Chomsky on Friedman’s Freedom

This is not an argument against libertarianism, so don’t jump to the conclusion that because the analysis is done on certain aspects of capitalism I must be making denunciations.  And for those that find themselves getting defensive over a critique, they should do a personal inventory on where they are investing their emotion because it’s that very deposit that causes divisiveness.

This post assumes you are familiar with Noam Chomsky’s perception of the world.

Friedman’s Freedom

If you read Milton Friedman and other apostles of libertarianism, they don’t call for democracy but freedoma very restrictive concept of freedom.  It’s a freedom not of a working person to control their lives and work and so on, but it is their freedom to submit themselves to a higher authority. [2]

Chomsky is saying that libertarianism’s view on freedom has much irony because by submitting to a corporation, we are giving up some freedoms.  Admittedly I never thought of it like this, but he does point out the obvious quite well for those who may have missed it.

And for those that say people have a choice to not work for a company, then they are using an incorrect definition of free will for the sake of their argument.  The idea of free will has been distorted by libertarians to make their arguments work much like theologians do in their arguments for God.  People do make choices, but they are not made in the rational way they claim.

They are in favor of private tyranny—the worst kind of tyranny—tyranny by unaccountable private concentrations of wealth.  They mean—maybe they don’t understand it but if you think it through it’s pretty obvious—the kind of government interference they want to block is the kind that wouldn’t permit unconstrained tyranny on the part of totally unaccountable entities, which is what corporations are [2]

“They”, the modern libertarians, are for the tyrannical corporation of course.  I have mixed opinions on the corporation but do see much benefit to them.  Chomsky, on the other hand, apparently believes that the benefits don’t outweigh the costs.

Companies do have human features since they are often unaccountable, ignore externalities, are driven by self, and are legal entities with rights.  This does make them just as dangerous as we are but like not every human is destined to be a tyrant neither is a company.


[1] Chomsky, Noam. Requiem for the American Dream. Seven Stories Press.

[2] Chomsky, Noam. YouTube one.  Youtube two.

[3] Mele, Alfred R.. Free: Why Science Hasn’t Disproved Freewill. Oxford University Press.

[4] Miles, James B.. The Free Will Delusion: How We Settled for the Illusion of Morality. Matador.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.