David Friedman on How to Privatize Everything

"Producing laws is not an easier problem than producing cars or food," says David Friedman, author, philosopher, and professor at Santa Clara University. "So if the government's incompetent to produce cars or food, why do you expect it to do a good job producing the legal system within which you are then going to produce the cars and the food?"

Friedman sat down to talk with Reason TV at Libertopia 2012 in San Diego. Friedman reflected on the impact of his landmark book, The Machinery of Freedom, discussed the differences between libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism and revealed what his father, economist Milton Friedman, thought of his anarchist leanings.

Approximately 7 minutes. Interview by Paul Feine. Camera by Alex Manning and Zach Weissmueller. Edited by Weissmueller.

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  • Tulpa Doom||

    Friedman is glib and question-begging as usual.

    The argument for archy isn't that the state is good at producing a legal system, it's that the market is totally incapable of doing it. Markets and coercion don't mix well. As always, Friedman just assumes that the obvious potential problems with privatizing law enforcement won't happen.

  • T o n y||

    I'm told the market isn't an institution, it's just what we call the accumulated interactions of human beings. So any "market"-emergent governing system that maintains any semblance of justice and order will resemble the state anyway.

  • Almanian.||

    *downtwinkles*

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    So any "market"-emergent governing system that maintains any semblance of justice and order will resemble the state anyway.

    You constructed a grammatically valid sentence with absolutely no valid semantic meaning.

  • T o n y||

    No you just don't understand it. I did sort of jump to a conclusion without presenting a case.

    The point is any useful "governing" system that emerges "naturally" from the market will look a lot like a state.

    The underlying point is the state has indispensable utility.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    How?

  • Juice||

    I would hope that governance does not involve the initiation of force, which is central and essential the current monopoly state model.

  • T o n y||

    Who would you prefer had the authority to initiate force?

    I'd like for it to rain champagne, but this planet doesn't have a champagne cycle, and humans won't stop being violent to each other by asking nicely.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Who would you prefer had the authority to initiate force?

    No one.

  • T o n y||

    Which means "everyone."

  • Copernicus||

    "No one" likes spinach.
    "Everyone" likes spinach.

    Tony is brilliant. They mean the exact same thing.

  • Sam Grove||

    "Who would you prefer had the authority to initiate force?"

    Now you are begging the question.
    Reactive force is only supposed to be used against those who initiate force.
    Everyone is authorized to use reactive force in self defense.

    The reason people want political government is to gain the ability to initiate force against people who have not initiated force against anyone.

  • T o n y||

    Without government, what's to stop someone from initiating force himself?

    What's to stop him from claiming it's a legitimate use of force?

  • Virginian||

    Tony once again fails to grasp basic morality.

    It is wrong to attack someone. It is wrong to threaten someone. It is wrong to use the threat of violence to extort wealth from someone.

    It is not wrong to resist aggression. You are once again missing the whole fucking point: We do not think aggression is a good thing, under any circumstances. You can call us naive, you can call us unrealistic. You might even be right. But you're a cretin if you think supporting a coercive State makes you morally superior.

  • Sevo||

    T o n y| 11.27.12 @ 3:41PM |#
    "Who would you prefer had the authority to initiate force?"

    Parsed shithead:
    "Hey! Look over there!"

  • CE||

    Maybe so, but the option to withdraw financial support and let a private system of justice whither away is a rather significant upgrade, I'd say.

  • Brandybuck||

    His primary example for "private" law was medieval Iceland. Similar to Leeson's pirates, the culture may have been technically an anarchy, but was comprised of violent raiders. Hardly a role model for anarchists.

    I have discussed this with David in person, and he agrees! The point many people miss about his work is NOT that he's advocating medieval Icelandic culture, but that societies are able to produce law without resorting to a state. That's not the big hurdle for Anarchism however. Getting the law is easy. Enforcing the law without institutionalized coercion or mob violence is an extremely difficult, perhaps insoluble, problem.

  • T||

    See also the Somali legal culture, which is indpendent of the state. I'm not sure teh Somali example works without a tribal system or other system that give the lawgivers some sort of status, though.

  • robc||

    I would argue the tribe is the state, in that case.

  • pmains||

    Yes and no. One of the defining characteristics of the modern nation state is the permanence of institutions. You have a sort of implicit social contract between government and the people. Tribal "states" are based largely on personal loyalty. There you have (or can have) explicit contracts, which depend on actual agreement.

    So, it is a state of sorts, but not in the way that the west has thought about states since the time of Henry II and Philip Augustus.

  • robc||

    I dont think of states in the same way as Henry or Philip either.

  • robc||

    In other words, I would argue the tribe is the state.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    True, but ancapism isn't about having a series of temporary dominant coercers. You don't have to have white buildings with pillars and guys with black robes inside to screw up anarchy.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    I would argue the tribe is the state, in that case.

    I think it is more of you belonging to a clan, not a state. From a work on Somali Pastorial Justice:

    Xeer is applied after a violation of customary laws has taken place. Once an incident has occurred, a delegation of elders, known in Somali as an ergo, is dispatched by one or both of the concerned clans, or a neutral third-party clan, to begin mediating the dispute and preventing it from spreading.

    ‘The emissaries’ sole mission is to convey a message to the other side and to prepare the ground for holding a [xeer] court or jury council to settle the case.’

    According to xeer, it is incumbent upon the aggrieved clan to make the
    necessary investigations into an incident and determine the harm committed before presenting their case to other clans.
  • DrunkenAsparagus||

    Xeer and many other anarchist legal systems do work, as in they can generally resolve disputes peacefully and prevent violence, but they are very far from perfect and run into the same problems that states do. The problem is that these systems can be just as coercive as any state. Xeer is based upon communal consent. There are no real private property rights, and people who are outcasts are completely screwed and have almost no legal protection. The system is largely family-based, which means that women largely get screwed, and once you get to the cities, these connections tend to break down as society gets more atomized. Sharia courts have stepped in to fill the gap. Some are fairly moderate, but others are just like the Taliban. Yes, Somalis are in many ways better off than they were under Siad Barre, but the main way for these systems to be effective iss to mimic the traditional state. Courts would often have their own police, taxes, and jails. There is still a hell of a lot of coercion going on Somalia. They still had the same coercive power as governments. This begs the question, why dismantle the state entirely only to end up where you were? As a libertarian, my main concern is protecting individual liberty, but if a small state is capable of functioning in a society with less coercion than an anarchist regime would, what makes the anarchist system more desirable?

  • Mr Whipple||

    If the tribe is a voluntary association, then, yes, it is anarchic.

  • Belgian||

    Mr. Whipple succinctly points out the glaring flaw in Tulpa's (and Tony's, but Tony is a fucking idiot so glaring flaws are to be expected) reasoning.

  • Calidissident||

    That's true, if not living in a tribe is also a viable option. I'm not sure how viable that is in much of Somalia

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Somali law, "xeer", resemble Anglo-American common law in many respects. The key difference is that common law evolved out of feudalism, which never took hold in Somalia. The Somali clans perform the arbitration function of the state and operate in the manner of insurance companies, but lack the commercial law that developed in the west. Given the west's well developed commercial law and institutions, the development of competitive sureties that perform the "essential" functions of government should be a piece of cake, once the ball gets rolling. Then again, who knows?

  • np||

    In Iceland, it wasn't comprised of violent "raiders". Most people had some security contracted out to various chieftains. However, duels and personal feuds were common enough from the beginning when disputes could not be resolved. But that is also fine, so long as it does not involve parties not part of the feud.

    We had that for a short while even in America with gentlemen pistol duels

    Certainly now with more thought out work and much thorough theory already written about, that people can rationally debate or choose among in a polycentric legal environment (or live freely without partaking in many contracts) without resorting to inter-personal or inter-clan feuding as often

    (though as I said, there's nothing necessarily unlibertarian about feuding at all)

  • Rasilio||

    Your history is flawed.

    There were no viking raids launched from Iceland save for possibly Eric the Red's forrays into Vinland (Nova Scotia). The settlers of Iceland may have had the same cultural heritage as the viking raiders sailing out of Sweeden, Norway, and Denmark but they largely moved to Iceland to get away from that culture.

  • Brandybuck||

    Perhaps you're right, perhaps medieval Iceland was all love and roses...

  • d_remington||

    Of course, that's exactly what he said. After all, if you're not out raiding, OBVIOUSLY you must be living in a land of love and roses. BRILLIANT!

  • ||

    Enforcing the law without institutionalized coercion or mob violence is an extremely difficult, perhaps insoluble, problem.

    You seem to be trying to imply that the current form of government everywhere is NOT "institutionalized coercion or mob violence". Apparently you have yet to have contact with a LEO or a court system or a tax department trying to screw you over, or at least you haven't had the necessary epiphany about why the experience was so unpleasant.

  • Brandybuck||

    Huh? Where did I ever say that? Our current system most certainly **IS** institutionalized coercion! That's precisely what differentiates government from criminals, is the the institutionalization of coercion.

    I'm only suggesting that such coercion, organized via government or disorganized via mob rule, is a given in society. It's nice to think that society can operate without out, but the older I get the more I doubt that it's possible. It's just not in human nature.

  • d_remington||

    Then why aren't we all holding stores up at gunpoint? If that was our nature, that's how we would conduct ourselves 'in general'. But it's not.

  • trev||

    Another thing he leaves out is that sagas extensively discuss blood feuds. Feuds that are honor based and result in a lot of people dying and getting drawn into the violence.

    To me this is the huge "killer application" of the State. It vastly reduces violence because it eliminates tit for tat. Violence in stateless societies tends to be high for a few reasons:

    1) wars among Warlords. China and Japan and many feudal societies feature this.

    2) tit for tat tribal violence. Most tribal societies have this problem.

    Reading history or anthrological and other accounts of tribal societies this is pretty clear. The Icelandic sagas themselves are really a very nice argument for a State.

  • CE||

    To me this is the huge "killer application" of the State. It vastly reduces violence because it eliminates tit for tat.

    Reading history of the past 100 years of the human race and the killing exploits of governments might lead you to the opposite conclusion.

  • Stevo Darkly||

    trev:

    1) In the video (approximately from the 3:45 mark to the 4:25 mark), Friedman mentions the Icelandic feud system and some similar feudlike aspects of the modern U.S. legal system.

    2) In his book The Machinery of Freedom, Friedman extensively discusses feuds in the context of the Icelandic sagas, and how we might deduce from the sagas just how violent medieval Icelandic society actually was.

    First, he points out that the sagas focus on the violence and conflict because that's where most of the excitement is, which makes a good story. No one composes a saga about people peacefully doing boring everyday stuff, even if that's what most people are doing most of the time.

    In addition, he says that if you pay careful attention, you notice that fights that were actually separated by a generation in time might be separated by just a few sentences in the sagas. The peaceful time in-between is left out, giving the non-careful reader the impression that people were just fighting all the time.

    To be continued ...

  • Stevo Darkly||

    Continued ...


    Friedman also notes that in one of the better known sagas, whenever there is a fight, everyone person who gets killed is listed by name. This implies that actual violent death was rare enough that each individual killed is worth noting. This also gives us some data to work with.

    Based on the population size of medieval Iceland and the information in the sagas, Friedman figures out (or cites the work of another scholar, I forget which) that if the sagas in some way at least roughly reflect the actual level of violence in that society (which you implicitly assume) -- and you implicitly make that case above -- then the per capita death-by-violence rate in medieval Iceland was approximately the same as the stats for our modern American death-by-homicide rate (excluding negligent homicide).

    ... which does not indicate that the State does a vastly better job of suppressing violence between individuals or nongovernmental factions.

  • pmains||

    David Friedman is able to point to actual, historical examples of what he's advocating. He frequently points to Iceland (during Iceland's golden age of literature and so on).

    He could just as easily point to Ireland under Brehon Law, where you had a functioning legal system without a legislature or public judiciary. They had private courts, private judges and private law enforcement. The mechanisms for this were complex, and can't be easily explained here, but Laurence Ginnell's The Brehon Laws would be a good place to start. It's public domain, and available on Google Books and various other places.

    The point is, it wasn't Mad Max anarchy. Ireland was a center of learning during this time, which sent scholars abroad to enlighten the continent.

    Would those examples serve as good models for today? Well, maybe not, but Friedman's not just hypothesizing about how private legal systems would work. He is studying how private legal systems have worked.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    There's very little known about how/whether Saga Iceland functioned. The main evidence is that a shitload of castles were built and the Icelanders asked the King of Norway to take them over afterward. Neither of which is a sign that the situation was a good one.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    If my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle.

  • trev||

    Actually there is quite a lot known about how Saga Iceland functioned because it was documented in...wait for it..Sagas. Hence the name Saga Iceland.

    The evidence is that it sucked:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Njáls_saga

  • CE||

    There's also a lot of evidence that the "Wild West" in the US was violent and dangerous. Until you compare actual crime statistics from the "Wild West" and the civilized East of the same time period, and discover that the "Wild West" had lower crime rates. There were so few outlaws, we remember them all by name.

    I suspect the same mechanism in Saga Iceland -- the sagas are written about the violent blood feuds, because they were the colorful exception.

  • ant1sthenes||

    States and coercion don't mix well for the most part. Consent of the governed, and whatnot. A positive framework of private legal systems would exhibit the benefits of federalism, but without the costs involved in changing state of residence to express legal preferences.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    And what happens when a subscriber to another private legal system harms you?

    I've read Machinery of Freedom, and know that Friedman attempts to deal with this problem by assuming that the various legal systems would make arrangements to work such situations out without violence. But that's question begging. States often resort to violence in those situations, and all the same concerns apply to them, so why would we expect private legal systems to always avoid it?

  • ant1sthenes||

    Ordinarily, I think most governments would have pre-existing arrangements for mediating inter-government disputes, via some intergovernmental body that only involves itself in such disputes (not unlike our federal system, in theory).

    If not, they could engage in diplomacy. If all else fails, either they go to war or they ignore it and you have no recourse, both of which can happen under territorial rather than personal states.

  • ant1sthenes||

    I do think that a fair bit of geographical segregation among ideological groups is necessary to avoid the sort of conflicts that could lead to war. But we might already be there -- at the state level, there's a lot of purple, but if you get down to counties or neighborhoods, things become more homogeneous.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Now you're back to geographic states,though.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    If you have violence between the legal systems then one of them is going to eventually win out over all the others. No one is going to want to subscribe to system B when system A can beat them in a fight.

    And this is of course assuming that all the justice systems are purely in it to make an honest buck. If they're operating a protection racket, you don't even need a legitimate conflict between subscribers to have a private war.

    This is why Friedman has to argue that violence would be rare in the system he proposes.

  • trev||

    Friedman also assumes there is a market for justice. There is no market for justice. There is a market for violence.

    The other point is that who has the most experience, most capability and profitability in extra-state protection. The Mafia. Wouldn't the mafia, Yakuza and other criminal syndicate basically take over from the State?

  • DJK||

    I don't know about that. What happens to all the current members of the state? All those ex-military, ex-SWAT, etc guys will need work. Wouldn't banding together to offer private protection be a natural next move?

    Or how about private security companies? Blackwater?

  • trev||

    "Wouldn't banding together to offer private protection be a natural next move?"

    Sure but why would it be legitimate. Right now all private companies cannot engage in violence and basically follow the law. But in this new system private companies are making laws and engaging in violence. THEY DEFINE LEGITAMACY. There is no reason they can't engage in criminal activities. Its only logical for them to do so.

  • DJK||

    Tulpa, I don't think this is true. We know that competition drives up quality while driving down prices. Why should it be different for private protection groups? I would assume that this would be a highly competitive market because the potential for reward is so great. In which case you'd probably eventually come to the usual result of a mature market, which is numerous firms competing with each other for small changes in market share.

  • trev||

    "Why should it be different for private protection groups?"

    I assume it would be a monopoly market because there are obvious advantages of being bigger. Namely the stronger your protection agency the more you get to push someone around with a weak protection agency.

    Also I don't get why libertarians think competitive markets are the norm. They aren't.

  • KPres||

    What major industry that isn't competitive?

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Violence is expensive. Very. Very. Expensive. Private legal firms can't tax. There's no real estate with people with high transaction costs (U-Haul moving) tied to it. The only thing they'd be fighting over is just this one issue. Who's going to risk blood and treasure over Smith vs. Jones?

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    by "transaction costs" I mean "switching costs"

  • d_remington||

    What happens when a frenchman punches an american on the nose?

  • CE||

    It would be in the financial interest of the law/justice provider firms to settle disputes peacefully, either with pre-arranged methods or through neutral courts (from another provider firm, for instance.)

    Failing that, they would either stage a raid to destroy uncooperative firms, or to get compensation for you, or more likely, just drop you as a client for being a troublemaker, after which you could hire a private murder provider to settle things the old-fashioned way.

  • ||

    States and coercion don't mix well for the most part.

    This statement is complete rubbish. It's like saying water doesn't mix well with water. States are nothing BUT coercion.

  • MJGreen||

    What's question begging? He makes arguments in support of his conclusions. You don't have to find them convincing, but it's not like he and other anarchists don't provide reasons as to why 'anarchic' arrangements might be stable and preferable. It's no more question begging than, say, Madison claiming that competing factions will check each other from gaining too much influence.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Madison was arguing that the nature of power-pursuit makes it likely that factions would check each other. (and this did work for well over a century, mind you) He wasn't just putting out a way that factions could possibly check each other and assuming it would happen.

    Friedman asserts that the competing legal systems would not want to fight each other and would do anything to avoid this. This is where the question begging occurs, because once he has that assumption it's over. His system will work because he's defanged the problem of dominant coercers reestablishing themselves.

    History and human nature argue otherwise: people who are drawn to coercive activities actually do like to fight, especially if they can gain from doing so. And it's pretty clear how a justice system can gain from a fight.

  • np||

    He isn't arguing that they would want to avoid fighting because of some altruistic sentiment but rather the opposite--because it's more expensive. It's always more costly to the clients and to the firms.

    Your position is even more question begging as you assume that somehow, without a pre-established state, there will be an aggressor with a monopoly on violence that no one else can simply do anything about. Any aggressor's dominance in such a stateless position would always be tenuous at at best.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    It's always more costly to the clients and to the firms.

    Sometimes the gain from fighting is more than the cost. Otherwise states, organized crime syndicates, etc would never fight each other.

    you assume that somehow, without a pre-established state, there will be an aggressor with a monopoly on violence that no one else can simply do anything about.

    That's not really what I'm trying to say. What I mean is that if you start out without a state, the ensuing struggle among coercion specialists will produce either one dominant one (which becomes the new state) or cause a breakup into geographical units each with its own dominant coercer (a bunch of new states). Anyone with the power to do something about one of these new states will just become a new state themselves.

  • Tak Kak||

    You're assuming that States operate via the same motives that private firms do.

    If only...

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    States are very different than firms. States have a geographical monopoly on the use of force. A firm would not. The state exists in the mind of its subjects. Once a large enough portion of the population realizes that it's "OK", or common practice to switch "governments" and that no penalty is/can be imposed, the game is over.

  • trev||

    The easiest way to avoid fighting is to have a monopoly...its also the most profitable situation. So if I want to avoid violence with my competitors the best way especially if I am strongest is to wait for an opportune situation and then annhilate them. At this point I have engaged in some violence but the long term outcome is the end of intra-company violence and a monopoly.

    There is of course an even better method and that is to simply form a cartel with my competitors. That way there is no violence and no competition.

    So basically all these leads back to the evolution of a State except one that is non-democratic and oligarchic. Not sure how this is better than the current situation.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    It may or may not be the easiest way to avoid fighting, if by easiest you mean least expensive monetarily. There are other costs as well, though.

  • MJGreen||

    And Friedman argues that the nature of power and profit-and-loss make it likely that competing security providers would reach a stable equilibrium and would try to resolve conflicts peacefully. You've glossed over these arguments to call it an assertion. By the same token, Madison merely asserts that factions will never gain undue influence. But both give reasons. And for that matter, we might as well say that you (or Nozick, or whoever) do no more than assert that one firm will always come to dominate the others.

    A distinction Friedman used in a response to Tyler Cowen is that between a market equilibrium and a constraint. Firms are not constrained to use arbitration in lieu of violence. That (we think) they would use arbitration is "a consequence of their profit maximizing behavior not a constraint upon it."

  • Tulpa Doom||

    But the point is that violence can be profitable. Friedman totally ignores that when he claims that justice systems would never want to fight each other.

    The criminal underground is the closest thing to an anarcho-capitalist system we have seen, and the various factions in that world have to have sharply delineated territories. When this is not the case you have turf wars, etc.

    Justice systems overlapping on the same geographic area is a recipe for problems, because violence is geographic in nature.

  • MJGreen||

    And that's a counter-argument. As I said, you don't need to be convinced. But "I'm not convinced" and "You're underestimating these concerns" are not proper replies to an assertion or question begging. They're replies to someone who has provided a full-fledged argument.

    And this question is overdue: When has Friedman ever said things like "always" and "never," or denied that violence can be profitable? I won't be able to watch the video for a few more hours, but protefeed suggests below that Friedman admits here that there are any number of potential problems.

  • johnl||

    That's why Congress was required to step in and regulate the rules of chess, because otherwise the game wouldn't be fair. Also required to establish a bureau for regulating competitions, otherwise those would be impossible to organize.

  • d_remington||

    It's either let Congress regulate chess games or you can expect to see chess-masters gunning eachother down in the street.

  • ||

    The argument for archy isn't that the state is good at producing a legal system, it's that the market is totally incapable of doing it.

    There are private legal systems already in existence. When two parties agree to binding legal arbitration and avoiding government courts, for example, that is a private legal system. So, your "totally incapable" assertion is blatantly wrong.

    Markets and coercion don't mix well.

    Well, yes, the more coercive government you have, the poorer markets tend to perform. That is hardly an argument for max- or even min-archy, however. Quite the opposite.

    As always, Friedman just assumes that the obvious potential problems with privatizing law enforcement won't happen.

    Most people who enforce laws are private -- security guards and whatnot. They outnumber the public law enforcement officers.

    If you listened to the FN video, you would hear Friedman explicitly acknowledging such potential problems. What Friedman has repeatedly said is that the ACTUAL problems with current public LEO appear to him to be greater than the potential problems with A-C law enforcement.

  • johnl||

    You don't need to privatize the whole PD in one sweep. Except for writing traffic tickets, most of what a typical PD does is featherbedding. Cops take statements from crime victims, but there must be a better way to do that. Cops write reports about accidents, but the insurance companies could send their own people out.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Cops also attempt to track down suspects of crimes immediately after the crime happens, and in the rare event of someone taking a while in committing a crime, they can arrive at the scene to try to subdue the perp.

    Yes, most of their days are spent doing nothing or "patrolling", but that's the price you pay for having them ready at a moment's notice. Insurance rates would go through the roof if each company had to have their own person on call to respond to accidents anywhere in the country 24/7/365.

  • d_remington||

    So do private security firms. And yet the firms that hire them don't have outlays that go through the roof.

  • trev||

    More importantly cops are seen to have legitamacy in apprehending people. A private company would not. You would be well within your rights to shoot a private enforcer in the head and the only reason you wouldn't would be that he is too powerful. But that same argument applies to his competitors. Weak competitors could be bullied by stronger firms.

    If I were a stronger firm I would want to be the strongest. One of my selling points would be precisely that I could bully competing firms because I was stronger. Anyone signing up for my service would have an built in advantage in a dispute resolution with a customer of another firm. This would tend to put me in the situation of eventually becoming the monopoly provider.

  • CE||

    Insurance rates would go through the roof if each company had to have their own person on call to respond to accidents anywhere in the country 24/7/365.

    Okay, there's an argument that we have too many cops, consuming too many resources.

    Also, the insurance providers and the security agents and the detective agents wouldn't all have to work for the same vertical firm. Each market could have it's own competing firms -- insurance providers that advertise for customers and subcontract to detective agencies, for instance.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    When two parties agree to binding legal arbitration and avoiding government courts, for example, that is a private legal system.

    Except those arrangements are inapplicable to the case where the parties do not agree on which legal system they want to be bound by. Also, of course, arbitrators are never dealing with criminal matters. This is a very special situation, not something that can be scaled to take over all the functions of the judiciary we have now.

    My point about coercion and markets was that once you have a player in the market that is essentially selling coercion, it's very difficult to guarantee that the coercion doesn't get used to influence the market. In an ideal minarchist situation, you have the dominant coercer patrolling the market, but they're not a player in it. Their position as coercer is secure and not determined by market decisions, so they have no incentive to interfere. It seems reasonable to conclude that the market is better off slicing out a piece of its pie to hand over to the coercer, just to avoid market players coercing each other.

  • CE||

    Why is a criminal matter not a legal dispute? One party has been harmed by another, or asserts that he has.

    In the current system, the harmed party presses charges, the cops investigate, possibly arrest, and the courts sentence. The victim gets zilch.

    In a private system, perhaps you would just sue them for restitution. If they didn't agree to meet you in your court, or a neutral court, you could get a judgment authorizing your agents to extract compensation from them by force.

    Would this descend into a tit-for-tat feud? Only if you forget that everyone would have a personal credit rating, and incidents like this would count against it, upping their insurance rates.

    A few bad guys would still have to be rounded up and shot probably, but it's not like vigilantes would just go and do it -- they would be tried first in public court, with evidence presented for all to see.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Most people who enforce laws are private -- security guards and whatnot. They outnumber the public law enforcement officers.

    Not sure if they outnumber LEOs, but that's not the point anyway. Security guards only prevent crimes against the property and persons they are assigned to protect. Anyone they spot or detain must be handed over to LEOs and the justice system for punishment. So again we're talking about a very minute subset of law enforcement that's being handled by private orgs, and these are the easiest parts with the fewest moral hazards.

    It's highly unlikely that the security guard at a bank is going to be used to further a vendetta against a rival bank, since he would need someone from the rival to come to his bank before he can do anything to them. That would be very different if bank security guards were responsible for tracking down and punishing bank robbers...far more opportunities for abuse.

  • CE||

    Opportunities which our modern day LEOs would never abuse, clearly.

  • sarcasmic||

    Anarchists fail to realize that when groups of men compete over who gets to initiate violence, they literally kill their competition.
    The winner becomes government, and now has license to steal.
    Like Franklin said "in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

  • ||

    So you'd rather live in a society that rationalizes and accepts a monopoly on violence than one which does not. Got it, you're fine with being a slave.

    We always live in anarchy. Always. There is no godlike power than can stop you from breaking the law, and if you can get away with it, you are not bound by it. There are always men--and not just "government" men--who can and will initiate force against you.

    Your incredible desire to continuously delude yourself that somehow this isn't true is completely fucked up.

  • sarcasmic||

    There are always men--and not just "government" men--who can and will initiate force against you.

    The key difference being that when government men initiate force, no one will help you.

  • ||

    You do realize that that's what you advocate, right? Like, it's your position that someone technically have the power to do that? Are you getting your own cognitive dissonance here? Probably not.

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't advocate it. I accept it. It's reality. Life sucks. Get used to it.

  • ||

    So no. OK, got it. You're fine with being a slave.

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't waste time and effort worrying about things I cannot change.

  • Mr Whipple||

    I don't waste time and effort worrying about things I cannot change.

    Self-defeatist, much?

  • sarcasmic||

    Self-defeatist, much?

    You try standing up to the government. See what happens. I'll watch from a safe distance.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • np||

    I'm thinking the old marching, lining-up, shooting your one shot, falling back and stuffing some gunpowder, if you weren't already dead by then, pretty much sucked. I wonder if anyone had ever thought about guerrilla tactics (as in conducting all warfare like that) then...

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I wonder if anyone had ever thought about guerrilla tactics (as in conducting all warfare like that) then...

    Well, the Indians did.

    And if Robert Rogers had his way, we would have as well...

  • sarcasmic||

    It started with only 77 men and boys with the same hardware as the greatest military on the planet.

    Things have changed since then.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It started with only 77 men and boys with the same hardware as the greatest military on the planet.

    Umm...no. No need to go into the details of 18th century firearms when I can just point to all the problems the VietCong gave us, and the problems the Taliban are giving us today. (And some Taliban are still using Lee-Enfields!)

    A rebellion is not a conventional war, and 4th gen warfare strategies will do quite nicely.

  • Rasilio||

    The problem is that the firearms of the day were not terribly accurate past 50 - 75 yards this lead armies to focus on rapid reloading in the face of incoming fire as being more important than marksmanship, because a massed group could unleash 1 - 2 vollys and then charge with Bayonettes.

    With Guerilla tactics you had to get too close to the formation to successfully get away and still have a reasonable chance of hitting someone, even in a massed formation.

    The one reason why guerilla tactics did work in the early days of the revolution is that it was not being fought by solders but rather by farmers who DID need to learn to shoot accurately because the primarily used their muskets to hunt game. This allowed them to hit targets from 150 - 200 yards away, far enough that they could get off 1 - 2 shots and still escape pursuit.

  • Brandybuck||

    77 men and boys who perceived themselves being members of one state defending themselves from those perceived as members of a different state. There's no anarchy to be seen there.

  • Mr Whipple||

    You try standing up to the government. See what happens. I'll watch from a safe distance.

    Who says you have to stand up to them? Undermine them. Use the grey and black markets, crypto-currency, and PGP encryption. Be a "Crypto-Anarchist", for the time being. There must be "101 things to do until the revolution".

    http://www.backwoodshome.com/b.....om-outlaw/

  • Mr Whipple||

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Hush, Epi, THE LEVIATHAN sarcasmic has spoken.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Right, and I'm the one here who has a problem running people down. it's intriguing to see you guys take down one of your own when he steps across the line of accepted debate.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    The key difference being that when government men initiate force, no one will help you.

    That's not the case, at least not in the US today. Look at all the support that some people accused of crimes get from third parties.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    We always live in anarchy. Always. There is no godlike power than can stop you from breaking the law, and if you can get away with it, you are not bound by it.

    That's not what anarchy usually is understood to mean. When you redefine it to mean that it's a vacuous definition. There would be no point to being an anarchist if every society is anarchy.

    The very fact that one attempts to "get away" with lawbreaking is a tacit admission that they are in fact living under the law, if not in compliance with it.

  • An0nB0t||

    He's employing a rhetorical device intended to force you into recognition that the "state" is indistinct from any other band of thugs save by its scope and, more importantly, its psychological grip on its victims.

    No one operates under the assumption that a private security firm is morally legitimate. Once people recognize that a state, any state, is not constitutionally different from its private-law counterparts, the battle is over and polycentric law takes root. This is the most important legacy of the American federalism debates, and it's a shame that it's usually overlooked in favor of states' rights myopia or rhetorical gamesmanship.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    In the US the government is to a large extent controlled by the populace. Yes, obviously, you can have tyranny of the majority, you can have an apathetic populace letting the govt get away with shit that they wouldn't approve of if they knew about it, etc. So it's not a perfect situation by any stretch. But to say that the US govt is just the strongest bunch of thugs in the country is overstating the case by a long shot.

    There are plenty of governments in the world that are recognized by their subjects as nothing more than the strongest band of thugs in that territory. While the lack of "delusion" might be nice, I really don't think you'd want to live in those places.

  • T o n y||

    So isn't being antigovernment a bit like being anti-weather?

  • sarcasmic||

    No.

  • Paul.||

    So isn't being antigovernment a bit like being anti-weather?

    Not at all. Holding the government in continuous contempt and distrust is a healthy operational mode, especially in modern times.

    It keeps the state at arms length, and continuously puts pressure on the state to act in the interest of its citizens.

    When you become pro-government, you have essentially removed any checks on its power.

  • sarcasmic||

    Checks on power only exist when the rulers practice restraint.

    That ship sailed a long, long, time ago.

  • Paul.||

    Checks on power only exist when the rulers practice restraint

    The subtext of my message was that it seems that as of late, we have too much blind trust in government, so yeah, that ship sailed a long, long time ago. We need to get our distrust of government back. We lost the media as a bulwark against government some years ago, so we're just left with us.

  • Mr Whipple||

    So isn't being antigovernment a bit like being anti-weather?

    GOD creates the weather. MEN create governments.

    Got it?

  • Paul.||

    Careful. According to people like T o n y, MEN create the weather, too.

  • T o n y||

    Differences in air pressure create weather.

    Humans did create governments. They created them before they created sophisticated trade. Because they found it necessary to do so.

  • Mr Whipple||

    So, your statement was false.

  • T o n y||

    No, your statement (the one about a deity creating weather) was false. I asked a question.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Bullshit.

  • Trespassers W||

    Government, weather, murder, gravity, theft--all things you just have to put up with, amirite?

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    no. It's being anti-murder. And anti-theft.

  • soonerliberty||

    This argument is akin to, say, early 1800s. Being anti-slavery is like being anti-weather. Just because something is doesn't make it perpetually true. It is true that humans have almost always had government. That does not mean they always will. That is an unscientific statement. Second, we have had private law in Anglo-Saxon society. There's no need for proof that that works.

  • CE||

    Government is an organizational type that men invented through trial and error and conflict through the centuries. Fortunately, men can reason and posit new organizational types that may work as well, or better, minus the obvious moral contradictions of an organization charged with protecting life, liberty and property routinely violating all three on a massive scale just to exist.

  • MJGreen||

    So why aren't countries constantly at war?

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Most of the time there are countries at war somewhere.

  • d_remington||

    So there wouldn't in fact be a difference in the amount of violence even in the worst case private law scenario. Got it.

  • Almanian.||

    Fuck you, Reason squirrelbots.

    *downtwinkles*

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    The State, completely in its genesis, essentially and almost completely during the first stages of its existence, is a social institution, forced by a victorious group of men on a defeated group, with the sole purpose of regulating the dominion of the victorious group over the vanquished, and securing itself against revolt from within and attacks from abroad. Teleologically, this dominion had no other purpose than the economic exploitation of the vanquished by the victors.

    Franz Oppenheimer: The State
    http://www.franz-oppenheimer.de/state0.htm

  • Tim||

    Friedman sounds like a knucklehead.

  • Almanian.||

    I think of him as more of a Panhead.

  • MiloMinderbinder||

    @7:10 "I think probably the US is too big. Might be better off if we were 8 or 10 different countries."

    Racist!!11!

  • Bee Tagger||

    Don't worry, the Commerce Clause will see to it that those 8 or 10 different countries are exactly the same.

  • robc||

    Does anyone else want to knock that smirk off Paul Feine's face, or is it just me?

  • Mr Whipple||

    He's like a giddy little schoolgirl.

  • sarcasmic||

    One thing is for sure, he inherited his father's sneer.

  • 0x90||

    You want to know what anarcho-capitalism looks like? Not necessarily very different from the current world, but with one single, and fundamentally important exception: average people have taken it into their heads that when they encounter a law with which they personally disagree, they go their own way, rather than acquiescing. When government does things they like, they allow it to remain free to do those things. And when it doesn't, they don't. All else follows, and it is senseless to try to predict the precise makeup of what today we call government, in that world, because a) you can't, and b) it has no significance.

    The corollary, though, is: for so long as people are willing to be dictated to, dictated to they will be. This will take on different specific forms, some decaying at a slower rate than others, but they will always all tend toward the same collapse. Because the source of the power any one of them wields is the same in all cases: it is only the excess production of the people, yielded by the people. You should not ask yourself, then, why the governments we have had have been corrupt -- what other way could they be?

  • Brandybuck||

    You want to know what anarcho-capitalism looks like?


    Since there has never been a sustainable anarcho society larger than a few dozen like minded folk in a commune, none of them capitalist in the sense that most understand it, I'm wondering how YOU know what it would look like?

    You do not know what it would be like because there has never been one before. If an anarchist society emerges from our modern society, then it stands to reason that parts of it will resemble our modern society, but beyond that you are clueless. Without government recognition and support of private property rights and enforcement of contracts, it might very well be closer to the anarcho-syndicalists' vision.

  • 0x90||

    I'm wondering how I would know that too, since I specifically wrote that you can't predict what it would look like. And it's not at all because there hasn't been one before, it's because there are any number of possible forms, each of which would work more or less as well as the others. And they would work because in order to get there, people in general would have rejected the traditional idea of irrevocably giving over their power to authority, which is the root cause for why governments do not work today.

  • Brandybuck||

    You said "Not necessarily very different from the current world". If it ever came about it might be similar to our current world but it might also be radically different. The point is we just don't know. We might end up with an anarcho-socialist society that doesn't have any private property, and that would not be like our present society at all.

  • trev||

    To me anarcho-capitalism is an oxymoron. The rise of modern capitalism is intimately tied to the rise of the State. If you read about Japanese history its incredibly clear. Before the State you had a morass of opaque complicated private rules and laws. The State simplified and centralized everything. The result is that one could start a business in one place and easily enlarge it to other areas. The existence of a State is a prerequisite for Capitalism. And state coercion is very important to rationalizing society by eliminating private rules, laws and customary law and making everything transparent.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Do not confuse capitalism (Marx' word) with the free market.

  • CE||

    Visit California some time.

  • Sevo||

    trev| 11.28.12 @ 12:16PM |#
    ..."The State simplified and centralized everything"...

    This is a joke, right?

  • xavier2012||

    Sound legal is not more important?

  • Sevo||

    What mean?

  • BenDFW||

    If anyone want to donate money to education without actually having to open their wallets, then please save your Boxtops for Education and Labels for Education. You usually find these on a number of products from Campbell's soup to General Mills. These will be going to a charter school in Euless, Texas Email me for address to send them to. Thanks fellow libertarians for your support. (Email is under username)

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