Cato Institute
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Pinochet.18 That is a rather weak description
According to Klein, Friedman did not care
about the social cost of ending hyperinfla-
of his disagreement with a regime he called
"terrible" and "despicable."19
tion--again, that is untrue. She never men-
tions that he suggested reforms that would
Klein claims that Friedman's definition of
lower the temporary unemployment or that
freedom meant that "political freedoms were
one of his recommendations was to create a
incidental, even unnecessary, compared with
the freedom of unrestricted commerce."20
relief program for Chileans who suffered
unemployment and distress.14
That was not Friedman's view. He thought
that they really are related, and that it would
Klein writes that the Chilean coup in 1973
was a neoliberal coup, executed so that Chilean
be easy for dictators to rule impoverished peo-
liberal economists ("the Chicago Boys") could
ple fighting for their survival, whereas richer
reform the economy. She has to do that to give
people in a growing economy would begin to
the impression that neoliberals have blood on
demand political rights. As late as in his last
their hands, because the most violent period
interview, Milton Friedman warned that he
was shortly after the coup. To do that she has
was much more pessimistic about China than
to invent a new chronology and claim that the
India, because of China's authoritarian polit-
liberalization began on the first day the junta
ical system. According to him, China "is head-
took power.15 This creates a big problem for
ing for a clash, because economic freedom
her. If liberalization began on day one, then it
and political collectivism are not compati-
ble."21 From Friedman's perspective, one of
is impossible for her to claim that Friedman's
the main reasons to try to get both commu-
visit was of such a tremendous importance and
nists and military regimes to accept liberal
started the real transformation, because that
economic policies was that it would increase
visit didn't take place until late March 1975.
the chance that they would become democra-
Yet she tries to have her cake and eat it too.
tic. As he wrote in 1975:
The reality was that military officials were
in charge of the economy at first. They were
I approve of none of these authoritari-
often corporatist and paternalist and opposed
an regimes--neither the Communist
the Chicago Boys' ideas about radical reforms.
regimes of Russia and Yugoslavia nor
For example, the air force blocked pro-market
reforms in social policy until 1979.16 It wasn't
the military juntas of Chile and Brazil.
until this way of governing the economy led to
. . . I do not regard visiting any of them
runaway inflation at the time of Friedman's
as an endorsement. . . . I do not regard
visit that Pinochet threw his weight behind
giving advice on economic policy as
liberalization and gave civilians ministerial
immoral if the conditions seem to me
positions. Their success in the fight against
to be such that economic improve-
inflation impressed Pinochet, so they were giv-
ment would contribute both to the
en a larger role.17 Klein could have used the
well-being of the ordinary people and
real chronology to blame Friedman for going
to the chance of movement toward a
politically free society.22
to a dictatorship that tortured its opponents--
the traditional criticism--but that is not
Friedman
enough for her. To find support for her thesis
Friedman's hopes that economic liberal-
thought that
that economic liberalism needs violence, she
ization would lead to political liberalization
has to make it look like torture and violence
might not always have been realized (even
richer people in a
were part of Friedman's plan.
though they were in Chile's case), but it is not
growing economy
Several chapters after she has given the
honest to pretend that he didn't have these
would begin to
reader the impression that Friedman support-
hopes--that he didn't care about democracy.
ed Pinochet and was an adviser to him, Klein
When Friedman came to Chile, inflation was
demand political
admits with a brief quote that Friedman did
340 percent. If Friedman really thought that
rights.
not support the authoritarian policies of
crises were good, he would have let the
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