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The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State Paperback – March 15, 1990
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"Benson's book is an important contribution to law and economics literature. He properly emphasizes the role of institutions in shaping incentive and the role of incentives in shaping institutions." —Henry G. Manne, dean emeritus, School of Law, George Mason University
“In The Enterprise of Law, Bruce Benson provides us with the most comprehensive treatise on private sector alternatives to government law enforcement available today. Benson systematically addresses all the issues, arguments, and objections surrounding the growing role of market institutions in the legal system. But his book is more than a mere defense of current privatization trends in protective services, corrections, and dispute resolution. The Enterprise of Law questions the seemingly axiomatic proposition that law and order are “necessary functions of government.” —CATO Journal
About the Author
Bruce L. Benson is the recipient of the Ludwig von Mises Prize and the Adam Smith Award, a senior fellow of the Independent Institute, and a contributing editor of the Independent Review. He is a professor of economics at Florida State University, has written numerous articles and reviews, and is the author of The Economic Anatomy of Drug War, Privatization in Criminal Justice, and To Serve and Protect. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.
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PART I / FROM VOLUNTARY TO AUTHORITARIAN LAW
II. Customary Legal Systems with Voluntary Enforcement
III. The Rise of Authoritarian Law
PART II / A PUBLIC CHOICE APPROACH TO AUTHORITARIAN LAW
IV. Law and Justice as a Political Market
V. The Demand Side of the Political Market
VI. The Supply Side of the Political Market
VII. Corruption of Law Enforcement Officials
PART III / REEMERGENCE OF PRIVATE ALTERNATIVES
VIII. Contracting Out for Law and Justice
IX. Current Trends in Privatization
X. Benefits to Privatization
PART IV / RATIONALIZING AUTHORITARIAN LAW
XI. Market Failure in Law and Justice
XII. The Legal Monopoly on Coercion
PART V / FROM AUTHORITARIAN TO PRIVATE LAW
XIII. Political Barriers to Privatization
XIV. Envisioning a Private System
The second half of the book discusses the incentives and consequences of a government provision of law that virtually is entirely ignored in contemporary discussion on the topic. His analysis of special interest groups is fantastic.
This is a profound and comprehensive book. Probably the best I've read on this matter. A must read !!!
In the past decade I have read a lot on this topic, but let me say that this is by far the most comprehensive and in depth work in this area, period! What else can be expected from such an insightful economist, and someone with a developed understanding of law and justice from multiple perspectives. Bruce Benson, imo, should be regarded a titan for taking on such a complex subject and all the useless, baseless, and derogatory attacks that come from the statist quo - he holds his ground amazingly well. This publication should unanimously be regarded the sole authority on the matter of stateless justice system(s).
Benson does a superb job of shooting down just about every possible "what if", objection, and many of the obtuse critiques of from the statists quo - imho, it's just amazing. He addresses the shortcomings of his previous writing on the topic, outlines them, and corrects them with cogent, easy to understand arguments and nearly perfect logical consistency. I have to say, if you are interested in how a justice system can function without the state being involved or even a system where the state justice system would have to compete against private justice systems, this is probably the only book worth investing in and reading.
More compliments to Benson: you'll not find a more comprehensive presentation, and cogent set of arguments for how a stateless society will function in regards to a justice system. Nobody can read this book and walk away and simply just maintain their previous assumptions or beliefs. This book can actually teach you a new way of thinking and how to critique the state more appropriately and effectively - as anarchists and libertarians should. I think that all liberty minded people should consume this and improve their understanding of a free market and how it will actually work. The end of the state, like all things, is inevitable and that is why this is a must read. The only thing we as a species should allow to replace the state is a truly Free Market, and Benson has given us one of the most powerful tools (understanding thereof) that the Free Market will require to have to be truly viable and lasting solution post state.
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