One of the most common misconceptions about Anarchy is that the lack of an all powerful State would automatically mean violence in the streets, looting, rape, murder, cats and dogs living together… Nothing could be further from the truth. In this installment I will attempt to dispel some of these notions, explain how a Stateless society might deal with violent crimes and compare and contrast with a Statist society.
Most of us are familiar with the chaotic scenes of a riot. The looting of the stores, the stones or bullets flying and injuring or maiming innocent bystanders. The lowest common denominator in humanity. And that is just during Black Friday! But seriously; the mere fact that we are familiar with those scenes should clue us in as to how ineffective the State is in preventing these situations. If even repressive dictatorial States experience chaos and violence, how is it that the State is seen as the best solution to violent crime?
The reality of violent crime is that the State is unable and unwilling to prevent it. All measures taken by the State are ineffective at best and contribute to the violence at worst. This is caused by two distinctive issues. First, the State can only react to violence after the fact. As hard as they may try, no preventive measures such as TSA strip searches and draconian gun control laws can prevent violence. The State has no reason to prevent violent crime. There is no profit in it. So why would they try?
Second, the State cannot prevent violence because it fails to address the causes of violence. You can try to disarm a homicidal maniac but, he is still a homicidal maniac. Let us try to look at different types of violent crime and see what the Statist and the Stateless solutions are:
Rape: There are few violent crimes worst than rape. Rape, the forceful physical sexual act destroys the victim not only during the act but for life. The emotional scars left after rape are permanent. The key to rape, as it is the key to most violent crimes is prevention. Once the rape has occurred, no amount of incarceration or re-education can repair the damage. Let’s not kid ourselves, rape is violent aggression and self defense is fully justified.
Statist solution: The State has regular educational campaigns in the media and in college where two conflicting messages are forced on potential victims. First, young women are told that all sex is rape. That sex is nothing more than a male’s attempt to show his dominance over a female and that men in general should be treated as potential rapists. Then, potential violent crime victims are told that in general, resisting violence with violence (self defense) will result in their death and that the best policy is not to resist but to become a passive victim, a good witness. That the best policy is to report the rape to the State and let the State deal justice. Victims see how well this justice works. From false claims of rape and sexual assault to the very real cases of pedophilia in the Catholic church and the football lockers, we are all aware how inept the State is at preventing and later providing justice in rape cases. Best possible scenario would be for the rapist to be caught, prosecuted and sent to prison, only to be later released to rape again. And what about the victims? At best they can go thru civil courts and try to recover some monetary damages in their road to recovery. Do you see, as I see, a completely failed system?
Stateless solution: In a stateless solution the individual is taught personal responsibility and self defense. Not all people will embrace self defense. In all groups there is always a few who would rather be sheep than the lions. I used to know an anti-gun first sergeant in the Army. He carried a pistol in the field but was of the belief that guns were evil and that the State should disarm everyone in the population but the police.
In a stateless community individuals would not be taught that surrender is the best option on the contrary, since a stateless society is based on self responsibility, self defense would be a natural reaction. A Stateless society would have no restriction against weapons of all kinds, from less than lethal solutions to very lethal firearms. Tools that equalize the weakest to the strongest would be a natural and common occurrence. A rapist would probably not survive his first encounter with a determined and armed victim.
But what about the victims that cannot defend themselves? Children or the disabled? A Stateless society is not a community-less society. A child who is attacked or abused by an adult would be known by the community. People know when a child is raped. Do you think that a parent of a victimized child would take no action? Do you think that a community would permit a molester to continue living amongst them? There might be some extreme and rare cases but, in general, rapists would be identified and at the very minimum removed from the community.
Let us look at a sample case where the attack does happens and how a stateless society deals with it. The victim in this case is an adult. This adult ends up in an emergency room. A doctor treats the victim and refers her to additional mental health treatments. Her insurance company, upon seeing the claim, sends an investigator to interview the victim, collect evidence and identify the attacker. Remember that the insurance company is now liable for about a million dollars worth of long term care and they will spend the money in order to recover their costs. The investigation yields a suspect. Just as in the case of property crimes, the suspect and his insurance company go thru arbitration and the financial side of the house is taken care of. Dependent upon the insurance policy, the woman might end up with several millions to pay for treatment and as restitution for the assault. But what about this dangerous predator still roaming the streets? Would he not attack again? Do you think that any insurance company would offer coverage to this bastard knowing that he is a rapist? He would be unable to participate in any business or travel any road or hold a job. He would become an unperson. Of course, there is the possibility that his insurance company, as part of the collection process, sends the predator to treatment and agrees to provide coverage if he completes a treatment regiment, agrees to GPS tracking device and a number of measures designed to keep him from attacking again. I have no way to know what the free market would come up with, from treatment to preventive measures in order to prevent recidivism but logic dictates that the insurance company will take extreme measures to insure that he cannot rape again. It is in their financial interest to do so.
Do these measures seem extreme to you? What measures would you take if it was your mother or your wife or your child who had been raped? Exactly. And those extreme measures are precisely a key component of prevention. No one would commit a violent crime if the costs are so high and detection so likely.
But what of those who are mentally ill? Let’s take the approach here that a rapist is mentally ill. A man who feels uncontrollable urges to violently rape a woman or have sex with a child. There would, as in most cases, be two types; those who choose to succumb to their desires but seek a means to escape detection and those who seek treatment before hand. Those who seek treatment would receive it. It is much less expensive for the insurance company to pay for treatment as a means of prevention than to pay for treatment as part of restitution. And what of those who seek to escape detection? There might be some who escape detection for a while. Just like in our current Statist system. But the numbers would be much less. At least the numbers of those who survive the encounter when compared with a sheepish disarmed society.
Murder: Here we exclude homicides that occur as part of a self defense action and will limit ourselves to murder.
Statist solution: Police are notified of the murder. They conduct a full investigation at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars and, I will be generous here, have a 50/50 chance of finding a suspect, prosecuting and incarcerating the murderer and, in some states, putting him to death. Overall cost is in the millions and the likelihood of actual capture and punishment so low that it is in effect nonexistent.
Stateless solution: Stateless societies are based on self responsibility. Just as in the old West, individuals will be armed if the situation calls for and self defense would be common. Even a cursory web search will provide with ample examples and statistics that prove that the “Wild West” was actually much less violent than today. I would point you to http://www.guncite.com/wild_west_myth.html as an example and to the book: Frontier Violence: Another Look by W. Eugene Hollon for more detailed information.
But, even in the best cases, murders can happen. How would a Stateless society deal with murder after the fact? First, we must look at what do we actually intend to accomplish. Do we want the murderer removed from society in order to prevent the recurrence of the crime? Do we want the family of the murder victim compensated for the crime? What else do we want after the fact?
Removing the murderer from society – We first have to determine what were the circumstances behind this murder. Was this a crime of passion? Was this a premeditated act of violence? What was the trigger?
Crimes of passion: Did the murderer become so enraged at the actions of the victim that he escalated what should have been a simple disagreement into violence? Here I am talking about road rage, bar fights and the like. The insurance company would either offer psychiatric treatment, and I mean effective psychiatric treatment, not just a check the box rehab or drop the criminal from coverage. If dropped from coverage, the criminal would need to find an insurance company that would provide coverage. The insurance company would probably require him to undergo psychiatric evaluation and treatment before providing coverage. Then the murderer would be electronically monitored 24/7 and evaluated to insure he does not relapse. The community would likely be informed of the crime, as they are today, and most people would shun or evade contact with the murderer. Anyone who does comes in contact with him would have prior knowledge of the crime and take appropriate precautions. This may not be the actual market solution, it is just a possible solution.
Pre meditated murder – There are evil people in the world. We have to admit that, just as there are those who enjoy raping women and/or children, there are those who enjoy killing. We have to be very clear here, there is no Utopia. If a man decides to kill for kicks, he will likely not survive long. The good riddance factor will ensure that a well armed populace would make his life on earth very brief.
Now, there are many Anarchist proposed solutions to premeditated murder. I will present two of them here. Although I don’t agree with all of them, they are potential approaches that I want to present for the sake of discussion:
Capital Punishment Clause: Your insurance has a clause that in the event of your murder, your murderer will be put to death. The same process is used as in property crimes and the murderer is found guilty. The victim’s insurance company then demands that the murderer surrenders to them and be put to death. His insurance company may decide that they, due to their contract with the murderer will prevent this from happening. Do the insurance companies go to war over this? No. War is expensive. But, insurance companies have to cooperate with each other. If an insurance company decides to not cooperate with another, they have no recourse in the future when a claim benefits them. So, both insurance companies must now make a cost benefit analysis. Let’s say that the pro-death penalty insurance company determines that if they do not comply with their contractual obligations they will lose two million dollars in breach of contract compensation to the victim’s beneficiaries and an additional two million in lost policies from customers switching in protest for a total cost of four million dollars. The anti-death penalty company determines that they will lose a million dollars in breach of contract compensation to their customer’s family if they allow him to be put to death and an additional million in lost customers. So, the pro-death penalty offers 2 million dollars to the anti-death penalty insurance company to cover their actual liabilities and calculated losses. The pro-death penalty company saves two million and the anti-death penalty company stands down, writes a million dollar check to their customer’s beneficiaries and refuses to protect him. The pro-death penalty company then goes to the murderer’s home and offers him the option of ending his life with a pill or injection and proceeds. If the murderer chooses to resist, the insurance company agents can use force.
This system, although brutal on its face, shares many characteristics with the model presented by the State as the “ideal” solution. First, it is completely democratic. If more people in a community oppose the death penalty than support it, the cost ratios are reversed and the death penalty does not occur. Second, unlike the current system of interminable appeals and delays, along with the costs of a long jail stay, it is swift. Third, and this is superior to the “ideal” State solution, the murderer does not spends his last few years in a prison cell but in his home.
A concept we need to explore here is the concept of self-defense by proxy. If someone attempts to take your life, you are free to use force as a means of self defense. Similarly you can choose to pay someone to protect your life for you. This concept can be morally extended expos facto. You could say that just as you have the right to use deadly force to protect your life, or hire someone to do it for you, you could hire someone to use deadly force in you stead after you are dead.
Banishment Clause: In this scenario the guilty party is banished from any further contact with the community. Whether this is achieved by removal from the community, either by the guilty becoming an uninsurable person, by physical removal (very unlikely) or by incarceration in a private work facility, the effect is the same, to permanently separate the violent murderer from society. These facilities would be work facilities were the violent criminals would be required to work for their subsistence. Farming facilities, factories or other production facilities would keep the criminals employed. These facilities would have to be run at a profit or they would not be worth running. In these facilities there would be armed guards, just as in Statist prisons.
But what about those who are innocent? Well, remember that, unlike the State, an insurance company is liable to their customers and other insurance companies for their actions. If the State mistakenly imprisons or kills an innocent man, they are not liable for the mistake. Yes, there may be some cases were the innocent will sue and seek restitution, but those are far and few in between and the State agents making the decisions are not personally liable. By law, they are exempt from all liability. On the other hand, if an insurance company makes the wrong decision they are subject to claims from the accused (or his beneficiaries) insurance company. The officers of the insurance company also undergo periodical internal reviews in order to prevent company loses caused by poor decisions. Also, any insurance company that becomes known as incompetent is very likely to lose their customer base. The free market is pro-active in setting up processes and systems that prevent mistakes. The State’s expertise is on hiding and denying mistakes and if found, shifting the blame and delaying justice.
When considering anarchic solutions we have to remember that no system can turn men into angels. It is inevitable that there will be some deranged criminals in every society. What anarchy does is to remove the propaganda of State provided safety and replace it with dynamic responsive systems and self-responsibility. We have to also consider the theft, violence and death inherent to Statist systems. The State, thru fiat currency, taxes, war and oppression have cause much more misery that individuals possibly could. During the 20th century alone governments caused over 200 million deaths and cost trillions in taxes, debt and plunder. Even at its worst, free men could not possibly cause more damage than the State.