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Why isn't the "free market" free?

0 votes
Capitalism is one of the hierarchies that anarchists oppose. Capitalism > free-market-ism. No matter how much libertarian capitalists don't like it, "capitalism" since the term was introduced has described many more economic situations besides "free" markets. Regardless, laissez-faire capitalism is contrary to a liberated society. Why? Is there any justification whatsoever for a market-based economy?

And for completeness sake... Do any anarchists support planned economies? (I guess Parecon would qualify) What are the alternatives to market AND planned economies?
asked Sep 9, 2011 by enkidu (6,110 points)
Forget your connotation of the word. You can't see past it. Fine. I'll abandon it. Try to hear what I'm actually saying. If I trade you corn that I grew for cheese that you made, who is adversely effected? Who is wronged by this?
a "free market' is a market free from state coercion. why isnt the free market free? because we have no free market.
"private police" makes no sense. "police force" is state operation... to "police" the population/order them around/INITIATE violence/claim everyone as "subjects"/enfroce the imposed 'law' - which they do on a daily basis. without the state there are no 'police"
"The police started out as a mutually acceptable exchange between capitalists and bullies with weapons. "   you ignore that those "capitalists" had to use/use "government" to create those "police." .. and that in doing so, they become "government" NOT JUST  "capitalists." sure, some "capitalists" decided they were going to be "government" and  create a standing army to keep everyone in check/enforce their magical "law" ... if someone ghad a group of armed men sitting on their property, protecting it, theyre not "police," they have not initiated violence against anyone/they dont "enforce the 'law'".. they would be only for defense, etc.. not "policing" everyone. "bullies with weapons" = "government." as soon as some "capitalist" got some guys with guns together to run around either taking peoples stuff/land, or imposing some "law" some OTHER delusional clown wished to impose, they took the first step to being a "government," NOT JUST a "capitalist." theyre doing the same thing as any 'government," trying to rule by force/using force to impose some rule or idea they had (like taking your stuff/ordering you around with "law"). they would become "government" if most other people in the area came to accept their violence.
Good distinction.

3 Answers

+1 vote
the free market is not free because nothing exists in a vacuum. it's like saying i should have the right to my computer (to pick an example out of the air ;) ). computers rely on horrendous tech, colonialist practices, etc, but more significantly, they rely on a way of looking at the world that is alienated. (this is ignoring the whole "rights" language, which is a distraction here...)
the free market isolates one piece of this alienation and talks about it as if it can exist alone. this is the question that @caps raise (implicitly). it is quite analogous to pro-civ people, who see nothing wrong with tech, just something wrong with how tech is deployed (to put it overly simplistically).

edit: the more i read of these comments (and think about them) the more it seems that while the most obvious disconnect between "@"caps and anarchists could just be an issue of terminology - the problem is really, at least most of the time, in where the problem(s) of society are seen to lie.
"@"caps seem to think that there is a lot that is fine about the basic assumptions of this society. people's individuality is not seen as problematic in any way, competition is simple and/or necessary and/or unquestioned, ownership is simple and straightforward, etc.
they have this in common with a lot of anarchists, actually, although the simplicity is in different terrains.

but the anarchists that i'm interested in question all that (as well as the knee jerk rejections of all that). this is why i think it's possible that someone who calls themselves an @cap could be worthwhile to talk to. it's not the label that is actually the most relevant thing, but it seems to be a fairly accurate shorthand most of the time.
answered Sep 9, 2011 by dot (52,800 points)
edited Oct 1, 2011 by dot
No. The free market isn't like saying you have a Right to your computer. It's like saying you have a right to buy one from someone who has made one if you both agree and it's done in a way that hurts no one. This isn't just important in how it's languistically stated, but in principle.
So... the difference is that A doesn't have a right to X, but A does have the right to trade Y to B in exchange for X?

Yes, the rights language is hella obfuscatory.
I agree. Wtf are you talking about?
What would you like me to clarify, enkidu?
What wasn't clear?
the argument is that my comparison is incorrect, that owning something is not the same as being able to sell something; the point of my analogy seems to have been completely missed (the point, of course, being about false abstractions/separating things from what caused them and what causes them -- again, to use stupidly simple language, since i am not arguing simple or linear causation).

the idea that anarchists are going to prevent people from doing things like trade is fucking idiotic. the question of whether anarchists will keep anyone from doing anything consensual is an interesting one, i guess? but if capitalist systems are in place, then it can't be an anarchist society, by definition, and the refusal to accept that we mean something by capitalism that is different from trade means that these conversations are not going to go anywhere.
What you mean by capitalism is what I mean by corporatism.
What I mean by capitalism is mutually consenting trade between individuals.

Seems clarified easily enough.
i dont think any of these people have the foggiest idea as to what the fuck theyre talking about. what the fuck kind of anarchist is anti free market? idiots.
Name calling still probably not constructive, though..
These resurrected questions are reminding me of how glad I am that JaysThoughts finally fucked off after repeatedly being told to fuck off.
what the @caps commenting here continue to ignore is dot's point that however the "seller" has create/obtained the item being "sold", chances are near zero that they created/obtained it without impacting lives other than the person they are "selling" to. so framing it as a simple, closed-loop exchange between 2 non-coerced parties (with no impact on anyone else) is completely disingenuous.

how did they get the land they grew the carrots on? where did they get the tools/materials to plant, feed, water them? how did they get them to the "market"? how did they come into contact with the "buyer"?

perhaps you can give me a realistic example of how such an exchange can occur between 2 individuals, without any coercion or in any way impacting any other individuals anywhere.
"how did they get the land they grew the carrots on? where did they get the tools/materials to plant, feed, water them? how did they get them to the "market"? how did they come into contact with the "buyer"? "

homestead/trade.   creation or trade.    carrying them or giving something to someone in trade to take them there.
--
if there is some open field, and someone, or some people start farming it, who have they affected? are you saying they owe everyone else for taking this land? how would that be any different than property tax? who would they pay?
+4 votes
short answer: it relies on slavery to make it "functional".
answered Jan 28, 2013 by AngryCunt (1,240 points)
+1 vote
"Free markets" as described in mainstream political discourse only represents freedom for a small segment of society: industrialists and banksters.  Since capitalism depends on a power imbalance, "free markets" gives even more power to the rich, which automatically results in worsened conditions for the rest of us.  Opposition to free market neo-liberalism and globalization is really about opposition to corporations, tyrannical regimes, colonialism and ecocide.

All anarchists are not necessarily opposed to free markets as a concept.  From mutualist.org:

"Mutualists belong to a non-collectivist segment of anarchists.  Although we favor democratic control when collective action is required by the nature of production and other cooperative endeavors, we do not favor collectivism as an ideal in itself.  We are not opposed to money or exchange.  We believe in private property, so long as it is based on personal occupancy and use.  We favor a society in which all relationships and transactions are non-coercive, and based on voluntary cooperation, free exchange, or mutual aid.  The "market," in the sense of exchanges of labor between producers, is a profoundly humanizing and liberating concept.  What we oppose is the conventional understanding of markets, as the idea has been coopted and corrupted by state capitalism.
 
     Our ultimate vision is of a society in which the economy is organized around free market exchange between producers, and production is carried out mainly by self-employed artisans and farmers, small producers' cooperatives, worker-controlled large enterprises, and consumers' cooperatives."
answered Jan 31, 2013 by jaemuzzin (250 points)
jaemuzzin, would you like to name some actual mutualists who are anarchist?

and fwiw, most anarchists i know are pretty over the whole "democracy" thing. probably not worth much though, unfortunately.
is that a trick question?  What do you mean by "actual" mutualists?  Why would it be helpful to name any?
you're right. my phrasing isn't excellent. my point is that mutualists don't seem to be anarchists to me. they seem to be in the grey area between those who call themselves ancaps, and what i would recognize as actual anarchists. i say that not because i don't appreciate the line they're trying to draw in theory, but because i think in real life, that line is impossible to walk, so that people will fall on one side or the other. and my assumption is that most mutualists will fall on the ancap side. so i'm interested in some real life examples.
thanks for asking.
I don't identify as a mutualist and can't post an articulate defense of the school.  I was merely pointing out that not all anarchists are opposed to markets.
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