There is not, and never was, a free market; neither in philosophy nor in implementation.
To understand the current complex notion of what a "free market" is, one must begin by looking at it in a purer philosophic form.
Imagine no constraints given to the actions of its participants. Various pressures are still applied to them in the marketplace. Two companies selling the same product in the same marketplace must "out-do" one another. Quality is kept high and prices are kept low. Everyone wants to buy something better for cheaper.
Market demands drive the choices offered, but look at it backwards. When the market is flooded with a particular sort of thing, it's a sign that it makes money. A competitor's lack of that thing or being contrary to it will make them less profitable or otherwise negatively impact their survivability.
Implementation reveals that this is a load of horse shit.
Implementation pollution ∞
When all participants are perfectly honest, free market drives keep everything nice.
No matter how rare, some humans have skewed morals in some situations. Some participants must therefore have skewed morals. If one participant has slightly skewed morals, and if those morals give them the slightest advantage toward their survival then those skewed morals are rewarded. If the skewed-morality advantage works against the survival of others, then only participants with skewed-morality survive.
Furthermore, pollution is, to a point, ever-increasing when participants are immortal. Undying corporations have a higher pollution limit.
Leveraging pollution ∞
The disadvantage of efficiency allows companies to obfuscate enough pollution to leverage its advantages.
Hiding pollution cements power; the manipulation of interests and the subjugation of time are the routes to polluted advantage.
Polluted from philosophy ∞
If this concept of the guaranteed corruption of the free market is obvious, then the founders and maintainers of such economic ideas and their implementations are themselves corrupt.