Chapter 4: Who can provide law if the state collapses?

– Gang lords?
– Tinpots?
– Theocrats ?

What do you want from the law?

Transparency—clarity and predictability, a procedure laid out in advance
Efficiency – effectiveness, speed, and reasonable costs
Impartiality – independence, equality before the law
Accountability – openness to reform, subject to appeal


Transparency? They are very clear about law, and how you will be made to obey it.
Efficiency? They are very efficient about punishing things they don’t like. But inefficient about regulating disputes between you and someone else.
Impartiality? They are seldom impartial. Abuse of the law is common, and there is no judicial independence.
Accountability? You can’t hold tinpots to account. And there is no appeal – the dictator’s word is final.












Gang lords?

Transparency? No. Gang lords operate by rumour and reputation. But they are clear about what they won’t tolerate.
Efficiency? They are efficient about enforcing rules that protect their power, but not interested in keeping order between subjects: gang lords thrive on lawlessness.
Impartiality? Never. They depend on their ability to look after allies and destroy opponents. A gang lord would laugh at judicial independence, if he knew what it was.
Accountability? The gang lord is not accountable to you – only to the assassin. He could never stay in power if he allowed appeals against his decisions.









Transparency? No. A religious legal system is predictable, in theory, but arbitrary in practice.
Efficiency? It can operate smoothly if you accept the theocrat’s right to rule.
Impartiality? Theocracy is impartial in theory but not in practice, and certainly not if you’re an unbeliever. It is prone to manipulation, schism, and abuse. Judicial independence would be a fetter on God’s authority.
Accountability? The theocrat is accountable to God, not you. And God’s authority is not to be questioned.











Another option: a mutual Pact

A Pact is a system of laws governing social organization, trade, and everyday life; provided and enforced by private organisations such as non-profit companies.
It is a mutual arrangement whereby you observe the rules when dealing with other members, and other members observe those rules when dealing with you.
Transparency? A Pact has to be open about the laws on offer, in order to attract customers.
Efficiency? Yes. Competing Pacts would have to respond to customer need. And almost certainly more so than monopolistic state systems do.
Impartiality? You would demand this of any Pact you joined. You would want ownership and control separated, so as to provide independence.
Accountability? More so than currently, due to competition for customers. There is no reason for such Pacts not to provide for appeals.