As individuals, each one of us ought to have the ability to chart our own destiny. Some may argue this is the highest of all human virtues, self-definition, within a broader societal framework, that acts as the dialectical opposite of the individual, collective and individual, creating the flux that is society. This flux is best illustrated in what one may call voluntary market transactions and exchanges between individuals.
This flux was best illustrated by the recent Super League scandal which hit the sporting world a few weeks ago. An entity with power, say an incorporated multi-billion dollar club like Manchester United, was made to change course by the 'lowly' people who are its supporters, or in my estimation, their entangled essence which gives them existence, their consumers, since in this instance the clubs would be producers.
Those who deride 'market fundamentalism' as they would call it, miss the metaphysical point made by most proponents of laissez faire free markets, or some variant thereof. Namely, the norm of interacting with your fellow human beings in a non-forceful manner, in a manner that sees not only an absence of force, but a 'meeting of the minds,' to use legal language. This 'meeting of the minds' is seen in human action as exchange, from exchanging tangible property to intangible services, all the way up to the 'exchange', the flux, that is normal human interaction like friendship or belonging to a church community, wherein interaction in and if itself is wholly premised on a voluntary basis that sees every party that is involved in said interaction better off. This principle of interacting with individuals, exchanging pleasantries, viewpoints or property without the use of force or imposition is quite too broad to be tackled here but it is necessary as a context to the point being made about how, in the market, the people truly do govern.
With the recent European Super League, you had a group of clubs from Europe, high grossing clubs in terms of market valuation, banding together with the intention of creating an exclusive league wherein they would compete, and its founding members, and the clubs which had been announced as being part of it, Arsenal and Tottenham as two examples, would never be relegated. Essentially the plan was to create a closed European league wherein teams with the most following would get to compete against one another. The details of this matter are beyond our scope, but this is the outline. A business tried taking an action, and the fans of this business as its consumers, stopped it.
This is profound. Think of an ability to stop action that you find distasteful in real time in an avenue like governance. A bill you are opposed to for instance. In governance, with blockchain platforms like Democracy Earth as an example, we may see something akin to that in the future. Those who had a direct interest which they showed by their watching of games and spending their time and money on the business, opposed this measure in large part, particularly in England, and as a response, fearing to lose business, driven by that oh so evil profit motive, the businesses recanted and as we speak the Super League is no more.
Through voicing their opposition, the broader societal framework within which the business individuals (clubs) operate necessitated a change in action from them wanting to establish and join a new league to them recanting changing their plans. Mind you the businesses could have continued with this despite the fans' protest. I am aware of the threats of violence directed at certain employees of these clubs by the protesters and even anti liberty talk from the Football Association of England lobbying the United Kingdom government to stop the move or rather issue a clear sanction to the teams in some way – a blatant transgression of FIFA regulations on government interference on its face but given that the move never actually happened, or became manifest, it is not a matter of pressing interest, at least in this piece.
The consumers, threatening boycotting and literally protesting their own teams, were a motivation for the clubs to abandon the Super League. The main point is that, given the other factors, like UEFA increasing the amount of compensation to said teams and the threats from bodies lie the FA and the UK government, the consumers, voicing their disagreement, as the class of football supporters with subclasses represented by specific club supporters, were the ones that with their actions contributed to the business changing course.
As the free market is often derided and ridiculed for being an arena wherein those who are successful through these voluntary transactions are vilified as being 'exploitative', the recent Super League fiasco showed us that, if anything, the free market, the marketplace, the principle of trading freely and enterprising freely and its manifestation in various forms, best gives content – substantively – to the phrase, 'the people shall govern.' Not to say there were no disappointed parties like the investors in this new league, but all business is a risk in that it has the possibility of success or failure every time, with these being contingent, on how best those whom you serve, deem you worthy by exchanging their property for yours. The power truly is in your hands in the market, as the individual or as a group of individuals and it ought not be premised on force, but rather on action that violates no one's rights through aggression but rather advances one’s own interests, within the two-sided coin of the individual and collective that is society.
As this has tried to show; giving the market more power (freedom) is equivalent to giving the people more power. For the market is the people.
This article was first published on City Press on 14 May 2021.