The Machinery of Freedom

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The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism
Machinery Of Freedom Cover Dave Aiello.png
AuthorDavid D. Friedman
CountryUnited States
PublisherOpen Court Publishing Company
Publication date
1973; 2nd edition 1989; 3rd edition 2014
Media typePaperback, Electronic
323.44 19
LC ClassJC585 .F76 1989

The Machinery of Freedom is a nonfiction book by David D. Friedman which advocates an anarcho-capitalist society from a utilitarian/consequentialist perspective.

The book was published in 1973, with a second edition in 1989 and a third edition in 2014.


The book aims to show that law and its enforcement do not require a state, but it can be sustained by non-coercive private enterprise and charity. It explores the consequences of libertarian thought, describes examples of stateless societies (such as the Icelandic Commonwealth) and offers the author's personal statement about why he became a libertarian. Topics addressed in the book include polycentric law and the provision of public goods such as military defense in a stateless society. Friedman argues that a stateless legal system would be beneficial for society as a whole, including the poor.

While some books supporting similar libertarian and anarcho-capitalist views offer support in terms of morality or natural rights, Friedman (although he explicitly denies being a utilitarian)[note 1] here argues largely in terms of the effects of his proposed policies.[1]

Friedman conjectures that anything done by government costs at least twice as much as a privately provided equivalent.[2][note 2] He offers examples as evidence such as a comparison of the cost of the United States Postal Service's costs for package delivery with the costs of private carriers and the cost of the Soviet government versus market based services in the West.[note 3]


The Institute of Public Affairs, a libertarian think tank located in Australia, included The Machinery of Freedom in a list of the "Top 20 books you must read before you die" in 2006.[3]

Liberty magazine named the book among The Top Ten Best Libertarian Books, praising Friedman for tackling the problems related to private national defense systems and attempting to solve them.[4][5]

Related books[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Second Edition, pg. 165
  2. ^ Second edition, p. 85.
  3. ^ Second edition, p. 85.


  1. ^ Rothbard, Murray (July 1977). "Do You Hate the State?". The Libertarian Forum. Retrieved September 25, 2016 – via Mises Institute.
  2. ^ Caré, Sébastien. "Anarcho-capitalism and Moral Philosophy: Deontological versus Consequentialist Ethics". Anarchist Studies Network. Retrieved July 12, 2014. Friedman states the 'law' that anything done by government costs at least twice as much as a privately provided equivalent.
  3. ^ Shearmur, Jeremy. Institute of Public Affairs Review, July 2006, Vol. 58, Issue 2, p. 28, 1/3p (AN 22056148).
  4. ^ Vavasour, Liam (September 2006). Cox, Stephen (ed.). "Ten Great Books of Liberty" (PDF). Liberty. 20 (9): 21–33. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  5. ^ Kinsella, Stephan (August 3, 2006). "Top Ten Books of Liberty". Mises Institute. Retrieved July 12, 2014.

External links[edit]