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What is Liberal - Essay Example

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Milton Friedman, a Nobel award-winning economist of the 20th century, still stands as a beacon for economic freedom and thus the belief in the free individual man. However, there is…
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What is Liberal
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Download file to see previous pages The distinction between conservative and liberal economics is, at the most basic level, the distinction between a belief in the advantageousness of government involvement and a belief in the advantageousness of free market capitalism.
Friedman, of course, was one of the most vociferous advocates for a free market, as he showed in Capitalism and Freedom. However, the essence of Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom was advocacy of capitalism in a liberal society, where a liberal society refers to a society that does not restrict individual liberties. In contrast, the conservative society is one that does limit individual liberties based on tradition and social values. With that, Friedman cannot be accurately called “conservative”, since his profoundly libertarian political viewpoints contradict the essence of the conservative establishment. When Friedman called himself a “liberal” in the John Stuart Mill sense of the term, what he was referring to was a tradition known today as “classical liberalism”.
The use of the word “classical” before the term refers to a commitment to individual freedoms both in the economic and social sense. Classical liberals believed in laissez faire capitalism and the liberal ideology. John Stewart Mill, as an ethicist and political philosopher, was liberal in his ethics and conservative in his economic views, which today meant he was a “classical liberal” and a libertarian. Mill believed the government should not be allowed to restrict the freedoms of its citizens under any circumstance, and this is the sense in which Friedman refers to Mill and places himself in his tradition. In Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman writes, “Political freedom means the absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men. The fundamental threat to freedom is power to coerce, be it in the hands of a monarch, a dictator, an oligarchy, or a momentary ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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