Re: Lorrey's Dreaded Psychoses

Hal Finney (
Wed, 9 Jul 1997 07:50:43 -0700

Actually, we have had several approving discussions of an alternative
to strict capitalism, the polycentric legal system, aka PPL, privately
produced law. In this system people voluntarily choose what set of laws
they wish to live under, and the market determines the cost to the customer
of having various laws available to him. Sometimes people assume that
PPL would be a mechanism to achieve a laissez-faire society, but this is
not necessarily the case in practice.

In such a system, certain libertarian or laissez-faire legal principles
may be prohibitively expensive, if they are despised by a large majority of
the population. For example, a religious Muslim majority may be offended
by the sight of people walking around and not praying during the appointed
times. These people may choose to live under a law which makes it a
crime for anyone not to pray, or at least to bow down as though they are
praying, at the call of the Muadh-dhin. While it might be theoretically
possible for the non-religious to live under a legal system where that
is not a requirement, in practice it could be prohibitivelly expensive,
given strong enough feelings among the religious majority.

Other forms of victimless crimes could have similarly high barriers,
when the population as a whole believes that the acts are morally wrong
and should be prevented.

There is debate over the degree to which PPL would be libertarian, and it
may well be that it would tend to be more libertarian than a democratic
system, but the point is that it has been discussed favorably on the
extropian list despite its differences from a strict laissez-faire system.

(Privately produced law is a new idea for many people, and I am not trying
to explain it here. The list archives may have some pointers to better
sources on the subject.)