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Milton Friedman on Civil Rights

Libertarian Economist


Real freedom means freedom to promote Communism

One may believe, as I do, that communism would destroy all of our freedoms, one may be opposed to it as firmly and as strongly as possible, and yet, at the same time, also believe that in a free society it is intolerable for a man to be prevented from making voluntary arrangements with others that are mutually attractive because he believes in or is trying to promote communism. His freedom includes his freedom to promote communism. Freedom also, of course, includes the freedom of others not to deal with him under those circumstances.

An example of the role of the market in preserving political freedom was revealed in our experience with McCarthysim. What protection did individuals, and in particular government employees, have against irresponsible accusations and probing into matters that it went against their conscience to reveal? Their appeal to the 5th Amendment would have been a hollow mockery without an alternative to government employment.

Source: Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman, p. 20-21 , Nov 15, 1962

Persuade against racism, but don't use coercion

I believe strongly that the color of a man's skin or the religion of his parents is, by itself, no reason to treat him differently; that a man should be judged by what he is and what he does and not be these external characteristics. I deplore what seem to me the prejudice and narrowness of outlook of those whose tastes differ from mine in this respect and I think the less of them for it. But in a society based on free discussion, the appropriate recourse is for me to seek to persuade them that their tastes are bad and that they should change their views and their behavior, not to use coercive power to enforce my tastes and my attitudes on others.
Source: Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman, p.111 , Nov 15, 1962

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Page last updated: Jul 06, 2014