I’m not saying that free-market economics is bad or dangerous, I’m saying that it doesn’t even exist.

The mythical butcher-baker-candlestick-maker view of capitalism only existed in the very earliest days of capitalist development, when it was little more than a social experiment embarked upon by adventurous minor nobles and desperate peasants in fast-growing early-modern cities. The whole reason capitalism survived as a way of organising economic activity was because the newly-wealthy capitalist elites were best placed to wield influence over tottering European feudal states as they crumbled under their own weight - taking them over to run them as glorified protection rackets for their profit-making schemes. From its earliest inception within feudal societies, capital has sought the benefits of the state - legal regulation, economic protectionism, military repression - and used them to secure its future.

Even the most dimly-conscious free-market ideologue knows this. What ‘free-market’ ideology really conceals is a civil war between staggeringly wealthy elites, over which faction of capitalists should reap the rewards: those who benefit from the huge resources of states being poured into subsidising the profits of manufacturing, industry and trade, or those who can make a killing from bank bailouts, government-secured property deals and state-backed oil ventures.

Modern states, therefore, are to capitalism both nursemaid and childhood playmate: they are utterly inseparable, bound together in a Faustian bargain written in the blood of workers.