chapter  1
Myths and Realities of the Free Market
WithDouglas Dowd
Pages 14

Markets are useful guides for certain purposes. The marketability of everything—the aim of free market guru Milton Friedman and his numerous followers—means the commodification of everything. Adam Smith did trust a free market—free of social, political, and business power or control—made and kept free by “the invisible hand” of market competition. Smith’s reasoning and policies had their moment in history, in Britain, a long “moment” of nascent industrialization, when it was the only industrializing power. Thomas Jefferson was the prime supporter of Smith and market capitalism in the United States, but the processes of industrialization in the first half of the nineteenth century were those of the “mercantilist” Alexander Hamilton. The issue was to identify the areas of daily existence that had to be exempted from the “law of supply and demand” and protected from the market, areas requiring sociopolitical interventions. The free market economy Smith argued for was meant to reduce governmental influence in the economy to a minimum.