Intro To AnCap: Private Law Pt. 2 – How Can It Work?Submitted by Marc Clair on Wed, 08/29/2012 - 18:41
How about a break from all the RNC shenanigans to discuss some philosophy. Below is the next part in my series about anarcho-capitalism, where I am summarizing some concepts based upon a class with Bob Murphy I am currently taking at Mises Academy.
The Post introducing the series
The first post on Private Law
The most common criticism of the idea of a society with no government is something along the lines of “yeah, that’s a great theory, but sounds like you think the world would be some Utopia, it would never work in real life.”. I’ve always found the “Utopia” argument to be a bit odd. Anarcho-capitalism does not envision a world without problems or without many of the same “necessary roles” currently provided by government. It is simply the idea that there are better possible solutions that don’t involve one monopolistic, coercive governing body. Any service that government provides can be provided not only more efficiently by the market place, but also more honestly without a central force being the sole arbiter of law.
To understand some ways in which private law could work, we have to first understand what we mean by law. We should think of law not as something that is created arbitrarily by men, but something that is discovered. Isaac Newton did not create the law of gravity, he merely discovered it and codified it. This is similar to how law based on private property rights would work. As judges make legal decisions and rulings, and textbooks are created describing the reasoning behind these rules, law is naturally discovered along the way.
But couldn’t anybody just write a book of bad law theory? Couldn’t some judge just decide that wearing socks is illegal? Well sure, but they wouldn’t get very far in a free market. If Merriam-Webster’s dictionary suddenly started completely ridiculous and incorrect definitions to words, they would quickly stop being considered a legitimate dictionary and other firms would move in to fill their spot as Top Dictionary In The Land! Similarly, if a judge were to rule that murder is legal as long as the murderer is wearing a clown hat, that judge will never work as a judge again.