The enemies of the free market distort the role that competition plays in the free market.
Competition is not a foundational element of the free market.
The free market is about freedom.
In the free market, people own their resources and have the ability to use their resources as they see fit.
Intelligent people seek to make the most of their resources. Such people will study the market and engage in business with others who help them achieve their goal.
As a free person, I seek to engage with businesses and people who will help me make the most of my limited resources. I avoid those who waste my resources.
Free people actively seek cooperation. They engage in relations that help them achieve their ends and avoid those that do not.
In the free market people have the ability to choose their relations. This creates a system where people compete in their ability to cooperate.
When I slam my silver quarter down in exchange for a plate of grub, I am not competing with the restaurant. In this transaction I am engaged in cooperation with the restaurant in the task of getting food. The restaurant might be in competition with the two bit diner on the corner. The physical transaction is an act of cooperation.
Competition is not foundational to the free market. Sane people do not run out into the street to find a competitor. People actively seek mutually beneficial relations.
Cooperation is the key to the free market. Since we all want to make the most of our resources, free people compete to see who is best at cooperating with others.
When looking at a free market, one is apt to see a great deal of competition. I would even go as far as to say that lack of competition is a sign that a market is not free. The lack of competition indicates that an artificial force compels people to do business with a single vender.
Vibrant competition is a hallmark of the free market, but it is not a foundational principle.
The foundational principle of the free market is freedom. Free people choose their associations. Free people actively seek to cooperate with others. Since free people seek to make the most of their resources, they seek to associate with others who are best at cooperating.
The competition arises from people actively seeking mutually beneficially relations. Because people compete in their ability to cooperate they become more effective.
It is fair to say that the lack of competition is a sign that a market is not free. However, it is the freedom to choose our associations and our ability to cooperate that makes the free market a success.
The enemies of freedom de-emphasize the role of cooperation and over-emphasize the role of competition in the free market. I even had teachers who defined the free market as a socio-economic system where people compete with eachother and socialism is one in which people cooperate.
Defenders of freedom would be wise to counter this attack.
A sane person does not walk out in the street seeking competitors. Sane people actively seek those who can help them achieve their personal goals.
In a free society people compete in their ability to cooperate. By competing in our ability to cooperate, free people expand their capabilities and accomplish more than top-down structures that seek to force people into cooperative structures.