How would you describe free market capitalism?

I have people argue that "free market capitalism has never been tried." That the idea has been sabotaged by the rich elite. Then there are billionaire anarchists who harp on about free market capitalism without government intervention. Which sounds even more grotesque.

Official response from submitted

"Free markets" are a utopian fantasy, a dream of people who want and need to imagine an economy functioning without any collective agent or agency to govern, regulate, etc. It is very anarchistic. It has been tried to various degrees and failed to come into existence. Its failure has not been for lack of ideological commitment or effort. "Laissez-faire" capitalism always oriented itself towards an utopian ideal of "free markets" as a distant goal of policy and hopes.

Many factors have precluded the achievement of the utopian dream of "free markets." Chalking it up to evil elites is too simple to be of use. Even if you believe that, you would need to explain how they achieved the power to do that, why no countervailing power overcame them, and so forth.

Every policy movement towards "free markets" over the centuries has been undone, stymied, frustrated, reversed, etc. That has to be explained in some serious analytical way, or else the conclusion that needs to be drawn is that it is an unworkable fantasy that human history has rejected. 

By the way, on the left, communism in its utopian formulations likewise defends itself as "never yet tried," leading to the same set of questions about why not etc that demand the same analytical response if the whole idea is not to sink into largely irrelevant fantasy.

Showing 3 reactions

How would you tag this suggestion?
Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Ben Angel
    commented 2017-04-04 09:09:43 -0400
    Thank you for your answer. Some people describe Reaganism and Thatcherism as laissaz faire free market economics. Is this incorrect?
  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-03-28 20:01:58 -0400
  • Ben Angel
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-03-27 16:29:23 -0400