Are the free market and society the same thing?

Free Market

The free market isn’t only about money, materialism, and narrow conceptions of self-interest. This misunderstood term covers all peaceful forms of exchange, cooperation, and human relationship. As such…

The free market is society.

Examples of prosocial, free market relationships include…

  • Products and services traded for money or barter
  • Labor exchanged for money or equity (like stocks, options, or a partnership stake)
  • Money loaned at interest or invested in equity
  • Donations to charities and causes
  • Friendship and love

Those last two items may seem like dubious additions to the list. But they’re crucial for understanding the true nature of the free market. Many people, especially left-statists, assume the market is only about money, materialism, and narrow self-interest. In fact…

Many of the economic decisions we make are not purely monetary or strictly materialistic. We…

  • buy entertainment to laugh, cry, or feel excitement
  • buy travel to experience beauty and other cultures
  • work less in order to have more leisure or to spend time with family

And many of our economic choices expand beyond narrow definitions of self-interest to reflect an interest in the needs of others. But even then an exchange is taking place. We want the good feelings that comes from helping others! That pleasure is our non-materialistic reward for acts of charity.

Strangely, many of the decisions we make about friendship and love are self-interested. Other than family, it’s rare that we befriend or love people who do not befriend or love us. There’s usually a relatively equal exchange of love and friendship. That means…

All peaceful human relationships are exchanges of value, be that value denominated in dollars, love, or some other benefit. Thus…

The free market is the social system that includes all peaceful forms of exchange, cooperation, and human relationship.

In other words…

  • The free market is society, and society is the free market
  • Only acts of aggression lie outside the market/society
  • Acts of aggression are the anti-social province of the criminal and the statist

Therefore, the free market is socialism that’s worthy of the name.

Jim Babka

About the Author

Jim Babka

Facebook Twitter

Jim Babka is co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and President of DownsizeDC.org, Inc. He’s an author and former talk show host.
Previously, he was the President of RealCampaignReform.org, Inc., defending free press rights all the way to the Supreme Court. He and Susie are the proud, home-schooling parents of three teenagers. He enjoys theology, UFC, target practice, and Tai Chi.

Perry Willis

About the Author

Perry Willis

Facebook Twitter Google+

Perry Willis is the co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and Downsize DC. He was the National Director of the Libertarian National Committee on two occasions, and ran two Libertarian Party presidential campaigns. He has an extensive background in marketing and fundraising, and has ghost written direct mail appeals for numerous luminaries, including Karl Hess, Ron Paul, Charlton Heston and Harry Browne.

Subscribe form for Lever Pages

 

Show Comments 9

 

  1. Elegant and, for me, compelling. It seems self-evident that the free market is not just about money, but about all voluntary exchange, and that is the beneficial part of society itself. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in such an accessible format.

  2. This is a good short statement, and I love it. We have used terms like “voluntary exchange” without realizing we are making 2 errors: (i) using stilted words, and (ii) seeming to narrow relationships to ‘trading’ – as if ‘giving’ were not part of the same, in all voluntary relationships.

    I like the concise way you narrate our voluntaryist message.
    John Bright would have been pleased.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Joe. BTW, did I hear that you got your gold bill passed here in Arizona?

      1. Yes, although it was more like the “skids” upon which we want to slide next Legislative Session, for our primary concept: Bullion Weight bonds, issued by a State (not using but invoking the “coinage of money” concepts from Art.1,Sec.10).

  3. “All peaceful human relationships are exchanges of value, be that value denominated in dollars, love, or some other benefit. Thus…

    The free market is the social system that includes all peaceful forms of exchange, cooperation, and human relationship.”

    Elegant and genius, this will be easy to drop in the middle of a conversation. It should be no surprise 99% of my conversations are with devout statists. Divorcing them from that disease will not be as easy as getting them to see that the above is true. But this is a good start.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Cliff.

      I personally have little hope of persuading statists in the short term. I think we should first concentrate on finding the people who have a psychological bias for non-violence. I think there are enough such people that we could equalize with the left-statists and the right-statists in the near future. Once that’s accomplished we can achieve visibility parity and start to have our ideas absorbed by osmosis, with a significant boost from social confirmation (the human herd instinct that makes ideas more attractive as other people adopt them).

      In the meantime, my main goal with statists is to provoke cognitive dissonance by constantly confronting them with their self-contradictions. That is the first step on the path to potential change later. Or so it seems to me. Thanks again for your support.

    2. You can’t teach people something they don’t want to learn. How to make them want to learn is something I have not yet discovered.

Leave a Reply to Kit Arbuckle Cancel reply

Fields marked with * are required