Re: Anarcho-Capitalism Stability
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 15:49:17 -0500 (EST)

In a message dated 2/24/97 6:51:15 PM, Robin Hanson wrote:

>[The] biggest law would seem to
>have a lower monitoring/patroling cost. For the same number of patrol
>cars it gets to swing by twice as many customers. So it might try to
>lower prices to drive out competition.

I'm skeptical that that law enforcement enjoys such economies of scale. To
judge from current practices in the rather polycentric US legal system,
entrepreneurs thrive at providing specialized legal systems (see, eg,
labor/management relations, ISP terms-of-service contracts, AAA, etc.) Small
legal systems fit not only particular types of recurring problems (see, eg,
church councils that delve into the arcana of apostasy) but also particular
discrete populations that generate diverse problems (see, eg, private

At any rate, to the extent that law enforcement *does* enjoy economies of
scale, I'd not welcome anti-trust-like metalaws to prevent the practice.
(I'm assuming consent-based jurisdiction, with freedom of entry and exit,

>More severely, [the biggest player] might notice when no other law was
>patrolling the customer of a competing law, and make some "accidents" happen
>to those other customers. . . . Is there a contract laws could
>write with each other ahead of time to assure customers that this
>scenario would be very unlikely?

With regard to currently recognized co-equal legal jurisdictions, we look to
international law to settle such problems. International law's customs and
agreements essentially constitute default rules and contracts, respectively,
for relations between sovereign legal systems. The system does not work
perfectly, of course, but it works well enough to let little States such as
Andorra face off with big ones like France.

Those of you who want models of how a polycentric legal system might resolve
cross-jurisdictional conflicts in general should look to international law.
As theorists in the field have often noted, international law thrives in
"structural anarchy"; in other words, no one enforcement mechanism holds
sway, yet countries do not continually war.

T.0. Morrow