29 A Working Example

“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”

George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)

Much is made in this book of society’s ability to rise to the challenges of self-responsibility when unrestricted by state-conceived rulebooks. Whilst not the remit here to specify the structures and organizations that would arise in the absence of government monopoly, we examine two good examples of the principle in practice.  One of them is old, having organized itself hundreds of years ago – the other is a child of the Internet.

It would be hard to imagine anybody providing the old example if it did not already exist. Insurance is one product that we buy in the hope of never needing it. It was conceived not by any government but by a group of ship-owners and merchants looking for a co-operative way to protect themselves from disaster. It is a governmental type of service that works, that evolves to cover new risks, and that manages to do so without the need to force our money from us. And when they pay a claim we are not made to feel like some supplicant receiving their blessing.

Internet sellers Amazon and eBay created innovative means to keep their marketplaces honest, using both buyers and sellers to rate each other and review products.  It is a simple idea and it works, giving us more assurance when buying from an unknown and invisible supplier online than we have when buying in a high street shop – without the need for police, courts, fines and jails, let alone a protective umbrella of nuclear weapons.