Re: Questions about Anarcho-capitalism

Mark Grant (
Tue, 24 Jun 1997 23:40:12 +0000

On Mon, 23 Jun 1997, Hagbard Celine wrote:

> While I see that it is anarchic, in some sense, to have all people
> contracting singly with all others in order to protect themselves, how
> can this be desirable? You can't make a contract with every single
> person you come into contact with.

If it's impossible, then the market will find a way to simplify matters.
Most likely many organisations will agree to common standards just as they
do on the Net, because it simplifies arrangements for all of them.
However, unlike current monopoly law anyone who values their freedom over
corporate convenience will be able to choose an alternate legal system
which doesn't use those standards. They will just have to pay more and
accept the inconvenience.

> IMO, this is ridiculous. The only real option is a
> contract among groups of people. So we're back again to a government.

No. See above; the IETF is not a government, since anyone can choose to
run their own network protocol rather that TCP/IP. Their only "punishment"
is that they will be unable to communicate with anyone who does follow the
standard. The Internet is a good example of an anarchy, with each ISP
having its own 'private legal system' (i.e. usage policy) and 'private
protection agency' (e.g. blocking known spamming sites to protect the
users from unwanted junk-mail). Most of its deficiencies are the result of
government coercion (e.g. cryptography patents and export laws preventing
widespread use of cryptographic privacy and authentication).

> Contracts is a sticky business. Without an established law of contracts,
> this idea won't even work.

Then all you need do is agree to use the current contract law. If monopoly
government is as good as you imagine, then people will freely choose it
over private alternatives. Of course, people could break that initial
agreement to abide by that law, but then no-one will ever make another
contract with them and they'll be an outlaw. Not a good idea.

Another possibility is to use escrow agents to hold a fine which will be
paid in the event that one party breaks the contract. Then neither side
has an incentive to do so.

> measure one's profit in? Not dollars or francs or rubles, because a
> currency would require a large group contract which would "govern" its
> value.

I seem to have missed the contract which governs the current value of
currencies. Personally I thought it was simply the current price on
the exchange markets.

> What happens when a party declares his rubles to be worth more
> than the contract stipulates?

No-one will buy them from him. This is the way currency markets work.

> So then a weapons race among PPA's? Small tactical nukes built from the
> Anarchist's Cookbook?

Yes, why should only big governments have nukes? I'd certainly want to
sign up with a nuclear-armed protection agency if I had the choice; I
don't see that they could protect against any remaining governments
otherwise. Of course I'd like to have my own nuke too, but I very much
doubt I could afford one.

Perhaps you should also read 'Basement Nukes' (Erwin Strauss, Loompanics
Unlimited). There are some technical inaccuracies in the bomb designs but
I found the basic political ideas very interesting.

> But in the U.S. republic, there's nothing one idiot can do in four years
> that the next idiot can't undo in four years.

Unfortunately in real life the next idiot normally makes it worse, and
with a government there's no way I can stop them. If an idiot takes over
my PPL I simply choose another and they go bust.

> So eventually the 49%
> become 51% and kill the other 49%.

Uh, no... the 49% become 40%, then 4%, then 0.004% as the 51% kill them
off. The 51% have the US armed forces to back them, and the 49% will have
a hard time defeating them. And in a democracy the more that die the less
chance they have of changing things.

> We don't really get anywhere, but we
> sure as hell bounce back and forth like mad. I like this system because
> it keeps the idiots occupied, leaving us free to go about our business
> of ascension.

Shame about all the people who get screwed over in the meantime, while
the government maintains your convenient lifestyle.

> So I should spend everything I have to avoid being killed? How is this
> better than a 100% income tax?

Because the government will take a 100% income tax and then kill you
anyway. Of course buying a gun costs much less than 100% of your
income, and few people will try to kill you if you have any reasonable
chance of killing them in the process. A larger group can buy a few
nukes; do you think the Nazis would have tried to kill the Jews if they
were nuclear-armed? Hmm, now there's an idea for an SF story...


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