Many Cops, Not None

Arnold Kling makes the classic misjudgement of libertarian "anarchy" in this post about looting:

Lee Harris writes,

To me, the looting came as no surprise: it was a completely natural phenomenon. It was exactly what my own theory of the social order would have predicted. What else should you expect when a civilized order collapses?

Thomas Hobbes probably would not have been surprised, either. I agree with Hobbes and Harris, which is why I am a libertarian believer in limited government and not a libertarian anarchist.

The mistake is to assume that libertarian anarchists want no policemen, rather than many competing police companies - an enormous difference. As Jonathan likes to remind us, the fault is partly due to the misleading term "anarchy", which naturally implies an absence of order.

I don't know any libertarians who are anarchists in this sense - but I do know many libertarian polyarchists, or polycentrists - I am one myself. We don't believe that the world would be safer without law, we simply believe that the service of policing is not immune from the fundamental libertarian concept that competing private companies kick total ass compared to govt. monopolies. Situations like the current tragedy in New Orleans support this thesis, they don't oppose it, as this bit from Marginal Revolution shows:

Government could have commandeered a fleet of buses to help the carless leave town altogether.  (Was it enough to offer to take them to unappealing shelters?)  Some people foresaw the potential problem in advance, but only Wednesday did buses start taking people out of the city.  Neither FEMA nor the state of Louisiana nor the mayor appears to have done a good job.

The news stories about looting by police make this even more clear. As I've argued before, the most basic arithmetic shows you that N goes to 0 most easily when N = 1, and less easily as N increases. In other words, when only New Orleans' finest are protecting the city, once they start looting, there is no one left. If they misestimate the storm, or make bad decisions, everyone suffers. But if there were many competing private police agencies, if one went rogue, you'd still have the others to protect you. You'd have a diversity of opinions about disaster management, a diversity of strategies, you'd be able to see what worked and learn from it, you'd be able to pick the protection firm whose strategy you liked the best.

But the gains are even higher than that, because it's not just about diversity, but incentives. The police departments of New Orleans have a completely captured customer base. They cannot lose their business. Hence they have far less incentive to do a good job - not no incentive, but less incentive. They have less reason to innovate, since they have no competitors to outshine - they need merely do a decent job, not a great one. The same is true of govt. disaster agencies - their reputation depends on having appeared to do what they could, rather than being judged on actual performance. This is the natural consequence of being managed and funded by the govt., rather than by the people you are there to help (or your donors, in the case of agencies like the Red Cross or MSF).

(P.S. Note that this is an argument only for competing enforcement agencies, not for the more radical polycentric notion of competing sets of laws. Please restrict discussion to the former)


Update: Don Boudreaux has more. Share this

How does the existence of

How does the existence of the state bear on whether or not individuals or companies would agree on an arbiter?

Individuals (or companies) don’t always act rationally, as current events in New Orleans so painfully indicate. To rely upon the ‘good will’ of others is foolishness.

I’m not sure that

I’m not sure that companies, which have many variables to consider (especially publicly traded ones), are comparable to individuals—in terms of the decision making process.

Individuals as companies maximize utility, true? If so, how are they different in any relevant way?

Moreover, arbitration agreements are crafted in an environment of a state monopoly on law enforcement. I suspect that this has significant bearing upon both the impetus for, and the outcome of, current arbitration.

How does the existence of the state bear on whether or not individuals or companies would agree on an arbiter?

Scott: Companies agree to

Scott: Companies agree to arbitration often – they agree to one referee; they don’t both pick their own: rather, they agree on the same one.

I’m not sure that companies, which have many variables to consider (especially publicly traded ones), are comparable to individuals—in terms of the decision making process. Moreover, arbitration agreements are crafted in an environment of a state monopoly on law enforcement. I suspect that this has significant bearing upon both the impetus for, and the outcome of, current arbitration.

Micha: I don’t recall Patri’s hypothetical ever positing the non-existence of a final arbiter.

Granted, but I think that the issue of arbitration can’t be ignored in this discussion.

Jonathan- That’s why I

Jonathan-

That’s why I said somewhere else that I’m all about evolution, not revolution. You seem to saying that ancap is a radical disruptive change from the status quo.

This is very consistently Rothbarian of you, which is good. I have question that maybe you could help me with... While I see the value in evolutionary economic analysis (as the amazing Thorstein Vebeln said: "Why is economics not an evolutionary science?") I've always been curious about to pointedly non-evolutionary attitude that Rothbard takes toward the state. If we're to believe that many advances in our economics structure are the result of evolutionary reactions to needs and crises and so forth, why should we not apply the same analysis to the state? It seems that you could give just as good an argument that the state evolved just as markets did. I'm not exactly a Rothbard scholar, however, so I'm not sure if he has a convincing answer to this. Curious to know.

Matt

Charles- Barnett - Whither

Charles-

Barnett - Whither Anarchy? Has Robert Nozick Justified the State?
Childs - The Invisible Hand Strikes Back
Rothbard - Robert Nozick and the Immaculate Conception of the State
Davidson - Note on Anarchy, State, and Utopia

Courtesy of the Journal of Libertarian Studies. Each of them touch upon Nozick’s monopolization claims to one degree or another.

I'm allergic to PDF files. If you can find me an HTML, or just summarize the Kernel of the argument I'd be interested in hearing it.

Matt

I did mean to imply that any

I did mean to imply that any of us favored revolution over evolution. I know for a fact none do. Rather, more than the rest of us - I could be wrong - I (and Brian, I think) believe that pluralism is the primary goal, and the logical side-effect is anarchocapitalism, whereas for others, anarchocapitalism is the primary goal.

I don't quite know what that means. Could you explain how anarcho-capitalism is the logical side-effect of pluralism? You see, as I look at it, anarcho-capitalism necessitates pluralism. If you have a market for law, there will be different laws produced.

Scott, Then you’re not

Scott,

Then you’re not giving your co-bloggers enough credit. When have any of us ever said that we favor radical change over the gradual change you favor? You want a gradual development of a more responsive market for law. That’s admirable, but it’s not a unique sentiment amongst Catallarchists. None of us, to my knowledge, favor “revolution” over “evolution.”

I did mean to imply that any of us favored revolution over evolution. I know for a fact none do. Rather, more than the rest of us - I could be wrong - I (and Brian, I think) believe that pluralism is the primary goal, and the logical side-effect is anarchocapitalism, whereas for others, anarchocapitalism is the primary goal.

In any case, the analogy is

In any case, the analogy is crucially flawed. Private providers of other goods and services rely on government enforcement of laws and contracts to do their work. If there’s no government enforcement of laws and contracts, private enforcement agencies can’t rely on it the way that providers of other goods and services can, which is where the analogy falls down.

Let's restate your argument, supposing government has a government-enforced monopoly on metal (mining, refining, selling) and someone is arguing by analogy to the success of the market in every other area that there is no need for government to have this monopoly.

"In any case, the analogy is crucially flawed. Virtually every business uses metal either directly or indirectly and therefore must rely on government provision of metal to do their work. So if there is no government provision of metal, private providers of metal can't rely on it the way that providers of other goods and services can, which is where the analogy falls down."

Jonathan, I agree. That’s

Jonathan,

I agree. That’s why I said somewhere else that I’m all about evolution, not revolution. You seem to saying that ancap is a radical disruptive change from the status quo. I agree: the endpoint that many ancaps theorize - a true free market for security and law, competitive agencies for security and arbitration - is. But as I said somewhere else, that’s missing the forest for the trees (and many ancaps do exactly that). I part ways slightly with many of my co-bloggers here.

Then you're not giving your co-bloggers enough credit. When have any of us ever said that we favor radical change over the gradual change you favor? You want a gradual development of a more responsive market for law. That's admirable, but it's not a unique sentiment amongst Catallarchists. None of us, to my knowledge, favor "revolution" over "evolution."

matt: the argument is that

matt: the argument is that the poor will be unable to purchase lawyers with working knowledge of the legal system while Billionaires will and as such who gives a shit whether the court is biased?
nmg: Ummmmm how is that different from the way things work now?

it's not that different it's just worse. Right now we have a public defender system in place which at least grants criminals some ability to defend themselves. Yes, I'm sure we agree that the public defender system sucks, but I think it'd be made better by increasing incentives for good attorneys to become public defenders, not by forcing defendents to represent themselves in court.

This point ties into what Scott and Joe are arguing about I think, because in the ways that we can see the likely effects of a privatized law system in place, they seem to be horrible. To the extent that our system features an unequal representation scheme, justice is distorted. A system which seems highly likely to exacerbate such inequality would just distort justice even further.

Joe, while I personally think that American democracy was a bit more radical than you're giving it credit for, I agree with your general point. Any systemic change should occur gradually, and the effects of the transitions should be carefully monitored. In my opinion though, we're already seeing plenty of evidence that massive privatization is a terrible idea, with healthcare providing an excellent example. Our system is estimated to be 2-3 less efficient than Canada's state system (as you probably know already) and I believe our medical costs are the highest in the world by a substantial margin. There's been some evidence that democratic management structures in Businesses (worker-managed) are more efficient and as such that may be a good first step to take in moving toward a more socially equitable system, slowly of course.

Scott, I think your analogy about other privatized industries, apart from being wrong empirically (a matter I'm quite sure you and I will disagree about) isprobably inapplicable to law, simply because law is a highly special case. It's the context in which all else functions, and as such I'm not sure that any industry-specific successes (whatever they are) provide much of a good analogy.

Matt

The article you linked

The article you linked doesn’t contain the words “police", “monopoly” or even “law.” I’m unsure how that even approaches a refutation of Nozick’s claim.

If you are up to it, there are others to read:

Barnett - Whither Anarchy? Has Robert Nozick Justified the State?
Childs - The Invisible Hand Strikes Back
Rothbard - Robert Nozick and the Immaculate Conception of the State
Davidson - Note on Anarchy, State, and Utopia

Courtesy of the Journal of Libertarian Studies. Each of them touch upon Nozick's monopolization claims to one degree or another.

Joe, Let us return to the

Joe,

Let us return to the beginning of the dispute, because it's clearly getting too Gordian in its present state to be of use.

Your assertion was: There are legitimate arguments to be made for ancap, but let us not get overheated here. There is little other than those arguments that counts as evidence that the system would work.

The latter statement is the one I want to focus on. It may be false, it may be true, and I propose that whether or not it is one or the other is dependent upon the frame of reference.

Consider two ways of viewing what "evidence" is:

1. The complete lack of certain privatized industries X, Y, and Z in the historical record indicates that there is no evidence those industries can be privatized.

2. The widespread success of other privatized industries is strong evidence that industries X, Y, and Z could be successfully privatized.

By the first way of viewing evidence, your statement is plainly and blatantly true. By the second it is false. Which is the proper way of viewing evidence?

I suggest that it depends on the strength of the analogy between all other industries and industries X, Y, and Z. If all other industries and industries X, Y, and Z are not analogous, then the first is an accurate way of viewing evidence. If all other industries and industries X, Y, and Z are analogous, then the second is the accurate way of viewing evidence.

Assuming you thought the statement was true when you made it, you made the first assumption tacitly, that all industries and industries X, Y, and Z are not analogous.

That's fine.

But why should we take that assumption as the right one, as the one entitled to more respect, when you no more defended it than I did the second? In other words, why should the burden fall uniquely on people, like myself, who make assumption number two, and not you, who made number one?

Joe, Actually, I’m arguing

Joe,

Actually, I’m arguing that nothing really terribly new was ever tried at any point. Rather, I’m arguing that liberal democracy evolved over a period of 800 years, with a litte change here and a little change there.

I agree. That's why I said somewhere else that I'm all about evolution, not revolution. You seem to saying that ancap is a radical disruptive change from the status quo. I agree: the endpoint that many ancaps theorize - a true free market for security and law, competitive agencies for security and arbitration - is. But as I said somewhere else, that's missing the forest for the trees (and many ancaps do exactly that). I part ways slightly with many of my co-bloggers here.

What I desire is many sources of law to choose from - polycentric law. I don't really need Iceland to support evidence in favor of polycentric law. Polycentric law already exists all around us. Different nations obviously have different legal rules. The Law Merchant evolved and lasted for hundreds of years and enforced legal rules across national boundaries without the aid of states. International law today, to the extent it is respected by various nations, has evolved similarly to deal with international conflicts without the oversight of a supranational state, and continues to evolve. Auto insurance companies try to work out disputes amongs themselves to avoid costly legal fees. Many corporations work out conflicts with private arbitrators rather than take them to court.

Similarly, different states within a nation, and different counties within states have their own legal rules. But even more than that, there are different rules in families, civic associations, shopping malls, hospitals, insurance companies, colleges, roads, internet fora, banks, universities, gyms, and workplaces. Each entity with different legal rules is a micro-laboratory of what sorts of rules work and which ones don't in whatever settings they take place. While these laboratories don't yield a truly free market for law, they yield an approximation by giving us choices.

Technology can further create more legal choices. Nuclear proliferation will probably create more local autonomy, for better or for worse (North Korea). Simple things like easy and cheap access to airplane flights have allowed more people than ever to become "rootless cosmopolitans", whereas only the "jet set" was able to live this way 30 years ago. Offshore banking allows more individuals than ever in the US to live by a different set of rules for managing their finances via use of different legal jurisdictions. The future development of anonymous digital cash will similarly allow not just any jurisdiction, but rather, any individual to essentially become a mint.

Patri's dynamic geography idea is essentially this type of thinking: make goverment more responsive like businesses are by allowing easy switching of providers.

The tree in the distance is a free market for law and security. Instead, I choose to focus on the big picture - federalism, decentralization, secession, dynamic geography, free immigration, financial cryptography, offshore banking, private space industry. Perhaps I'm making connections where there are none, but this is a process that's been evolving for a long, long time, from pure democracies to republics to liberalism to the federalists/anti-federalists to separation of powers to hayekians to modern day public choice economics.

The forest is legal and political pluralism.

In any case, the analogy is

In any case, the analogy is crucially flawed. Private providers of other goods and services rely on government enforcement of laws and contracts to do their work. If there's no government enforcement of laws and contracts, private enforcement agencies can't rely on it the way that providers of other goods and services can, which is where the analogy falls down.

This is not to say that private agencies can't provide law enforcement as well as or better than government can. But argument by analogy to other goods and services looks suspiciously circular to me.

Scott, _If your argument is

Scott,

_If your argument is that nothing “really terribly new” has ever been tried in politics or elsewhere, that’s clearly false – at least I don’t think anyone agrees with it._

You should probably chat with more historians. It's true that the Whig view of history as inexorably leading to liberal democracy has been pretty well discredited. But so, too, has been the "great person" or "momentous event" view of history. Historical changes is gradual, rarely traceable to single causes, and rarely really radical. We certainly remember particularly momentous events (i.e., the five big modern revolutions), but those events are usually the culmination of a complicated sequence of events.

_I can quote myself if you like:_

_…[O]ne may argue that there is little evidence that a privatized system of law would work, because we’ve never seen a privatized system of law before. But I could respond that there are mountains of evidence – look at all the other privatized industries that work and have worked for centuries!_

This is a point that is under dispute. I'm not quite sure how it is that you can take the point about which we're disagreeing as evidence that you've already shown anything.

_I’m not arguing that you should have the burden of proof either. I just don’t see why it follows that I should have it, save your assertion that “of course” that’s the way it should be._

I'm not really quite sure what to say about this. It seems pretty evident to me that if you are the one offering an analogy, then you owe some sort of explanation that the analogy really is a good one.

_Isn’t allocating the burden of proof in any argument making “the other side show why it doesn’t work"?_

Certainly it is. But there are generally understood standards for when it is and is not appropriate to shift the burden of proof. In criminal law, for example, there is one standard. The prosecution always has the burden of proof. Thus, defense attorneys need only to demonstrate that some alternate theory is plausible. The prosecutor has the burden of showing that his/her theory is really the correct one.

The law, though, is really sort of a special case, it seems to me. There are (very good, I think) reasons for thinking that the entire burden of proof ought to rest with one side. But outside of law, that standard doesn't seem to apply. Usually, it seems to me, the burden of proof lies with whomever is advancing some particular argument. Since, in this case, you are advancing the argument that ancap is really analogous to capitalism for consumer goods, then I don't see that it's really that strange to ask you for some evidence that your claim is true.

I suppose that I could appeal to the general principle of reason that the more unlikely a particular explanation and/or position is, the higher the standard for proof really is. That's the argument for, say, believing in the external world rather than believing that we're in the Matrix or that Russell's 5-minute hypothesis is true. The best explanation for the apparent existence of the world is that it really exists. The Matrix is an alternate explanation, but it's far less likely. Thus, I'll need more evidence to believe it than I will to believe in the existence of the external world.

I would submit that the same is true of your analogy. It's a pretty radical view, and, while admittedly it might well be true (if I thought it had no chance of being true, I wouldn't spend so much time here), it requires a higher level of evidence than many alternative explanations require.

Joe: Actually, I’m arguing

Joe:

Actually, I’m arguing that nothing really terribly new was ever tried at any point.

It's not necessary to Micha's hypothetical that changes be gradual or drastic.

Actually, I’m not really sure where it is that you’ve shown that the argument from history is ambiguous...

I can quote myself if you like:

...[O]ne may argue that there is little evidence that a privatized system of law would work, because we’ve never seen a privatized system of law before. But I could respond that there are mountains of evidence – look at all the other privatized industries that work and have worked for centuries!

If you’re going to argue from analogy (which is what you’re doing when you say that ancap is justified because of the great success of capitalism in other areas of life), then of course you have the burden of showing that the two areas really are analogous. I’m not sure why you would think otherwise.

Because it doesn't follow from your mere assertion. Why shouldn't you have the burden of arguing that the two areas are not analogous?

Surely the standard is not that you can give any old analogy you want and it’s incumbent on me to show why they’re bad analogies.

I'm not arguing that you should have the burden of proof either. I just don't see why it follows that I should have it, save your assertion that "of course" that's the way it should be.

In fact, short of maybe criminal defense attorneys, I can’t really think of any place where it’s a legitimate argument simply to throw something out and then make the other side show why it doesn’t work.

I don't know what you mean by this. Isn't allocating the burden of proof in any argument making "the other side show why it doesn't work"?

Scott, Actually, I'm arguing

Scott,

Actually, I'm arguing that nothing really terribly new was ever tried at any point. Rather, I'm arguing that liberal democracy evolved over a period of 800 years, with a litte change here and a little change there. This view of history as a series of dramatic changes followed by long periods of the status quo just doesn't map on to reality. What Locke proposes isn't revolutionary. It's not so terribly different from what Whigs had argued at the time of the English Civil War. But Civil War Whigs aren't so different from 16th C nobles in Parliament, who aren't so different from 15th C thinkers, and so on. There just isn't the sort of massive paradigm shift in thinking that you and Micha seem to be arguing for.

_Why should I bear the burden? It can’t be because of history favoring your side over mine, because I just showed that the argument from history is ambiguous._

Actually, I'm not really sure where it is that you've shown that the argument from history is ambiguous, but I'm not sure why it is that that would have anything to do with the burden of proof in this case. If you're going to argue from analogy (which is what you're doing when you say that ancap is justified because of the great success of capitalism in other areas of life), then of course you have the burden of showing that the two areas really are analogous. I'm not sure why you would think otherwise.

Surely the standard is not that you can give any old analogy you want and it's incumbent on me to show why they're bad analogies. In fact, short of maybe criminal defense attorneys, I can't really think of any place where it's a legitimate argument simply to throw something out and then make the other side show why it doesn't work. (That's not intended as a criticism of defense attorneys, BTW, merely as an acknowledgement that the rest of the world doesn't work in the same way that criminal trials do.)

Joe, Sure, just let me know

Joe,

Sure, just let me know when it is that you think that liberal democracy began. The British, at least, worked their way toward it from the Magna Carta through Locke and, arguably, didn’t really arrive there until the late 19th or early 20th century. It’s not as if someone just sat down and said, “Hey, I have an idea. Let’s ditch everything we’ve been working toward and instead go with something totally different.”

But no one's suggesting that's what happened. What did happen is a change was enacted, at some time, and something new was tried. You're not denying that happened, and Micha is not arguing for anything more than that.

Sure, and that’s a great argument just as soon as you show me that there is some good reason for thinking that providing government is really just like providing sugar or phone service. But that, really, is the very question at issue.

Why should I bear the burden? It can't be because of history favoring your side over mine, because I just showed that the argument from history is ambiguous.

This is amplified in the

This is amplified in the absence of a final arbiter, wherein such disputes are invariably solved with violence.

I don't recall Patri's hypothetical ever positing the non-existence of a final arbiter.

Scott, _But couldn’t we

Scott,

_But couldn’t we just push back the hypothetical to whenever it was that liberal democracy had its start? Would it not retain its force?_

Sure, just let me know when it is that you think that liberal democracy began. The British, at least, worked their way toward it from the Magna Carta through Locke and, arguably, didn't really arrive there until the late 19th or early 20th century. It's not as if someone just sat down and said, "Hey, I have an idea. Let's ditch everything we've been working toward and instead go with something totally different."

_But I could respond that there are mountains of evidence – look at all the other privatized industries that work and have worked for centuries!_

Sure, and that's a great argument just as soon as you show me that there is some good reason for thinking that providing government is really just like providing sugar or phone service. But that, really, is the very question at issue.

There are legitimate

There are legitimate arguments to be made for ancap, but let us not get overheated here. There is little other than those arguments that counts as evidence that the system would work.

That depends on your frame of reference. For instance, one may argue that there is little evidence that a privatized system of law would work, because we've never seen a privatized system of law before.

But I could respond that there are mountains of evidence -- look at all the other privatized industries that work and have worked for centuries! (Of course, if you don't think that's what the evidence shows, you will of course not be persuaded.)

Liberal democracy, on the other hand, has quite a bit of empirical evidence on its side, and that evidence was already in place well before 1789.

I'm not equipped to argue history -- I went to a public school -- though this is a point Brian often brings up. But couldn't we just push back the hypothetical to whenever it was that liberal democracy had its start? Would it not retain its force?

I appreciate the response,

I appreciate the response, Scott, but Long’s answer seems to be: “a minarchist republic is imperfect and so is an-cap, so let’s give a shot…”

I'll enclose the full link, but that is not the argument being made. http://www.lewrockwell.com/long/long11.html

Rather it is this:

One argues that anarcho-capitalism is undesirable because of A.
Long responds that any system contains undesirable quality A.
Therefore, the presence of undesirable quality A tells us nothing about the desirability or lack thereof of anarcho-capitalism.

Furthermore, I’m not sure that anyone (at least not me) is suggesting that our current, flawed judicial system is even capable of providing ‘absolute’ conflict resolution, so I’m not sure that’s relevant.

Long's excerpt pointed out not that our current, flawed system is incapable of providing 'absolute' conflict resolution, but rather that no system is capable of that. As such the failure of any system to meet that standard is irrelevant.

Lastly, without the uniform recognition of a common court(s), brute force is a quick and convenient remedy for disagreement, especially where cash and territory are concerned.

I don't see how that follows. Plaintiffs and defendants disagree over jurisdiction between federal and state courts often -- to my knowledge, brute force is not often the outcome.

Why should we assume that opposing teams would play fair in the absence of a neutral referee?

We shouldn't. Why would we need to?

Also, if each team hires their own ref, who would lightly accept a ‘loss’ or even a called foul—with the attendant penalty—from the ‘other team’?

I don't understand the question. Companies agree to arbitration often -- they agree to one referee; they don't both pick their own: rather, they agree on the same one.

Catallarchy » Many Cops,

Catallarchy » Many Cops, Not None
Catallarchy » Many Cops, Not None
...the most basic arithmetic shows you that N goes to 0 most easily when N = 1, and less easily as N increases.

This would make a great t-shirt slogan. I'd buy (and wear) that t-shirt....

he argument is that the poor

he argument is that the poor will be unable to purchase lawyers with working knowledge of the legal system while Billionaires will and as such who gives a shit whether the court is biased?

Ummmmm how is that different from the way things work now?

nmg

Micha, _While democracy

Micha,

_While democracy might work, we’ve only some pretty theories and some tenuous claims about isolated, inbred, ancient Greek nations as evidence that it will, it strikes me as a pretty big act of faith to dismantle a pretty good system for one that might be better and might be a disaster, particularly when one has no real idea what the odds are on either outcome._

I'm a bit surprised at this. It strikes me as the argument of someone who hasn't really paid quite enough attention to intellectual history. What Jefferson and Madison design isn't really all that terribly different from the government that the British already had in place. Indeed, if you read Montesquieu's description of the English constitution in Book VIII of _The Spirit of the Laws_, you'll see something that looks an awful lot like what eventually finds its way into the Constitution.

It's of course something of a commonplace in junior high civics classes to present the American Revolution and the Constitutional Convention as an amazing and untried experiment. It's also just about as accurate as the "Columbus discovered America" theme. The fact is that the Framers drew from Locke and Montesquieu and Hume, as well as from all the experiences of the various European republics (i.e., Holland, Venice, and, of course, England) that had existed for the past two hundred years or so.

I'm all for snark, but it usually works better when your claim has at least some bearing on reality. The fact is that the "American experiment" wasn't really all that experimental. It's just the king, Parliament, and Lords with different names. Ancap, on the other hand, really does have little more than medieval Iceland as a _possible_ precursor.

There are legitimate arguments to be made for ancap, but let us not get overheated here. There is little other than those arguments that counts as evidence that the system would work. Liberal democracy, on the other hand, has quite a bit of empirical evidence on its side, and that evidence was already in place well before 1789.

Jonathan, _I think the word

Jonathan,

_I think the word “anarchy” evokes such a strong reaction that it’s not very useful in communicating ideas._

I don't particularly have a problem with the term 'anarchy'. Indeed, properly understood, I think that I'm probably an anarchist myself. Specifically, I don't think that there is any sense in which most citizens can be said to have a moral obligation to obey the law. Thus, I don't think that any government can rightfully claim that it's citizens have any sort of duty to do what it says.

That said, I do think that there are perfectly good pragmatic reasons for having governments and for abiding by the sorts of things that governments tell us to do. And I think that there are good reasons for believing that it's a good idea for governments to redistribute wealth. In other words, I think that while the fact that the government tells me to pay taxes doesn't itself constitute a _prima facie_ reason to do so, I might nonetheless have a moral obligation to pay my taxes and thus contribute to redistributive programs.

It’s a very quick and

It’s a very quick and unfulfilling answer, but I think it raises significant points that bear thought.

I appreciate the response, Scott, but Long’s answer seems to be: “a minarchist republic is imperfect and so is an-cap, so let’s give a shot…” That excerpt oversimplifies the issue, in addition to ignoring the difficult details. Furthermore, I’m not sure that anyone (at least not me) is suggesting that our current, flawed judicial system is even capable of providing ‘absolute’ conflict resolution, so I’m not sure that’s relevant. Lastly, without the uniform recognition of a common court(s), brute force is a quick and convenient remedy for disagreement, especially where cash and territory are concerned.

Why should we assume that opposing teams would play fair in the absence of a neutral referee? Also, if each team hires their own ref, who would lightly accept a ‘loss’ or even a called foul—with the attendant penalty—from the ‘other team’?

I've been crazily busy at

I've been crazily busy at work so I'm just getting back to these comments, only time to respond to a few.

John writes: Or do you know of a society that has maintained privatized police forces without collapsing into civil war?

Uh, yeah. England had privatized police forces for most of its history (through the 18th century, I believe) - see the excellent summary in Bruce Benson's "The Enterprise of Law". Or as described by David Friedman here

"The eighteenth century solution to that problem was an institution called an association for the prosecution of felons. A group of potential victims, usually residents of the same town, would each contribute a few pounds to a common fund to be used to pay the cost of prosecuting a felony committed against any of them. The names of the members of the association would be published in the local newspaper, in part, one presumes, for the benefit of local criminals. Thousands of such associations existed in England in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries."

Medieval iceland also had privatized enforcement of law, it lasted for a few centuries before collapsing into civil war - which is longer than the US made it. There has been plenty of civil war among countries w/ public police forces, we can't compare private systems with a nonexistent utopia, but only w/ the public alternative.

the kernel of Randy

the kernel of Randy Barnett’s “Whither Anarchy?” article is that Nozick’s justification of the state rests on natural procedural rights, yet no such procedural rights exist. Or, at least, Nozick would have to leave Lockian principles (on which he relies) to get procedural rights.

Nozick's justification of the state has plenty of flaws. My contention was that his argument that a police force would tend toward monopoly was convincing, which doesn't justify the state so much as suggest its inevitability in an unequal society with absolute private property rights. That argument has not been addressed.

Some remarkable things being

Some remarkable things being said here:

Matt wrote:

it’s not that different it’s just worse. Right now we have a public defender system in place which at least grants criminals some ability to defend themselves. Yes, I’m sure we agree that the public defender system sucks, but I think it’d be made better by increasing incentives for good attorneys to become public defenders, not by forcing defendents to represent themselves in court.

If I lived in a system of multiple laws systems, i would certainly buy 'public defender' insurance. As would many people, especially since it would likely be more apparent that becoming invovled in a legal structure was not something which just happened to 'bad guys'. It is my intuition that this would fund public defender much better than the current system. Why do you believe otherwise?

Someone else wrote: (taken from a response)

This is amplified in the absence of a final arbiter, wherein such disputes are invariably solved with violence.

Violence is ALWAYS the final arbiter. For example, in this country with its constitution and supreme court, the dispute over abortion, having been through the final arbiter, is now in the realm of violence.

Robert wrote:

Why should we assume that opposing teams would play fair in the absence of a neutral referee?

You mean aside from all the examples that exist in life? (I play games all the time and never have a neutral referee) The real reason to expect it to happen would be the desire of the teams to actaully PLAY.

Robert wrote:

I’m admittedly working from the assumption that those in a given company (those who are in a position to make decisions) are generally capable of acting in the company’s best interest, Enron notwithstanding.

What makes you believe this assumption? Can you provide me with one example of a person acting in their company's best interest at the expense of their own? I can't think of one. If you deny my condition, you are just saying that people with privilege don't need violence. The derivation of the word privilege will show why this isn't such a remarkable result.

When push comes to shove, I think that Joe Sixpack would be more inclined to violence, rather than arbitration, as a means of conflict resolution.

Why? Leaving aside the classist argument, what atributes make violence preferable for some people over others. I think that violence is for those realms where other means of conflict resolution (such as law) don't apply. For example, say a 'Joe Sixpack' is in a bar and some jerk is being rude to his wife (though nothing illegal), what happens? Likely, Joe (and maybe some of his budies) take the guy out and beat the snot out of him. Now substitute Donald Trummp for Joe, what happens? I suspect you can't make a reasonable scenario which involves neither privilege nor violence.

Thank You Kindly.