why i am an ancap, but not a fan of polycentric “law”


personally i think that private security would, right off the bat, be less necessary than fans of polycentric “law” do. even then, i think private security would be a lot more decentralized than just a bunch of (or a few) companies competing in the security market. i really don’t see any reason why freelance bodyguards and similarly decentralized private security would be uncommon.

beyond that, and far more importantly, i don’t think that private “courts” (arbitration businesses) would be nearly as necessary or as widespread as fans of polycentric law think it would. (obviously any system of far-reaching private law would require a huge amount of arbitration between security and arbiters to come about.)

if we have a society in which people have learned not to step on each others’ toes, which it already would have considering it already lead to anarchocapitalism, i find it hard to believe that we would need a ton of dispute resolution in the form of corporate arbitration all the time. (somehow i don’t think there are a lot of court cases in the free state project, for example).

doesn’t it make sense that in an ancap society people would be able to solve their own problems individually, one-on-one, and not have to resort to a private court all the time? or even very often at all? people don’t even go to the government monopoly courts very often in our statist society because arbitration in any form is not worth the time it takes for minor disputes, like your neighbor cutting down your hedges.

i mean in an ancap society, is my neighbor really just going to come over and (try to) shoot me if i say “hey those hedges on my property?” no, he or she would probably just work out an agreement with me, in all likelihood anyway. individuals typically don’t just try and take over territory around their homes, or going around beating up puppies, or slapping grandmas; that’s what ruins your reputation (more important than arbitration imo) and makes your neighbors hate you and want to kick your ass (which is itself still easier than private arbitration, heh).

honestly if anarchocapitalism is worth its salt (which i believe it is, a thousand times over) then doesn’t it make sense that the need for private “courts” would be very pressing, especially not to the degree that there would be a bunch of companies competing for customers for their neighborhoods. i mean are you really going to take someone to arbitration over their dog shitting on your lawn? that’s ridiculous. what about driving drunk on the roads of a company that prohibits it? chances are you’ll just take the fine, and chances are they’d just ban you from using their roads instead of trying to collect the money if you tried to refuse anyway. voluntary association/dissociation and a reputation-based society make a lot more sense to me than some ridiculous quasi-statist system of a billion tiny competing corporate pseudo-states.

most importantly: it seems to be a lot more reasonable to believe that if we ever got to the point of anarchocapitalism, the need (and desire) for dispute resolution in the form of private arbitration would decrease over time, as people simply learned how to better deal with each other without coercion, and teach their kids the rules of the game that they’ve learned so far, and so on. i don’t see why we have to get rid of the state just to give into being tenants of privately-owned neighborhoods. makes a lot more sense that people would just completely own their own homes and themselves then everyone else being tenants/lessees to a myriad of rentiers/lessors.

don’t get me wrong, i think private, voluntary arbitration is a good thing, and i’d still prefer a system of polycentric law over the one we currently have, but i (like many) just think people living in ancapistan (ancapworld?) would learn to leave each other alone, and would prefer having the resulting freedom to just being dicks to each other for basically no reason and having to resort to calling the neighborhood private security and having to go to private courts all the time. i mean, think about it, how often do you think the users in /r/anarcho_capitalism would need private arbitration in order to settle disputes? seems like people would just rather save the time, money, and effort, and just deal with stuff individually and peacefully, because they already are living in a peaceful system that rewards good behavior by saving you (and rewarding you with more) time, money, and effort.



  1. Good post mate, I would say that most of the time arbitration or dispute resolution isn’t necessary, but it’s just a requisite in case the parties really can’t come to an agreement.

    Also, I think the full scale of disputes is not something we’ll see until we see a proper, bigger version of anarcho-capitalism happening. Right now, it’s just a few agorists here and there, trading at the individual level. What happens if/when we start multi billion dollar MNC’s operating under anarcho-capitalist territory/rules? We might see more of a need for proper lawyers and commercial dispute resolution at that point.


    1. Sure, I agree. My main dispute with fans of polycentric law is that they generally see their system mirroring our current statist one, just private instead of “public.” I definitely agree that there is a place for private dispute resolution, I just think that if we reach anarchism, by that time we won’t need private security behaving as if they were police, or private international “law,” or even perhaps 10% of the amount of arbitration we have now. Of course, international firms already turn to private arbitration (as there is no unified international law), so we could see how that would be occasionally necessary in a stateless society. Thanks for commenting!

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