Shallow thinkers about government almost always suppose that even if it's not needed for anything else, it must be retained to run a justice system; this naïve faith survives despite...
- its manifest failure to convict most of the guilty
- its manifest failure to avoid convicting any of the innocent and
- its manifest failure to compensate any of the victims.
Additionally government makes massive, wholesale use of the authority of its courts wickedly and mendaciously to sustain and prolong its own power - hiding its devastation of personal liberties under the fiction that courts can "interpret" laws.
Usually all that's called "law and order"; but as we've seen already on this site, "order" - peace and harmony - is not only not dependent on the existence of laws, it would be far more widely enjoyed with none.
It's worth pausing to press this point; consider the extreme case of murder. We all agree that murder is the worst thing anyone can do. No anarchist will do it; to take another person's life, except in self-defense or by his explicit request, is the ultimate expression of a determination to rule or govern that person, to take over every last remainder of his right to own and operate his own life. Surely, therefore, we need a law against murder?
No, we do not. Consider: that and every other law is a "thou shalt not" handed down by government, a third party to the terrible transaction. If the perp is caught and tried, he is held accountable to - the government! Not to the family of the victim! If convicted he is required not to recompense those victims but to endure punishment by that third party! There is a complete disconnect between the original act of aggression and its resolution by a government "justice" system, based on law and punishment. The victim walks away with a thank-you at best, the perp is left to rot in jail, the taxpayers are forced to feed him, the government people get a good feeling and all the lawyers, a good living. This is "justice"? - I don't think so.
So there's no useful purpose served by a law against murder. And if not against that act, nor is there need for one against any other evil action. Let's now see how real justice would take place in an anarchist society.
Justice in a Free Society"Justice" consists in righting a wrong, as far as is feasible. If the fundamental right of someone to make all decisions affecting his own life is violated, then there should be a process of restoration, of making good the damage. It has no other purpose. At once, therefore, we can see that punishment, in the sense of retribution, must play no part whatever.
Instead the aim of any proper justice system (we'll now call it a justice industry, for so it will be) will be to cause an aggressor to recompense his victim, to make right what he first made wrong. He stole property? - then he will be made to repay it, plus the cost of his apprehension, plus interest. He caused physical damage? - then he will be made to pay all medical and other bills needed to heal the affected body parts. He cause mental distress? - then he will be made to give whatever compensation the Court considers just. He killed? - then likewise, he will be made to richly compensate the victim's friends for the loss of his company. Only in that case (and in those of severe injury) is it clearly impossible to restore the victim himself to his former state.
The old absurdity of an "eye for an eye" will be consigned at long last to the ashcan of history; if that principle prevailed, the end result would be a world of blind people.
This proper, rational vision of real justice provokes questions - naturally, for through the government school system, the government- controlled higher education system, the government- licensed media, we have all been guided never to think "outside the box". If this is your own first time, welcome to real justice! But let's try to see some answers.That last is why the risk of suffering any kind of aggression will be low, in an anarchist society. Perhaps it will never disappear altogether; no matter how high the probability of apprehension there may always be a few who will risk a lifetime of prosperity and good friends for the possibility of a huge gain from fraud. But it is inconceivable that an efficient, free market justice industry would allow such behavior to occur at more than a tiny fraction of the rate produced by today's government "justice" monopoly.
Who would Pay?Not the taxpayer, obviously, for there wouldn't be any! Rather, the justice industry - consisting of competing detectors, apprehenders, lawyers, arbitrators and executors - would be hired by the plaintiff, the one whose sovereignty over his life has suffered damage.
That sounds expensive, until we realize that no law will exclude insurers from playing a part. Very likely, most members of a free society would take out an insurance policy to protect themselves against the slight possibility of becoming the victims of some form of aggression. Then, the insurer would pick up the case on his behalf, lay out any capital needed, and take a share of the damages awarded. Very likely, some policies would provide that the insurer would consider the circumstances and settle at once with the victim for an agreed figure, then go out to recover that cost, plus profits, from the perp.
In the case of an indigent and uninsured victim, such a third party might well intervene after the event - bidding, in effect, for the right to such damages as can be recovered.
What about Restraint?Prisons as we know them today would disappear, for they are primarily about vengeance - which, as we saw above, has no proper part in true justice. Nonetheless, it's possible that some aggressors will continue aggressing; as serial rapists for example. Must they be allowed to walk free, once they have compensated their first few victims?
These will be rare cases, though real; and restraint may in those few cases be judged necessary for the protection of future victims. The restraint will be nothing like as barbaric as today's prisons and might take the form of home confinement or electronic branding or monitoring. "Keeping him behind bars" would be a fate reserved only for the tiny number of violent incorrigibles - "Hannibal Lectors" - in society.
At least half of the present prison population has never harmed anyone. They merely broke some government law. And very few of the remainder are a true danger to the public. Abolition of this barbaric institution will enrich the human race.
Won't Crime Become More Attractive?"Crime", defined as breaking a law, will not exist; for nor will laws. A wrong exists only when someone's rights are violated - call that "aggression."
Such aggression will however be much less attractive, not more so. Reasons:- A free-market, for-profit competitive detection industry will make it rare indeed for the perp to get away undetected. This proper, free-market justice industry will make him pay; pay his victim, that is, plus the cost of making him. The motive for "crime" is the perception of net gain; that perception will disappear fast.
- A common if not universal part of any judgment will be that the facts of the misdeed will be recorded for all to see. The aggressor's ability to do business in the future will therefore be impaired; his word will be less trustworthy. That is another heavy price to pay for his aggression. Reputations are quickly lost, slowly restored.
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