Was Milton Freidman a true libertarian?

One serious misgiving of ignoring history of economic thought is inability of students to argue against the other side of an econ debate. This lacunae becomes deeper if we try and argue against the mainstream thinking and that too on a topic as suggested by the title of the blogpost.

Murray Rothbard of Austrian school had written this article  in 1971 arguing that Friedman is not the libertarian as idolized by free market believers:

Mention “free-market economics” to a member of the lay public and chances are that if he has heard the term at all, he identifies it completely with the name Milton Friedman. For several years, Professor Friedman has won continuing honors from the press and the profession alike, and a school of Friedmanites and “monetarists” has arisen in seeming challenge to the Keynesian orthodoxy.

However, instead of the common response of reverence and awe for “one of our own who has made it,” libertarians should greet the whole affair with deep suspicion: “If he’s so devoted a libertarian, how come he’s a favorite of the Establishment?” An advisor of Richard Nixon and a friend and associate of most Administration economists, Friedman has, in fact, made his mark in current policy, and indeed reciprocates as a sort of leading unofficial apologist for Nixonite policy.

In fact, in this as in other such cases, suspicion is precisely the right response for the libertarian, for Professor Friedman’s particular brand of “free-market economics” is hardly calculated to ruffle the feathers of the powers-that-be. Milton Friedman is the Establishment’s Court Libertarian, and it is high time that libertarians awaken to this fact of life.

Read the article for further details. The author starts with the history of highly fancied school Friedman represented and how it is not consistent with true free market thinking.

Now, one has hardly come across this article (and many others) in his/her economics training, which makes the students aware of the other side of the debate too. What we are instead given is just a standard dish which does not criticise or make a point against these mainstream econs and their ideas. So, when we come across such pieces neither we can agree nor disagree with the viewpoints.

Austrian school has been widely ignored even by those who believe in the free market. Now one may disagree with whatever they have said but still that is a perspective which should be taught to students.

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