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A thought experiment on how private road owners would deal with the threat of terrorism

When dealing with complex political issues I often find it useful to ask myself what would happen in the absence of the state. This is not because I think that the glorious libertarian revolution is just around the corner but because such an exercise can at least give us some clues as to what the state should be doing in the here and now.

So, what do I mean by private roads?
Roads where the owners may decide who uses them, under what circumstances and have the means to enforce their decisions. The type of ownership could include purely commercial enterprises – out for a profit, individually-owned roads and – what I think will be the most common form – club-owned roads.

A lot would depend on people’s propensity to tolerate acts of terrorism. My guess is that this would be pretty low but I could be wrong. But that’s the great thing about the free market: it is a wonderful way of finding out what people really want. If the propensity is high then I would guess the outcome would be very similar to what we have now. Terrorism would simply be something that people would have to get used to. But let’s assume that the propensity is low. A commercial road owner would therefore have a very strong incentive to prevent terrorism.

Why?
Because, if a competitor was better at preventing terrorism then more people will want to use his roads.

But what of a road owned by a club?
This is an important example if I am right that most private roads would be in this form. The governance rules might be in the form of one frontage one vote. But it may be that the number of votes is proportional to the fees charged.

Now a road club will not have the same incentives as a commercial road – they would not exist to make money. But they would have incentives enough. The principal one would be that their members would want to preserve the value of their properties and one factor in that would be how likely it was that their properties became subject to terrorism.

Individual road owners, we can assume, would be in much the same position as clubs.

So, assuming there are strong incentives to prevent terrorism how would road owners go about it?
Obviously they would want to stop the terrorists. But they would also want to make it as easy as possible for non-terrorists to go about their business. And they would want to keep the costs down.

A key moment is what happens when someone enters the road – or road network – from one of the inevitably large number of frontages. You could have a guard on every frontage searching every person entering the road. However, this would be expensive. Not only that but it would be unlikely to be effective. Guards would get bored and become inattentive and would themselves become likely targets.

Another approach might be to deny access to anyone suspected of being an active terrorist. But this is fraught with difficulty. How would you know who is who?

Far simpler and more effective would be to ban anyone harbouring any terrorist sympathies whatsoever. Effective terrorist campaigns can always rely on a sea of sympathisers who are not themselves terrorists to aid and abet those who are. These sympathisers are usually easy to identify. Exceptions might be granted for children and members of the older generation. Or maybe there would be a system of vouching for people, guarantees of good behaviour or even the taking of hostages. The chances are that if private roads came about tomorrow terrorist sympathisers would wake up to find their properties surrounded by barbed wire.

The next issue would be those seeking entry from another road i.e. a road owned by another entity. What you would probably see is a system of guarantees. One road owner would guarantee the non-terrorist nature of their road users to other road owners. Obviously, there would be some fairly hefty compensation should one road owner’s users engage in acts of terrorism on another road owner’s territory. That would mean that road owners would be very careful who they let out.

There is a precedent for this – sort of. Those familiar with the movie The Day of the Jackal will recall that the idea that they might be letting a terrorist loose on foreign soil scared the living daylights out of the British government.

So, what would happen to the terrorist sympathisers?
It is difficult to see how terrorist sympathisers would be allowed to use non-terrorist-sympathiser roads. They would therefore only be allowed to use terrorist-sympathiser roads. As terrorist sympathisers tend to be poor and geographically concentrated, they would have an immediate problem over what to do for an income especially in the absence of a welfare state. Faced with poverty some would choose to leave for terrorist-sympathiser majority countries while others would choose to change their beliefs. Of course, there is the issue as to whether such conversions would be genuine. I have no answer to this.

But what if the terrorists engaged in acts of terrorism from their own roads?
They could for instance mortar bomb non-terrorist-sympathiser roads. My guess is that they would get mortar-bombed back. Just to greater effect.

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55 comments to A thought experiment on how private road owners would deal with the threat of terrorism

  • hennesli

    a brilliant idea, all they need is to install some mind scanning devices in the toll booths to look for terrorist sympathising thoughts in road users.

  • Ken Mitchell

    I’m not sure that there’s a Libertarian response to barbarism, other than to kill the barbarian and all of his friends and relatives. So the road is privately owned? How do you prevent the terrorist from using it? It isn’t as if he’s going to obey any law about who owns the road. He’s willing to kill unnamed random people for the crime of existing. If you try to prevent him from using your road, he’ll attempt to kill you. Then you (or your heirs) kill him.

    If you can identify specific characteristics that can identify a terrorist, you and your friends can track down and kill or contain every person who fits the description. But this quickly escalates into open warfare, because members of the identified group (who will not ALL be actual terrorists) don’t want you to kill them and will probably respond with force of their own.

  • Lee Moore

    I was looking for a quote that I vaguely remembered, in connection with the thread a day or two ago about why people continue to believe in socialism when it has such a relentlessly impressive record of unmitigated disaster.

    And I found it :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melita_Norwood

    When asked about her motives, she explained: “I did what I did, not to make money, but to help prevent the defeat of a new system which had, at great cost, given ordinary people food and fares which they could afford, a good education and a health service.”

    Just FYI she joined the Communist Party in 1936. Stalin’s Ukraine famine (see “given ordinary people food”) was in 1932-33 (and reported in the Manchester Guardian.) So it looks like it’s cognitive dissonance at work here. Reality and socialism collide ? Reject the former.

    However having refound the egregious Melita, I looked again at her early life on wiki and….. DING DING DING it hits exactly the spot that Patrick mentions with his :

    Far simpler and more effective would be to ban anyone harbouring any terrorist sympathies whatsoever. Effective terrorist campaigns can always rely on a sea of sympathisers who are not themselves terrorists to aid and abet those who are. These sympathisers are usually easy to identify.

    I mean this woman’s early life, family, connections, husband were giving off smoke like a bonfire. And nobody noticed.

    The same seems to be true of most of the folk we find blowing up night clubs and so on. They give off a lot of smoke. Maybe we should pay more attention ?

  • Given a choice between taking a road whose owner advertised all the things they did to deal with the threat of terrorism, and a road owner who never said a word about terrorism, I’d take the second, because the first is run by (or at least, advertising to) idiots with no conception of what actual dangers exist on roads.

  • bobby b

    “These sympathisers are usually easy to identify.”

    It all comes down to this assumption.

    Won’t this always reduce to, we’ll have white roads, black roads, asian roads, muslim roads, christian roads, atheist roads, hippo roads . . . ?

    So, I’ll stick to the roads belonging to the club of white male atheist conservatives – my club – because I feel an affinity for them and they will be the least likely to want to blow me up for doctrinal reasons (as opposed to whatever personal reasons I might give them.)

    This leaves the Syrian non-bombing Muslim bombing-sympathizers having to share their road with the Syrian muslim bombers. Which ought to attenuate their sympathizing a bit. Which ought to help in reducing the number of bombings.

    Reducing the whole equation down to solve for “x”, we see that our countries need to be limited by color and religion. Here in the private club called the U.S.A., those pesky non-white muslims need to be shown the door.

    But hundreds of years of moral indoctrination leads us to reject such a solution as unfair. Entire constitutions have been written on this basis.

    Does Libertarianism thus devolve simply into a way to reject “accepted” limits on how we can pre-judge others?

  • Roué le Jour

    bobby b
    So, I’ll stick to the roads belonging to the club of white male atheist conservatives…

    In real life I travel by Middle Eastern airlines wherever possible because I think they’re further down the to-do list of the nutters than the Great Satan’s airlines.

  • Roué le Jour

    Incidentally, I was expecting this post to be about the road to Calais. Isn’t keeping the roads clear one of the fundamental duties of the state?

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Actually, I tend towards the other extreme- that roads and public lands should be the only thing that public bodies, such as governments, could make laws about. The county would become the local club of your example, owning all the ‘public’ roads. I would also extend this to railroads- public authorities should own the rail-roads, but licence private train companies to use them.

  • Jamesg

    Moreover, a country with enough privatisation to be able to overturn the state’s road monopoly is much less likey to produce terrorists in the first place. If such a libertarian society were to evolve in the west, people would only survive if they engaged in mutually beneficial exchange or convinced others that they were worthy of charity. Unproductive extremists, un-coddled by an apologist state, would have trouble getting radicalised enough in the first place.

  • Jamesg

    Walter Block covers the privatisation of roads quite a bit. His main argument being improved road safety.

    I have to say, driving through the toll network in France is often an enjoyable experience. The roads are less busy, extremely well maintained, drivers seem better, and you never see a breakdown.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . and you never see a breakdown.”

    The people who are price-selected out of using private roads are precisely those people who drive vehicles prone to breakdown.

    Thus, few breakdowns.

  • Paul Marks

    Turnpike trusts did indeed own most roads – there is no reason why roads can not be owned by charitable foundations or for-profit companies.

    “But in some areas roads would not be economic” – then those areas should be served by railways and so on (as they used to be). The “free roads to everywhere” demanded by Henry Ford (at the expense of the taxpayer) is not a sensible policy – indeed it was a way of (indirectly) subsidising Mr Ford. And the demands for price controls on mass transit in American cities led to the bankruptcy of most mass transit systems – to the benefit of the General Motors company (which bought up the bankrupt enterprises cheap and ripped up their lines to make more space for cars and trucks).

    Now I am NOT saying that Ford and General Motors controlled political policy (I am not wearing a tinfoil hat) actually ideology (“the state should provide roads – as the Roman Empire did”) was much more important – but the facts of the matter are that the public, on balance, have been harmed (not helped) by the network of “free” roads provided by tax money.

    As for terrorism.

    We must get to the root cause of terrorism – which is the ideas that people hold.

    David Wood (Acts Apologetics 17 on Youtube) is correct – forbidding opposition to Islam (the censorship that the German government has just passed, and which the British government is considering passing) will NOT reduce tensions – on the contrary, by forbidding “Hate Speech” (which is clearly nothing to do with banning “incitement to violence” and everything to do with banning basic opposition to the historical figure Mohammed and the doctrines of Islam) will actually INFLAME the situation over time.

    If “Western values” do not include the right to say “your religion was founded by a bad man who did the following bad things…… and your religion is fundamentally wrong for the following reasons……..” then S.M. is correct – rights “do not exist” and the Rule of Law is just “ink blots” or “jazz”. To prove the latter day Carl Schmitt types wrong (the “Alt Right” such as S.M.) we must stand for the principles of limited constitutional government and the Rule of Law (the real law – founded upon moral reason, Free Will).

  • Paul Marks

    In Common Law there is an exception to the idea that a private owner has a right to exclude people from his road or other property.

    If you buy land in a circle around someone – you must give them access in-and-out of their property (it must be for free). This is because private property in land is considered a “bundle of rights” – with right-of-access being one of them. Others being light-and-air.

    You buy land knowing all this.

    By the way in old Scots “feudal” law there was no right of compulsory buying of land – if the King himself wanted to improve a road (say by widening it), he was unable to do so without the voluntary consent of the land holder.

    And titles (in old Scots law) went with the estate – buy the estate and you were (suddenly) a noble, without any grant of nobility from the king.

    I think both these features of old Scots (“Feudal”) law are excellent.

  • bobby b

    Paul Marks
    June 30, 2017 at 9:48 am

    “David Wood (Acts Apologetics 17 on Youtube) is correct . . . “

    As an aside, I searched Youtube and found a series of videos and went to watch the first video on the list, only to be confronted with a 40-ish crewcut slightly chubby man with a large tattoo on his shoulder, which was visible mainly because he was wearing a fetching little pink chemise with thin shoulder straps. He held a lipstick tube in one hand, and began opening it for application.

    So I kept watching and the context was made clear fairly quickly, but it was a bit jarring to start my exposure with his exposure. If you know the man, share with him that, as a pure marketing technique, he might make that video the second one on his list instead of the first. 😮

  • PeterT

    In practice people would be verified by their insurance company. Likely terrorist won’t get insurance so can’t go onto the motor way. In an Ancap society I think insurance companies would have a big role.

  • Alisa

    Bobby, I clicked – my eyes, my eyes!

  • The scheme proposed appears very defensive. Do I misrepresent by this summary: large numbers of terrorist sympathisers are to share our land and even have opportunities to build their own private roads here; the hope is that at the many, many interfaces, we can prevent people (some willing to die if they can also murder many of us) from entering our private roads?

    Out of many ways of challenging the strategy, let me present one.

    – After Cecil Rhodes conquered Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, he allocated a significant quantity of land to his white followers.

    – After Cecil Rhodes conquered Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, the amount of land owned and farmed by its black african inhabitants increased.

    – Both these statements are true.

    The Shona and Ndebele tribes inhabiting the area had a complex settlement pattern, creating many paths and trails which were Shona-only or Ndebele-only, and huge ribbon-like border areas where no-one dared settle or farm. After Rhodes imposed law and order, the amount of safe-to-use land immediately increased so much that “Both these statements are true.”

    The point is that a valid system of law and order is very productive. Even if the law is not so very just and the order harshly enforced, the system will be markedly more productive than its absence if it has the virtues of predictability, consistent application and certainty. This fact is a point libertarians must remember, and one reason why I usually call myself a moderate libertarian. (I look extreme in today’s public domain but “If I am a giant to the lilliputians and a midget to the brobdingnagians, maybe I am of the right size.”)

    When free speech is restored, the greater freedom of social choice will allow many pivate ways of obstructing terrorists and their sympathisers, as well as of empowering effective political action, but I think Rhodes shows that roads will not be among them. 🙂

  • Paul Marks

    bobby – if you think David Wood is chubby then you do not want to see me, I am Homer Simpson.

    Incredibly fat – and bald as a coot.

    But I do not tend to wear pink – or the clothing of women.

  • Laird

    I’m having difficulty with this whole thread.

    First, I thought the premise of the essay was a “thought experiment” which might lead to some revelations about how a government should act in the absence of real-world private roads. I found none, or at least nothing remotely useful.

    Then the discussion devolved into how a series of independent privately-owned roads might select its “clients”. But surely roads are one of the few “natural monopolies”. There are only so many routes which can rationally exist between points A and B, and it’s pretty inefficient (in the economic sense) to have a multitude of roads covering that same route, merely so each can exclude some particular disfavored group. Frankly, I can’t see that happening even in Libertopia.

    And what is all this concern about terrorists “using” the roads? For the most part, roadways aren’t where terrorist acts occur; that happens in “public” places (meaning merely places where people congregate, whatever their ownership) where there are large crowds of people. Roads are only a means of getting to such places, and if I owned a tollway I wouldn’t care if a terrorist “used” it as long as he paid the fare. I’m not concerned that he would be injuring my other clients, and what he did at his destination is the concern of the owner/operator of that place, not me.

    Then there is the whole issue of identifying a terrorist “sympathizer”. Personally, I would classify every Muslim as such, because (as I’ve posted here before), even the “peaceful” ones who are truly horrified by terrorism nonetheless help to create and sustain the environment in which terrorists are bred (mosques and Islamic schools). But if you aren’t willing to go that far it’s pretty difficult to reliably identify even a fraction of the “sympathizers”. The starting premise is irredeemably flawed.

    All in all, I’m finding this discussion quite unsatisfying.

  • Paul Marks

    Transport is not a “natural monopoly” Laird.

    There are various modes of transport between “A and B” – road, rail, air, water (and so on). In a free market they would compete against each other.

  • Laird

    Paul, I didn’t say “transport”, I said “roads”. Specifically. Which is what this post is about.

  • Patrick Crozier

    “I’m having difficulty with this whole thread.”

    Yes, it does seem to have created a great deal of confusion. This is particularly embarrassing because I tend to the view that if I don’t understand something it’s their fault not mine. And if I am confusing someone as smart as Laird…

    Addressing Laird’s main point, I think the implications for the state are clear enough. Firstly, identify the terrorist-sympathiser areas, surround them with barbed wire and don’t let anyone out. Secondly, intern any terrorist sympathisers outside those areas.

    “And what is all this concern about terrorists “using” the roads?”

    I did consider answering this question when I was drafting the post but I thought it was too obvious: all acts of terrorism require the use of a road at some point.

    “…if I owned a tollway I wouldn’t care if a terrorist “used” it as long as he paid the fare”

    So, LairdRoad doesn’t care that it is used by terrorists? That’s fine but CrozierRoad does. CrozierRoad is going to get out the barbed wire and concrete and close any junctions between the two. Alternatively, CrozierRoad will demand guarantees from LairdRoad in the event of terrorists using LairdRoad in order to attack people in the vicinity of CrozierRoad.

    I am not quite sure what is meant by the penultimate paragraph. I think it means that terrorist sympathisers are difficult to identify. I don’t think that’s the case. When the British army was deployed on the streets of Ulster in 1969 in some areas it had to separate the Ulster British from the Ulster Irish. Given that members of these two groups look and sound identical to one another you would have thought this was difficult. Not so. There is some wonderful footage of a poor squaddie trying to work out where to put his barbed-wire knife rest only to be told in precise detail where to put it by the natives.

  • Mr Black

    What a strange way to say muslims are a problem. And after you make all the roads 100% secure from muslims, they’ll just blow up something else that isn’t a road. So at huge expense you’ve achieved nothing.

    You cannot fence off all of civilisation from an enemy population that is already inside your borders. The simple solution is this. Islam is made illegal. All muslims are deported, no muslim may ever visit Britain for any purpose and any who adopt islam are sent to any place that will have them, or are hanged. That is how they deal with Christians and Jews in their lands, thus should we deal with them in our lands.

  • Laird

    Patrick, it is certainly your prerogative to close CrozierRoad to terrorists (or their “sympathizers”, presuming that you can actually identify them with a reasonable degree of certainty, a proposition which I don’t accept), but if they aren’t going to harm your road or your other customers, why would you deny yourself that source of revenue? You are accepting the responsibility for (and assuming the cost of) protecting those who aren’t your customers. That’s your choice, of course, and very noble of you, but I don’t think it’s a particularly rational decision (economically speaking, and your private road is above all an economic enterprise, not an eleemosynary one), nor is it one I think most other road owners would make.

  • Laird

    I agree with Mr Black’s central premise, although I don’t see a need (at least at present) to go quite as far as he does for the “solution”. I’ve listed in some detail in another thread the steps I would take to minimize the threat while retaining at least some sympathy for the truly peaceful Muslims already in the country (and I accept that there are many such) and won’t repeat it here. But I don’t think that either wholesale deportations (per Mr Black) or barbed wire and internment camps (per Patrick) is a politically viable approach.

  • Patrick Crozier

    “I am not quite sure what is meant by the penultimate paragraph. I think it means that terrorist sympathisers are difficult to identify. I don’t think that’s the case. When the British army was deployed on the streets of Ulster in 1969 in some areas it had to separate the Ulster British from the Ulster Irish. Given that members of these two groups look and sound identical to one another you would have thought this was difficult. Not so. There is some wonderful footage of a poor squaddie trying to work out where to put his barbed-wire knife rest only to be told in precise detail where to put it by the natives.”

    But what of a road owned by a club?
    This is an important example if I am right that most private roads would be in this form. The governance rules might be in the form of one frontage one vote. But it may be that the number of votes is proportional to the fees charged.

    Now a road club will not have the same incentives as a commercial road – they would not exist to make money. But they would have incentives enough. The principal one would be that their members would want to preserve the value of their properties and one factor in that would be how likely it was that their properties became subject to terrorism.”

  • Laird

    “But what of a road owned by a club?”

    OK, now we’re getting a little more interesting. Let’s explore this further.

    How is the land upon which the road sits acquired by this “club”? Presumably it’s contributed by the members as a condition of membership. If it bisects my property I own both sides of the road; if it runs along property lines each side is owned by a different person (let’s assume that the actual amount of square footage was contributed equally by both). So the votes are based on the linear footage of frontage on both sides. And if I don’t want to participate in the scheme I simply opt out and the road goes elsewhere, right? But what if that means a significant detour, adversely affecting the utility of the road? Either the club agrees to “give” (in some fashion) me more for my land than it does the other members, or it starts thinking along the lines of something approaching eminent domain. Hmmm.

    Roads require maintenance (and the managers will have to be paid), so tolls will be needed. And as the contributor of a portion of of the land I will want some revenue in return, if only to make up for the lost acreage available for growing my crops or whatever else I might have done with it. Who sets those toll rates? Who determines what a “reasonable” rate of return is for the contributing property owners? What if some of the land has a higher economic value than other parts? Do we have disparate rates of return for the members?

    And unless you want to have each property owner charging his own tolls, like the troll under the bridge*, I would have to permanently convey to the club all rights to the collection of tolls. This means the club must be some form of legal entity with perpetual life, such as a corporation or a trust. OK so far, but it’s starting to look less like a “private” road.

    What happens if the road runs through my farmland (of zero interest to terrorists) but one terminus is at a large public forum which is a magnet for terrorists, such as a popular night club or football stadium? Obviously that “owner” would have an interest in prohibiting terrorists from the road, but my interest is in maximizing revenues. Who wins? My suspicion is that the venue owner will somehow acquire an outsized amount of political control over road management, regardless of his actual ownership or voting rights.

    And even if all the adjacent property owners are in complete accord on the “rules of the road” (so to speak) at its inception, what about their successors (by inheritance or other conveyance)? They’re bound by decisions made by their predecessors, even if they disagree or circumstances have changed.

    So we’ve arrived at a situation where control of this “private” road has been irrevocably transferred to a small group of managers who have little if any personal economic interest in the road, elected via a process in which each adjacent property owner has minimal control and over which certain interests exercise de facto control even without any significant ownership. This is beginning to look suspiciously like a government. What have we actually achieved?

    * At which point we would call these troll roads! 😆

  • Mr Black

    Laird, you’re right that wholesale deportation isn’t politically viable, but that was not my calculation. If the objective is to secure Britain from muslim terrorism then all existing muslims and new converts in the future must be removed from the country. There is no way anyone can divide muslims into peaceful and violent, especially because formerly peaceful muslims have a habit of changing their ways and killing people at random. So they all have to go. The last resort of hanging is to prevent a buildup of muslims sitting in British prisons for the rest of their lives. If they choose to convert to the practices of an enemy power, then they ARE the enemy for all intents and purposes. If they won’t leave they will be treated as enemy agents and executed. Again, not politically viable yet, but as a solution against muslim terrorism is would be extremely effective. Far more so than building walls around everything we want to protect.

    Unfortunately too many people seem to have an objective of ‘not being seen to be mean’ and that means innocent lives will be lost from now until eternity.

  • Ken Mitchell

    “If the objective is to secure Britain from muslim terrorism then all existing muslims and new converts in the future must be removed from the country. There is no way anyone can divide muslims into peaceful and violent”

    I think that the actual problem is that there is insufficient incentive for “peaceful” Muslims to separate themselves from or inform on the violent ones. I’ve proposed the concept of a “family parole” for Muslim immigrants to the United States. All immigrants must have a “sponsor” in the US, to ensure that they do not become a burden; I would expand the idea and hold every family “hostage” for the behavior of every other. If anyone engages in terrorist activities, the entire family would be arrested and deported, and all their property forfeit. Every recent Muslim terrorist in the US has, upon investigation, proven to have received aid and assistance from other family members. Others were often aware of their plans. I would penalize the the entire family for their “omerta”.

    All the “road” arguments that I’ve read invariably fail because terrorists do not obey laws or follow agreements.

  • Mr Black

    Ken, I’ve had a similar thought but I would make the entire mosque sponsors. That is the centre of power and influence in muslim life. If any member committed a terrorist act, every single person who attends that mosque forfeits their property and is deported with a lifetime ban on re-entry. Then they will be highly motivated to police their own. These killers would thinking nothing of betraying a sponsors trust, in fact the sponsor might be part of the arrangement and an attack. For it to work, the people who do not know the killers have to be the ones who have everything to lose. Those who know the killers have already made the calculation.

  • bobby b

    And here I thought his roads were just metaphor for countries.

  • Lee Moore

    On road clubs and private roads. I happen to live on a private road. It comes off a public road and divides two tracts of farmland. The tract on one side is owned by Farmer A and the tract on the other side is owned by Farmer B. There are three or four houses dotted along the road in addition to the farms and farm houses.

    The road itself is on Farmer B’s land, along the border with Farmer A’s land, and so Farmer B owns the road 100%. As I am a tenant of Farmer B, I don’t pay anything for the upkeep of the road – it’s included in my rent. But the other people who use the road, mostly Farmer A, but also the other householders, make some agreed contribution to the road’s upkeep.

    As to the economics – Farmer B is obviously getting value from the road – it helps his farm. Farmer A is happy to pay to use it, because it helps his farm, and if it didn’t exist he’d have to build his own. (In fact he has built his own tributary road entirely on his own land, that only he uses.) So as far as Farmer A is concerned, he has a choice. Farmer B hasn’t got a monopoly as Farmer A can build his own road if Farmer B asks too much. (I don’t know what the term of the upkeep agreement is, but presumably it gets renegotiated from time to time.) But for the householders – they have no way to get to their houses without the Farmer B road (unless Farmer A builds a competing road) so they’re stuck with a monopoly supplier. But I assume that their right of way, and contribution to upkeep, is legally attached to their property title, so when they sell, Farmer B doesn’t have the option to say sorry no access to the new owners.

    Farmer B is naturally more concerned than Farmer A about the repair of the road. For example as these are farms there’s always some kind of building work or tree chopping or something going on, so big heavy trucks owned by contractors trundle down the road. Farmer B decided that these guys were being way too careless going down the road, and damaging it by going onto the verges too often. Which wears away the edge of the road surface requiring more maintenance. So he installed a line of sticks on each side of the road to force trucks to stick to the gravelled surface and not steer loosely round corners. Since the upkeep contributions are already set, then Farmer B has an incentive to do stuff – like the sticks – to minimise maintenance costs.

    There’s also been a big land slip on one section of the road, which will cost a bundle to repair. Farmer B blames Farmer A for grazing his cattle in a way that causes them to undermine the steep bits. Farmer A disagrees. So there’s a fight about who pays how much to repair the slip. But note that this argument would still exist even if Farmer A didn’t use the road. It’s not an argument about road use, it’s about who is responsible for damage to the road – Farmer A or God.

    No answers to the puzzles, but I thought it might be helpful background. I suspect that most private roads are and would always be, owned by somebody in particular rather than by clubs, on the traditional business principle that joint ventures never last.

  • bobby b

    This is very common in northern Minnesota. I have a set of forms on one of my computers for generating Private Street Association documents. It’s modeled on Homeowners Association requirements.

    If you buy a property on one of these roads with, say, X number of properties total on the road, you get, along with title to your property, a 1/x interest-in-common in the road. It gets interesting when an unschooled realtor forgets to convey the street interest along with the property. (Yay for lawyers!)

    Anywhere you see a gated community, you’re likely looking at private street associations.

  • Patrick Crozier

    @Laird “This is beginning to look suspiciously like a government.”

    Isn’t it just!

    @bobby b: I presume everyone with a 1/x interest in the road also gets to pay 1/x of the maintenance bill.

  • bobby b

    “I presume everyone with a 1/x interest in the road also gets to pay 1/x of the maintenance bill.”

    Yes. Just like fixing and maintaining the common areas in a homeowners association agreement. Regular maintenance bills, special assessments for large repairs. It’s not uncommon, in the case of roads going partways around a lake, for the residents to get together and file a Petition to Vacate Road with their local government. The government gets out of paying for upkeep, the residents can usually maintain the road better than the government, and they can limit access.

  • Laird

    Lee, that seems like a fine, workable solution for a very small group of users of a short stretch of road. But just as with socialist/communist societies, which can work for small, self-selecting groups, it isn’t scalable. It’s not a workable model for large, long, heavily-traveled roads.

    bobby b*, I am certainly familiar with private roads in gated subdivisions. What I find interesting is that, in my experience anyway, after about 20 years (after many of the homes have been conveyed by the original owners to subsequent ones) the property owners start agitating to convey the roads to the town and dedicate them to public use. I guess they get tired of all the cost and headaches of maintenance.

    * Why no capitalization?

  • bobby b

    “Why no capitalization?”

    I’ve always thought of it more as an avatar than a proper name.

  • Alisa

    Thought exercises regarding possible patterns of ownership of this or that in an anarchist society are always interesting, but like Laird, I just can’t see how it is relevant to terrorism. But since the discussion has yet again digressed to terrorism in general, then I’ll just say that terrorism is just another form of violent crime – all that’s different from “normal” crime is its motive, which means that one fights it like any other crime driven by a strong collective motive: by collecting intelligence on potential perpetrators and their actual active* collaborators, and by keeping those with the reasonable potential to become the latter out of your country before they become citizens**.

    *No Mr., you cannot deport innocent citizens of your country just for being Muslims – you should have kept them out in the first place, but that cat is out of the bag now. If you insist on doing that, then this folly will come back to bite either you or your descendants in the posterior. A person is either a citizen, or he is not, period. You cannot do it not because it is “mean”, but because it is stupid.

    **It actually works in Israel, believe it or not, for the most part. About fifth of our are citizens are Muslim, with very few incidents of actual terrorism (although quite a bit of “regular” crime, which is a different matter, and of which the Jewish part of the population is far from free). Like I said, intelligence plus sane immigration policy.

  • Alisa

    Should read ‘*No Mr. Black’

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby, I just assumed you’re channelling e. e. cummings. :>))

    I do observe that it’s marginally easier to address a particular person on-line if he’s dispensed with the caps. (Naturally I cannot recommend such a low-down, dastardly, perverted practice, but still….)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Or, of course, bell hooks.

  • Lee Moore

    Alisa : I’ll just say that terrorism is just another form of violent crime – all that’s different from “normal” crime is its motive, which means that one fights it like any other crime driven by a strong collective motive: by collecting intelligence on potential perpetrators and their actual active* collaborators

    I’m not sure I’d limit it to “collective motive” – I think I’d add “collective organisation.” Most crime is done in itty bitty pieces by itty bitty people or gangs of two or three people. Consequently for policing (and legal) purposes, hypotheses of vast conspiracies can be ruled out and Mr Occam can be relied upon to provide the most sensible clues. But when you’re dealing with the mob, which is capable of complex conspiracies, you may have to go beyond Occam into more difficult, unlikely territory.

    So while there are no doubt lone wolf terrorists motivated merely by the collective motive, there are also terrorist organisations. And the history of policing terrorist organisations indicates that traditional liberty friendly policing methods are not always effective. It becomes a half way house between policing and warfare. Regrettable since from a liberty angle we would much prefer to apply the crime frame to terrorism than the war frame. But we apply the war frame to war, because the crime frame is impractical. The enemy has too much organisation and infrastructure to be policed to defeat.

    Terrorism is on the road to war, and consequently on the road away from the crime frame.

    Thus, for example, what are we to do with all these attackers who were on the radar, sometimes as very consistent blips, but had to be left alone because the crime frame does not permit internment of suspected villains.

    How about….interning them ?

  • Mr Black

    Alisa, I am shocked that a resident of Israel could be so terribly misguided regarding the nature of terrorism. Terrorism is war in slow motion. For you to imagine that it is some kind of criminal activity and can be dealt with via courts and police is astonishing.

  • Alisa

    If it’s of any consolation, Mr. Black, you are by far not the first to be shocked by facts not matching one’s presuppositions. You are also not the first to read the latter into someone-else’s comments. So let me try this again then: there is virtually no terrorism emanating from the Israeli Muslim citizens – why do you think is that?

  • Alisa

    Lee, I have no problem with your expanded definition, but I am skeptical about internment – see my conversation with Mr. Black.

  • Mr Black

    I don’t believe you’ve presented any facts to shock me, but a willing refusal to acknowledge an international movement aimed at Israeli genocide is astonishing. Those are not criminals and they don’t care about the police. They are lined up to kill you and yours and you think the legal system is an appropriate response. It’s almost beyond belief.

  • Alisa

    Like I said, you are reading into my comments things that I have simply not written. There is an international movement against Israel and the West in general, Muslim and otherwise. And yet, Israeli Muslims are committing virtually no acts of terrorism – that, without us resorting to deportations, internments, or banning of Islam. These are the facts with which you refuse to deal – perhaps because you are too eager to see bans, internments and deportations, or perhaps because you are scared out of wits. Neither is going to solve the very real problem you are facing vis a vis your Muslim population, so all I can suggest is to calm down and think rationally, because the solutions you are proposing are not only not going to work, they will backfire.

  • Alisa (July 2, 2017 at 4:10 pm), terrorism could be called “crime with other motives”, just as war has been called “diplomacy by other means”, but it seems to me at least as useful useful to call terrorism “diplomacy by other means”, or even “social policy by other means”.

    Both the communists in Vietnam and the South in the civil war (except for certain plans of Lee and Jackson) did not seek to defeat the United States militarily but to outlast its will to keep fighting. Far more than either of these, islamic terrorists use their ‘war’ as politics, to recast the societies they target. In the past, other terrorists might attack hard targets (military-supporting infrastructure, competent enemy leaders, etc.) to improve their military state vis-a-vis their opponent. Today, islamic terrorism is what crime is when the wider reaction to a crime is far more important than the actual victims. Ordinary crimes target people the murderer hates, money the thief wants, etc. Terrorists target the news – their enemy’s news as much or more than their own – and thus the enemy society’s will to resist. Specific victims are mere props. The aim is to weaken our resistance to their recasting our society, and so far – with help from our unworthy elites – they’re having more success than I like, or would have thought likely 20 years ago.

    (Of course, by no means all actual terrorists have competent understanding of western polities. I’ll bet some are seeing a degree of western cringe they did not expect or plan for 20 years ago.)

    So it’s crime with other motives, but it’s also diplomacy by other means, except that diplomacy implies a state you negotiate with whereas the islamic terrorist’s ideal enemy state is a conveniently PC accomplice in weakening the society’s ability to resist: social transformation by other means.

  • Alisa (July 2, 2017 at 4:10 pm), your rule that “you cannot deport innocent citizens of your country just for being Muslims – you should have kept them out in the first place, but that cat is out of the bag now.” seems a “heads they win, tails we lose” policy if applied with ruthless literalism when our elites break their own immigration laws to import millions per year. Invalidity of lllegally-granted immigration or citizenship, a long period-of-reversibility for a blatant attempt of the last government to “dissolve the people and elect another”, etc. – all these and more would seem to apply except when it is strictly a case of “Yes, the late government obeyed all the laws and told all the facts and in every way behaved so that the whole existing polity should accept the immigration they arranged as lawful acts of the polity.”

    In the past, my criteria was the normal case. After the millennium in both the UK and the US , “dissolve the people and elect another” (literally, “rub the British people’s nose in diversity”) was a policy achieved by extremely explicit law-breaking. I think those cases can’t come under your rubric (which does’t mean they can’t sometimes be sorted out by acts that don’t always challenge it).

    This ties in with my previous comment because a self-confident society doesn’t have this problem: “Let’s rub the British people’s nose in diversity” is both the motive for arranging illegal immigration and the symptom of elite attitudes that will prevent us from confidently absorbing the newcomers.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Alisa,

    Why do you think Israeli Muslims are so loath to indulge in terrorism?

  • Alisa

    I have already explained that Patrick – I think it is due to intelligence and to sane immigration policy.

  • Mr Black

    Alisa, why does Israel deny the “right of return” if there is nothing to fear? Seems to me you have your eyes closed to the very real threats that surround you while people with guns who stand on the walls make sure you can stay that way.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    That would be part of the ‘keep them out’ philosophy, which she mentioned earlier. Israel is a small nation, barely the size of an Australian county, so it can’t let in unlimited numbers.

  • Lee Moore

    The right of return thing isn’t to do with terrorism it’s to do with votes.

  • Alisa

    Mr. Black, seems to me you have trouble with reading comprehension: where did I say or imply that there is nothing to fear? And how exactly is ‘the right of return’ relevant to the Britain, or with your suggestion of deportations and banning of Islam in your country?