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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15598/spontaneous-order-in-law-and-economics/

Is Life without the State Always Chaos?

February 8, 2011 by

Removing the ability of a lone societal institution to arrogate to itself the right to pronounce law and to decide cases would result not in disorder but in a legal framework that more perfectly reflects the norms of society. FULL ARTICLE by David S. D’Amato


Michael A. Clem February 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Great article. I like how it tried to tie different aspects law and courts into an Austrian/praxeological perspective. I also liked the emphasis on “process” and the reasons people would obey a judgement. The last paragraph also hints at the solution of a peaceful revolution towards an anarchist society. I would like to see this idea expanded upon, as it *is* only a hint.

Nick February 8, 2011 at 7:31 pm

For those that have not read it, I recommend The Obviousness of Anarchy (pdf) by John Hasnas. Great read.

billwald February 8, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Most people don’t want freedom. Most people want stability and a perceived “fair share” of the pie.

Lee February 8, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Yes, and the “perceived fair share” is always going to be the fly in the ointment, since perceptions are always going to be biased. Struggle and competition are inescapable facts of life; to assume otherwise is to live in a dream.

Gil February 8, 2011 at 7:24 pm

The missing element is the force of law. Law is a monopoly otherwise it is whimsical and has no power. If a Mafia hitman is convicted of murder in ABC’s private court then the hitman can just go to the Mafia court and get it overturned and get let free. Of course, law has to have the ability to be enforced or it is no law at all.

RTB February 8, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Correct. Just because they might have agreed on a judicial entity beforehand doesn’t mean they will abide by it’s decision.

And of course, what of two parties that had no prior relationship or agreement? Then the one who can hire the most powerful force wins.

Daniel February 8, 2011 at 11:46 pm


We need a judicial monopoly covering the entire world, and with monopoly right to enact violence on whomever they find necessary to do so; like a world government or something!

Why didn’t I think of this before?

Gil February 9, 2011 at 12:52 am

I suppose you could laugh at the Muslim who thinks Islamic blasphemy should carry severe punishment but there’s no world Islamic government so most of the world can fun of Islam. However, Ideally, yes there should no place to hide for those who have commit crimes of violence. But then what’s the alternative? It’s beter to let violent people roam free than to have a monopoly because it will spiral out of control?

Lee February 9, 2011 at 5:43 am

Here we go again with this absurd blanket prohibition against violence, which in the long run probably only increases the total amount of violence. We live in a time and place where the reality is that someone can literally be driven to suicide by people with the skills and resources to do it. Do you really believe someone in that situation should be forbidden the use of violence when it may be the only defense he has? What about someone who is repeatedly robbed by the same person who always manages to evade the law? If someone is driven into bankruptcy by nefarious schemes of another does it really help his situation if that person gets a few years in jail? The fact is that “law” protects aggressors more than it protects victims.
People without “law” usually know very well how to deal with “violence”. Contrary to the braainwashed belief that it must lead to endless cycles of revenge, which will naturally lead to the extinction of the participants, people have lived very well without law.

Daniel February 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm

The notion that man can somehow bring about a universal justice is absurd.

Yes, we should let some villains get away. What’s the problem with that?

What matters really is if the matter is allowed to be treated economically or if it is brought about through a coercive monopolist. In the former, we are allowed protection and even the application of violence that is in a sense “worth it”, that is, it doesn’t become a burden because we put principles above man, and law serves man and not the other way around. In the latter, we have cops speeding after drivers and killing innocent pedestrians and why should they care? They’ll probably get a paid vacation if anything happens. It is their duty to get the bad guys regardless of consequences. Then you have the D.A.s and legislators who have to be tough on crime, even if that means destroying other peaceful citizens lives in the process. And why should they care? They suffer no consequence if they are wrong in liberally creating or dispensing law.

The current state that exists in the US today is exactly the result of a final arbiter and it’s application of law: man serves law, not the other way around. And if innocents need to suffer for that principle, so be it.

Gil February 10, 2011 at 12:40 am

What if you found yourself in trouble with a prominent Mafia member and complained that you would go to the authorities only for him to say that he “owns” all the cops and judges and no one would be able to convict him? Would you complain the current legal system sucks because it can be corrupted so? However what if it was it a free market society and a Mafia police force and court system were perfectly fine because there’s no restrictions on who can be in the justice business?

Gil February 10, 2011 at 12:47 am

To Daniel:

Because without a monopoly it’s really a free-for-all. If someone was getting beat up in the streets you wouldn’t be able to tell if it were a crime or people beating up a criminal. Private justice will quickly devolve into might makes right. If gangs know they can rule the streets and terrorise innocent people because there’s no private force powerful enough to repel them then tough luck. If the only people who can provide any real honest safety are rich people who then rent out houses to others and part of their rent goes into funding the landlord’s security force then you’re back to a monopoly on justice.

Colin Phillips February 10, 2011 at 4:09 am

Gil, seriously now.

“If someone was getting beat up in the streets you wouldn’t be able to tell if it were a crime or people beating up a criminal”? A gang of thugs beating someone up is *always* criminal – it really doesn’t matter if the thugs are in police uniform or not. Besides, isn’t that what happens now? A gang (uniformed) rules the streets because there is no private force powerful enough to stop them, precisely because taxpayers do not get a choice in “protection” providers.

Your claim that in the absence of a taxpayer-funded police force, nobody but the rich would be able to afford real protection services is baldly absurd – who do you think is currently paying for protection? The bloated, inefficient violent monopoly we currently enjoy, complete with all its useless additions (do you know how much the “War on Drugs” and its equivalent in other countries costs?), would no longer be a cost, and people would be free to get at least the same level of protection for the same money.

Even if it were true that the most cost-efficient way to meet consumers’ demands would be to include the cost of protection in the cost of rent, that does not in any way imply that there could only be a single provider. But it’s not true – different people demand different levels of protection, the most cost-efficient way of managing this is not to go through your landlord but to negotiate it yourself. This happens already, actually. Some people have locks on their doors, or bars on their windows, other people have bodyguards – despite also having the best police protection taxes can buy.

Remember that, in a free market, every problem that people have cannot be papered over with more regulation or more inflation – individuals need to choose the strategy that suits them best. This means that every problem people might have with private protection services, such as your concerns above, are ripe markets just waiting for entrepreneurs to sell a solution to them. Try this as an exercise: For every concern you have, see if you have sufficient business acumen to think of a solution to just that one issue – the aim of the game is to reassure your potential customers of your private protection agency that subscribing to your solution is a reasonable idea. For example, a potential customer asks you “If I see a person being beaten by a gang on the streets, how will I know whether the gang or the person being beaten are the criminals”, and you could answer “Well, our policy is to provide double your money back if there is ever any documented proof that we have beaten anybody up. The best course of action would be to call our emergency response number – we will be on the scene in under 2 minutes, we will stop the gang from beating the person up, and ascertain the situation. We will provide you with a full report by email within 1 working day”. Or something else. Try it, you might be the best person for answering your specific concerns.

Michael A. Clem February 10, 2011 at 1:23 pm

However what if it was it a free market society and a Mafia police force and court system were perfectly fine because there’s no restrictions on who can be in the justice business?
The Mafia exist only because there is a government they can corrupt. Without government, a criminal gang might try to enter into the justice business, but most people want restitution for crimes commited against them. Breaking legs might bring emotional satisfaction, but don’t pay for expensive losses. The Mafia Protection Agency would have to offer a legitimate service, or else be crowded out by the competition.

Gil February 11, 2011 at 12:37 am

To M.A. Clem – I’m not talking so much of a private police force but a private court system. Who gets to make rulings and have them stick? If anyone can get into the justice business then it’s going to be whimsical. It would akin to an American drinking alcohol in Saudi Arabia and when caught says “I want to choose which law code to tried under and I choose U.S. law and since drinking alcohol is legal there you can do a single thing about it”.

Gil February 11, 2011 at 12:40 am

To C. Phillips – by your reckoning in a free market you can put up barriers against criminals and protect yourself when a crime is being committed but once the crime is over you can’t do a thing about because chasing down an offender, arresting him, putting him on trial, forcing others to be witnesses, etc., violates so much private rights as to be untenable.

Colin Phillips February 11, 2011 at 5:02 am

Gil,I don’t support using aggressive force to compel people to appear in court for a trial, and neither should you: http://mises.org/daily/4457
Also, read the section here on courts: http://www.mises.ch/library/Rothbard_For_a_New_Liberty_Libertarian_Manifesto.pdf

Michael A. Clem February 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Was the article too abstract for you? Perhaps you can be a little more specific about what problems you have with it…

Lee February 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Einstein once said the deeper one got into abstraction the further he got from reality. Perhaps that explains all the high-toned discourse I find here ending with an astonishing innocence of the world. Why would anyone believe any group, under any name, can be given power without inevitably abusing it? Why would anyone believe any such group would be more effective than individuals choosing their own course of action?

Ayn R. Key February 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm

It takes a government to create the degree of chaos normally thought of as anarchy. – Me.

David S. D'Amato February 10, 2011 at 11:45 am

Hey, all! I just want to thank everyone for the comments here; they’ve given me food for thought, and I hope to expand on the line of thought begun here in the future. I’ll be calling up these comments when that happens, so thanks again!

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