The Really, REALLY Free Market Comes to C-U

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

IMAGINE STUMBLING INTO THE PARK to find what looks like a
festival, picnic, yard sale, or all of the above. Hungry and
low on funds, you ask a kindly merchant, “How much for
this food?” They reply, “It’s free. Everything here is free.”
Your heart sinks and you die of shock. “It can’t be! Free
market capitalism is the greatest thing ever! How could the
world turn without it? What about profits?”
The Really Really Free Market, held Saturday October
10th at West Side Park, aimed at a shift from daily life
being dictated by the market to life dictating to the market.
Adding Really Really as a challenge to the popular
notion of free market capitalism, where the only freedom
realized is for a small group of people to gain enormous
wealth at the expense and by the exploitation of
the majority.
At the Really Really Free Market, there were no profits.
No money was exchanged, no bartering or haggling. People
brought food, skills, and goods for the sharing. The
spirit of “Give what you can, take what you need” dominated.
A variety of books covered the ground. A delicious
spread of food, provided by Food Not Bombs, et. al., was
enjoyed by attendees. Clothes were mixed with dinner
plates. Some talented young men serenaded the crowd
with music, while someone offered free bike repairs. Haircuts
and cute dogs abounded. Community was under construction.
Relationships were strengthened through celebration
and conversation rather than being mediated by
money. Motivation to interact was not profit-driven.
A market is not free when individuals are coerced by
deprivation to take part in a system that exploits them in
order to acquire resources, and when distribution is controlled
not by need but by purchasing power. One’s ability
to gain purchasing power is also restricted by the same
system. The sale of labor is not determined by the laborer,
nor does it guarantee that the basic needs of the laborer
will be met.
Shifting to a system that, in the words of Karl Polyani, is
built upon redistribution and reciprocity, and the concept
of gift economies, is the driving force behind events like
the RRFM or Food Not Bombs. In this idealized system,
giving freely is a virtue, and generosity is a heavily emphasized
social obligation. Communities and the individuals
within work to ensure that everyone’s individual needs are
met, and personalism is more important than personal
economic interest. Call it reciprocal altruism, if you will, I
call it love.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.