Whenever I hear someone start to toss around phrases like “free markets” and complain about “big government” and “regulations.” I know I’m likely talking to a libertarian or neo-conservative shill making excuses for crony capitalism.
The idea that there can be “free markets” in an anarchic capitalist society is a clever joke—a reality that dawns at some point on idealistic anarcho-libertarian undergrads that want to say they believe in something that sounds cool to say. One day in between bong hits, it hits them—who pays taxes if no one makes them pay? If you have no taxes how do you stop military invasion from even the most mediocre states?
Anyone pushing these ideas after age 30 are likely either fools or just sociopaths who want less rules so they can try to screw over everyone else.
Markets cannot exist without a state that uses the threat of force to guarantee property, profits, and contracts. Thus the state has the implicit prerogative and responsibility to control the market.
Imagine what would happen to the local grocery if all police and soldiers disappeared. The grocery would be forced to hire the local gang to defend their merchandise and before long, that gang would become the new state getting protection money(taxes) in exchange for their services. Then, the guys with the guns, of course, get to call the shots.
If the grocery owners hatch schemes to bleed the rest of community dry for their own benefit, the gangsters start to lose out on their neighborhood protection rackets. The furious gangsters respond by threatening to shoot the store owners if they don’t follow certain rules. Thus, we get regulations, which no market lacks. The market itself is regulated into existence by the gangsters’ guns.
Even most “free market” ideologues can’t claim to believe in actual completely free market. They usually recognize the need to prevent monopolies and try to have a “level playing field.” But they are slippery and try to blame the centralization of wealth into monopolies on “big government” ineptitude and corruption. In fact, power tends to centralize over time whether we speak of political bodies or business enterprises. In real life, big, powerful government is the only thing that keeps markets competitive.
The market is one of the most powerful and flexible tools known for organizing and channeling the creative power of humanity. Used properly, it can give rise to prosperous nations. But it is first a tool to improve society, not an end unto itself. Business exists to serve the people and is fundamentally subordinate to the needs of the tribe.
When businesses are allowed to do whatever they wish while enjoying the protection of armed men, the state creates and aids the growth of competitors for its power to rule. The market is a dangerous tool that must be handled with firm discipline.
If the gangsters grow soft, the grocery store competes with them for money that would’ve gone into taxes and eventually has its own armed men. If the gangsters lose the ensuing struggle, the grocery store becomes the new government. Then the grocery store has to worry about staying in power just like the gangsters did.
The worst possible state, actually, is when the market is let to grow out of control with no responsibility for governing. Then business, which should be enriching the neighborhood becomes like a brood of writhing tapeworms bloating the collective body even as it starves from within.
There will always be corruption and ineptitude in government so long as governments are ran by people, or even by machines programmed by people—and therefore infused with human bias. It has been argued endlessly if government is good or bad. What cannot be debated is whether government is necessary and those who try to say otherwise in favor of business are most likely traitors.