An Introduction When you hear the term ‘Free Market’ the instinct is to think of capitalism. Capitalism is based on private property and the right to open shop on that premises and trade your product for someone’s dollar that they placed less of a value on, than your own item. But by far the most important right in the free market, are property rights. Not all property owners seek to turn a profit but instead wish to start a community within the market. An example of a community market is a mall. Shopping centres often have more regulations as to which stores can be located there and how individuals can act on that premises. Private regulation like this often occurs naturally without government made market-wide barriers. Not only do we find more privately regulated markets within the economy, but we also find communal property not even seeking to obtain profits. The free market’s competitive side is just a choice. Within a free market, economics is a choice the individual makes not a decision made by the majority vote. Examples of existing communes within the market Here in the UK there are already many people living in a communal setting. One group I have heard of is the Steward Community Woodland. They are an ‘ecological’ group focusing on high self-reliance, clean energy and only using fossil fuels at a minimum like petrol for chainsaws per example. They also share appliances, tools, food and even cars. The best part is in principle anyone can join and help grow and improve the commune. For further information the website is here: http://www.stewardwood.org. Now for my friends over the pond there is also many communal groups to choose from. The Twin Oaks community was founded in 1967 and has a population of around 100 adults and 17 children. Unlike the previously mentioned commune, Twin Oak shares the actual income of its members as they see it as moral and equal. Like the Steward Community Woodland, they are also ecological in their practice and seek to maximise sustainability and community contribution. Anyone can apply to join Twin Oaks but because of its relatively large popularity there is a rather long waiting list. For more information see the website here: https://www.twinoaks.org/. What is stopping more communes from popping up? Well one obvious reason is internal economic factors of the commune model. Often, they are not driven by profit but by living sustainably and being self-reliant. This is fine for communes who can attain certain resources but for those who cannot they obviously have to trade or come up with a ‘foreign’ income. Therefore, many state-socialists disapprove this approach as a socialist country could compete with more output in the world economy. That being said, if a country can compete in an unfair world market, how could a commune be held back in a free market? I am sure that communes could turn a profit to trade in the market, like philanthropy but instead of the excess going to the owner it goes to trade and resources for all. Furthermore, big government is a significant problem for communes within the market because of planning regulation and often forced use of the state/national grid onto the participants. You cannot decide to build a new shelter in your commune by the will of the people but instead must refer to the state, which can be a long and tedious process. Under the current market, if you want to be close to competitors that will be nearly impossible as a commune. City regulation far surpasses county in its sheer scale. Look at the difference between ‘Las Vegas’ and ‘Paradise’. This was a unique situation where developments could happen within a close proximity to a city government and be relatively laissez-faire in comparison. Because many communes may not always shovel the snow off the public pavement or cut the lawn on their property the rights of their lands could be violated with the wave of a wand – that’s assuming the city allowed permission for the community in the first place. Therefore, many communes are often in rural areas in which there is a low participant base to appeal to and not enough access to trade and resources that one in an urban area could achieve. “But socialism doesn’t work”, “But capitalism doesn’t work’ This article is not at all favouring capitalism or socialism in the economic theory aspect. It is favouring the free market and property rights. If you want to set up a commune that is your choice on your property. Whether you believe this would be ‘profitable’ or not does not matter. Freedom does. It is better the individual(s) to start an economic experiment than a state or majority vote. That means ideas are followed by participants not forced by coercion. The free market is a base for the consumer that is built up upon by the ideas of the citizen – not by the ideas of somehow ‘morally higher’ authority figures.
Nathan Cox – Dorset Member