Friday, August 15, 2008

Government interference

In his (her?) comment on Market forces, lakercat9 says
You seem to be equivocating the definition of "free market". While I'm sure a few people, incorrectly, use the term to mean a market free of coercion the most accepted definition is a market free of governmental interference.
This statement is fallacious in three ways. First, since I explicitly define "free market" as a market free of (all) coercion, and since I'm using the term exclusively in that sense, whatever else I'm doing, I'm not equivocating.

Second, "free" is an ordinary English word with a well-defined meaning — without coercion — in this context, and I'm using the word in its ordinary meaning. By suggesting the ordinary meaning of the word while actually employing a restricted meaning, it is apologists for capitalism, not me, who must be scrutinized for equivocation.

Third, the idea that a capitalist "free" market is actually free of government intervention is a blatant lie. Even in the capitalist context, markets are not free of government interference. If I fail to pay my rent, I will very quickly see the pointy end of government interference when the sheriff — armed with a pistol and the permission to use it — comes to evict me. It doesn't matter whether or not this interference is warranted, I merely point out that it exists. Saying that something is absent when it is manifestly present is simply a lie.

Demonstrate too hard against the government, and again we will see some government interference. If some country or democratically elected leader does not toe the US line, they will see some government interference. All heartily cheered on by our capitalist rulers. I could go on for pages listing how governments interfere coercively in economic and political activity to maintain capitalism. Some of this interference might even be rationally warranted, but let me say again: Saying that something is absent when it is manifestly present is simply a lie.

The ideas that markets should be actually free is an anarchist notion (and probably unrealistic). Capitalism is the idea that the government should interfere with free markets on behalf of the owners of capital.

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