The topic of justice in an Anarcho-capitalist society often surfaces. Many people have told me that they are interested in the basic theory of justice in the absence of a government, but whenever they attempt any research anarchists are either unable or unwilling to respond adequately. Part of it is because a lot of these ideas are relatively new and it will require a lot of patience on both the behalf of the anarchist and the lay person them to fully percolate through society. I, myself have only considered myself an Anarcho-capitalist for three years at the time of this posting. This compounds our clarity problems because many Anarcho-capitalists are relatively new to the philosophy and have not fully internalized it but are unsatisfied enough with government and force as the only answers to law and order. Questions posed may seem straightforward but are often too broad for any concise, intuitive answer. Remember that our current solution to the problem of crime is complex legal code and reinforced concrete and while an Anarcho-capitalist solution may be simpler, it still remains as a dense topic that would take an especially long time to cover. Instead of trying to tackle the whole topic at once I will concentrate on a single facet of our legal system where property is routinely damaged and fraud can emerge in the most innocuous of places. It is a system we’re all familiar with, and while it can be burdensome, as is true with all things in the free market, it is better than the alternative.
The Interstate Commerce Act ensures that we, as a society, are over-invested in automobiles rather than cheaper and more efficient travel. With so many cars on the road, we end up in an inevitable legislative problem of what to do when two cars meet unexpectedly? There is a complex legal framework in place in case of property damage and negligence but your garden variety fender-bender usually doesn’t go deep enough into the legal system as an actual court hearing. Thankfully, we have insurance policies.
In a recent interview on WAL, Dr. Walter Block described how a basic civil case would work in a world of private courts. His thoughts summed up: two people have a dispute, each one hires an arbitrator to argue their case. These being professional arbitrators, they will have possibly worked together in the past but more importantly, there will come a time where they’ll have to work together in the future so there is a strong market force encouraging them to find an equitable solution. If arbitration fails, the two arbitrators can agree on a neutral third-party to rule on a decision.
What do people do on those occasions where they’re caught driving by braille? In a typical car accident, drivers photograph damage, swap insurance and driver’s license information, documents their own order of events, and while a police report may be filed, this is far from mandatory. Each driver calls their insurance company and gives a statement. The insurance companies determine fault, appraise damage, sends payments, and adjusts premiums accordingly. This is shockingly similar to the system that Dr. Walter Block described because usually the insurance companies can handle a collision without the need for a court system.
While most states require liability insurance, most people opt for more than minimum coverage. Those who have minimum coverage only due to state requirement generally suffer from financial problems that would cause them to choose a more affordable transportation method that would be otherwise available in a truly free market. Occasionally, the dispute is larger than what two insurance companies can handle so the court system will arbitrate in more extreme scenarios. I do admit. Bear in mind that this is not a full and complete explanation as the nature of crime, punishment, law, and order is extremely complex.
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