Re: Confidence: A Basic Politics Puzzle

Mark Grant (
Wed, 19 Feb 1997 22:08:56 +0000

On Tue, 18 Feb 1997, Robin Hanson wrote:

> Yes, of course part of what brings us together is an interest in
> anarcho-capitalist type political institutions. But why are so many
> of you so damn confident that you know how such things would actually
> function, or which minute variation would actually be best?

For the same reason we were talking about a few weeks ago; authoritarian
forms of government allow for no opposing views, while libertarian forms
of government allow objectors to set up their own local government of any
kind as long as it's voluntary (or under AC if they have enough power to
coerce people into joining them). So if we set up a Friedman-like society
and it doesn't work we can always try something else.

I like Friedman's conception of anarcho-capitalist institutions, but I'm
primarily interested in reducing the power of governments to give people
the freedom to run their own lives in any voluntary fashion they choose.
Whether the result is a minimal government such as the US constitution was
intended to provide, a libertarian society or anarcho-capitalism is far
less important.

This is basically an engineering decision; authoritarian societies give
you many single points of failure which libertarian societies can eliminate.
If one PPL goes bad, that only affects a small group of people and the
majority can act to bring it back under control. If a small government
goes bad then we still have more power than them and can probably defeat
it. If the massive governments we see today go bad then we're all screwed.

BTW, can someone help me with an anarcho-capitalism question? I don't
entirely understand how PPL/PPAs operate; I can see that for conflicts
between different PPLs the protection agencies have to go to some kind
of independent court for arbitration, but what happens for disputes
purely between customers of one protection agency? I always assumed that
the agency would settle it themselves, but from rereading 'Machinery of
Freedom' over Christmas Friedman seems to imply that they would still
go to an external court.

Finally, how are PPAs supposed to recognize their customers? Do we all
have to wear big luminous jackets with their logos on or something? I
can see how to do it in a more advanced society (e.g. everyone has
implanted computers and radio-networking), but I'm not sure how we could
do it with current technology.


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