>Political parties and Milton Friedman


One of my PhD students notes the obsession of the East European party literature with fitting theoretical models of party organization and reflecting cleavages, rather than considering parties as forms for participation. A very valid point. Most parties, especially in CEE of course, seem more oligarchies, networks of elites, closed clubs of enthusiasts or subcultures like stamp collectors or bungee jumpers – they are of course basically seen by the literature as service organizations or public utilities, but the old normative idea of party membership as participation lingers on . A select form of participation, at best then

I later return to Milton Friedman wondering whether he like Hayek had informed the Czech right’s fear of Third Ways. A quick reading of Capitalism and Freedom suggests Friedman, however, was less preoccupied with the drift to totalitarian collectivism, which he sees as checked half way by Anglo-American political culture and the inherent economic inefficiency of socialist planning – a judgement perhaps ultimately bore out by the collapse of communism itself- than the need to restrict the scope of politics to expand the scope of freedom.

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