Capitalist theory states that as long as there are willing buyers, willing sellers, and governments that enforce property rights without interfering in sales, then you have free markets. It’s a bedrock plank of Adam Smith’s theories. I’ve bought into this all my life, even when things like NAFTA bothered me when I was younger. “OK, the appliance factories close, but we sell more software, and the market fixes everything eventually”.
But there are no free markets.
How did I come to this conclusion? Was it a giant stock market crash? Weimar-like misery? The superiority of competing Socialist systems?
No. We’re making more money than we’ve ever made. Collectively, anyway. Just look at Apple’s new campus. You couldn’t have dreamed that up in Star Trek. But Wealth ≠ Free Markets. What if you have willing buyers, but the sellers collude to keep you from buying for reasons that have nothing to do with profit and loss?
This is something that Adam Smith never thought of. When Dylan Roof shot up that church in South Carolina, and Ebay banned Confederate items, Smith would have said “Don’t worry, Ebid or Bonanaza will go after that business”. But then they banned them too. When Alex Jones was banned from YouTube, Smith would have said “Don’t worry, Vimeo wants those viewers”. But then they banned him too. As Twitter purges right wing users, Smith would say “They can go to Gab, where free speech is the first principle, and… wait, what do you mean ‘Gab’s been kicked off its host and other hosts are refusing their business? That’s not supposed to happen!”
The weak spot in Smith’s theory is simple: he couldn’t see that politics is so important to people, that they’re willing to give up profit as long as they’re making some money. He couldn’t foresee a group of sellers getting together and going “Let’s not sell to THOSE people” for political reasons. Smith couldn’t imagine the existence of SJW oligopolies. Which is exactly what we have in Silicon Valley. And in Hollywood, and in retail, for that matter. After Ebay’s confederate ban, Amazon and Wal Mart and Target rushed to virtue signal right along with them.
We don’t have free markets. We have monopolies and oligopolies, and even when you try to “build your own” (as the Left likes to tell us to do), well, even THEN they try to destroy you. And as Andrew Torba is discovering over at Gab, building your own does no good if collusion by oligopolies makes your product unusable.