Here’s a letter to a publication called red pepper (HT Steve McDuffie):
Lamenting the emergence of the modern market order, Tom Malleson asserts that “A market society requires that the most basic constituent parts of society – labour, land, and money – come under the sway of the market. They have to be commodified. But labour and land are not naturally commodities – they do not exist, like widgets, for the purpose of sale. They can only ever be what [Karl] Polanyi calls ‘fictitious commodities'” (“Countering capitalism ,” March 2011).
Contrary to Mr Malleon’s insinuation, over the past few hundred years money has become more a creature of the state and less a creature of the market.
As for labour and land, Mr Malleson is correct: in recent centuries these have indeed been exchanged more and more freely in open markets – a development that has emancipated ordinary men and women from millennia in serfdom and slavery (what ‘non-commodified labour’ always is in practice), and enabled them to enjoy what, for most of recorded history, was enjoyed only by princes and priests: ownership of land and the prosperity and protection that such ownership makes possible.
Donald J. Boudreaux