Fitzhugh : What is wrong with the free market
“When we look to the vegetable, animal, or human kingdoms we discover in them all a constant conflict,
a war, or race of competition, the result of which is, that the weaker or less healthy genera, speacies and
invididucals are continually displaced and eterminated by the stronger and mor hardy. Nature is
perfecting its own work. We, however witness the war, but do not see the improvement.”
It is, then, that war or conflict to which Nature impels her creatures, and which
government was intended to restrict.
The question is, whether the proposed restrictions are sufficient to neutralize the self-
destructive tendencies which nature impresses on society.
The struggle to better ones conditions to pull others down or supplant
them is the great organic law of free society. All mean being equal, all aspire to the
highest honors and possessions. Good men and bad men teach their children one and the
same lesson “Go ahead, push your way in the world.”
None but selfish vitures are encouraged
“Everyman for himself, and devil take the hindmost,” is the moral which liberty and
free competition inculcate.
Those go better themselves push others down
The moral effect of free society is to banish Christian virtue, that virtue which bids us
love our neighbor as ourself, and to substitute the very equivocal virtues proceeding
from mere selfishness.
Hospitality is considered criminal waste
Code of honor foolish
iii. Taste, sentiment, imagination, are forbidden ground, because no money is made
Race to the bottom
– the rich man, however good he may be, employs the laborer who
will work for the least wages. The poor war with one another in the race of competition,
in order to get employment, by underbidding; laborers are more abundant than
employers. Populations increases faster than capital.
This process of underbidding never ceses so long as employers want profits or
laborers want employment. It ends when wages are reduced too low to afford
subsistence, in filling poor-houses, and jails, and graves.
A half million died of hunger in one year in Ireland – they died because in the eye of
the law they were equals, and liberty had made them enemies, of their landlords and
Simple man is preyed on:
Liberty and equity throw the whole weight of society on its
weakest members; they combine all men in oppressing precisely that part of mankind
who most need sympathy, aid and protection.
The simple man represents a class, the common day laborers
The employer cheapens their wages, and the retail dealer takes advantage of their
ignorance, their ability to visit other markets, and their want of credit, to charge them