For libertarians that reject minarchism, that is the belief that the state should act as a nightwatchman and protect and enforce property rights, and are staunch proponents of market anarchism, the notion that justice should be provided by entirely private, competing firms is often met with bewilderment. Wouldn’t the absence of the state allow for society to devolve into, well, anarchy? To someone who has grown up amid an omnipresent nanny-state, such a state of affair might seem implausible. Years of paternalistic
bureaucracies dictating what is safe to eat and what school lessons are legitimate has resulted in much of the public being instilled with a pitiful sense of dependency on their overlords in government. The concept of a truly free society is as frightening as it is foreign.
This reluctance exists despite efforts being made every day by individuals to act entrepreneurially and, in a sense, reject the state’s monopoly on specific services by providing them individually. One such example is what has become known as “cyber sleuthing.” The National Post recently reported on this phenomenon:
Ms. Denman was — still is — a mortgage underwriter living in a Kansas City suburb, married to a self-employed contractor and a mother to twin boys. She certainly never planned on treading into her sister’s line of work.
But when Ms. Denman started searching for her husband’s long-missing family members a decade ago, she stumbled into a world of online sleuthing — one that attracts both amateur and trained detectives looking to track down criminals and crack unsolved cases.
Soon enough, Ms. Denman was a member of the Doe Network, a global group that devotes thousands of man-hours to solving cold cases involving missing persons; the grandmother-to-seven has become an online sleuth herself.
And while many free market oriented economists agree that most services should be left to the private sector, most remain convinced that government is needed for the provision of defensive services and the upholding of law and order. They remain incapable or unwilling of taking their favorable views of market allocation to their logical end.
But as the National Post article documents, independent investigation is perfectly capable of being conducted by those not on the government payroll. When Austrian economist F.A. Hayek wrote his indispensable essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” he was living in the midst of a worldwide push by governments for more authority over economic life based on the deceitful rhetoric of collectivism. The purpose of his essay was to stress how knowledge itself is decentralized and that such a reality should be embraced as it means individuals understand their own interests more than some bureaucrat sitting at a desk. The essay brilliant explained the faulty logic behind centralized planning by the few for the masses. He writes:
The peculiar character of the problem of a rational economic order is determined precisely by the fact that the knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess. The economic problem of society is thus not merely a problem of how to allocate “given” resources—if “given” is taken to mean given to a single mind which deliberately solves the problem set by these “data.” It is rather a problem of how to secure the best use of resources known to any of the members of society, for ends whose relative importance only these individuals know. Or, to put it briefly, it is a problem of the utilization of knowledge which is not given to anyone in its totality.
This lesson is echoed in the National Post:
“It’s part of a broader valuing of crowd-sourcing,” Mr. Geist said. “If you can tap into the wisdom of crowds — whether for reviews of hotels or on websites like Wikipedia, or to help solve crimes based on information that’s publicly available — then that strikes me as a positive thing.”
“The gravest crimes in the State’s lexicon are almost invariably not invasions of private person or property, but dangers to its own contentment…compare the degree of zeal devoted to pursuing the man who assaults a policeman, with the attention that the State pays to the assault of an ordinary citizen.
“Crime investigations are too important to be left to law enforcement alone”
In a free society, justice is the upholding of property rights and an uninhibited market. To the state, justice is, to borrow a phrase from Gerald Celente, “just us.” It is the spoils of theft and violence for the ruling elite and their cronies with the privilege of being leeched upon reserved for everyone else.