Ask any d-bag — they’ll tell you that America is great because we have free markets and free markets make you free.
This is not the kind of simple categorical mistake the uneducated make when they assume that because a word reoccurs in two different contexts that it has the same meaning both times (e.g. that hamburgers are made from ham). Many of the most well educated d-bags are convinced that there is a direct correlation between free markets and freedom. In fact, two of the most well renowned economists in d-bag circles are Nobel laureates Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman both of whom argued that the only way to preserve political freedom is to guarantee free markets.
In the “reality-based” world, whose logic is different from d-bag logic, people are greedy and selfish, but occasionally touched by noble impulses to serve their community even if no benefit redounds back onto themselves. In this world there are many ways people express themselves in society. That includes their economic choices, but it is not limited to economics. They also participate in politics and occasionally in the arts. In the reality based world, freedom is more than the ability to choose between hoagies, grinders and subs; rather it is the ability to reflect on who you are and cultivate who you want to be.
In the d-bag world, nothing is done because it contributes to something greater than yourself; everything is done because it reflects and expands your personal power. For d-bags this is a zero-sum game. In addition to the free market mantra, derived and perverted from Adam Smith’s idea of enlightened self-interest that greed is good, d-bags add the maxim that envy is also good. That means if someone is doing better than you, and you can’t join them, beat them. (This is the root of many d-bag rants against “liberal elites.”) How does this effect “free” markets? In the first place it makes them impossible in the practical, “real world”. D-bags’ envy makes them secretly hate competition, especially by a smaller, weaker competitor. Their envy is tied into a veneration for power, and consequently you will notice d-bags are fond of monopolies and monopolistic practices (Wal*Mart), corporations, and gross displays of hubristic excess. but it gives ideological cover to government hating d-bags who would restrain activities in other areas of life (politics) from putting curbs on excessive behaviors. It’s a beautiful paradox: if you keep me from selling myself into slavery, you have taken away my freedom.
More to the point, free market fundamentalists confuse politics and economics on purpose so that an anti-democratic institution like the corporation can pretend (through myth and legal fiction) to be a free actor in a free market while denying its employees the freedom to also participate in markets or government (to take only one example by busting unions). Democratic institutions (like government) are not necessary for the functioning of corporations — just look at China. But free markets cannot exist, let alone function, without democratic government standing prior to it — not the other way around.
D-bags hate the farmers’ market, which is where beneficiaries of a free market might hang out, and which, ironically, is the nostalgic symbol of free markets for most free marketeers. Why? because it’s symbolic value of moderation and self-restraint, two virtues strenuously avoided by d-bags. But also because the farmers’ market is only made possible by the indulgence of governments (local and state) and consumers that protect them from unfair competition. Governments grant them space in public places, and consumers shop there from ethical impulses rather than purely economic ones. This is heresy to free market d-bags. Something that is not crassly self-interested must be punished by the state in the name of fair competition — in complete defiance of the creed of free markets. And aesthetic or political attitudes that do not reverence the authoritarianism that lurks behind the mask of “free market” ideology must be crushed.