Libertarians and conservatives tend to champion the frenzied consumerism of “Black Friday” as a glorious affirmation of capitalism and markets, but really it’s just a Big Business bacchanal — the high holiday of anti-market privilege, a form of communion in which cheap DVD players and surprise deals are served up as the symbolic body and blood of massive government subsidies to big-box retailers.
The consumers aren’t to blame. Aside from the occasional deadly Xbox stampede, they’re generally well behaved. However, they’re reacting uncritically to the existing conditions of the market, seeking only to maximize their short-term personal utility.
The same can’t be said of corporate apologists who know better but who check the details of institutional privilege at the door for propagandistic purposes. State policy intentionally skews the economic balance in favor of wealthy, geographically diverse corporations at the expense of more locally oriented and responsible firms. Conservatives claim fidelity to free market ideology while actually promoting a neoliberal mixed economy, which hopelessly muddles the political discourse, tricking people into thinking legitimate free markets are responsible for corporate centralism.
Ross Kenyon is the Assistant Editor of The Humble Libertarian.