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The free market is an embarrassment

“OK, people, it’s getting to be a lot of responsibility to distribute resources and tasks fairly and efficiently. Not sure any one person can do it. We all remember when Grunk was in charge of that mysteriously decreasing cookie jar.”
“Maybe what we need isn’t a person, but an automatic system, like a protocol or a set of game rules.”
“How about I do it? Market capitalism is my name. I use an invisible hand of supply and demand to set prices.”
“OK, impressive! You’re hired.”

[Time passes…]

“Market capitalism! Your idea of ‘prices’ seems to have no connection to actual cost nor to actual value!”
“All part of the plan, trust me!”

[More time passes…]

“Dammit, market capitalism! You have created wealth concentration beyond our wildest belief, and you keep incentivizing pure evil, and the planet is on fire, on track to becoming a new Venus, extinguishing all animals including humanity.”
“Oops! Isn’t that what you wanted? 🤪”

Looking back over the past two centuries with the benefit of hindsight, it’s absurd to the point of parody that we’ve seen people actively advocating for capitalism as some sort of unknown ideal, like Rand, libertarians, ancaps, “fiscal” conservatives, Torys, Reaganites, and Hayek (although he advocated for strict regulation of externalities, a notion his followers immediately discarded).

I’m not talking about the people who are “dammit this system sucks but there are some flaws in your proposed alternative”, or “I benefit from this system and will band with other people who also do so fuck you”, I’m talking about all those who actually argue for capitalism on ideological grounds as if it were good, as if it worked. Guys, you look like absolute clowns right now. You’ve steered us right into a bad timeline.

A legendary example of this is the whole “fable of the keys” / “QWERTY myth” perspective. The QWERTY a.k.a. Sholes keyboard was held up as a market failure caused by path depedence, compared to other layouts like Dvorak. Seeing economy pundits flailingly trying to argue “no, QWERTY is actually better than Dvorak because, uh…” was one of the catalysts steering me firmly away from the right wing growing up.

That’s a mistake we on the left should also learn from: stop arguing in bad faith or based on straw dolls. Every time we do, everytime they catch us in a contradiction, they get entrenched in their right-wing views.