It’s no good. Every time I think about Jonny’s sun-kissed fringe. Every time I think about Dallaglio’s try-setting run. Every time I think about that little girl at the airport, at 4:30am, holding up a homemade picture of the England rugby team framed in red tinsel, I feel like blubbing. Even now, as I write this, I’m filling up again. What a game.
I think it’s something to do with having children. You just start becoming emotionally incontinent about everything. Or at least that’s what has happened to me. But enough of this nonsense. I shall ask Mr Micklethwait to try to cure me by email.
But his post below set me thinking about something else. Having waded through various anarcho-capitalist tomes, in the last few months, there’s something I’ve found particularly unsatisfying about them all, as they babble on about private courts, private arbitration, and private police. Where’s the beef!
You hear tantalising snippets about successful anarcho-capitalist societies in fourth century Germany, in eleventh century Ireland, and in fifteenth century Iceland, but rarely, if ever, do you actually get to see the beef. What would an anarcho-capitalist society actually be like? And if it’s such a good thing, why didn’t the German, Irish, and Icelandic experiments sweep the world? Yes, those with the biggest spears, swords, and addictive philosophies, imposed their coercive natures upon the rest of us, and their useless miserable parasitical states. But even anarcho-capitalists will admit that even the worst dictator needs the support of the broad mass of his state’s population, or at least their grudging acceptance, in order to survive. Otherwise, as revolutions like the recent one in Georgia have shown, the dictator is curtains. So where’s the beef? Show me anarchist law successfully in action, and then maybe I will believe. And yet there it was before me, all the time, like that big “W” swaying in the breeze before Phil Silvers in ‘It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’.
The typically Anglospheric state guards its ‘right’ to administer all internal state justice with a ruthlessly monopolistic intent. Except in one place. In this one small area you can deliberately break a man’s leg, in front of tens of thousands of potential witnesses, and you will suffer nothing more than a curt dismissal from a patch of grass. In this one small area you can punch a man until he’s unconscious, and kind men on television will accuse you of nothing more than a ‘wee bit of nonsense’. And in this one small area, legal decisions are routinely made which change people’s lives forever, but which are inapplicable to anywhere but this one small area, and even then for only a small time period typically less than half a day.
I am of course talking about ‘The Pitch’, that sacred Valhalla, from the concrete on the five-a-side soccer pitch at Wilmslow leisure centre, in Cheshire, to the verdant turf of the Telstra stadium, in the rugby world cup championship decider, in Australia. Here, men are men, flexible rules of the game are iron laws of reckoning, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri are tired and emotional, after the long trip to the game, from Alpha Centauri.
Am I stretching a point? Probably. But could this be a key? Could ‘Sports Law’ one day become the foundation stone of anarcho-capitalist law? Let’s take a look at it. Dr David Friedman is covered. If you’re a football player who doesn’t like one set of laws, you simply move to another form of football laws which you do like. And you can do this on the field right next door, whether they’re playing soccer, rugby union, rugby league, American football, Australian football, or even table football, if you fancy going back to the warmth of the clubhouse.
Professor Rothbard is covered. All the players or teams pay a competitive sports administration board (FIFA, the Rugby Football Union, the National Football League), to provide private judges, or referees, to adjudicate on the law. Even within these administrations these private judges compete to satisfy teams better than other private judges, under the same administration, so that they can officiate at the really big games and get the highest fees and advertising sponsorship.
Even Professor Hoppe is satisfied. Should a really difficult decision go beyond the ability of the appointed private adjudicator, this adjudicator goes up to a final arbitrational court, or as he’s more often known these days, the ‘television referee’. The television referee virtually always enjoys an unchallengeable respect within the game, and his decision is always accepted as binding and final, without the need for any further arbitration. Even in the worst cases of rough justice, the final result of the game always stands, regardless of any post-game televisual analysis.
Notice how quick and inexpensive this law is, compared to the years and cost it takes the monopolistic state to bring even the simplest case to trial. It is virtually instant. There may occasionally be a 10 second conference, with more minor adjudicators, or as they’re sometimes known, linesmen, and possibly a 60 second decision going to the final binding arbitrator, up in the Gods.
But then, that’s it. It’s decided, and everyone on ‘The Pitch’ obeys the legality of the decision, and moves on. Except on very rare occasions. And if some player should lose his rag, and his team-mates remain unable to restrain him from prolonged legal dissatisfaction, he almost always pays for it afterwards in a total loss of respect for either his opinion or his inability to control his own temper.
Notice, also, that little in the way of policing is required. The referee makes a decision, and that’s it. Self-restraint and the need to save face in the ‘society’ of the game, gets most players obeying ‘The Law’, though occasionally team-mates and linesmen, acting as proxy-police, are needed to suppress hotspots of dissent. Notice also how powerful this effect of self-restraint becomes, before the face of this flimsy anarchist law. You’ve got a six-foot-five, 32-inch-waisted, nineteen-stone man, pumped with adrenaline, who has just had his testicles gouged with a bullocking boot, who has retaliated in kind, and who is shouting and remonstrating at an eleven stone referee, and yet the merest display of a red piece of plastic and the point of a finger gets this beast of a man to turn, to walk away, and to obey the instruction to leave ‘The Pitch’. Okay, so he’s often unhappy, and lip readers refuse to reveal what he’s saying on family television, but he does ultimately do what he’s told, even if kicking some form of bench, or bench official, on his way off.
So speedy inexpensive legal decisions, competitive judges, competitive systems of law, the lack of a need for much policing, binding second level arbitration, legal stability, and a complete acceptance of all parties as to the ultimate legitimacy of ‘The Law’. Ladies and Gentlemen. I give you a fully-functioning anarcho-capitalist legal system, in action. It can work.