Monday, September 10, 2007

Shock the Monkey

Having just started covering the free-market-torturer beat, I was nonplussed to find that Naomi Klein has beaten me to the punch with a book and movie:

I have to say that I really hated the above movie. It's composed of equal parts self-righteousness and cheap emotional appeals, and drowns whatever valid things it is trying to say in questionable sludge. It's this sort of thing that has driven Mencius Moldbug to the dark side.

But it did remind me that Milton Friedman, hero of freedom-lovers everywhere, was hand-in-glove with the Chilean torture regime. So this peculiar association between "freedom" and authoritarianism is not a new story by any means.

[update: Oddly, marketeer Tyler Cowen likes the book while despising its contents..."Yes there is a senseless conflation of torture, Iraq, and the Coase Theorem." Sounds like I may have to read it after all.]


TGGP said...

Friedman gave the same talk in Chile that he gave in China. Don't exaggerate the connection. If you want to attack the Chicago Boys, go ahead, but don't substitute Milton for them.

I like this post from Russ Robert's on Naomi Klein's new work. Short and funny.

mtraven said...

I really don't see what sort of fine distinction you are trying to draw. Friedman certainly had his ties with Pinochet (as did Hayek, I just learned). I don't think I exaggerated them.

The Russ Robert's post is a tired joke. Revolutionaries have to eat and can't really be faulted for engaging in market-based activities until the revolution comes. Klein can be faulted for making trite and emotion-laden appeals, but not for charging for them.

goatchowder said...

Not exactly free-market torture, but free market surveillance is in the news. Then again, it's not really new.

I'm amazed and amused by libertarians who live in such fear and loathing of the crushing boot of unchecked gummint power, but are glibly oblivious to-- or actively apologetic for-- the crushing boot of unchecked private-sector (capital) power.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

TGGP said...

Is giving a talk a "tie"? Your link does not establish much of a relationship between Friedman and Pinochet, and it quotes the former as saying that he strongly disapproved of the latter's behavior but did not see anything unethical in giving economic advice.

goatchowder, when capital starts bombing Iraq and putting God-knows-how-many Americans behind bars for victimless crimes I'll start worrying about them. Unlike many libertarians I don't give a fig for privacy and I welcome David Brin's (he actually does fear wealthy private power) Transparent Society.

mtraven said...

For more Friedman/Pinochet linkage, see here.

Quoting: Friedman defended his relationship with Pinochet by saying that if Allende had been allowed to remain in office Chileans would have suffered "the elimination of thousands and perhaps mass starvation . . . torture and unjust imprisonment." But the elimination of thousands, mass hunger, torture and unjust imprisonment were what was taking place in Chile exactly at the moment the Chicago economist was defending his protégé. Allende's downfall came because he refused to betray Chile's long democratic tradition and invoke martial law, yet Friedman nevertheless insisted that the military junta offered "more room for individual initiative and for a private sphere of life" and thus a greater "chance of a return to a democratic society." It was pure boilerplate, but it did give Friedman a chance to rehearse his understanding of the relationship between capitalism and freedom.

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make. It's completely clear that Friedman was comfortable with Pinochet style authoritarianism. Our pal MM presumably would be happy to approve of this sort of capitalist/authoritarian rule, but I can't see how anybody claiming to be libertarian can.

TGGP said...

Your link states that Friedman spent 45 minutes with Pinochet, six days in Chile and gave the same talk in the Soviet Union, China and Yugoslavia. Are you trying to discredit your own arguments?

tggp said...

Off topic, but I noticed here you stated that different companies couldn't come up with compatible standards of the type we see with the internet. You might be interested in this paper on theoretical and historical "network goods".