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You don't coerce or injure others. Why can politicians do it?

Are the free market and society the same thing?

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.

By Perry Willis & Jim Babka

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