According to Dr. Charles Steele--a man filling some big shoes at Hillsdale College--my pamphlet Chaos Theory is "the worst discussion I’ve ever read of how an anarcho-capitalist society could function." (I'm just going to hope he's never hung out at anti-state.com.) I used to wonder why no one (save Rob at strike-the-root and my former student, Gennady, at his Rational Argumentator site) had reviewed my book, but I guess this proves the adage about getting what you wished for...
The present blog post is hardly going to be an official rejoinder (or reply or riposte or reaction or regurgitation or whatever the appropriate noun is). Even so, a few comments:
* I totally concede that I was wrong to motivate the private law discussion with contracts. I still endorse 99% of my discussion, but now I realize that a much more fundamental starting point is the idea of people bringing their disputes to a third party.
* I'm glad that Hillsdale has hired an an-cap Austrian, and a sarcastic one at that. But I think the following refutation of my ideas on prisons in market anarchy (note that this is Steele's entire response on this issue) is a bit weak:
Murphy repeatedly argues that criminals (one of his examples is an ax murderer) will carry personal insurance to pay for the consequences of their crimes. And their insurance carriers will have an interest in keeping these clients isolated (in prison) since otherwise the clients will commit further mayhem and the insurers will have to pay more indemnities. Hence criminals will be kept off the streets in MA [Murphy Anarchy]. None of this makes any sense at all. Why would the ax murderer carry this insurance? And who would want to insure him? As I’ve already argued, this insurance makes no sense, but suppose for the sake of argument it existed. If you were an insurer and had insured someone and so must pay when he commits a crime, and he proved to be an ax murderer, what do you do? Pay the indemnity and cancel his policy! If not, at the very least, his premiums would skyrocket to cover the costs of his incarceration, and he’d not be free to go to work, so how would he pay for this? The argument is absurd, all the more so when Murphy claims that in such prisons the guards would have to treat prisoners well, or else the prisoners would change their insurance to a different company that keeps nicer prisons. “Hello, GEICO? I’m an ax murderer, and I need insurance against the consequences of my homicidal tendencies. And I’m very disappointed with my current insurer, State Farm.”
By the same token, Steele could blow up proposals for a private Post Office: "Hello, FedEx? I'm an anal customer, and I like cheap stamps. And I'm very disappointed with my current letter deliverer, the USPS." Ha ha, how absurd! The very idea that competition would work in such an environment.
* It was touching that my former students apparently told Steele I was a stand up guy. (That's in the beginning; you don't need to wade through the an-cap arguments to see my props.)