Re: Anarcho-Capitalism Stability

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 11:52:02 -0800 (PST)

> I've been wondering: what is the absolute minimum state that could
> stabilize something like David Friedman's competing private laws?


> I assume that you'd need a large scale "state" to manage national
> defense. There would be serious free rider problems otherwise, and
> there seem to be strong economies of scale to military coordination.

It is likely that agencies would pool some of their resources for
defense. That would be part of their cost of service. Free riders
are likely to be a very small problem: first, because "going armadillo",
i.e., not hiring a protection agency, leaves you vulnerable to all
kinds of mischief. You can enjoy the barbed wire at the border for
free, but while you're doing that, some kid is stealing your stereo.
If the cost of protecting your property, and your right to enforce
contracts, and to redress torts is relatively small (as it would be
with competing agencies--even if it includes the cost of that barbed
wire fence and a missile silo or two), one is likely to pay it.
Secondly, private charities would probably include the cost of basic
protection with room and board, just as parents will pay for their
children's protection.

> More severely, it might notice when no other law was patrolling the
> customer of a competing law, and make some "accidents" happen to those
> other customers. The competing law might know it would cost it more
> to compensate this with more monitoring, or retaliatory accidents, and
> so be persuaded to leave the area. Is there a contract laws could
> write with each other ahead of time to assure customers that this
> scenario would be very unlikely?

Predation is a more expensive strategy than cooperation. It makes more
sense for agencies to contract with each other for arbitration than to
risk going to war.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>