It just doesn't exist. It never has, it never will.
Does that mean markets are rigged? Perhaps, but not necessarily. The better answer is that they are manipulated to a large extent. Recently, the Federal Reserve all but nationalized the bond market. Some people claim that we live in a "capitalist" society just because the goal is to "accumulate as much capital for the individual as possible." No, that's just human nature. Do they really think that nature just goes away in a "socialist" society? Give me a break.
People that parrot the lines, "In a real free market..." and, "That wasn't real socialism..." are two sides of the same coin. Please leave your outdated understanding of economic systems behind in the 20th century. Those solutions have never worked, and trying them over and over again expecting a different result is the literal definition of insanity.
OK, back to "muh free market." What did Adam Smith mean by the invisible hand? Actually, it's not so much about supply and demand.
It's more so about natural law. Sorry, enlightenment folks, the law of nature isn't "reason." The law of nature is cycles. Seasons exist: There is birth, life, decay, and death. And then it starts all over again. The beginning is mathematically the same point as the end.
This lex naturalis applies to all facets of life, including the economy, politics, religion, etc.
For whatever reason, the whole concept of linear thinking has been at the forefront of western intelligentsia for the last hundred years or so. A very good friend and mentor of mine once wrote, "Try to live with what is, versus what you want." This does not mean to just sit around, be passive, and watch the world pass you by. Rather, it means to try and live with the cycles of nature. The truth is, this noble goal is an ever-moving target, and the alignment process can be quite painful, both mentally and physically. But that's beside the point.
Free-market capitalism was always just a fantasy contrived by academics in the 18th and 19th centuries. Yes, the United States was more "capitalistic" in those centuries, but people were also much more self-sufficient. The 20th century was absolutely dominated by Marxism. This is indisputable. Even the Bretton Woods monetary system created after WWII was crafted by Marxists. John Maynard Keynes was a Fabian socialist and Harry Dexter White was even accused of being a communist spy.
The 20th century also saw the creation and expansion of: Central-banking, income taxes, social security, Medicare/Medicaid, etc. I'm not saying any of those entities or programs are inherently good or bad. I don't care. My point is that those are not "free market" institutions.
What is being witnessed in the economy today is the collapse of Marxism in the west. They'll never teach you this in school, because academia, especially with respect to liberal arts, is fundamentally reactionary. They almost always, "Never see a crisis coming." And this is because the framework in which they operate to understand the economy is inherently flawed.
So, what is the solution to all of this going forward? Earlier in the article, we mentioned cycles. Civilization has become highly complex-- perhaps too complex. And as complexity rises, the potential for chaos increases, and we're seeing that now. A renowned colleague of mine recently said, "The future is primitive." He's right, and it doesn't mean we can't have nice things or even technologically advanced products. But simplicity must return to being held in esteem.
An economy focused on simplicity and sustainability is the way forward. At the same time, the motive-for-profit must not be derided. Yes, people above profits, but you don't eliminate profit. We've talked about before how there are things more important in life than money such as family, culture, and tradition. In essence, we must cultivate a culture and teach these principles to the youth, because ultimately, a civilization must produce more than it consumes in order to advance. Humans respond to incentives, and profit remains the most efficient method to beget production.
You've heard the phrase, "We live in a consumer economy." That needs to change, and in accordance with natural law, it is changing.