Economist, legal scholar, philosopher David D. Freidman, son of the late Milton Friedman, Nobel laureate in economics, argues (very logically and ably) for an anarcho-capitalist society. His main point is that society would not break apart (and anarchy is not a bad word), but – just like the free competitive market delivers light bulbs and hair cuts more efficiently than a centralized monopoly would, the free competitive market would deliver services such as legal protection and arbitration more efficiently than a centralized monopoly (i.e. the government) would.
A sample of his writing can be found here:
The arguments are brilliant and logical (and more importantly, easy to follow).
However, I can think of a counterargument to his entire thesis: I would argue that we now DO live in an anarcho-capitalist society. Or rather, we are a result of an anarcho-capitalist society, we evolved from one. Our ancestors lived in that state, in caves and jungles. Eventually they developed more intricate mechanisms of protection and arbitration, whether through iron weapons, walled cities, empires, or national governments based on a common language, religion, and tribal identity.
Where Friedman calls for private protection agencies instead of a police force, we have national governments (which compete with other governments; sometimes they settle disagreements through a commonly-chosen arbitrator, sometimes by compromise, sometimes by force). Consumers have a choice of changing the protection agency (i.e. moving to a different country), but the costs are high (learning a new language, escaping illegally from the original country, waiting years for a visa, living illegally in the new country, etc). These private protection agencies (which we refer to as national governments) offer protection, but in return hold the monopoly on force in their own area.
If we put Friedman’s ideas into practice, and started anew, abolishing governments and following an anarcho-capitalist system, what guarantees do we have that in a few hundred/thousand years we would not evolve again into a system similar to the current one, of powerful “private protection agencies” with limitless power in their own realms?
I am wondering if it is a human trait to seek like ones, band together based on tribal identity, and collectively give up individual liberties in return for protection. I am beginning to think that this is the case indeed.