Re: Anarcho-Capitalism Stability

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 13:12:53 -0800 (PST)

I wrote:
>[The] biggest law would seem to have a lower monitoring/patroling cost. writes:
>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

My statement was just about patroling, not all the other law functions.

>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,

It depends for me on just how bad things would get without such
metalaws. I really do think we need a story about why Russian
protection agencies for example seem to form local territorial monopolies.

>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. ...
> 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.

But International law deals primarily among local terrorial
monopolies. I don't claim local PPLs would war with each other. My
worry is that having many PPLs in the same local territory is
unstable. Recognizing this fact, PPLs may quickly move to local
monopolies without firing a shot. Competition would the be limited by
the costs to move from one area to another. If these areas are small
enough, that could be a great improvement over our status quo, but
still different from the full PPL concept.

Robin D. Hanson