Re: Anarcho-Capitalism Stability
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 22:35:43 -0500 (EST)

In a message dated 2/24/97 9:13:59 PM, Robin Hanson explained that when he

>[The] biggest law would seem to have a lower monitoring/patroling cost,

he spoke

>just about patroling, not all the other law functions.

Point well taken. Two points in response:

1) Legal systems do much, much more than merely patrol. They legislate and
interpret and adjudicate and hector and . . . . Moreover, very few Mafioso
claim the right to patrol *all* aspects of behavior. The Mafia, famously,
co-exists with the Church. Similarly, even if purely private legal systems
enjoy such economies of scale that they can effectively control particular
geographic areas, they will not necessarily quash legal diversity. Examples
from current US law illuminate the point; statists claim exclusive authority
over the same behavior that concerns the Mafioso (and, note, do so rather
ineffectually), yet purely private and customary legal systems thrive. And,
yes, these alternative systems do their own patrolling. See, eg, any home
owner's association.

2) Why do we care so much who patrols, anyhow, so long as we enjoy diverse
sources of law and freedom of exit? If monopoly scares you, you won't like
*any* aspect of the free market! After all, my local 7-11 enjoys a natural
monopoly (and we've been using natural monopoly arguments here, you know)
over a several-block area, which will only support one such convenience
store. In other words, what you call "monopoly" relies crucially on how you
define the relevant market.

For what it's worth, I expect a polycentric legal order would give rise to a
mix of overlapping and exclusive legal systems. The provision of criminal
law (tort, really) may well get bundled with private communities, and thus
apply uniformly to particular geographic locations. Other types of laws (and
enforcement mechanisms) will probably not (eg, commercial law, church law,

T.0. Morrow