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Crime in an Anarcho-Capitalist Society

Right after they ask you “Who will build the roads?” the next thing a statist will usually ask an anarchist is “What about crime?”

A valid enough question that plenty of people have difficulty answering, so I figure it time I join the long list of people who have already addressed it. I haven’t read or watched every response to this question, so I’m surely going to repeat some of what others have said, but for the purpose of this article I’ll mention that it is heavily influenced by Stefan Molyneux’s “Practical Anarchy“. The rest is just my own reasoning.

Where I do differ with Molyneux is that I don’t think insurance companies are necessarily going to be very directly involved in the rearing of children. I certainly wouldn’t give someone money if they were going to be interfering in my family like that, and I doubt many others would either. I don’t think violence will be bred out of the human psyche, ever, nor do I think it should be. I certainly don’t imagine that happening in our lifetimes, during which I would like to see a free society formed. This going contrary to the multigenerational paths that most of my voluntarist friends imagine. I aim to see this problem solved in the next 50 years, in at least one small geographic area, and that means there will need to be defensive forces ready to deal with all the ills of modern society, including neighboring governments.

It should go without saying, that I’m not entirely sure what defense would look like in a free society. Nobody does. Who can predict the innovations that would happen in the absence of the State? Nobody. That would be like predicting oil and electricity and modern machinery prior to the abolition of slavery. What we know from our study of history and economics is that markets provide. If enough people want something bad enough to pay for it, somebody will create it and sell it to them.

So just as easily as I make the case that will follow shortly, I could say there will be some ridiculously cheap, powerful, and easy to use weapon that comes into existence, that makes violence go completely out of style. Just as no nuclear nation has ever been invaded, and just as there is almost no crime in places where the citizenry is armed, one could imagine such a weapon coming into existence and making violence so ridiculously dangerous that almost nobody would dare engage in it, at least not any more than they would jump from a tall building. This of course still happens, people kill themselves all the time. But since statists rarely ask us “Who will prevent the suicides?” I’ll assume they consider these losses acceptable.

Still, rather than write a science fiction novel, I will deal with what we know now.

Common Criminality

Let’s start with the easy part. Murder, theft, rape, assault, vandalism, trespass, crimes with actual victims. These are basically the only crimes I care to see dealt with in a free society. Police are very busy folks these days, because they have to punish speeding, and smoking, and sex, and all sorts of other “victimless crimes”. A free society is based on the idea that people can do whatever they want as long as they don’t harm anyone, so whatever security forces were to exist, wouldn’t need to address these issues.

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