Australian Left Review


Gavan Butler


Most readers will have heard of something called “Friedmania”, or the apparently manic concern of some in the ruling class to adopt the politico-economic position put by Milton Friedman. Most will also have heard it alleged that we are witnessing, in Australia and in other English-speaking countries at least, an emergence of the “new right” or a libertarian social and political philosophy. The concern of these Notes is not so much with the content of the Friedman / von Hayek position of laissez-faire or of the libertarianism more generally but to examine briefly the curious esteem in which they seem to be held within the ruling class in several countries. For it is curious that they are so esteemed: they contain no justification of the large concentrations of economic power that characterise monopoly capitalism; indeed they are antagonistic to such concentrations of power. How, then, to account for the appeal of Friedman and his ilk?



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