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Wendy McElroy: how the blockchain provides private justice

Wendy McElroy: how the blockchain provides private justice

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The Satoshi Revolution: A Revolution of Rising Expectations
Section 5: Saving the world through anarchism
Chapter 11, part 6
How the blockchain provides private justice

The key to … an anarcho-capitalist judicial system lies in the concept of a "personal magistracy". [Acting as your own judge.]… The aim of the courts is to enable men to resolve disputes in order to avoid violent resolutions and cycles of aggression-overcompensation. To consider legitimate court decisions is the only way for litigants to avoid personal judicial proceedings.

– Karl T. Fielding, "The Role of Personal Justice in Anarcho-Capitalism"

Justice is an obstacle for all political systems. It is a particular problem for anarchism because its conception of justice sounds bizarre to many; Anarchism uniquely advocates that justice should be a commodity or service provided through the free market rather than an insurance. Even the vision of justice sounds contradictory; how can a society based entirely on a voluntary exchange deal with crimes such as theft that could require the seizure of stolen assets and the detention of criminals against their will?

This last objection was ably rejected by Murray Rothbard during a major debate on anarchist justice with philosophy professor John Hospers. Rothbard wrote: "I see no reason why anyone should worry about the consent of the criminals to their just punishment." I believe that nothing should be done to anyone without his consent, except for the just punishment of criminals who have already violated the "consent", the person or property of their victims. "

The main point becomes if the free market can give justice. And the first question that arises about this topic is usually, "How would free market justice?" The unsatisfactory answer is that no one knows for sure, any more than people of decades ago knew that communication would have seemed Internet or transactions like the blockchain. (More information later).

In the meantime, the principles on which private justice is based can and must be clearly defined.


"TINA" topic by John Locke


The classic liberal philosopher John Locke has used an argument "There is no alternative" in his book Second treaty of government. It is a type of reasoning in which to refute "both" (anarchism) means to validate the "o" (the state).

In the initial quote of this article, Karl Fielding used the term "judicial staff". The term is based on a political argument presented by Locke, and refers to the idea that a man has the natural right to be the judge of his case. For example, every man has the right to forcibly claim his property from a thief, because this is an extension of his right to defend the person and property.

Locke recognized this right, but was opposed to practicing it. He wrote, "That in the state of nature everyone has executive power of the law of nature, I do not doubt it, but will object, that it is unreasonable for men to be judges in their cases, that self-love will make men partial to themselves and to their friends: and from the other part, that bad nature, passion and revenge will take them too far in punishing others; and therefore they will only follow confusion and disorder. "

"The state of nature" refers to human existence without "society" in the modern sense of that word. In a state of nature, Locke believed that all men were equal with the same natural right to judge their own cases. Again, if a possession had been stolen, the owner could judge the act as unfair and remedy the wound personally; he could recover his property, including any indemnity he thought was due. In short, private justice is a question of law.

Locke believed that a private judicial process tended decisively towards iniquity, because even an honest man sees things from his own perspective and personal interest. Even a well-meaning man could be confused about the facts, including the aggressor's identity. This means that a world occupied by people who have judged their cases would lead to discord, especially if the aggressor himself feels offended. An attacker might think that the violence used in the recovery of possession was excessive, for example, or that the added compensation was unreasonable. At that point, the aggressor will judge his case and find himself to be the victim; it could very well look for compensation or revenge. Or a non-aggressor unjustly accused could decide to rectify the wrong done to him. The process could easily become an endless cycle of violence because justice was not accepted as legitimate by either side.

Locke believed that breaking the cycle of "confusion and disorder" required an impartial judge whose assessment would be considered legitimate by both parties. Put in cryptic terms: decentralized justice had to be centralized under the authority of a trusted third party. The stakes were not trivial. Without a trusted third party to judge cases and make legitimate decisions, civil society was not possible.

The need for legitimacy in justice was one of the main reasons, if it was not the main reason – Locke claimed a limited state. For centuries, this was a fundamental argument against anarchism and freedom. And the topic / o is correct, in this case. It is either freedom or it is the state, with justice that is a crucial point between the two. (One form of this argument is spreading within the crypto community: it is anarchism or state, with the use of theft and fraud as a pivotal point.) Otherwise stated: if individuals can not do justice, then the state it becomes necessary, even for those who see the state as a necessary evil and try to constrain it through checks and balances.

What's in this with the blockchain? With the blockchain, the centralization of justice is immediately reversed; control is taken from the state and returned to the individual, without blood, votes or revolution. But if Locke is right about justice that requires a trusted third party, then the state monopoly on justice risks re-establishing itself. What can transparent records do to prevent it?

A definition of justice is a place to start responding. Justice is too closely connected with police officers, lawyers, courts and prisons. Such state employees are not justice; it is they who come into play when justice breaks down; they are there to protect the state, not individuals or peace. The state thus dominates this area, however, that administrative justice is the first definition that comes to people's minds.

Ethical justice applies to the conduct of civil and private life. The Aristotelian definition appeals to common sense: everyone should receive what they deserve from each other. Few things are equal to the free market in which two people make a direct exchange for agreed values ​​and then move away. A woman who goes shopping, buys a tomato and goes home is enjoying justice. It may seem that one is simply enjoying everyday life, because this affirmation is also true. In normal life, the free market generally provides people with what they deserve, even if that's not what they want.

The trick is what to do when the justice of normal life breaks down, a situation otherwise known as violence. Eliminating the most pervasive form of violence, the state, would also eliminate most injustices. But a stateless society would suffer private violence against people or property.

Two approaches to minimizing private violence and its damage are prevention and punishment. Prevention is the best approach, by far, for a free society. Keep the person and property; it avoids the unpleasant process of correcting an injustice; it greatly reduces the need for procedures or institutions to correct injustice; does not create an entry point for the state.

The blockchain not only promotes freedom, but also prevents the theft from both the state and private parties. A peer-to-peer transfer avoids the participation of trusted third parties where so many thefts occur; private portfolios hide the need to rely on banks, exchanges or other third parties. The transparency of the blockchain allows you to see where each piece of crypt is going. The irreversibly and timestamps of the transfer were specifically included to prevent theft. The anonymity that is possible with a little effort also provides protection.

Cryptography and blockchain protection stops more dramatically when trusted third parties are re-introduced into the equation. Many of the problems solved by the blockchain return with the involvement of trusted third parties. The biggest theft occurred in exchanges, for example. With unethical or centralized exchanges that function as banks, the user's trust has been misplaced and exchanges become thieves. The ethical but incompetent serve as an invitation to hackers and the trust of the user has been misplaced again. Those who are ethical and competent are still risks because they are public; they are like well-closed houses that are still being robbed.

Guidelines are available to use the exchange as safely as possible. Choose a decentralized one, for example, and never give up private keys. But the crypto community has not adequately addressed the problems created by reintroducing trusted third parties. To my knowledge, no exchange offers even users an insurance policy or charges higher commissions as a guarantee against theft.

So far, only the impact of the blockchain on economic justice has been discussed, but the possibilities for all forms of justice are immense. Distributed systems can transmit self-applied smart peer-to-peer contracts. A recent report by the United States Senate has declared that it is a smart contract, "the concept is rooted in basic contract law.Usually, the judicial system judges contractual disputes and applies terms, but it is also common to have another method of arbitration. , especially for international transactions: With smart contracts, a program imposes the contract integrated into the code. "(How smart are the current contracts are a controversial point, but they are proof of principle).

19th The anarchist individualist-anarchist Benjamin Tucker referred to anarchism as "company by contract". Contracts could express any exchange, from leasing to prostitution, from insurance policies to drug deals. Contracts would not be legal or illegal, only consensual. Just as encryption bypasses the central banking system and decentralizes economic control over the individual, smart contracts have the potential to circumvent much of the legal system and return to the law of the people's contract. But, like encryption, contracts would not require a reliable third party.

[To be continued next week.]

Reprints of this article should credit bitcoin.com and include a link to the original links of all previous chapters


Wendy McElroy has agreed to "publish live" her new book The Satoshi Revolution exclusively with Bitcoin.com. Every Saturday you will find another episode in a series of posts that are expected to end after about 18 months. Altogether they will compose his new book "The Satoshi Revolution". Read here first.

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