Chapter 5: How does it work?
Who makes the laws?
A private company, a mutual society, a charity, or a not-for-profit.
Any organisation can do it as long as it has enough skill at legal inquiry and drafting to write the Pact.
It then makes the Pact available for you to join.
Who will try cases?
Judges and courts will try cases, employed by a courts service (private company, charity, or non-profit) affiliated with the Pact.
The Pact has to be accompanied by a credible court system if it is to be taken seriously.
You will join only if you’re confident that the Pact will force other members to abide by the laws.
You will join only if you can demonstrate to others that the Pact will force you to abide by the laws. This is one of the main reasons for joining: to be able to hold yourself out as someone people can trust and do business with.
Who will enforce the law?
Bailiffs and policemen.
As now, but working for private organisations.
Any Pact will need a credible enforcement machinery. Otherwise, customers won’t be taken seriously and won’t join. You can’t deal with someone who belongs to a Pact that doesn’t get enforced, and word will go around fast.
A Pact with inefficient enforcers is like a country with corrupt police and judges – you’re reluctant to deal with it, and you won’t invest there.
Who will arrest and punish criminals?
Policemen, as now, but working for private organisations, affiliated to your Pact.
Private jails can punish criminals, probably through systems of enforced compensation through labour.
Police investigate, lawyers and judges try the case, a judge passes sentence and, if you get convicted, jailors put you to work.
Who will protect people from outside attacks?
Soldiers as now, working for private defence organisations.
You need protection, and threats will continue to exist. Physical force will sometimes be necessary, particularly in the lawless environment that might follow a collapse of state authorities.
How will soldiers and policemen be paid, if there is no taxation?
A reputable Pact would probably require you to pay towards a defence force, or to volunteer for service.
You would most likely have to pay towards police and military services as a condition of joining. By way of individual payment rather than taxation, because taxation would be difficult to impose under such a voluntary system of law.
Or philanthropists might pay toward the costs of defence and policing. It is in their interests to do so, to attract more people to join, and thus widen the pool of labour available.
A Pact without credible police and military forces is likely to be vulnerable to disorder within and attacks from without. Without force, it is unlikely to be able to enforce its rules. And if it can’t enforce its rules, you’re unlikely to join it.
Who sets the rules of a Pact, and how are they paid?
The Pact sets its own law, and then tries to attract people to join.
If you prefer its laws and administration, you will want to join it. If not, you won’t.
A Pact might involve voting or taxation, but that is unlikely: the main driver would be competition to attract and retain members.
What about people who want to join, but have no money?
You might still be required to make a basic contribution, as a test of commitment.
Or charities might contribute towards costs, so as to attract you to join. A Pact system, being free and without taxation, ought to be prosperous enough to do so.
What happens if a Pact goes bad?
You will leave and join a competitor, fast.
Administrators of a Pact would be subject to the rules of the Pact.
Wouldn’t a Pact be vulnerable to the aggression of warlords and tinpots?
It is realistic to expect Pact systems to be stronger than warlord societies, because they will be richer, and attractive to more people than warlords. Every productive person prefers freedom to the warlord’s boot.
Lawful, untaxed societies attract workers and creators, and produce wealth.
Wealth pays for the training of tough soldiers and buys better weapons.
What if someone belongs to no Pact?
Then he’s effectively an outlaw, with all the risks that entails. He is at the mercy of your enforcers.
He will rush to join a Pact, for the protection of the law.
Even if he is rich, he will still need the protection of the law in order to trade with people. No one will trust him otherwise. Rich people want respectability, and it’s difficult to be respectable as an outlaw.
Won’t different Pacts conflict?
Different Pacts will arise, and compete. You will join the one you prefer.
Reasons for joining are:
– a good system of law;
– credible enforcers;
– the ability to cooperate with lots of people
Pacts will want to co-operate. Fighting is expensive, and you will want to be able to deal with members of other Pacts through mutual recognition.
Different Pacts will strive for compatibility. A Pact which recognises the laws of another Pact doubles the people that its members can deal with.
There may be levels of compatibility between differing Pacts: Pacts which don’t recognise each other’s criminal laws might still recognise one another’s commercial laws, to enable trade between people who can’t live together.
Won’t everyone have to sign up to the same Pact?
Probably not. People will want compatibility between different Pacts. But minor differences, like local bye-laws, needn’t stop people from dealing with each other.
Different pacts will probably interact, according to levels of compatibility, like cogs in a machine.
Where does this system get its authority?
From your free choice to submit yourself to the Pact’s laws. You have voluntarily agreed to do so in return for the benefits you derive.
You have the right to enter into agreements that limit your freedom of action. And the people you enter into agreements with have the right to hold you to your word.
Why would anyone agree to restrict his or her freedom in this way in the first place?
To secure protection from people bigger than they are.
To participate in a prosperous, free society.
To show they can be trusted in business and social life.
How would a Pact get started?
By making itself available.
By attracting a critical mass of people who understand it.
By drawing people willing to make money providing associated services such as enforcement.
In a crisis you will use the idea, if you need it. And if it is lying around.