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Chaos Theory: Two Essays on Market Anarchy

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  428 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Among the most advanced topics in the literature of the Austrolibertarian milieu is that which deals with the workings of the fully free society, that is, the society with no state, or anarchocapitalism. Robert Murphy deals with this head on, and makes the first full contribution to this literature in the new century. Working within a Rothbardian framework, he takes up the ...more
Trade Paperback, 61 pages
Published 2002 by RJ Communications, LLC
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Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anarchism, philosophy
I went into this book really wanting to like it. I already consider myself an "anarcho-capitalist," and believe any realization of the State is fundamentally incompatible with freedom and liberty.

Unfortunately, I just couldn't get behind this book. I found the arguments presented to be shallow and unconvincing, built on top of a flimsy framework of numerous assumptions and speculations.

Bottom line for me is: a few interesting thought-experiments about how anarchy could turn out, but I wouldn't
Brendan Martin
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just pure fun. No, this is not the perfect model. It shows though, that in a relatively small amount time, one economics professor came up with a model that could possibly work. If he was able to do this much, how much closer to perfect could we make it if everyone committed to the endeavor? To clarify, the endeavor is to have a society without aggression, one that operates on completely voluntary interactions, and fully respects property rights.
Jos Esposto
Jul 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
For amateur anarcho-capitalists like myself, this book was incredible in answering 9/10 questions I had regarding a completely “free market” and “stateless” society. Murphy states: “Only in a competitive, voluntary system is there any hope for judicial excellence” and by golly, he’s right. He explained Title Registry, Children, Warring Agencies, Prisons, Insurance, and contractual laws in ways I could understand and get behind, all factors of a great book.

Additionally, Murphy states, “… I ask t
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned-books
Chaos Theory: Two Essays on Market Anarchy, by Robert P. Murphy is a short book containing the two titular essays - the first on a justice and law system, the second on defense - both in the context of an anarcho-capitalist system.

While reading the book, I didn't have any doubts that the author is knowledgeable about economics and how the free-market system is supposed to work, but I was a bit surprised to learn that the author is an economist. I was surprised because the whole book has a pipe d
John Doe
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very fun, intresting and innovative book. Its selling point are its simplicity and out of box thinking.

Though I don't think that an Anarcho-Captialist society would be ever created in our world, but nevertheless it is a really fun way to look at the society.

According to me, the core issue with the idea of this book, is its obsession and belief that an Insurance company would solve most of the issues of world. Furthermore, some of the things are highly impractical, such as, asking a person to
Apr 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
OK intro text to the economic theory behind anarchic systems of defense, arbitration, law, and security. Answers the standard objections. Very little history here, and very little about non-defense/law. Its pretty targeted in that sense. I don't know what else to say about it. I don't really know why this was considered "advanced". Also it has nothing to do with chaos theory, its just a title.

Anarchic law has been done better by others, but the second essay (on defense) was more recommendable.

Wilfredo Rodríguez Dotti
As a libertarian I find some inconsistent aspects, for instance; I can't find abstract unconditional guarantees of rights. In this book there are many gaps and several things that I don't get to understand clearly because the author didn't elaborate enough. In any case this essay serves as a guide (superficial) to understand everything concerning voluntary interactions, also as a basis to understand, think and appreciate every aspect of individual freedom in a capitalist society (anarcho-capital ...more
Dec 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
If you are interested in Market Anarchy please start with Rothbard or Molinari, because this is full of whataboutism, incomplete explanations, and bad examples.

This quote condenses the whole spirit of the book:
"Finally, keep in mind that the ultimate judge in a given case
is…the judge."

I share the author's vision of free markets, but his explanations are a mess.
Mario García
Sep 25, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Being sympathetic with Anarchism, I often disregard self-proclaimed "Anarchocapitalists". Whatever the term, it points out the same set of economic ideas American neoconservatives pray for. Instead, Anarchism -as is- has a longstanding tradition of social criteria far away from the established focus on law and individual property, ingrained in market based societies to all extents (i.e., capitalism, socialism).

Out of curiosity -given the good choice of a tittle- I decided to give this book a lit
Oct 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
I am fascinated with Austrian Economics, but find the books on implementing anarchy lacking. It seems that this author's proposal would create a massive organization of insurance companies that would regulate and individual similar to a tyrannical government we have today. Of course one would be free to decide if they wanted to comply with the insurance company or not, but if they don't, they would be hampered in their activities in society.

Also, I fail to see how anarchy would deal with those c
Daniel Moss
John Hasnas makes the point that it's absolutely ridiculous to even attempt to describe in any kind of detail how the market would function in an alternate world where the state isn't regulating and running absolutely every important service in society. His thinking?... to be able to do so would mean the state could do it through top down planning. But only the marketplace with its billions of self-interested and rational contributors can reveal what the marketplace can produce, not one individu ...more
Jennell McHugh
Nov 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
Read as recommended. Disappointing and not provocative. It was a jumpy series of important topics with weak arguments and vague implications (at which I had to laugh). I believe in the importance of uncovering and researching new/refurbished/hybrid economic theories and enactments but its mindblowing that people could blindly dedicate themselves to this theory of "Free market anarchy" that is so unfathomable on a grand scale and thankfully as it sounds horrific run by the like of lawyers, insura ...more
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
Presents a brief outline of the possible workings of an anarcho-capitalist society, specifically the provision of law and defense. It's an interesting thought exercise, but it's too brief to be convincing. ...more
Jako Abrie
May 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Speculations are presented as fact in these essays.
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: liberalism
Wow. I was already convinced that anarcho-capitalism, or market anarchy, is the only logical form of government. However, before I decided that market anarchy was the only appropriate form of government, I believed in the more traditional libertarian position of "limited government". Minarchists believe that a State is required to provide limited government: law, police and national defense.

How does one confidently move on from a minarchist perspective of the State providing limited government t
Tim Rozmajzl
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whenever one endeavors to paint a picture of what solutions a free market may produce for the problems that are today the unquestioned purview of the state, he is speculating. But that is all that can be done. The objection that "it's never been done that way before" requires zero imagination or effort and does nothing to address the problem. Armed with sound philosophical, ethical and economic weaponry, Murphy presents a reasonable picture of a voluntary society based on respect for private pro ...more
Shane Hawk
Deserves four stars for what it is: two short essays on private law/arbitration and private defense speculating on their potential in a hypothetical anarchist society. I see these as floor level introductory pieces to an eventual fleshed out whole. Other reviews have valid criticisms but a lot don't apply because they're based on a premise that Murphy should have expounded on everything he mentioned. That wasn't his intention and his work should be judged for what it actually is. ...more
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What if the centralized power of the state didn't exist?

Murphy offers a modest vision of how a stateless society would work.

The key components of such a free society world would be:

- voluntary contracts
- free market of arbitration
- free market of inurances

He proposes that with these three anchors with an overarching value of private property, a society would even becom pacifistic.

Of course this is all theory, and has only been observed partially in history.

What is most facinating is how actuari
Kristaps Fabiāns
Dec 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is a good introduction for anyone new to anarcho-capitalist ideas, but it also leaves many unanswered questions and won't be enough to convince anyone fully about the efficacy of free market law/defense. Still, it sets a nice foundation for newbies and offers some interesting solutions that you might not've heard of before if this isn't your first dive into free market law/defense. ...more
Bryce Eickholt
Dec 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: political
Interesting. I see it as a possible option in an anarchist world. I'm not sure it would be the only option. Parts of it remind me of what little I know of anarcho-syndicalism except, instead of unions being the focus it's more based on insurance type institutions. ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Short, interesting essays that serve as introduction to how law and security could work in a private property society.
Wes Campbell
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read on what a stateless society could look like.
Feb 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Cliff Cunning
Jul 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Incredible book answered all of my questions and concerns on private defense and security
Mark Geise
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Bob Murphy is one of my favorite economists to listen to; he is fantastic on the ContraKrugman podcast and his lectures are always informative, interesting, and humorous. I have not read much of what he has written, though I did read “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal” earlier this year. Murphy is unafraid to confront the more difficult and more contentious topics among libertarians, and in these essays he discusses defense and policing in an anarcho-capita ...more
Yogy TheBear
As a libertarian minarhist who dose not oppose anarho capitalism I will say that the author is way to confident in his ideas.
I strongly hold the assumption that once we talk about anarhy we need to include into our discution, beside the economics and the arguments from clasical liberalism, a serrious consideration of morality, society, ethics and even theology.
Here the author understands that people will be at a much greater liberty to do evil in an anarhistic world, but insted of reasuring us w
Nex Juice
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was written in clear, simple to understand language which I profoundly appreciate. This is broken into two sections - Private Law and Private Defense. He explores how law and military defense would be executed in a market anarchist society.

The society would be contractually regulated. When dealing with people, you'd have a contract/agreement clearly outlining the expectations of the deal and the penalties if either party is unable to do their part. If there is a problem, both parties would
Nathan Titus
I've been an anarchist for as long as I can remember, and for just as long I've had some nagging doubts that it couldn't work for long. Most anarchist books, such as Laws of the Jungle, tend to underline my point: they have no particular ideology apart from anti-government. The thesis running throughout them seems be: just get rid of the government and see what happens. I believe what would happen (and there are a few historical examples here) is the immediate establishment of a new and quite po ...more
Jun 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Good, not great. For a book as short as this, I suppose one shouldn't expect more than an introduction, and with that as the standard Chaos Theory holds up pretty well. Sets forth the argument for market based law, law enforcement, and defense, the ultimate bulwarks of the minarchist, as provided by competing insurance agencies. Again, with approximately 40 pages allotted to each subject, I doubt the author was aiming for a comprehensive defense of his theory; even still this book leaves somethi ...more
Lukas Lovas
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very well put. The idea of capitalistic anarchy...or rather, anarchy with free quite refreshing. We can always find problems with theoretical systems. But there are countless more with our current way of living. Truly free market does have it's dangers, and the fact that money rules is somewhat frightening. Then again...isn't it kind of similiar now? :D
Well worth reading and thinking about. Keep in mind...there is no ideal political system...not the market anarchy, and not the capita
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Robert P. "Bob" Murphy is an Austrian School economist and anarcho-capitalist. ...more

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