By Arnold Kling
Suppose that in Libertopia, you’re extremely undesirable, so no woman will marry you. In Paterfascista, you’re extremely desirable, but it’s illegal to marry you.
In both Libertopia and Paterfascista, you’re not able to marry. So you could say that both systems are equally objectionable.
That is not what I am saying at all. I object to Paterfascista, in all of the examples that I give. But my grounds for objection is not that laws have the power of force behind them. My grounds for objection is that Paterfascista extends its jurisdiction where it does not belong.
Suppose your employer threatens to fire you for getting married, even though this has no impact on your performance or the employer’s cost of compensation–the employer just does not like the idea of your getting married. I think that it is objectionable for an employer to claim that kind of jurisdiction over your personal life. Similarly, it is objectionable for Paterfascista to claim such jurisdiction. But if it is less costly for you to leave Paterfascista than to leave your job, then your employer causes more harm, regardless of the fact that Paterfascista has a police force and your employer does not.I want government around to settle private disputes when they get out of hand. I think we need a judiciary to rule on disputes, and we need a police force to ensure that the judiciary’s rulings are obeyed. In the absence of co-ordination problems, it is not even clear to me that we need a legislative function at all.
An example of a co-ordination problem would be rules of the road. Assume that all roads are private. In theory, some owners might enforce drive-on-right, and others might enforce drive-on-left, causing confusion. Or they might enact dysfunctional policies with regard to transitions between roads. My guess is that in practice these co-ordination problems could be dealt with without formal legislation (the Internet manages quite well, for example). But if private arrangements are insufficient, then perhaps legislation is needed.
So I do not think that co-ordination problems are serious enough to warrant keeping a sitting legislature. In my idea of Libertopia, legislative bodies would only meet in the case of emergencies.
In this Libertopia, private security forces are widespread. But, given the potential for disputes to arise between security forces (or the potential for a security force to become aggressive rather than defensive), Libertopia would have a government. The challenge is to rein in the legislative function, a challenge that wiser men than I have not been able to solve.