The Libertarian Criminal Legal System

This is my final post in answering @simonr916 questions on the practicalities of a libertarian legal system which looks at the mechanics of a free market criminal law system.

To cover all the theoretical nuances is simply not possible in a single blog post. For anyone wanting to study this area in depth I highly recommend: “Anarchy and the Law” which is a fantastic collection of essays on the subject by a number of leading libertarian thinkers.

I am including links to the text and audio or video material to make it a bit easier to digest for those who don;t want to read it all.

A good place to start is Morris & Linda Tannehill:  Chapter 9: The Market for Liberty

Followed by Rothbard – Police, Law & Courts, Chapter 12: For a New Liberty

David Friedmann – Police Courts & laws on the market. Part 3 II – The Machinery of Freedom

There are also a number of societies throughout history that have operated forms of private law without a state. The most interesting ones are:

Iceland between the 10th and 13th Centuries

Irish Celtic Brehon Law from the bronze age right through to the early 17th century

Kapauku Papuans of West New Guinea


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  • voodoo_criminology

    Ah, The Market for Liberty. It’s the only fully developed system of “libertarian” law with which I’m familiar, full pdf here:

    Their approach leads to such results as the notion that the mentally ill offender, or indeed mentally ill people in general, selling themselves for scientific study as a means of paying for their incarceration and/or care (pg. 103). Further comment should be superfluous.And speaking as an Irish lawyer with more than a passing familiarity with Brehon law, I really don’t see how the notion that it fit the libertarian ideal can be sustained. It was a fully integrated part of the pre-colonial system of kingship and power – the state, as it was – and had particular schools which held a monopoly on the training of the Brehon class.