Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on January 7, 2014

in Complexity & Emergence, Crime, History, Law, Myths and Fallacies, Property Rights

… is from Terry Anderson’s and P.J. Hill’s classic and important 1979 article, “An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: The Not So Wild, Wild West“:

The West during this time [second half of the 19th century] is often perceived as a place of great chaos, with little respect for property or life. Our research indicates that this was not the case; property rights were protected, and civil order prevailed. Private agencies provided the necessary basis for an orderly society in which property was protected and conflicts were resolved.

These agencies often did not qualify as governments because they did not have a legal monopoly on “keeping order.” They soon discovered that “warfare” was a costly way of resolving disputes and lower-cost methods of settlement (arbitration, courts, etc.) resulted. In summary … a characterization of the American West as chaotic would appear to be incorrect.

P.J. Hill offered further thoughts in 2010.

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