Building a new society within the shell of the old one

So I’ve spoken about how I don’t believe in a violent revolution, but rather just talking and reasoning with people. Another option here is to create the institutions of the new peaceful society right now, and let them peacefully compete with the state’s version of that ‘service’. Why is this approach necessary?

Appeal to tradition

Most people aren’t open to imagining non-government provision of services: e.g. roads, law, police as they have lived their entire lives under the government where the government provision of those services is all they know. This effectively functions as the logical fallacy: appeal to tradition (that something should be done a certain way because it has always been done that way in the past). So even when I can point to examples of how these things were actually provided without government in the past, most people would rather discredit/discount this evidence and assume for some reason or another that “the free market can’t provide that! What about predatory pricing / monopolies / lack of private ability to get funding” etc. See this old joke about Soviet Russia for some perspective:

Two women are waiting in line at a Moscow store one day, to buy bread. The line is a long one: in Moscow under the USSR, the length of lines to buy basic foodstuffs was legendary (and that’s when you could get them at all).

One woman, forgetting herself, says to the other, “It”s an outrage that we should have to wait so long, just to buy bread! Does this happen in the West?”

The other woman sharply corrects her comrade: “It”s a privilege that the government provides us with bread! Did you know that, in the West, the government doesn’t even MAKE bread?”

Building the new society within the shell of the old one

It’s quite clear that central planning and interventionism do not work, and they only serve to drive the prices up and the quality of the product down. It may not be easy for people to build new institutions and businesses within the shell of the old one, governments often don’t like it when people compete with their services – however there are some great examples of this happening right now which I will present to you:

Private protection force / security / police – Threat Management Center

See my earlier post “A Different approach to keeping neighbourhoods safe” about Dale Brown’s Threat Management Center – where the state-provided police of Detroit are failing the people, the Threat Management Center are literally out competing a service that people are being forced to pay for. That is how inefficient the government provision is! Also, note that in 20 years not a single one of his customers has been injured or killed after coming to him for help (he even helps some people for free because he makes enough money from businesses and residents who pay for protection). Most important, the focus is different to state provided violence (police and military), as his focus is on trying to create non violent outcomes.

Private Dispute Resolution / Arbitration –

Now you might initially think it’s not possible to create a system of entirely private law. is an excellent example of an opt-in arbitration service that is vastly cheaper, faster and more efficient than government law. See the quick 90 second video here:

By agreeing beforehand (ideally by putting a term in their contract), the two parties are able to settle disputes using a neutral third party ( and it’s arbitrators) outside the government court system. See their FAQ here. This type of service will be an important precursor to the emerging market law system.

“This kind of simple, technology-based private arbitration should be of especial interest to anarcho-libertarians, who have long argued that private arbitration would play a significant role in justice in a stateless society. (…) One interesting thing is their choice of law… based on common law and equity principles. (…) Disputes are resolved by common sense principles of justice—the general rules developed over time in common law and equity courts. This is similar in a way to international law’s appeal to “the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations”.”, Private Arbitration and Intellectual Property, Stephan Kinsella

EDIT 18/6/14: I believe has shut down, Net Arb has taken its place.

Rights enforcement agency / Dispute Resolution Organisation – Shield Mutual

Shield Mutual has a vision of defending customers from state aggression using crowd sourced public relations, proactive leadership, digital fundraising and legal aid. See the vision of Shield Mutual here.

Free market environmental protection –

Despite what you might have thought about evil capitalists polluting rivers and creating externalities, a free market as it is actually applied (not the mixed market or interventionist model) helps preserve those parts of the environment that the consumers cherish through proper application of property laws. E.g. in the case of the river, if that river belongs to somebody you can’t just pollute straight into it without having to pay damages to the person/company who own it. With the example of park privatisation, you should have a read of the FAQ on the front page which answers all the standard questions like: How does the private company get paid? Won’t private companies just let the facility run down to make more profit? Won’t private companies just build a McDonald’s in front of Old Faithful? Will private companies jack up the entrance fees? You may just be surprised by some of the answers.

Free market currency / Free market banking – Bitcoin 

Bitcoin will enable easier international commerce / free trade and helps create a parallel economy of sorts. It can’t easily be shut down as it is decentralised, and enables people to easily pay anybody anywhere in the world with very little delays (the network runs 24/7 unlike fiat banking’s ‘business hours’ and banking holidays and  3 day funds clearance), transaction costs, no risk of chargeback, easy set up and Bitcoin is (mostly) apolitical, unlike every government fiat currency which is politically manipulated and consistently being debased. Also, Paypal doesn’t serve approximately 60 countries, and there are some countries that credit cards are difficult to use in too – Bitcoin goes anywhere in the world. It’s early days yet (but rapidly growing, with something like 30-40% user growth per month), however to anybody who studies the economics and technology behind this, the ramifications for it are absolutely massive.

So hopefully that gives you some perspective into peaceful, non-government ways of doing things that you might not have thought possible.

7 thoughts on “Building a new society within the shell of the old one

  1. I was encouraged to see this article, but a bit disappointed that the examples of actual projects were so few and in a fairly narrow range. I suppose the reason is that government actually doesn’t do much for us in our day to day lives. People think that the government provides infrastructure that we depend on. Even where it is legal to compete with government, they always have the advantage of separating their funding from their success. I am thinking of education.
    I’ve been trying to think of other possibilities. One vague idea that occurred to me is to have an online reputation system to compete with licensure, sort of a better business bureau on steroids, or web 2.0 “away from keyboard.”
    The one encouraging trend is the spread of peer-to-peer open source software that allows people to ignore arbitrary restrictions. People who use these services, even without thinking about them, actively undermine the government’s ability to enforce arbitrary censorship. And the people who do think about it for a while will probably be more open to ideas that abandon coercion in favor of voluntary interaction. Projects like these provide our best opportunity to advance liberty, or at least to build a barricade around certain freedoms that government can’t breach without revealing themselves as control freaks to an extent that even they hesitate to admit.
    Thanks for the encouragement. I will be linking to this on g+ (where I found it) and on my blog.


    1. Hi Dave,

      Thanks very much for your comment (and for driving some traffic my way).

      Few points in response:
      – Education – is already being disrupted via video/online through the likes of khan academy and MOOCs
      – As for online reputation, I think we will start to see these systems come up over time. Already people use things like ebay feedback rating, length of time as a paypal member, linking to a linkedin or facebook profile to verify identity. Perhaps this is a business market/opportunity that has not yet been tapped!

      Agreed with your point about the spread of p2p open source technology – I think it will make this world a better place.



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