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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Market by Any Other Name....

Mupetblast writes:

Inadvertent support for free markets in an anti-capitalist reader

So I was flipping through a book called The Anti-Capitalism Reader today at work, and I found an interesting chapter on what is called "parallel economies" - economic networks that exist alongside and apart from the mainstream. What was fascinating is that what is discussed and supported in this chapter is perfectly consistent with a free market, and not the so called "free market" that exists today: fiat money, mercantilism and the evil concept of "intellectual property". (How one can own an idea is beyond me, considering its non scarcity and quite frankly, enforceability.)

The problem is that "free markets" are usually defined too narrowly; the term "market" is conventionally used to refer to the cash nexus, and to the institutions in and through which money exchanges are conducted. But properly speaking, the "market" encompasses all forms of voluntary, non-coercive interaction. For example, check out this post by Sunni Maravillosa (teaser line: "A marketplace you can think of as 'sex with Sunni' exists. Its supply is very limited, but so is the demand....").

What's really sad: even when people are talking about behavior that falls very much in the "free market" category, they don't like to use the term because of who it's become associated with.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it helpful to use one word (market) for the cash nexus and another word (exchange) for the broader range of economic interaction.


March 10, 2006 7:56 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Well, we certainly need a word for the narrower range of what's conventionally referred to as "market" relations. The problem is not creating a semantic disconnect, or implying that the realm of social reciprocity, mutual aid, the gift economy, etc., is somehow incompatible with what free market advocates want. When people like Dreher talk about the market in that narrower sense being a "social construct," I get the feeling that's somehow intended as a refutation of libertarians' belief in free markets. But what he's "refuting" is, for many of us, a strawman.

March 10, 2006 8:08 PM  

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