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What is a Free Market?

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Here's the next in a series of articles designed to explain our ideas and hopefully recruit more people to our side. I hope it (also on my blog) will be useful. Share it with as many as you wish.

Critiques are welcome, btw.

One can hardly avoid the phrase free market (free enterprise, capitalism, etc.) in discussions of economics or politics. Regrettably, the term is used carelessly to describe a myriad of schemes that have little or nothing in common with a genuine free market.

It should be rather embarrassing that we've allowed this sloppiness to become the modus operandi of everyday political dialogue. We must stop tolerating the manipulation of our language before we can have clear and honest discussions.

In this article we will examine the true meaning of a free market, and why it is imperative that we use the correct terminology in our communications. We will not consider the merits of a free market versus alternatives; that will be reserved for a future post.

Defining a Free Market

By definition, free means unhindered, at liberty, and independence from control by others. One can only be free in this sense when natural rights are respected (Natural Rights were examined in a previous Striking at the Root article- it's important background information).

A market, of course, is a network of economic exchanges.

Putting these two words together, we must define a free market as a market in which all participants are free to act as they desire provided they do not violate the natural rights of others. In a free market people may invent, innovate, produce, and exchange goods and services (including labor) freely and peaceably, without interference by a third party (be it a lone criminal or the government).


  1. ProIndividual's Avatar
    The free market is, simply, a market with ZERO government interference. The only reason, as yopu point out, to intercede in markets is the violation of natural law, or "do no harm". This is NOT pre-emptive regulation, but post-action regulation. It is not UNIFORM regulation, it is individualized regulation for the minority that NEED regulated (and have proved so with their hermful actions).

    All we need are common law courts versed in that simple, singular law, natural law, and that have nullification rights...and this doesn't require a monopoly on force either. A free market can exist in anarchism, as anarcho-capitalists and individualist anarchists like me want, or in some minarchist sense, where the social contract is still coercive and has a monopoly on violence. I'd suggest the former.
  2. K466's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ProIndividual
    The free market is, simply, a market with ZERO government interference...
    Great comment, thanks for stopping by