Economists have referred innumerable times to the "free market," the social array of voluntary exchanges of goods and services. But despite this abundance of treatment, their analysis has slighted the deeper implications of free exchange. Thus, there has been general neglect of the fact that free exchange means exchange of titles of ownership to property, and that, therefore, the economist is obliged to inquire into the conditions and the nature of the property ownership that would obtain in the free society.

If a free society means a world in which no one aggresses against the person or property of others, then this implies a society in which every man has the absolute right of property in his own self and in the previously unowned natural resources that he finds, transforms by his own labor, and then gives to or exchanges with others.1  A firm property right in one's own self and in the resources that one finds, transforms, and gives or exchanges, leads to the property structure that is found in free-market capitalism. Thus, an economist cannot fully analyze the exchange structure of the free market without setting forth the theory of property rights, of justice in property, that would have to obtain in a free-market society.

In our analysis of the free market in Man, Economy, and State, we assumed that no invasion of property takes place there, either because everyone voluntarily refrains from such aggression or because whatever method of forcible defense exists on the free market is sufficient to prevent any such aggression. But economists have almost invariably and paradoxically assumed that the market must be kept free by the use of invasive and unfree actions—in short, by governmental institutions outside the market nexus.

A supply of defense services on the free market would mean maintaining the axiom of the free society, namely, that there be no use of physical force except in defense against those using force to invade person or...

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