The purpose of this essay is to consider how economic forces limit the freedom of action of individuals and of whole societies. The point is also made that economic progress in the sense of an ability to produce more and make people more affluent is conducive to freedom in a wider sense. But it is as well for me to state at the outset that I am not one of those who believe that providing more consumer goods can make up for limitations on political freedom, or that lack of freedom of expression or freedom of movement can, for the most part, be justified by making people better off in a material sense. As far as I am concerned, these political freedoms are of primary importance. They will usually be enhanced by economic progress and by the more equitable division of society’s riches, but if better economic performance could only be reached by a diminution of parliamentary democracy I would choose the latter over the former.