Platonic market

I don’t want to be too hard on this person because she is smart and thoughtful, but this post illustrates well the framing problem that so many people have reference the economy and markets, combined with the pernicious effects of nearly-ubiquitous neoliberal co-opting of the cultural conversation.

Let’s consider, though. Are markets a natural feature of the world, like water? Like gravity? Without humans creating them, does the concept of a “free market” or a “regulated market” or even just a “market” exist?

Is there a platonic market?

I don’t think so. I think the idea is absurd, actually. Something that is common to neoliberal-ish thought is the equating of created and mutable systems like the societal organization of resource distribution with natural laws and the behavior of highly law-constrained physical features. This creates a false equivalence that implies that markets exist out there in the universe, and we just discovered them and now have no choice but to obey their unalterable and ineluctable dictates.

It’s such an effective propaganda technique that I have to thoroughly applaud it while also despising it.

I do agree though that the pharmaceutical industry in the US is both under- and over-regulated in bizarre and counterproductive ways.

That doesn’t change the fact that pretending or worse actually believing that the market system is the only possible way to produce useful drugs and remedies is not borne out by any evidence, but rather asserted without proof as part of a pervasive ideology that has been so successful it has nearly extinguished the visibility of any other option.

Historically, most of the useful drugs in the market have been funded by the US government or by state-supported institutions, while all the profits go to public corporations.

This is something that you’ll never read about in neoliberal market fairy tales, and if you do it’ll be adjoined to some also-unevidenced assertion that the free market could have certainly done it better if it hadn’t been ‘crowded out’ by government spending.

I’m fine with people telling or even believing fairy tales. But at least I want them to be aware of it when they are doing so.

Unfortunately most neoliberals and their apologists have no such knowledge or self-awareness and when I see that in otherwise-intelligent people it makes me wonder how this could’ve occurred.

One thing I’ve learned though is that powerful-enough propaganda makes you not only believe it to such a degree that it feels dangerous and absurd to believe anything else, or even to posit that anything else can exist outside that framework at all.