Abstract: I briefly review Frédéric Bastiat and Ludwig von Mises on the role of the individual in a liberal society. I review negative and positive liberty, concluding that negative liberty is dominant in a liberal society, but that positive liberty is necessary for it to function. I then review a number of the core points of a presentation by Pier Luigi Sacco, an Italian cultural economist, in which he describes the social effects of a free market media society oriented toward giving the consumer what they want. In the light of Sacco’s presentation I argue that the social outcomes of these free market processes can produce significant negative economic externalities, as well as undermine the individual responsibility and the positive liberty required for a liberal society as theorized by Bastiat and Mises.

I tend toward a classic liberal view, but I have some reservations about accepting some of its tenets without ethical qualifications.  The best way I know to engage that is to subject it to the most direct criticisms I can and see how well it holds up; it is with this in mind that I wrote this paper.  Comments are welcome.

This is a working paper, subject to revision; click the link below to download the PDF.

Download Liberal Markets and Illiberal Outcomes

My translation of a 2009 presentation by Prof. Sacco is available as well, briefly referenced in my paper.  This presentation will give an overview of his thought on the economic role of culture.

The Economic and Social Impact of Capabilities Building and Individual Education