A cultural term, "Free Market" has a specific use in contemporary capitalist societies.
Free Market is used to remind people of the principles of freedom and liberty that are supposed to be a significant foundation for our most free and ideally-open democratic societies.
Free Market is used to comfort people, intends to allay the anxiety and dread citizens commonly experience as they encounter very precise and accurate market actions. The oppression citizens experience as a result of the real results of technical market actions is often referred to as "market discipline". A free market cannot/has not exist/existed without market discipline.
Market discipline oppresses because it disciplines a specific part of the citizenry: the poor and defenseless. Market discipline disrupts attempts to achieve equality, disrupts attempts to achieve civil rights. Market discipline promotes the sense that the wealthy have a basic right to their wealth. Market discipline is consistently oppressive.
Market discipline is oppressive because its disciplinary action directed against the poor and defenseless provides, nae produces, space for the protection of freedom and liberty for the wealthiest and most privileged to conduct business, make profits in the short term, and guard wealth and property over the long term regardless of the results of their business practices. In other words, for the wealthy to maintain and (re)produce wealth, the poorest and most defenseless citizens must be oppressed.
Market discipline is a sine qua non of free-market capitalism.
A quick comment on my recent engagement with Tumblr Libertarians and Neoliberals:
When libertarians address the ideals of a free market--how beneficial it could be for all of us should we actually embrace free market capitalism--we should remind them that we disagree and know how to address why we disagree.
The Why is that the word free in free market does not correspond to the free in freedom and liberty. It refers to those who can afford to be free from the oppressive effects of market discipline; it refers to those who are more free from care, more free from the dread and anxiety that is a result of market discipline.
Libertarians are, in a very meaningful way, not class conscious. Many appear to be privileged and educated enough to be able to afford to be free from the results of market discipline. In this way, they are disingenuous at best.
On the other hand, many libertarians and neoliberals are victims of market discipline. And all I can say about that is some citizens are willing to accept a bargain with the Capitalists. The bargain struck results in a promise: "You promise to fight for our cause, our Privilege, then we will give you a shot at one day becoming one of us." I feel that these libertarians and neoliberals ignore the well-established foundations of modern thought regarding markets, capitalism and economics in order to embrace a highly suspicious structure/framework for an ideal society that simply cannot ever exist for them.