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IPFS News Link • Free Speech

Hayek, Friedman, Mises, and Rothbard on The Political Economy of Free Speech

•, By Thomas DiLorenzo

But a number of free-market economists have written about it while insisting that one cannot separate political and economic freedom when it comes to freedom of speech.  Among them are F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises, and Murray Rothbard.


In a 1979 article entitled "The Economics of Free Speech"[1] Milton Friedman declared that "there is a clear and direct relationship between economic arrangements, on the one hand, and free speech on the other."[2]  In a very Austrian-sounding argument, Friedman begins by noting the importance of property rights, the first prerequisite for economic freedom.  In a totalitarian socialist system, he said, a "small group" that wanted to advocate capitalism would run into such problems as, who would rent them a hall if all halls are owned by the government?  How would they find a printing press if all printing presses are owned by the state?  If all paper were sold by the government printing company, would there be a problem in procuring paper as well?   And, where would the money come from if all income drives from government paychecks?  The government certainly will not pay for "subversive doctrines."

This is all obvious today, but in 1979 there will still many academic defenders of Soviet socialism who would have argued with Friedman about this, perhaps even Paul Samuelson who, in the 1988 edition of his famous textbook predicted that by the year 2000 Soviet GDP would be larger than U.S. GDP.