The Really Really Free Market ..bring what u can .. take what u need

Instituting the Gift Economy

There’s no such thing as a free lunch under capitalism—for anarchists, there’s no other kind

from Crimethinc ++ ILLUSTRATIONS ETC

Disambiguation: According to the capitalist lexicon, the “Free Market” is the economic system in which prices are determined by unrestricted competition between privately owned businesses. Any sensible person can recognize immediately that neither human beings nor resources are free in such a system; hence, a “Really Really Free Market” is a market that operates according to gift economics, in which nothing is for sale and the only rule is share and share alike. In the interest of not taxing the reader’s patience, a single apostrophe stands in for the two “Really”s throughout this text.

Once a month two hundred or more people from all walks of life gather at the commons in the center of our town. They bring everything from jewelry to firewood to give away, and take whatever they want. There are booths offering bicycle repair, hairstyling, even tarot readings. People leave with full-size bed frames and old computers; if they don’t have a vehicle to transport them, volunteer drivers are available.

No money changes hands, no one haggles over the comparative worth of items or services, nobody is ashamed about being in need. Contrary to government ordinances, no fee is paid for the use of this public space, nor is anyone “in charge.” Sometimes a marching band appears; sometimes a puppetry troupe performs, or people line up to take a swing at a piñata.

free shop in Utrecht, Holland.

Games and conversations take place around the periphery, and everyone has a plate of warm food and a bag of free groceries. Banners hang from branches and rafters proclaiming “FOR THE COMMONS, NOT LANDLORDS OR BUREAUCRACY” and “NI JEFES, NI FRONTERAS” and a king-size blanket is spread with radical reading material, but these aren’t essential to the event—

this is a social institution, not a demonstration.

see also …. Really Really Free Market in New York City

Thanks to our monthly ’Free Markets, everyone in our town has a working reference point for anarchist economics. Life is a little easier for those of us with low or no income, and relationships develop in a space in which social class and financial means are at least temporarily irrelevant.

Why the ’Free Market Works

The ’Free Market model has several virtues to recommend it for anarchists hoping to build local infrastructures and momentum. First, like Critical Mass or Food Not Bombs, it lends itself to a decentralized approach: so long as the idea is well-distributed, neither hierarchy nor central coordination is necessary to organize a ’Free Market.

This makes the ’Free Market model helpful for those hoping to cultivate personal responsibility and autonomous initiative in their communities; it also means that, should the ’Free Market in your town run into trouble with the authorities, they won’t be able to shut it down  by simply targeting the leaders.

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As a means of bringing people together, Food Not Bombs seems to have built-in limits: in much of North America, the stigma around eating free food is strong enough that often only dropouts, radicals, and desperately poor people are comfortable doing so in public. The ’Free Market model, conversely, can be comfortable for almost anyone.

In a consumer society in which shopping is the common denominator of all social activity, everyone feels entitled to pick through items at a yard sale—and the fact that they’re free just sweetens the deal. Middle class people, of course, need more than anything else to get rid of things: their houses are all so overfilled with unused commodities that the opportunity to do something with them is a godsend.

This works out nicely for the rest of us! And thanks to wasteful mass-production, even the poorest of the poor usually have access to a surplus of some kind. Being able to give something to someone who needs it is even more fulfilling than getting things for free: centuries of capitalist conditioning have not succeeded in grinding out our instinctive propensity for mutual aid.

Bottom-feeding dropouts such as comprise part of this magazine’s readership are well-equipped to organize ’Free Markets. Dumpstering and scavenging frequently yield more than any one household can make use of; regular ’Free Markets give urban foragers the chance to put all that bounty at the disposal of other communities.

Creative access to photocopying and spare time are both valuable for advertising ’Free Markets. Travelers can bring in fresh energy and take on temporary roles to decrease the pressure on locals who risk accruing too much attention for their efforts. Starting from the minimal resources available to the excluded, impoverished fringe groups can build up counter-structures that eventually provide tremendous abundance, visibility, and social leverage.

The ’Free Market is not just a means of getting stuff without paying. Long-term participation in ’Free Markets dispels the materialist programming that makes people covet useless items by denying access to them, and demonstrates just how possible and fulfilling the anarchist alternative is. It also presents a point of departure for further struggles: if this is what we can do with the scanty resources we’re able to get our hands on now, what could we do with the entire wealth of this society?


As with any tactic, the ’Free Market model can fail when applied incorrectly. The most common mistake is to organize a ’Market the way you would organize a demonstration: issue a press release heavy with rhetoric, put up fliers featuring circle-As or words like “social justice,” tie the event to some ideology or coalition. This is senselessly limiting. The ’Free Market model works because its content is inherently radical; emphasizing form over content can only distract and alienate. You don’t have to hide your personal commitments or affiliations—just make sure the center of gravity is that everyone is invited to come share things, pure and simple.

Another reason some ’Free Markets fail is that they come across as the territory of one particular demographic or subculture. If almost all the attendees come from a certain background, those who don’t will feel like outsiders; there need to be enough people involved from various walks of life that anyone who happens by feels comfortable. When organizing a town’s first ’Free Market, be careful to invite as broad a range of people as possible. Likewise, visitors can be a liability rather than an asset if their numbers approach those of local participants. The past two CrimethInc. convergences have both included ’Free Markets, each of which was the first such event to take place in the host town. Both were failures: an event that depends on local involvement to succeed cannot be initiated by outsiders.

The Free Market Comics And Cartoons | The Cartoonist Group

Finally, don’t expect to draw thousands if your ’Markets happen randomly every year or so. Consistency is one of the most important elements of a successful ’Free Market. A sporadic schedule inevitably means that attendance will be limited to those immediately connected to the networks through which promotion takes place; a regular event can eventually attract quite a lot of people, as word spreads outside the circles from which the idea originated. On the other hand, your ’Markets should not occur more frequently than you can replenish energy and resources. Each one should be a unique event, with enough effort invested in it to make it something unprecedented. That way people will always show up to see what happens, and will take them seriously enough to contribute energy themselves.

Throw Your Own ’Free Market!

It’s easy to organize a Really Really Free Market. Every town should have one; big cities should have one for every district. It is the authors’ opinion that successful, consistent ’Free Markets should be established around the United States, following in the footsteps of the proliferation of Food Not Bombs groups over a decade ago, and that this would significantly increase the visibility and scope of anarchist activity in North America.

Really Really Free Market Campbell Park - Videos | Facebook

Once you get a regular ’Free Market off the ground, it should basically run itself. The challenge is to start things off with enough energy that everyone can see the project’s potential, while making sure everyone who gets involved feels an equal sense of ownership and investment.

The first essential element of a good ’Free Market is location. Your ’Free Market should take place on neutral ground—that is, in an area everyone feels an equal claim to or ownership of—so no one will feel more or less comfortable than anyone else. For similar reasons, your location should be a central, visible area. If you can use a space where major public events happen or where a wide range of people are already accustomed to gathering, it will dramatically increase your chances of success.

Many of the best spaces must be rented. It doesn’t make sense to pay to hold a free event, but it probably won’t do to hold your ’Free Market in somebody’s back yard, either. If you do have to pay a permit fee, be clever about raising the funds for it. It compromises the integrity of the event to have to put out a donation jar to cover expenses, and those donations will inevitably fall short; it’s better to find a location that is free or cheap enough to cover privately, or else raise funds through independent benefit events.

Reservation procedures are also problematic in that they position one person as responsible for the entire event, the exact opposite of the horizontal structure you’re trying to promote. The militant solution we’ve tested is to start out paying permits for a space, then stop once the event has gained enough support to weather a conflict with the powers that be. This will be much more difficult in some contexts than others, of course; shoot for the stars, but appraise your situation realistically.


The next step is to advertise. Sure, you should post fliers and send out emails to every listserv you can possibly think of, but that’s only the beginning. You can take handbills around and give them out at bus stops, public events, in neighborhoods and apartment complexes; you should also see if local radio stations will run Public Service Announcements for you, or if local papers can run a listing or even a story on your event. If you come into conflict with city officials or anyone else, treat it as another opportunity to solicit media coverage. In our town people have taken the yard signs produced by politicians and real estate agencies and painted over them, then redistributed them throughout town; we also hang banners by major intersections a week in advance. We used to do the latter on town property, until we got in a spat with a petty official over it; now we put the same banners a few feet away, on private property owned by sympathetic locals or in places town employees are too lazy to reach.

Don’t stop at approaching the official representatives of a group—talk to the rank and file so your outreach efforts don’t depend on authority figures but extend directly to the people you want to invite. Forget about government officials—they’re too tied up in red tape to think about your event as anything but a headache—but do contact the workers at homeless shelters, interfaith councils, and other social support institutions: they’re probably so overwhelmed and under-equipped that they’ll be thrilled to direct people to your ’Free Market for additional resources.

The Lancaster Free Market on Saturday, August 14, 2010. Photo/Graybill

Make all your fliers, signs, and announcements bilingual, or else produce them in different languages for different contexts. At every ’Free Market, put out a sign-up list so people who want to receive news of the next one or coordinate with other organizers can leave their contact information.

Next, brainstorm all the possible sources of things to give away. The more you bring to the ’Free Market yourself, the more excited others will be about the event, and the more they will expect from themselves as participants. Go through your closets, and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Of course you can dumpster bread and vegetables—but is it possible employees might slip you a little on the side, too?

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Visit colleges at the end of each semester, corporations that are going out of business, and wealthy neighborhoods where they leave perfectly good items sitting out on the curb. Get all your friends together the night before to cook a nutritious meal and a few hundred delicious cookies.

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Make sure it’s not easy to tell who is contributing what, both to avoid any implications of charity and to forestall speculation as to whence certain items came. If a team wants to raid the basement of a racist, sexist fraternity and redistribute their unused VCRs to the people, that’s their own business, right?

Don’t stop at gathering objects—a good ’Free Market is about people interacting with each other, not just taking and leaving things. Organize games, musical improvisations, and other participatory activities that can incorporate chance passers-by. Set up displays and dioramas for the shy but inquisitive.

Singapore Really Really Free Market

Singapore Really Really Free Market

Solicit participants person by person. As a rule of thumb, one personal invitation is worth a hundred fliers. Invite an accomplished storyteller, a hairstylist, a popular folk musician, a collective of spoken word artists, a specialist in therapeutic massage, a portrait painter, a bicycle mechanic, an automobile mechanic, and everyone else can you think of or run into. Offer to help provide whatever resources they need.

Consider what services others at the ’Market may need, as well. You could have someone with a truck available to make deliveries, or someone organizing children’s activities in case a lot of overburdened parents show up. In some situations, you should have a team designated in advance to deal with police, media, or other troublemakers.

The 'free market' is a collection of dictatorships. Here's how we create a  genuinely free economy | openDemocracy

The ‘free market’ is a collection of dictatorships

Coordinate with other groups to broaden the scope of your ’Free Market. A dance troupe is coming to your town for the weekend; can they put in an appearance? How about a barbershop quartet, a team of champion skateboarders, a wholistic health care provider, a symphony orchestra? You’re not just keeping old clothes and stale bagels in circulation, you’re introducing an entirely different economic system that can provide as much diversity as capitalism, if not more! Make sure that comes across at every ’Free Market.

Finally, make sure you have a plan for what to do with the leftovers! The local thrift shop or goodwill may be thrilled to get a big shipment in from you, or it may not be what they want at all, in which case you’ll have to either have a place to store it all for the next ’Free Market or a means of disposing of it. Clean up the site of your ’Free Market meticulously; you’ll benefit from having a reputation for being responsible in this regard.

Bloom Collective will host Buy Nothing Day event: Really, Really Free Market  and screening of What Would Jesus Buy? | Grand Rapids Institute for  Information Democracy

Once your ’Free Markets have taken off, you can move on to other Really Really Free programs: free movie showings and other entertainment events, free education projects, free housing occupations! The sky’s the limit once people have a taste of real freedom.

Support Us


In Spanish the Really Free Market is called a Gratiferia

Gratiferias happen all over Europe and Latin America

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A Gratiferia in a square in Buenos Aires.
The Gratiferias are, as the acronym (free + fair) suggests, fairs where everything is free, like the free shops, they are of objects and services and also include talks, workshops, cultural, sports and artistic activities.

They take place in public squares and cultural centers, although there are also in private venues and virtual Gratuities in numerous Facebook Facebook, in which users freely offer and ask for what they want.

free shop in Freiburg
In the Gratiferias there is no money involved, no bonds, or barter and there is a notion of universal reciprocity, and indirect.

They share a philosophy in common with the free shops, in terms of ecological and economic goals and motivations, to those that add ethical principles, preaching compassion towards animals and life itself, so that the foods shared in Gratiferia are vegan, that is, of vegetable origin.

The motto of the Gratiferia is: “Bring what you want or nothing, take what you want or nothing” .

Tiendas Ropa gratis | Muevete y barato

La Gratiferia has been able to expand to a diverse community of countries includingArgentina,8Chile,9Uruguay,10Brasil,11Perú, Ecuador, Colombia,12Venezuela,13México,14Estados Unidos, Costa Rica, España,15Italia, Francia.16 Gratiferias can be permanent, regular, both monthly and weekly, and other itinerant. translated from Wikipedia here..

Free Shops in European Occupied Social Centers

In Europe there are still many Occupied Social Centers, despite the harsh anti squatting laws, where people often try to create experimental microcosms of future anarchist societies.


Among all kinds of projects there are many Free Shops which work very well. In our CSOA the main problem is TOO MUCH STOCK and we have to ask people to stop donating for lack of space.

Also sometimes kids come in and start rummaging without putting stuff back in its place. Luckily some of the Collective enjoy ordering the merchandise, etc.

Personally I don’t normally buy clothes at all, and with no rent or bills and lots of grown or recycled food I am a disgrace to the capitalist economy.

Author: thefreeonline

The Free is a book and a blog. Download free E/book ...”the most detailed fictional treatment of the movement from a world recognizably like our own to an anarchist society that I have read...

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