Thursday, June 2, 2011

Friedman on Collectivist Self-Praise


If anybody needs a break from jokes about Congressman Weiner, here’s a great Milton Friedman quote that I found recently. It’s from the preface that he wrote for the 1994 edition of Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom:

Many of those who profess the most individualist objectives support collectivist means without recognizing the contradiction. It is tempting to believe that social evils arise from the activities of evil men and that if only good men (like ourselves, naturally) wielded power, all would be well. That view requires only emotion and self-praise – easy to come by and satisfying as well. To understand why it is that ‘good’ men in positions of power will produce evil, while the ordinary man without power but able to engage in voluntary cooperation with his neighbors produce good, requires analysis and thought, subordinating the emotions to the rational faculty. Surely that is one answer to the perennial mystery of why collectivism, with its demonstrated record of producing tyranny and misery, is so widely regarded as superior to individualism, with its demonstrated record of producing freedom and plenty.

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