Re: Why Libertarianism is not mistaken
Fri, 10 Sep 1999 21:20:03 EDT

In a message dated 99-09-05 17:42:14 EDT, (Robert J. Bradbury) (a/k/a Bradbury the Brave) wrote:

> You say we have property rights. I write a book, I sell you the book
> and in that process you agree not to resell copies of the book. You
> then violate that agreement. I say to all my friends, look he is
> violating my property rights. They all agree. How do you take
> back your property rights? Do you go "imprison" him? If you
> don't own a prison this is difficult. Do you go shoot him?
> That seems a tad extreme.
> [ . . . snip . . . ]
> If you look at the evolution of law enforcement in the wild wild
> west, it seems a perfect example of what happens if anarchy,
> capitalism, and libertarianism are given free reign. When
> the conditions get to the point where the bandits represent
> a significant threat to my property and life, communities
> designate agents (sheriffs, marshals, etc.) to fix the problem.
> Courts exist to prevent them from fixing the problem "arbitrarily"
> (as tended to be the case during earlier times in history).
> States evolve because you need an agency to deal with the
> problem of water and sewar systems to keep everyone, yourself
> included from getting cholera or dysentary. Those things don't
> come cheap, so you get taxes.
> Libertarianism might work if you have 40 acres surrounded
> by a barbed wire electrified fence, a mine field between your hosue
> and the fence and you get to deliver your food to the end
> of your driveway. Oh yes, and don't forget, it isn't the American
> Express card you should 'never leave home without', its a tank.
> Excuse me while I climb into my fire protection suit...

OK, almost a week having gone by, I assume you're all zipped up, Robert. You're not "thinking outside the box", to use a term I saw you use here recently (and for which I've sent you a bill, having taxed my cliche tolerance :-) Seriously, the error you make in your narrative about the legendary (and largely mythic) "Old West" is in assuming that the progression from armed and brutal disorder to the use of law and well-defined and circumscribed agencies of force can only proceed through the pathway of statism. While I'll concede it's pretty much a purely theoretical construct, some pretty bright people have worked out an alternative pathway that builds up these same values in a decentralized pathway that leads through consensual, contractual ceding of rights. To see a brief description of this idea, take a look at David Friedman's "Law as a Private Good": .html

I'm not trying to open a full-blown debate on privately produced law, but felt a pointer to Friedman was in order, since we've got a lot of new folks around.

     Greg Burch     <>----<>
     Attorney  :::  Vice President, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
                         "Civilization is protest against nature; 
                  progress requires us to take control of evolution."
                                      -- Thomas Huxley