It is commonly presupposed that no government means no consequences for your actions; no system such that right makes might. It is assumed that without government, nothing can be illegal, therefore anybody may murder, rape, and pillage, without consequence.
This is ahistorical and untrue, private legal systems have flourished where there has been no state, such as the Brehon system. Suppose you break into my home while I’m away and steal $500 worth of my belongings. Little did you know I have home surveillance cameras and you’re caught. There are multiple ways a free market of law in an economy without taxation might deal with this.
1. I go to my security firm and tell them you robbed me. My security firm goes to your security firm and tell them you robbed me of $500 worth of things and we’d like to get my things back, plus an extra $500 as restitution for the crime. Your security firm doesn’t want to let mine take your things, but mine won’t back down, or it’s not doing it’s job. They will not shoot it out in the streets, that’s not an economically viable business model at all without costs externalized to the taxpayer. So my security firm and your security firm will hire an arbitration company, my company will file charges with the arbitrator. Your company sends a defense attorney, mine sends a prosecutor. If sufficient evidence is provided to the arbitrator to prove your guilt, the arbitrator will order you to give my stuff back (or the market value equivalent) and pay me $500 of restitution. At this point, your company will stand down and allow you to be forced to pay what you owe, meaning if you don’t pay willingly, armed security officers will come to your home and seize your assets by force. If your company didn’t stand down, it would be obliterated by not only my company, but every company mine has backup contracts with, while any backup contracts yours might be party to, would surely be voided when they went against the arbitrator’s ruling, otherwise such contracts would be economically unsustainable for those businesses. No security company will say “you get to rob, rape, and pillage, and we’ll defend you against everybody who seeks retribution for it”, that would be financial and perhaps literal suicide. So my company extracts the restitution from you, with no opposition, thus enforcing the arbitrator’s finding.
2. Another way this kind of thing could be handled is by insurance companies. Similar model. I file a claim with my insurance company that you robbed me. They pay me the $500 value of what was taken, to make up for my losses. My insurer then goes to your insurer, if you have liability insurance, and seeks $1000; $500 to make up for their own loss, and $500 to pay me restitution with. Even today, insurers already use private arbitration on a constant basis, whenever the State doesn’t require them to use government courts. So my insurer and your insurer defer to an arbitrator, a trial is held, and both will honor the verdict of the arbitrator, otherwise the company which doesn’t basically can’t be an insurance company anymore, as no company will deal with them through arbitration anymore due to their disregard for the verdict in our case, so they can no longer resolve disputes – the name of the game – without highly expensive violence. They will honor the ruling. If your insurer wins, mine is down $500. If mine wins, yours is down $1000 and mine breaks even. If mine wins and you are found guilty, it’s quite likely your liability insurance rates would skyrocket as you’ve proven yourself to be a greater risk. Or your coverage is cancelled outright, your credit takes a massive hit, and you become uninsured, little to no companies will insure you. At this point, you’re now a social and economic outcast. You’ll have a much harder time, or an impossible time, entering contracts. In a modern free market society, it’s likely that just about everything in the market would require the ability to enter contracts. Renting a home, getting a mortgage, living in an HOA (which I suspect would be more prevalent), having a job, employing people, driving on roads, buying a car, patronizing a business, having cell phone service and internet, buying airline tickets, financing anything, etc, really being anywhere in civilized society could all require liability insurance. You’d become basically an outlaw outcast banished from the division of labor and the benefits of participating in civilized society, until you become insurable again. This could perhaps be done by paying off your debts and fixing your credit, perhaps some companies would offer to board and hire outlaw types like you while you work for them, and they’re paying your debts as you go.
3. Suppose I’m poor and don’t have a company I’m already subscribed to which will seek justice for me. I find a company which collects restitution professionally, a legal aid firm. I present this company with my claim, that you robbed my home. I provide any evidence I have, and if it seems valid, perhaps they hire a detective agency to gather proof, if necessary. That company then buys my tort claim from me, perhaps for $600. I contractually subrogate my claim to them, it’s now theirs. They then prosecute you in the fashion described in the above models. They have judicial enforcement employees or contractors who are tasked specifically with seizing your assets, to the tune of $1000, if you are found guilty. They profit $400.
4. Perhaps most likely of all, my side presents your side with the evidence along with a threat of what consequence we plan to be pursuing in court, if we go to private litigation. Your side agrees to a lesser cash settlement or, in the event you don’t have sufficient cash on hand, a settlement pertaining to assets, future revenue, or future labor.
It’s entirely feasible that the market of law will be some combination of the above private legal system concepts.
By Jake McCauley