Is the free market an individualist or collectivist social arrangement? Don’t answer too quickly. It’s a trick question. Most people — free-market friend and free-market foe alike — will answer “individualist.” And that makes perfect sense. The free market describes a political/legal environment in which individuals are at liberty to engage in any peaceful activity, with only force and fraud prohibited. No one may aggressively interfere with another human being’s peaceful projects. This environment leaves it to each person to define himself or herself through the pursuit of subjective preferences. If that’s not individualism, what would be?
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