We are all collectivists now?

Marc’s post brought to mind this old quotation from Milton Friedman back in 1950.  He understood even then how much had changed since the 19th century.  I can only imagine what he would think about Obamacare!  This quotation also provides a nice addendum to the message in Hayek’s “Why I Am Not a Conservative”:

In most of the world, legislation is still largely dominated by the trend of opinion toward collectivism that Dicey documented some forty odd years ago.  True, there have recently been a whole series of elections in which the Right has gained at the expense of the Left – in Australia, England, the United States, and continental Europe.  But even if a political trend to the right were to develop out of these small beginnings, which is by no means certain, it would probably mean simply collectivist legislation of a somewhat different kind to be administered by different people.  The men of the conservative parties, no less than those of the left, have been affected by the underlying current of opinion.  Men may deviate in emphasis from basic social values and beliefs but few can hold a thoroughly different philosophy, can fail to be infected by the intellectual air they breathe.  By the standards of nineteenth century individualism, we are all of us collectivists in smaller or greater measure. [emphasis added]

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