Anarcho-capitalism elevator pitch

Legal monopolies tend to increase prices and decrease quality of service. The state is a legal monopoly on governance. Removing this monopoly and allowing competition in the provision of organized self defense (what the police/military are supposed to do) and dispute resolution (what the courts are supposed to do) will tend to decrease prices and improve quality of service. Competition in those services is another way of saying anarcho-capitalism.

Resources for further information:

A Spontaneous Order (PDF book)

The Machinery of Freedom (PDF book, direct link) pdf

Illustrated summary video here:

Chaos Theory (PDF book. Justice, order and national defense)

The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey (Hardcopy book)

The plight of the poor under Friedmanian law

When Friedmanian polycentric law is explained, a common response is that many people would be unable to afford private security. A couple of thoughts on that.

  1. Would they really? Bear in mind that the smallest REAs (Rights Enforcement Agencies) could be tiny neighborhood-watch sized organisations. No legal barriers would exist for micro-REAs or mutual-aid REAs.
  2. If a person nevertheless was without the option of subscribing to such a service, would they be worse off that comparably poor people today?

Bear in mind that:

  • The poor in ancapistan wouldn't be prevented from organising to protect themselves (and their neighborhoods) as they are, in many ways, today.
  • The state would not be enabling gangs and cartels (that make life a good deal more miserable and dangerous for the poor) by enforcing prohibition laws.
  • The police today don't have a duty to protect individuals, and when neighborhoods get especially dangerous they leave the residents in them to fend for themselves.

That said, some people may not be able to afford an REA membership. This group likely have the following options:

  1. Make use of a mutual aid association or an insurance firm they are a member of - in the case of an onset of hardship.
  2. Appeal to charity. Charitable giving is likely to be higher without a welfare state, and through the higher general level of prosperity of a society without state intervention in the economy. Charity is more likely to be local, and social control is likely to be more strict - it might be harder to use payments to fund further 'delinquency' or addiction.
  3. If an unrepresented person is a victim of a crime, local REAs will be pro-actively motivated to pursue the matter anyway (at least with the goal of apprehending the criminal), since criminals at large in the territories they service is bad for business - and bad for the satisfaction of their own customers.
  4. If an unrepresented person is victimised (but alive), they could appeal to a REA who may take on the case on a no-win-no-fee basis, and claim a part of the restitution owned to the victim as payment.

Does this arrangement allow the rich to abuse the poor more than they currently do?

In order to disadvantage the poor, the rich would need to be willing to pay more to remove the poor persons rights/advantages than the poor person was willing and able to pay to secure them. This isn't plausible, for the reasons that David Friedman explains here

If rich people did end up doing this nevertheless, it would mean they were indirectly subsidising the disadvantaged poor on an ongoing basis, and the poor were willing to accept this tradeoff. Perhaps this outcome is desirable. Under the status quo, the wealthy get to influence law without compensating those disadvantaged by the changes. They buy legal privilege from politicians instead.

A manufacturer of cheap cars doesn’t necessarily do worse than a manufacturer of luxury cars. Depending on how you slice it, relatively poor people are collectively a much bigger market than relatively rich people. It’s possible that this revenue source would be plenty to secure equal legal rights with the rich (with the rich enjoying premium service that was enhanced in other ways — e.g. better response time, personalised patrols). It could even go the other way — the rich are compelled to accept law preferred by the poor because no firm can find a profitable way to offer exemption.

Why the system doesn't allow the rich to get whatever law they want

People subscribe to REAs in large part because they want rights disputes between themselves and others to be handled predictably, cheaply and peacefully. To this end, each REA must have agreements with other REAs, including which court will adjudicate on disputes between them. So a court must be agreeable to pairs of (potentially conflicting) REAs to remain in business.

A court harms its ability to survive if it rules consistently in favour of the rich, because REAs representing the non-rich will not agree to have conflicts adjudicated by that court - this wouldn't serve their customers well. The market creates strong incentives for impartial courts, that the REAs would use. Nevertheless, differences between courts, and their rulings, would exist.

REA 1 may be able to persuade REA 2 to use its preferred court in case of a dispute, but if 2's clients will be put at a disadvantage through that arrangement (e.g. the court often rules in such a way that 2s clients would more often lose the cases) then 1 must make the deal worth 2's while - 2 won't harm it's customers interests without compensation. 2 could be compensated by receiving payment from 1 on a continuing basis.

This ongoing payment would allow 2 to offset its diminished value proposition by lowering its subscription fees to attract/retain customers. So 2 is now offering a less desirable product (its customers will get unwelcome ruling more often) but at a lower price, so maybe it can still stay in business. The preferences and values of its customers will be the deciding factor.

So under this system the rich may be able to indirectly buy preferential law for themselves, but it's crucial to understand that they must (indirectly) buy this privilege from the poor on an ongoing basis, and this can only happen for as long as the poor are willing to accept the deal.

In my opinion this is a significant improvement on the status quo where:

  1. the power of wealth is magnified by the ability to influence the state, and
  2. the wealthy can 'buy' preferential law w/o consideration for those disadvantaged by it (since the poor are not the 'sellers')

Is Anarcho-Capitalism a Feudal system?

What is feudalism? There are lots of definitions. I believe these characteristics from… are most salient in this context:

Feudal society is a military hierarchy in which a ruler or lord offers mounted fighters a fief, a unit of land to control in exchange for a military service. The individual who accepted this land became a vassal, and the man who granted the land become known as his lord.
feudalism discouraged unified government. Individual lords would divide their lands into smaller and smaller sections to give to lesser rulers and knights. Each knight would swear loyalty to the one who have him the land, not necessarily the king or higher noblemen.

Neither repdem (representative democracy) or ancap imply a feudal system, so neither is a variety of feudalism. though something resembling feudalism is possible under either:

Under ancap the relationship between powerful private landowners and the workers they employ could resemble a feudal power structure

Under repdem (in practice rather than idealised) the relationship between powerful private landowners (or government custodians) and the workers they employ could superficially resemble a feudal power structure

There are a couple of ways that ancap is more similar to feudalism than repdem is. I think these similarities are what people claiming ancap - feudalism equivalence have in mind:

  1. private property is central to both, and is effectively sovereign (ownership rights, especially in land, aren't systematically contingent on the dictates of a higher power: gov)
  2. both are incompatible with centralised political power

There is 1 crucial way ancap is less similar to feudalism than repdem is. Political authority (PA) undergirds the class system of feudalism and the governments of repdem. PA doesn't exist in ancap. No entity is perceived to have t right to coerce in ways not permitted to anyone else.

Following from the above, feudal serfdom doesn't exist in an ancap society, since no entity has the right to forbid a worker from moving to a different territory or changing profession.

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