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Free-marketism is a belief in the general superiority of solutions based on free-as-in-unregulated market principles. It is usually accompanied by a belief in strong property rights, with enforcement of such rights being one of the few (if any) legitimate functions of government.

A society based on free-marketist principles would be a form of minarchy, but there are no known examples of any such society that is both highly technological and either prosperous or peaceful, much less successful at maintaining human rights.

Free-marketists commonly self-identify as voluntarists, minarchists, anarcho-capitalists, and/or libertarians.

Core beliefs

  • Only virtue leads to success; success (i.e. making money) is therefore, by definition, virtuous. (see fairness fallacy)
  • (therefore) Anyone who is rich deserves every penny of their wealth.
  • (therefore) Anything which interferes -- or appears to be interfering -- with market forces is a source of injustice (i.e. moving rewards from those who deserve them to those who do not)
  • (therefore) Government interference with the market is evil.
  • (therefore) Government regulation is evil, regardless of the evil said regulation may be trying to prevent.
  • Physical coercion is always wrong. The results of failing to coerce, however, are of no moral consequence.
  • All rights are individual; groups do not have any rights.
  • All valid social obligations are negative; there are no positive obligations to society.

Some free-marketeers [Who?] also express the belief that there is no such thing as society (after Margaret Thatcher's famous statement to this effect) as a way of attacking the concept of (positive) social obligation, but apparently not all of them agree with this.

There is also commonly an expressed belief that reward is proportional to effort, and that hard work will pay off.


Free-marketism is often expressed in moralistic terms that bear a great deal of similarity to religious beliefs:

  • In essence, any action which is rewarded by the market (i.e. profitable) is thereby sanctified; anyone who does as the market wishes is absolved of sin, because the market would only reward someone for taking an action that was for the net good, even if it has some negative consequences.
  • The actions of the powerful may be morally evaluated entirely in terms of virtuous free-market reward and sinful rewards resulting from government interference.
  • The cause of any injustice is always "government"; the cause of any good is always "market forces". "Government" / "the state" is seen as pure evil, like Satan, while the market is pure good, like God.

Because of the one-dimensionality of the moralistic thinking involved, free-marketeers see no hypocrisy in (for example) a profitable company fighting against environmental regulations as unnecessary and intrusive while also polluting and claiming that their activities are beneficial overall. The government (Satan) is to blame for the polluting, and the company's virtuous fight against the government helps to cancel out the evil (sin) of polluting -- rather than demonstrating the moral indefensibility of fighting against environmental regulations. The company's profitability -- i.e. its compliance with market forces (God) -- proves that it is on the side of virtue, regardless of any negative consequences.


Free-marketeers often defend corporate evil in terms that are very similar to mansplainer attacks on feminism, such as "not all corporations are bad" (see not all men [1]).



Claims frequently made by free marketeers include:

  • Economic inequality is, has always been, and will always be with us; attempts to fight poverty have never worked.
    • This is fair because people are not equal in their efforts and, therefore, people will not be equal in their rewards.
  • The fact that most people now have cell phones proves that the free market works to provide equality.
    • This is often claimed by the same people who will freely admit we don't have a free market right now.
  • Only government regulation can cause monopolies.
    • More generally, excessive private power only exists because it is able to exploit excessive government power.
      • Implication: all excessive power is created by government.
  • It is the government's fault that its regulatory power is abused [W] by powerful interests. (If that power didn't exist, then it couldn't be abused.)


There is some discussion of these ideas on Google+.


Some questions for free-marketeers:

  1. Do you agree that voluntarism has some issues that need to be resolved?
  2. Do you agree that government sometimes "gets it right", i.e. takes actions whose effects are primarily (and intentionally) beneficial?
  3. Do you agree that some amount of coercion is necessary in any society?
    1. How do you resolve the discrepancy between the idea of a "purely voluntary" society and the idea that it would be okay for private individuals to hire a police force?