Life Without A State part 1: Criminal Justice

Ok, so in my previous post I outlined total anarchy as, well. Not a system of government. Not a system at all, in any usual sense of the word… although of course people will organise themselves into systems of some degree. What I’m envisaging is a total lack of a system.

No police, no courts, no army, no politicians, no health service… nothing. Enough to make most quail… death on the streets, poor people dying of cholera, rape and murder a fact of life? Well, no, actually.

We’ll leave the NHS and other socialised health care systems out of it for a second, as alternatives can and do exist and move onto the more radical things I have mentioned. I was originally going to cover all of this in one post, but it’s become too long so I’m going to make it a series, starting with the police. How would life be without a police force? Before we go anywhere, perhaps we should look at the lower entries of this recent Samizdata comment thread which turned into an off-topic discussion of law, and lawlessness, and was in part the inspiration for this post. While I’m no legal expert and haven’t the foggiest regarding tort law, common law or any other kind of law it is clear to me that the situation we find ourselves in is hardly ideal… where the rich can buy (or sell) justice, where those who defend their kith, kin and property can go to jail while scofflaws and bandits go free. Where the police and courts and far more interested in holding aloft politically correct values and defending the status quo than protecting the public from wrongdoing. We’ve been educated by the media (particularly films like the Robocop series) to believe that without that ‘Thin Blue Line’ society would soon tear itself apart, but is that really the case? Perhaps there would be murders, rapes, burglaries and robberies… but don’t we have those now? And would it really be any worse? To suggest it would is to suggest that the law-abiding majority are only so because they live in fear of the police and don’t want to go to jail, which is to suggest that Mr. Bun the Baker who is always so nice to your granny would instantly turn on her and steal her purse if he didn’t expect Mr. Plod to be along on his beat fairly soon- it’s a nonsense.
Most people are not criminals simply because most people are not criminals.
In fact, I am almost certain that crime would be reduced in such a situation. Besides the oft-repeated points of well-armed gentlemen and ladies defending themselves in the street (and robbers never knowing exactly WHO is going armed) there is certainly the point to consider that you, your family and your mates are probably not going to stand for Mr. Bun robbing Granny and will head out for restitution- and surely they won’t be content with a slap on the wrist.

This would be a world where responsible householders would be armed as a matter of fact- and would-be burglars would have no way of knowing which were which. The same for Granny, and well turned out gentlemen in the street. A violent and lawless world for sure but, and I say it again, don’t we have that now? People get burgled, the streets aren’t safe at night, junkies and lowlifes rob dear old ladies at will and the Big State has proved time and again that it is either unable or unwilling to do anything about it.
So why pay them to?


2 responses to “Life Without A State part 1: Criminal Justice

  1. Makes perfect sense to me. A private company could investigate crime just as easily as the State, and receive feedback a la ebay. You pay ad hoc or by monthly premium. As for carrying arms I’m all for it. If a constable as a public servant can do so, then his masters have the same right to prntect themselves..

  2. I’m no legal expert either but I’m interested enough to pick the brains of those who are. As I understand it tort law deals with where the actions of one person result in loss to another and where it’s not already covered by contract law. Or maybe it’s something to do with cakes 😀 Either way I can’t see why this has to be part of a state monopoly. I’m thinking of the trial in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress where both sides simply went looking for someone they could both agree on to act as their judge, negotiated with him for the fee, and finally agreed to be bound by his decision. And then they all went outside and hired a jury off the street. Number of actual lawyers involved, zero. Interesting idea, eh?

    Common law, on the other hand, I believe is basically the body of law which is based on precedent rather than statutes passed in parliament. Having not given it much thought I could be wrong but it seems like common law / case law do need a legal monopoly if only to prevent internal inconsistencies. Is common law needed? Not sure. Possibly not if the ultimate law is held to be the Non Aggression Principle.

    Fascinating topic, mate. Looking forward to part 2.

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