Batman As Agorist Hero?

I'm flying to Chicago this morning to attend an IHS seminar on Liberty, Communication & Change, starring friend-of-the-blog lecturer Glen Whitman. I will probably not have much Internet access for the next few days. Hopefully, I'll be able to catch The Dark Night while I'm there in the city of windbag politicians. So I'm putting this idea out there for any of you to riff on, since I may not have time to write about it until I get back.

What should libertarians think about vigilantism? Is vigilantism incompatible with a liberal order and the rule of law? Or are vigilante crime fighters such as Batman agorist heroes?

Robert Nozick takes the anti-Batman position, arguing that it is legitimate for Gotham police to monopolize the law enforcement market and punish any costumed crusaders who attempt to compete with it, on the grounds that vigilantism is too risky, and that it can be legitimately prohibited, so long as the potential vigilantes are compensated for their loss of freedom.

Randy Barnett takes the pro-Batman position, arguing that:

For practical and moral reasons, procedural fairness and knowledge by enforcers of the guilt of their suspects are moral goals to be striven for. Our efforts to achieve them, however, cannot violate the rights of any individual. To punish a victim for taking restitution from his actual aggressor just because he wasn't sure it really was his aggressor is a violation of that victim's right of self-defense and, therefore, a violation of our moral side-constraint. The right of self-defense, then, dictates that procedural fairness and epistemic certainty are goals, not constraints.

- Randy Barnett, "Wither Anarchy? Has Robert Nozick Justified The State?" Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1. pp 15-21 Pergamon Press, 1977

What say you, dear reader?

Edit: While I'm asking what libertarians should think about Batman, it's worth mentioning that Batman is a Misesian.

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Methinks an Agorist Batman would offer subscriptions

I'm not so sure Batman qualifies as an agorist: after all, he does not bill the victims for his time and efforts.

I would say the "proper" agorist vigilantism would work in the same way as rights-enforcement worked in Tuath (Ireland) or Godord (Iceland): the private enforcer buys the restitution claims from the victim at a discounted rate, then proceeds to obtain the compensation at gunpoint.

Also, the kind of mainstream vigilantism compatible with agorism would probably not be about murder and assault, but rather mainly about neighbours' conflicts, workplace harassment, and basic consumer claims (fraud, non-delivery, malpractice).

Of course vigilantism is right

Vigilante have as much right as anybody, including governments to make right, as long as they are responsible for their actions. Besides maintening the monopoly on law enforcement, I think this is the real reason why vigilantism is punished, the law enforcers no that when vigilantes are held responsible for a mistakes, people remember that they too should be.

As for Batman, to answer Jesrad, he doesn't care about the small sums he could get, he's a billionaire. Maybe being Batman is a hobby, maybe he already gains through the positive effect crime fighting has on his businesses. Superman is the one who needs to get more capitalistic http://mises.org/story/2242

Vigilantism, as long as it's

Vigilantism, as long as it's done responsibly, is not inherently illegitimate. But that doesn't necessarily mean that society should not discourage or punish vigilantism if it does more harm than good overall and there's no good way to distinguish between good and bad vigilantes. I think it's mostly an empirical question.

Let's clarify

But that doesn't necessarily mean that society should not discourage or punish vigilantism

"Society" - meaning what, specifically? Essentially, there are two ways for "society" to punish anything: by means of the state, and not by means of the state. The latter is surely what is called "vigilantism". So if we interpret you as clarifying one way or the other than either you are saying that vigilantes should discourage vigilantism if the vigilantes decide they should, or you are saying that the state should discourage vigilantism if the state decides it should. If you're saying the former, then it seems somewhat contradictory - if vigilantes are discouraging vigilantism, what exactly do you envision? A lot of anti-vigilant vigilantism followed by a complete absence? Or do you envision a low level of vigilantism combined with anti-vigilante vigilantism? The latter seems like regular old healthy vigilantism: it's the vigilante equivalent of the police and internal affairs. If you're saying the state should discourage vigilantism if the state decides it should, well, we know what the state will decide.

In short I'm not sure what to make of the idea that "society" should punish vigilantism under certain conditions. I can take it either as just a complicated endorsement of vigilantism, in which vigilantes police each other (which, surely, is how vigilantism would work), or as a complete rejection of vigilantism, relying as it does on the decision of the state, which we all know is going to be anti-vigilante.

Generally speaking, talk about "society" doing this or that really answers nothing. To consider a similar case, the statement that "society should allocate resources" could be read as an endorsement of totalitarian socialism or as an endorsement of laissez-faire capitalism, depending on exactly what is meant by "society" doing something.

Masked Vigilantism

Well certainly anonymous masked vigilantism is incompatible with libertarianism. How do you sue the guy who put a bat hook through your window fighting some street thug if you don't know who he is.

The Gotham police department

The Gotham police department has been throughly infiltrated and compromised by organized crime, and a large portion of it aids the mob in abusing the rights of the rest of Gotham and makes sure the mob is not brought to justice. Surely in this case, vigilantism is acceptable, at very least until the time in which the Gotham PD reduces the rampant corruption within.