Anarcho-Capitalism Stability

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 10:13:07 -0800 (PST)

I asked:
> 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?

Mark Grant responded:
>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. ...
>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.

The most common concern about PPLs is that is that local competition
will soon result in local authoritarian monopolies, which may be
difficult to get rid of. This seems to be the result of protection
agency like competition now in Russia. Another concern is defense
free riding among PPLs making an area vulnerable to invaders. So it
is not *obvious* we aren't better off with some sort of minarchy. And
given minarchy, its not obvious how small a government we can actually

>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.

This is also a real concern. It doesn't do any good for my to buy
stronger punishment against assault or robbery, if potential criminals
don't know that I am different. So houses covered by non-standard
laws need to post a mark to this effect (as houses now covered by
private patrols now do), and people on the street would need to wear
some distinguishing mark if they want buy extra deterrence.