Monday, January 28, 2013

Chaos Or Orderly?

Chaos Theory by Robert Murphy really tests the limits of how open your mind is. The book forces the reader to think outside the box that is the years of conditioning that have shaped our beliefs in the necessity of organized government.

I've always been of the camp that government is a necessary evil. Evil because it consumes wealth by taking it from those who create wealth. But necessary because it is needed to guarantee property rights, without which building wealth in the long-term would be very difficult.

But Murphy imagines a world that guarantees property rights without government, and therefore without the 'evil'! In this world, various incentivised, competing companies take on the roles that are currently executed by governments, including its legislative (e.g. parties or groups of parties contract with each other with respect to what's 'legal', with insurance companies held liable in breaches), judicial (companies specializing in arbitration take on this task), and executive (liable insurance companies do what it takes to protect clients, including imprisoning those who are likely to harm others, and contracting military defense firms to protect clients from incursions from abroad) branches.

In other words, Murphy doesn't see chaos if government were to fall; he sees order. Order that is much more efficient than the system of monopolized government that currently rules us.

It's possible that my mind isn't open enough, or that I am much more pessimistic than is Murphy, because I have a hard time envisioning such a scenario. History appears to suggest that any society that may have ascribed to such ideals has been short-lived, since none exist and examples are hard to come by. Some entity (mafia, foreign government etc) would likely seek to assume rule of such a society, and if history is any guide, abuses of power will reign. As such, it may be better to be ruled by the devil you know (a government that allows its citizens to be relatively free) than the devil you don't. Would an insurance company really protect its clients if a costly war were on the horizon? Or would it renege, by declaring bankruptcy with agents moving assets to safer jurisdictions?

While I can't fully envision the society Murphy paints, it is definitely worth the quick read for those interested in this topic. At the very least, it forces you to think about what you believe the government's role should be, and what areas it would be best to leave to the private sector. If you're mind is open enough, you might question what you have taken for granted as a result of years of conditioning.

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