Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

A Genuine Check and Balance: Privatize Law and Order | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on February 6, 2023

by Michael Huemer

Here, I explain the anarcho-capitalist solution to the basic social problem (from fakenous): Recap from two previous posts: 

– The basic problem of human social life: People are selfish. How do we stop them causing enormous amounts of harm to others, to benefit themselves? 

– A traditional solution: Have a government to police the people. 

– The basic problem of government: Government officials are selfish. How do we stop them from causing enormous amounts of harm to others, to benefit themselves? 

Traditional solutions to the problem of government are pretty lame. They really aren’t thought through at all well, and they don’t work very well empirically. 

Here, I explain how the libertarian solution is better. I’m only going to talk about police and courts here, though; I’m not going to discuss national defense or anything else. 


  1. The Private Solution 


The anarcho-capitalist solution to the basic social problem is similar to the government solution, except that there are multiple, competing agencies for enforcing rights, instead of just one. In other words, anarcho-capitalists want to privatize the essential functions of governments (i.e., the functions that we actually need; other functions can be eliminated). 

So your neighborhood could have an homeowner’s association that would hire a private security company instead of government police. Many competing security companies would operate in the same area (like security guard companies in the status quo; today, there are more private security guards in America than there are government police). In case of a dispute (including disputes about whether someone committed a crime), you would go to a private arbitration company instead of government courts. Many competing arbitrators would operate in the same area. 


  1. Two Differences 


You might wonder whether this arrangement counts as an instance of the “government” solution — if your HOA is hiring security guards and enforcing rules, maybe it is just a small government?

That is a semantic question that doesn’t matter. But here is a substantive question that matters: Is the anarcho-capitalist solution subject to the same problems as government? Why don’t we just have the problem that, since the people running security companies and arbitration companies are selfish, they will do things that benefit themselves and harm the rest of society? 

In reply, there are two important differences that explain why an-cap is better than traditional government: 


2.1. Voluntariness vs. Coercion 


In the anarcho-capitalist society, individuals (or private organizations) voluntarily choose to hire a security company; in our society, everyone is forced to “hire” the government, whether they want to or not. 

See the rest here

Be seeing you


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