A question to ponder for fellow anarchistsSubmitted by dwalters on Sun, 07/27/2014 - 10:58
This question has now come to my attention on more than one occasion, and so, I suppose it deserves someone to formally address it. How can property rights be enforced in a voluntary society without the use of force?
Now, hold on for a minute before you hastily click on the reply button. On one account this question is very easy to address. That is, if someone is, for instance, physically stealing your property, the NAP allows for defensive use of force. Case closed.
However, what if you establish a contract (verbal or otherwise) with another party, for example a loan contract, and the other party doesn't live up to their end? Can you drive over to their house and beat them or kill them? Does that fall within the NAP?
These two cases, while both infringements on property rights, are fundamentally different in one regard. In the case where the thief is physically stealing your property, the interaction, on your part, is completely involuntary - whereas, in the case where you contracted, you voluntarily entered into an agreement with another. Why is that important?
In the first case, you were a victim. In the second case, you made a poor business decision.
When you loan money to a family member, if/when they don't pay you back, do you go beat them, kill them, or seek to imprison them? Then, what is a sound argument to do so against a non-family member that does the same?
In your vision of an anarchist society, could force be used against those who renege on contracts?
You may counter with, "We'll use free market courts," but what if the person tells you to go shove your court?
Personally, I am of the opinion - "A man is only as good as his word" - and - "Once bit, twice shy." In other words, treat them like hot check writers and refuse to do business with them - that is, shun them.
What are your thoughts?