Socio-Economic Cults (Re: Cypherpunk Cults)

Sean Roach roach_s at
Wed Aug 27 12:20:28 PDT 1997

At 10:23 AM 8/27/97 -0400, Anonymous wrote:
>"John Smith" <jsmith58 at> wrote:
>>You know, there's a reason people started using judges to help settle
>>disputes.  There's a reason the common law evolved with the idea of
>>proportionate response and restitution.  This kind of
>>shoot-everybody-I-think-harmed-me approach just doesn't work.  Nobody
>>knows what someone else will consider harm worth shooting over.  If
>>somebody disagrees that a shooting was justified, they'll shoot back,
>>and feuds begin.
>See "The Machinery of Freedom" by David Friedman.  (Sorry if this is
>old hat to you or other members of this list.)
>Friedman's legal arrangement works something like this: Say you kill
>somebody.  If you want to protect your life from revenge, you
>immediately report what you did to three people nearby who were
>This keeps you inside the legal system.  Afterwards, a compensation
>arrangement is made between your protection company and the protection
>company of your victim.  This occurs within the legal framework.  If
>you do not comply with the compensation agreement, you are outlawed.
>Outlaws receive no legal protection.
>You can change protection companies anytime you like.
>Improbable?  This is very similar to the Icelandic legal system of
>circa 1000 C.E.  Friedman claims that this worked quite well for many
>years.  Icelanders at that time were murderous pirates, yet in Iceland
>they murdered each other much less frequently than Americans do now in
>the United States.
>The compensation payments were typically nontrivial - on the order of
>twenty years of income.
>Some interesting aspects of medieval Icelandic politics: no prisons,
>no standing army, no single political leader, and no taxes.
>Just Another Cypherpunk

I got something very similar from a friend who is much higher on the
technological food chain than myself.  He also told me that there was this
big fair/trade-show/political rally that everyone attended.  Once a year I
think.  That in addition to stopping by three houses to report the killing
the killer had to report it at the next of these events to occur.  It was
also suggested that the compensation was a fairly fixed amount but that a
person who could afford it and really didn't want trouble from the heirs of
the deceased could pay more, thus suggesting that he considered the deceased
to be more valuable than the average man.  Sort of a post-mortem complement
by the killer.
Also, according to what I remember, the "protection company" was your
extended family.  Pay up or face the wraith of all the deceased's cousins,
nephews, uncles, neices, aunts, maybe his kids.
I would love to get more information on this, however, the friend who told
me this much has left this little school for the larger waters of Oklahoma
State University where he is in the engineering pod.

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