E) Safety and Security

Safety and Security

Safety and security are usually considered the core functions of governments, the protection of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, as the American Founding Fathers put it. How would people organize themselves without state police forces and courts? 

Fortunately, we not only have historical experiences and examples but also a rapidly growing body of literature on this topic.

Here are some key elements.

Firstly, a significant portion of crime on Earth does not exist on the OboxPlanet because there are no “victimless crimes.” These are activities that involve consenting adults engaging in peaceful interactions, with recreational drug use and prostitution being the most notable examples. On the OboxPlanet, there are no black markets, no Mafia or criminal gangs, and no money-laundering laws.

Imagine our world without gang wars, a massive decrease in the prison population, the absence of many court proceedings, the elimination of corruption deeply embedded in the police and judicial system, and the removal of the romanticization of such violence in movies and literature. It becomes clear why life on the OboxPlanet is generally more peaceful and where the tolerance and prevalence of violence is significantly lower.

A second notable difference lies in the fact that law and security firms operate as competitive enterprises. Their focus is on preventing and arbitrating conflicts, and the most efficient, or cost-effective, way to achieve this goal is to prevent physical violence at all costs. This is because physical violence is so economically burdensome that any firm engaging in it would likely go out of business, especially when competing against non-violent counterparts.

Key concepts in this system include pre-agreed arbitration contracts and insurance for both body and property. This arrangement rewards insurance firms that concentrate on compensating the victim. On Earth, to add insult to injury, the victim bears the financial burden of the criminal’s incarceration, and the police often have little incentive to recover stolen property.

And then there is the foreign policy and wars. They simply do not exist because there are no states. No military, no defense budgets, no war victims etc. etc. 

If you are new to these ideas, get ready for the intellectual adventure of a lifetime.

Safety and security without state police forces and courts may be the least familiar idea. It is at the same time easily imaginable and an exciting thought experiment. In a stateless society, the goal of justice is to make the victim whole, and the rules worked out via arbitration courts strengthen the simplest and just rules that humans are capable of. Crime is negligible, and, of course, there are no wars.

To protect us from bad people within our country and foreign adversaries is considered the most basic state function. How is this need be met in a stateless society? Here we are concerned with the fight against all types of coercion and what differentiates the OboxPlanet from the Earth.

The greatest difference is: there is no state on the OboxPlanet. There is nobody and no group of people who can use coercion to make us do things we don’t want or to take property we don’t want to give. Nobody forces us to get permission to do business, to get visas to travel, to give up a great part of our income, to pay taxes for owning land, called property taxes. This last example exposes the essence of state logic. When push comes to shove, all we own, we only own by the grace of the state and as long as the state gives us permission. Just think about what happens if the state increases the property tax on your house to the point where you cannot pay it anymore? – goodbye, beloved home…

Compared to the states daily nudging, pushing and commanding, the “private” criminals nuisance is, for most of us, but a small issue. Still, how is the threat of criminals dealt with on the OboxPlanet?

The topic has two components.

Firstly, how can people and property be protected against criminals, against thieves, burglars, rapists, kidnappers and how can wrongdoers be apprehended? For these classical police functions, stateless solutions can easily be imagined because they exist already. More than half of all security forces worldwide are privately employed.Today, on Earth, the Police, military and judicial services in the developed countries use mostly well below 5% of all resources. On the OboxPlanet, we can save the military expenses and reduce the costs for the rest because they are no longer provided by a state monopoly institution. And what about the poor?  The need for protection of life and property is greater, the more property there are. Rich people need more – but they can also afford it. And since most people are wealthy, even the poorer regions are as safe as the rich neighborhoods on Earth. 

Secondly conflict resolution. What do we do when two people don’t agree on who is in the right? Here, too, we have ample experience in history. We can read about private arbitration in the bible and today, big and increasing parts of our business dealings work out most conflicts without state help. We can look at the credit card business and the sharing economy enterprises like uber and air bnb as well as the international trade law. All of them work out conflicts among their customers “internally” and without the power to enforce fines. Instead, the main power they have and use is exclusion.

I venture to say that business models built on the reputation of providers and customers not only keep people honest, but can even smooth out parenting mistakes in children. In the many years as both a provider and a customer of Airbnb, we have overwhelmingly noticed how the discipline of ratings has worked, for us as well as for our customers. Let’s say a young person feels like misbehaving. In a regular hotel on Earth today, he probably has to trash several rooms before he gets into trouble with future bookings. At Air Bnb, consequences follow immediately. 

Since the dawn of the idea of a stateless society in the 1970’s, thinkers like the Tannehills, Murray Rothbard, David Friedman and Hans Hermann Hoppe have all developed ideas for private conflict resolution. The essence of many solutions is that people like to insure their property and that the insurance companies have an incentive to find the most peaceful and efficient way of solving conflicts because any violent conflicts are much more costly and would put them in a disadvantage to their peaceful competitors. They agree on arbiters in advance and focus on making the victim whole instead of punishing the aggressors in prisons at the victims’ costs. This logic works with those conflicts where there exists no prior contractual arrangement. For contractual disagreements, the solution is of course much easier, all you do is to agree on a final arbiter in the contract both parties sign.

If you are new to the idea, get ready for an intellectual adventure of a lifetime.

What experiences on Earth, past and present, help us understand life on the OboxPlanet?

Let’s talk about two arguments against a stateless planet

1. “But on Earth, at least we have some social security and legal certainty.”

Both are an illusion. Both depend on the will of the politicians. Social security is no security but the belief that politicians will keep forcing some group to pay for others, the young for the old, the healthy for the sick etc. It is the belief – or the illusion? – that these programs can and will be paid into the far future. And as far as legal certainty is concerned, there is no certainty as long as politicians can change just about all laws. They have done so, sometimes even retroactively.

The fact that politicians can and do make laws for whatever they please has another, often tragic consequence. It makes a mockery of the noble principle “ignorance of the law does not protect you from consequences”. This principle makes sense for laws that are commonsense, like “thou shall not murder”. It is an absurdity in a world where nobody knows all the laws and some even contradict each other.

2. “Why go to extremes, why not settle for a minimal state which provides the protection of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”?”

There was a time in the history of the Earth when political theory was heading in the direction of the stateless OblxPlanet. The so-called Classical liberalism is a political ideology that emerged in the 18th century during the Age of Enlightenment.  John Lock, in hist  ”Two Treatises of Government” in 1689 argued that the state should limit itself to the protection of “life, liberty and property”. This spirit culminated in one of the masterpieces of political literature, the Declaration of Independence in 1776, where Thomas Jefferson used almost the same words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness

This was the battle cry  of the American Revolution, which ended by the American Colonies getting rid of the English King. Thereafter, the founding fathers of the United States wrote a constitution with one overriding goal in mind: to limit the extent of government to precisely enumerated functions, listed in the ”bill of rights”.

It was a group of brilliant minds in an optimal moment in time. Alas, what logic leads us to predict, happened. Whenever you have a state, an institution with the monopoly of making laws and regulations and enforcing them with all the necessary coercion, this will tend to attract people who want to rule, more so than people who want to abolish rules. One could say: “growth is in the DNA of every state”. The US, today, is the biggest and most powerful state history has ever known. Fun fact: the military defence budget in 2021is bigger than the next 10 biggest military budgets combined, and about 12 times higher than Russia’s military budget.

What can we learn? Since not even the American constitution could reign in the growth of the state, we must probably accept that as long as states exist, they will want to grow. The upshot? By studying the OboxPlanet, we know, that a stateless society cold function, arguably with much more peace and prosperity. And as one saying goes: “Only when we dare to imagine the possibilities, can we begin to make them a reality.”

Things we could learn and implement from the OboxPlanet:

Aim to abolish the state completely.

Aim for decentralization and secession, everywhere, anytime and with no ifs or buts.

To combat the uncontrolled growth of legislation, each law should have an expirationdate, a so-called ”sunset clause”.