If you are a regular reader of RFL you’d know that this site hosts articles from a bunch of writers, each having their own understanding of what a free society could look like. Its impossible to predict how exactly things will take place in such a society, all that can be done is to use the science of human action and envision how would such a society might look like.
Last article published at RFL was an attempt by the author Sudha Amit to answer the questions asked by various people about the rapist and the rape victim in a free society. I agreed with the article overall but I would like to elaborate some of the points.
If you haven’t read that article, you can still read this one, but I recommend reading that article too.
The question generally asked is if in a free society a criminal is let free for a certain amount of money, then wouldn’t that mean rich people will keep on committing all crimes and walk free?
Proportionality of Crime
Before we proceed I must explain a very important concept of Libertarian justice system and that is “proportionality of crime and punishment”, that is any punishment must be proportional to the crime committed. It could happen that the victim wants to punish the criminal less than the proportional punishment, and that is perfectly acceptable, but if a victim punishes the criminal more than the crime committed, then the victim has now become the aggressor, and now the criminal has become the victim.
Take for example if Alice slaps Bob, and Bob breaks Alice’s leg as a punishment, then Alice has become a victim of Bob’s aggression. Similaly if someone trespasses on your property and you shoot them then you have initiated aggression against them.
Another important aspect of Libertarian justice theory is that a victim first must be restituted for the harm done to him by the aggressor, and then the aggressor loses the same amount of rights as the amount of rights of the victim he violated. For example if I steal $10,000 from you, then first you need to get those $10,000 back, then I lose rights over my $10,000, so you will get $20,000 back. It is to be noted that you do not get double the money back, you just get your own $10,000 and then another $10,000 as a punishment for me.
Similarly if you poke my eye, and blind me by one eye, then you first need to pay me enough money to provide me with restitution, then you lose the right of your eye, and I will have a right to poke it out.
In the case of a rape victim and him/her rapist, first the rapist must provide restitution to the rape victim. That is to make the rape victim whole. Then the rapist loses his rights in the same manner he violated the rights of the rape victim, that is rape victim now has a right to either rape the rapist, or have him sexually violated in the same manner through someone else. The rape victim can fortfeit his right to a restitution and chance to violate the similar rigths of the rapist, but he can never force a bigger punishment than the crime done by the rapist.
By this principle if a rich man rapes a woman, the woman has a right to have the rich man pay her a restitution(the amount of will be determined by the courts), and get him raped(chances are she will pay someone to rape him). Nobody can force the woman to accept money in lieu of punishment of the rich man. If this rich man keeps on raping women, he will keep on losing his rights the same way. If a rich man kills someone then it (could be) gameover for him. If I were a rich man I wouldn’t rely on raping or killing people first and then silencing them with money.
Its possible that the rapist makes the victim an offer that she forfeits the punishment by rape of the rich man. But this offer could be a really large sum of money as there is no upper limit to it. If she demands all the money of the rapist in return of not getting him raped, and rapist really does not wanna be raped then he will have to give her all his money.
No rapist, no matter how rich can live life normally in a free society.
Prostitution and ‘Rape-restitution’
This is the most ridiculous idea that someone would suggest that there is a similarity between money exchanged for prostitution and money given as restitution of a rape victim. Its like someone is confusing stealing groceries with purchasing groceries. Prostituion involves voluntary exchange of sex and money. Rape and its subsequent restitution is not even an exchange. The money is being given as an attempt to restore the damage done to the victim, not for rendering services. Even if you rape a prostitute that is still a rape, and not an act of prostitution.
There are many misconceptions about how a free society will operate without the coercive apparatus of state, before any attempt is made to answer how this will happen one thing must be kept in mind by libertarians and voluntarists. If people really want some service and there is no initiation of aggression involved then the free society will have that service or facility. Once you establish that assumption, you acquire a firm ground from which other people cannot displace you by putting words in your mouth.
I would conclude by quoting a recent conversation I had with a friend who had doubts about a free society. After I explained him about the concept of private proeprty and a society of pure liberty he said: “What if your neighbor is beating his wife, then though its none of my business in your society but I wouldn’t wanna live in such a society?”, my reply was simply “What makes you think I would wanna live in such a society?”, after his shocked withered away I claimed, “Trust me in a free society I wouldn’t live in a neighborhood where people are beating their wives”.