Free Markets and the Invisible Hand of Social Thought

After every market valuation bubble crash there are cries that capitalist system is broken and needs to be revised. There are accusations that we cannot just leave it to the invisible hand balancing the market. The common reaction is to call for more government intervention. However, if anything, I am advocating for free markets balanced not by increased intervention of government but by an invisible hand of social thought.

Like Adam Smith’s invisible hand that balanced the markets  by controlling demand and production rates without any specific intervention, the invisible hand I address is invisible because its agent is not a specific entity. The change it brings about in the market is not controlled or dictated by one source it is rather one based multiple sources with varying designs and needs that have a direct impact and control on the market.

Selling dependence is not against the law, it does however exploit and benefit a relationship of inequality without social conscience. My treatment of social conscience requires that I define it to minimize the knee jerk reaction that triggered by a hypersensitivity to anybody that might be advocating a specific religion or set of values. Social conscience is the activity of reflecting upon the ideals held for society, social interaction, social structure and the values that are the underpinning or structure that make that ideal society possible, this is then followed by the analysis of consequences of actions taken in the smallest and largest scale, how does this purchase or this contract advance the ideals or change social interaction in the present or near future, what values are being advocated. Social conscience may well vary from region to region and regardless of that variation it should be present in the decision making process of consumers and markets.

The green movement or debate on sustainable economy are examples of active social reflection designed to impact the free market. The rule of purchase is not just lowest price nor quality but also social impact. To the extent that these philosophies are advocated by governments, they are locally visible to each region but less so on the global scale.

Other examples of social thought impacting market development can be found in the communities interested in retaining small and medium sized local businesses and setting up barriers to the entry of Walmart. It can be argued that these local battles did not affect Walmart’s corporate bottom line, for it grew in spite of it. However, the community that put up fight gained in self definition, public debates of who they are and where they are going.

Our world is changing. The fabric of society is changing by our willing reliance on government bureaucracy and consumerism.

I am advocating an embracing of free markets, where we actively examining relationships of power, individual values and ideals we hold for social interaction. The description of large companies as being multinational has invited in the past comparison of companies with  nations-states.  Able to elude the restraints of social contracts with any one government or community, these global companies provide their employees a new identity that transcends national identity and offers a new citizenship that affords a certain power and access to managerial employees on a global playing field.  The literature regarding corporations as nations serve as a starting point for the current exploration into the relationships of power and the freedom of association and self determination.

Free markets may just impel humanity forward if the invisible hand of social conscience is reinforced. I use the metaphor of invisible hand as a way to communicate that there is no one visible structure coordinating its effect. It is rather the unintended consequence of many different actions whose worldview, needs and demands may be different but have a concerted effect on the development of free enterprise. But underlying the description of this free market vision is the notion that the individual agents are free and exercise their freedom of choice in a setting where knowledge and inquiry are openly available to them.