On leaving this sphere of simple circulation or of exchange of commodities, which furnishes the ‘Free-trader Vulgaris’ with his views and ideas, and with the standard by which he judges a society based on capital and wages, we think we can perceive a change in the physiognomy of our dramatis personae. He, who before was the money-owner, now strides in front as capitalist; the possessor of labour-power follows as his labourer. The one with an air of importance, smirking, intent on business; the other, timid and holding back, like one who is bringing his own hide to market and has nothing to expect but — a hiding.
Karl Marx in Capital, neatly skewering the “freedom of contract” argument beloved of the libertarian (or “Free-trader Vulgaris”) - who, as with his or her 19th century forerunners, ignores the imbalance in power relations that almost always exists between employers and individual employees.
Via Chris Dillow.