Economic Development and the Death of the Free Market

Economic Development and the Death of the Free Market
Fix, Blair. (2021). Evolutionary and Institutional Economic Review. 14 September. pp. 1-46. (Article - Journal; English).

Full Text Available As:
Cover Image

Download (13kB) | Preview
PDF (Full Text -- Preprint)

Download (2MB) | Preview
[img] Other (Supplementary files - virus safe)

Download (205MB)

Alternative Locations,,

Abstract or Brief Description

According to neoclassical economics, the most efficient way to organize human activity is to use the free market. By stoking self interest, the theory claims, individuals can benefit society. This idea, however, conflicts with the evolutionary theory of multilevel selection, which proposes that rather than stoke individual self interest, successful groups must suppress it. Which theory better describes how human societies develop? I seek to answer this question by studying the opposite of the market: namely hierarchy. I find evidence that as human societies develop, they turn increasingly to hierarchical organization. Yet they do so, paradoxically, at the same time that the language of free markets becomes more common, and culture becomes more individualistic. This evidence, I argue, contradicts free-market theory, but only if we treat it as a scientific doctrine. If instead we treat free-market theory as an ideology, the pieces come together. Free-market thinking, I speculate, may stoke the formation of hierarchy by cloaking power in the language of ‘freedom’.



Publication Type

Article - Journal


culture development energy evolution free market hierarchy multilevel selection power sociality


BN International & Global
BN Power
BN State & Government
BN Business Enterprise
BN Capital & Accumulation
BN Civil Society
BN Civilization & Social Systems
BN Class
BN Comparative
BN Conflict & Violence
BN Cooperation & Collective Action
BN Culture
BN Distribution
BN Growth
BN Hegemony
BN Industrial Organization
BN Institutions

Depositing User

Jonathan Nitzan

Date Deposited

15 Sep 2021 19:25

Last Modified

04 Oct 2021 16:03


Actions (login required)

View Item View Item