Private Property and Capitalism

Eric Watt Forste (
Sun, 13 Oct 1996 16:30:22 -0700 (PDT)

I might as well state up front that I'm just an amateur in all matters of
law and economics. But I find these things interesting and have spent
some time reading and thinking about them.

On Sun, 13 Oct 1996 wrote:
> Which leads to a question (assuming anyone has read this far!) Is anyone on
> the list aware of cogent plans or proposals for an incrementalist
> implementation of criminal or tort law?

This is indeed one of the hard problems of anarchocapitalism, possibly
even harder than oft discussed problem of "national" defense. Although
David Friedman's legal archeology of Iceland has contributed some ideas
that are useful in thinking these things through, my own amateur take on
these matters is that the problem of human predators is a very hard one
(and really, it's the same problem considered in "national" defense).
Thinking through wergild systems and the problem of the judgment-proof
criminal, it seems to me, takes us toward the institutionalization of
term-slavery or something like it for criminals, and while this *might* be
preferable to the current expensive and culturally destructive system of
sterile imprisonment, I think that modern society is well rid of "the
peculiar institution" and I am very shy of anything that even looks like
backsliding in this department.

To make my long story short, I don't have any big answers, and I haven't
seen any suggestions for improvement over the current arrangements that
seem compelling to me. Yet I am deeply dissatisfied with the current
arrangements. When faced with this sort of situation when trying to solve
a personal problem by my own means, I know of no better method than to
try out several different things and see which ones work better.

Therefore, my only strong inclination on this question is to push for a
return to *fully* local control of tort and criminal law. Since I live in
the United States and it's only 1996 right now, this means that, like
Harry Browne, I'm pushing for a complete removal of the Federal government
from jurisdiction over tort and criminal law, so that we can at least have
a chance of running 50 different experiments in legal systems as soon as
possible. The direction up until recently has been opposite this, with
increasing Federal involvement in criminal and tort law, and I think
that needs to be reversed.

Federalism is a poor substitute for full polycentric law, but perhaps it's
a good start on a road that might take us there.

My apologies to non-Yanks for the parochialism of this post, but the
general principles of devolution of political power do seem to be making
the rounds this decade.