the principles outlined above have the ultimate goal of promoting the freedom of every man to pursue their own interests and not the "materialistic interests that dominate the bulk of mankind," the freedom to pursue art, education, religion, charity, capitalist societies "are less materialistic than collectivist societies."

State intervention's benefits are immediate while its evils are gradual. Few realize how state help kills self help. "Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it."

Our current conflict with the Soviet Union makes our own government a dangerously large buyer of our industrial output in the name of defense. Though this is necessary, it concentrates dangerous amounts of power in our federal government; we must limit this power in all other realms.

Friedman ends on a note of confidence. "I believe that we shall be able to preserve and extend freedom despite the size of military programs and despite the economic power already concentrated in Washington." But we must wake to these threats.

"The glimmerings of change that are already apparent in the intellectual climate are a hopeful augury."

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