Monday, 15 August 2011

The Fallacy of State Prevention of Crime

One of the most irritating objections to anarchy that I have to face on a daily basis is that the state prevents crime. Hopefully, it is now abundantly clear to the thickest of statists that it does no such thing.

The thing that prevents most of us from committing crimes is that we don't want to. Most of us do just want to get along and live a peaceful life. Those that don't are almost certainly already criminals, who may or may not yet have been caught.

The fear of detection is not really a factor in preventing crime. It just means more planning to the committed criminal and is not a concern of anyone committing a spur-of-the-moment crime. But even if this fear is a factor, why does that imply that we need a state?

Detecting can, and often is, done by private investigators. Bobbies on the beat (remember them?) could easily be replaced by privately contracted people.

The business of slapping people on the wrist and dishing out entirely inappropriate punishments could also be done by a call centre in India, with as much effect on criminals.

But seriously, although it's the area where most people really struggle with not having a state, the truth of the matter is that most people implicitly accept the idea of having multiple impartial arbiters for various requirements. You don't go to a Magistrate's Court to settle a football match.

You don't go to the Supreme Court to arbitrate a small claim on a shop. You don't go to to the FA to get a decree absolute. Equally, when you sign certain contracts, you agree the jurisdiction that will be applied.

So when you download stuff from Apple's iTunes Store, you're agreeing to a whole bunch of conditions under the laws of the United States, even though you may not be there and may never have been there.

And even within the UK legal system, there are specialist courts for specialist legal areas. So the idea of a market for courts is by no means unfeasible. A market for courts already exists.

The big struggle that people have is that they feel like having them privately funded will expose them to greater risk of corruption. I disagree, because in a society with no state to hide behind, judges would be completely personally liable for the consequences of any corruption or malfeasance.

So I would expect judges to be much more careful in their dealings because the consequences of any shady dealings would not only mean that they could wind up in gaol if caught, but they would also be financially responsible for any losses incurred by affected parties.

But really, in societies before government, there are always a shaman or a chief or elders or some group that people subjected themselves to.

In an anarchic society, you might have a visible disclaimer in your shop saying "Any crimes committed in this shop will be under the jurisdiction of Fred's Supa-cheep Court", or on the company website you might find the disclaimer "Any crime committed against this company will be under the jurisdiction of Chris's Corporate Court".

This would make it clear which court you would be tried at. Or, in much the same way as juries are haggled over by defence and prosecution attorneys in the States, perhaps the initial haggling would include which court was going to decide the case.

In either event, it's not beyond the wit of man to imagine such a system.

Similarly, it's not beyond the wit of man to realise that the state has done nothing to prevent this current outbreak of crime and is more responsible for its happening than anyone else.

The state does not prevent crime. The state is not needed to detect or punish crime. The state does not make us all just get along.

Fuck the state.

Post script: if you think the police are a better, safer option than private security with unlimited liability, watch this:

Tip of the clown wig to @Matt_Muir on twitter.


Michael Fowke said...

The problem is that there will never be No State. If they had a choice between killing us and letting us go free, they would kill us.

Ronnie Soak said...

Oh so many things to pull apart here. Are you, in fact, describing a utopian Anarchic state, complete freedom in the absence of Government? Under your system, private companies would be responsible for courts, policing & security and crime detection, therefore only those able to afford them would have legal protection, so, either you have a group of the population unable to gain legal redress, or you correct this ... a legal aid system - with smacks of need for a state.
Secondly, who would run this system? would you have competing companies, each setting their own laws, or would you have one company responsible? either way, what you are, in effect, doing is replacing a government of elected officials, responsible to the people, with a government of corporations, responsible to Shareholder or private owners of the business. That is far more scary, "The Company" would rule, law would be set to it's own needs, a scary prospect. Judges would be personally liable, but the shareholders would be the ones they would be responsible to.
As to your comment about tribal elders and Shamen, what is that if not a system of government, Tribal societies have very strict rules that govern the life of the tribe, administered by the elders and "shamen". In fact, to become and elder in the majority of these societies, and have a voice, one has to qualify, either by age, sex, birth or property qualification.
Trouble is, man looks for order and governance in society, however you try to socially engineer it, society will make rulers and governance, your suggestion that the corporate world becomes that government (Having responsibility for law and order and justice is the basic building block for any government) is far removed from the libertarian anarchy you support.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Ronnie, please read this.

"That is far more scary, "The Company" would rule, law would be set to it's own needs, a scary prospect."

Firstly, I don't believe that companies would set the law. They would have judges that interpreted a very small and basic set of common laws which can be summed up as "Do as you will, as long as you don't harm another."

"Judges would be personally liable, but the shareholders would be the ones they would be responsible to."

Shareholders would also be personally liable. Without the artifice of a limited liability company, shareholders would be personally responsible for decisions taken in their name.

illustriousdrbobble said...

One honest question, how is the gaol funded?

Vladimir said...

if you think the police are a better, safer option than private security with unlimited liability, watch this:

I did watch the video, and to be honest I actually don't see the problem. He pissed off the police and resisted a lawful search.

But unlimited liability? What force is able to hold the private security guards, or indeed the shareholders of "The Company", to account?

Relatedly: who would enforce the common laws referenced in your reply to Mr Soak?

You seem to be assuming the existence of a higher force that is able to police the police and guard the guards.

I'm afraid that I agree with Mr Soak in that I also think you are a utopian idealist. Though I think he is wrong about "The Company" being necessarily worse than a democratic State. Rule by "The Company", i.e. plutocracy, is an inevitable consequence of Ancapism, but it should be similar in practice to absolute monarchy which often works out fairly well. "The Company" cannot be held to account by its peasants, only by its shareholders, but "The State" cannot be held to account by the peasants either. Only those with serious influence, such as R. Murdoch or the BBC, get a say in how "The State" operates. However, we have to be realistic about "The Company". It will be able to do whatever it wants. No laws will apply to it. Its only constraint is whatever is bad for business. And even then, it can do things that are bad for business if it pleases.

Ronnie Soak said...

But Obo, you have an understanding of how capitalism works I'm sure. corporations would fill the gap left by Government, nature Abhors a vacuum (which is why I never visit Nature's house, her carpets are filthy). The shareholders - those wealthy enough to own enough shares in a company, would have the power to set the rules, and ensure that those are adhered to, the judges would be forced out if the shareholders wishes weren't carried out, "Do as you will, as long as you don't harm another." is a wonderful way to live (a rule I try to live by) BUT in a society where money talks, which is what your proposal would exacerbate, this would not happen. THose unable to afford justice would be at the whim of those who could.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

I think you are underestimating how difficult it would be to accumulate and retain disproportionate wealth in an unregulated society.

Regulation and government facilitate disproportional wealth-creation, they don't prevent it.

patently said...

This already exists in the civil law, it is called "arbitration" and works well. Many contracts include an arbitration clause requiring the parties to go to arbitration and accept the result, instead of heading for the Courts.

Outside of contract law, there are competing courts in some fields, see the Patents County Court and the Patents Court (part of the High Court), both of which can hear claims of patent infringement and related issues. Indeed, the PCC was set up because the High Court was too slow, cumbersome and expensive for most litigants. Within a few years, the Patents Court got its act together and started deciding cases in 18 months or so, rather than 5-10 years... competition works!

The argument against private criminal courts is that only the State should be able to deprive criminals of their liberty - an argument that would carry more force if the State actually did deprive most criminals of their liberty once in a while. However, personal liability for manifestly unfair or incorrect judgements would certainly concentrate the minds of judges.

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and the cheeky little gammy labour tip rat, kipper lipped milliband OFFS fuck you´re libertarianism bollocks GIVE IT ANOTHER 5