Free Markets Are Nothing But Free Persons: New at Reason

Critics of the libertarian philosophy think they can score points by calling libertarians "market fundamentalists." It's a smear, of course, and if you think the tactic discredits those who employ it, Sheldon Richman agrees. The fact is that libertarians cannot be market fundamentalists, writes Richman. Why not? Because in the libertarian worldview, the market is not fundamental. What's fundamental is every person's right to be free from aggressive force. So find—call us freedom fundamentalists, Richman writes.

Strictly speaking, it's not markets that can and should be free—it's people, argues Richman. The term free market merely describes one political-legal context in which people conduct themselves. It's shorthand for a subset of human action—the exchange of goods and services, usually for money. It follows, then, that when politicians and activists call on the government to regulate the economy, they mean to regulate us.

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