h a l f b a k e r y
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As much a social experiment as it is a practical concept:
Certain areas throughout the
country would be designated Law Free Zones, where the
laws of the host country are
simply not enforced in any manner. These areas might be
parks, warehouses, offshore
platforms, and so on. Once you
walk in, you're free to do
as you like, but don't expect
any help from the government whatsoever. Drugs,
prostitution, rape, murder, Three-card Monteanything
goes in the Zone.
The only rules that apply are as follows:
1) Absolutely nobody under the age of 18 is permitted in a
Zone under any
circumstances. This rule will be enforced by military
action if necessaryand don't
expect the military to pay much attention to the niceties
of international law inside the
2) Although no laws apply within the Zone, the structure
of the Zone itself remains
property of, and under the jurisdiction of, the host
country. In other words, burning
down the fence is a no-no. Expect this rule to be enforced
suddenly and with extreme
3) Upon leaving the Zone, expect to be subject to any
degree of scrutiny by the host
country up to and including a body cavity search. While no
activity that may have taken
place entirely within the Zone shall constitute a crime,
possession of any contraband
upon leaving the zone shall be considered a criminal
offense in accordance with the laws
of the host country.
4) Any sort of crime perpetrated within the Zone upon
anyone not within the Zone (e.g.,
wire fraud, sniping someone outside the fence, etc.) shall
be prosecuted under the laws
of the host country, as if it had not occurred in a Zone (see
rule 1 for enforcement
procedures). The idea is to allow people the opportunity
to temporarily suspend
government protection in exchange for total freedom, not
to permit people to take
advantage of those unwilling to participate. The inverse
also applies, of course: If you're
not actually within a Zone, any crime you commit against
anyone who is in a Zone shall
still be a crime.
Free of government restrictions, would these Zones
become self-sustaining utopias,
renowned for their intellectual, scientific, and artistic
output? Or would they simply
turn into violent opium dens where only the strong survive
and only the foolhardy enter?
A bit like this, but without the long-term commitment [ytk, Jul 26 2012]
Kowloon Walled City
[ytk, Jul 26 2012]
[calum, Jul 26 2012]
[FlyingToaster, Jul 26 2012]
Cloak Of Anarchy
Oh, look ... [8th of 7, Jul 26 2012]
[not_morrison_rm, Feb 13 2017]
Schroedinger's Cat trilogy by R. A. Wilson (see chapter titled "Hell")
Hell had previously been the state of Mississippi. After the aborigines were resettled in an environment suitable for two-circuit (prehominid) primates, Mississippi became Hell by simply surrounding it with a laser shield that made escape impossible. Everything within the shield was intact. The violent biots were free to do what they wanted, and they soon had several forms of feudalism, war, piracy, commerce, slavery, and other early primate institutions functioning in a manner that seemed normal to them. [LoriZ, Feb 14 2017]
Anarchaos by Curt Clark
Another anarchy-as-dystopia libel against Human Nature [LoriZ, Feb 14 2017]
||I encourage anyone whose initial reaction is that this
would be nothing but a disaster to read about the
history of Kowloon Walled City (link), which was
an instance of this idea that sprung up naturally.
While conditions were far from great there, it ran
surprisingly well for what was essentially an anarchist
||[calum] Similar concept, but there's a key difference:
this is  by no means an anarchy park, whereas this
is /precisely/ an anarchy park.
||Really, the only rule that's imposed on the Zone is rule
1all the rest are simply restatements of conditions
that naturally exist given the circumstances described.
||heheh I got one of those <link>
||anyways Heinlein: Coventry.
or Canada NWT in the 1800's.
or the Wild Wild West in the USA
or pretty well any "undercivilized" country.
||//don't expect the military to pay much attention to the niceties of international law inside the Zone, either.// umm what ? Explain what the military are doing there in the first place.
||Except that being in any of those places, fictional or real,
demands a commitment and a change in lifestyle. You
couldn't exactly pop into Tombstone for a couple of hours
to do your business, then head back to New York for lunch.
These would be places that you wouldn't necessarily live.
Some people might, but only by choice (or coercion, but
they knew what they were getting into), and they can
(theoretically) come and go as they please.
||The military would be that of the host country, and it
be responsible for enforcing the only rules if any violations
were discovered. Basically, as long as nobody violates
these ground rules, the military will not be involved in any
way. But if anyone does attempt to break them,
enforcement will be swift and merciless.
||Sounds like Somalia, and a terrorist breeding ground.
||So would it be a law, that there are no laws in the law-free zone?
||so... what's the attraction anyways ? oh don't get me wrong; there's laws that piss me off, but just 'cuz I might want to go somewhere and smoke a joint doesn't mean I want to be near somebody who wanted to go somewhere and practice live evisceration skills.
||Well, that's the big question, isn't it? We tend to
think that this would attract only the worst
elements of societyrapists, sociopathic murderers,
and so onbut if that were the case
nobody would go. And those who would go anyway
would make sure they were well armed,
making themselves difficult targets. Most people
who commit crimes aren't doing it for the
sake of the crime itself, however. Many crimes are
opportunistic, preying on the weak and
unawarein other words, those who won't fight back.
There would be no guarantee of this inside one of
these Zones. Quite the opposite, in fact: Being
inside a Zone would imply that you knew the
risks and were taking precautions against them.
There would be no victims inside a Zone,
only those who weren't adequately prepared. I
suspect most violent criminals would avoid
such places. What's in it for them, apart from a
potential thrill that has a high likelihood of
||The fundamental basis of all laws is (or should be)
Don't do anything that harms other people
without their consent. When everybody gives
implicit consent to be harmed, you no longer
need laws. So why would people come? I'm sure you
can think of any number of reasons;
there might be drugs and prostitution, of course, but
consider that there are many goods that
are illegal to sell, but not illegal to manufacture or
possess. In a space where the law of the
land is caveat emptor, a market for such goods
might spring up, and there could be no
ethical objection on the grounds that consumers
might be taken advantage of. Medical
procedures that might be outlawed simply on ethical
grounds, and for which a black market
currently exists in the back alleys of society, could
potentially be conducted safely and
discreetly in such Zones, where the only regulation
consists of market forces. Scientific
knowledge could advance unrestricted by the ethics
of the government, and the results
exported back for the benefit of all. Art and
literature could be produced with absolutely no
fear of censorship. If you can't see the attraction of
a space where you can go about your
business unimpeded, whatever that may be, then
that's finestay out.
||If nothing else, it would be interesting to see how
modern people organize themselves,
particularly when comparing Zones located in
different parts of the world and within
differing socioeconomic strata. Personally, though, I
see the existence of such Zones as a
moral imperative, in that the only legitimate form of
government is that which is accepted
voluntarily, and also as an absolute guard against
tyranny. No society that allows its citizens
to choose total freedom from government can ever
slide completely into despotism, and the
existence of such Zones would be an assurance that
no matter how bad things get, liberty is
always an alternative. Consequently, closing down
these Zones would be a clear sign that the
government has lost its legitimacy and must be
replacedby any means necessary.
||I'm not sure you've thought it through though. So who pays for electricity ? food ? water ? who handles disposal of bodies, sewage, garbage ? Is this a football-field sized area ? a state ?
||Surely this is theme well-baked in fiction?
||//So who pays for electricity ? food ? water ? who
handles disposal of bodies, sewage, garbage ?//
||These are questions I'd be very interested in
discovering the answers to.
||//Is this a football-field sized area ? a state ?//
||I envision these as relatively small areas, such as
parks or warehouses. They'd be small enough that
you can enter and leave easily through a few gates.
Pop in for a bit, perform whatever questionable
activity you came for, and go home.
||Pop in for a bit, get robbed and killed by the gang that got there first with assault rifles.
||People would park their cars there which would get broken into, so eventually a group of armed people would set up shop as carpark attendants. Since they wouldn't be paying property or income taxes, the rates would be quite reasonable.
||Given that rape, assault, robbery, and murder would be perfectly legal, it seems that you don't stand a chance of ever getting into the zone long enough to enjoy it. As soon as you enter the gate, you're done in less than 5 minutes if you live long enough to escape.. Oh wait- that brings up another point that I just thought about- kidnapping and SLAVERY. Yeah.. you can go into the zone but you might not get out.
||There is a distinct Pynchonian air to the notion of the Zone - in the death throes and immediate aftermath of WWII, Europe was one such Zone, as described in Gravity's Rainbow.
||All this idea is doing is drawing two rings, one round a geographical space, the other round a the territorial extent of the legal system. The innovation is that these lines are clear, and supported by further rules that exist outwith and around both the geographic and legal lines. The thing is, though, that these zones exist already, where the state cannot or does not project its power (for example, Afghanistan outwith Kabul). The effect, such as it is, of these zones is that people go about thier business in the normal way, taking precautions for the increased contingency of their daily lives until the state arrives or emerges. However, the present day real world examples of these zones are, yes, man-made but they are not deliberately hand-crafted, as the idea proposes. The deliberate nature of the Law Free Zones makes them less interesting, resembling the Real Zones in the same way that soap operas resemble real life. To make them more interesting, the artificiality should be embraced and increased: make them mobile, time limited, brought down from on high by the legislature's pen and thrust upon city, suburb, exurb to watch each devolve into cannibal holocaust, before being whisked away, picked over by journalist, the only functional difference between each occurrence being how long they held out before entrails are used in lynchings. Perhaps a book could be run.
||//Given that rape, assault, robbery, and murder would be perfectly legal, it
seems that you don't stand a chance of ever getting into the zone long enough to
||Highly unlikely to be the case. In fact, I would venture to say that it's a near
impossibility. Who would be the victims of these crimes? Why would people
enter when they didn't have much of a chance of leaving safely? In order for the
scenario you envisage to come to pass, you would have to posit that people
behave not only irrationally, but contrary to their own immediate short-term
best interest. This is clearly a faulty assumption. While people may or may not
be able to determine accurately what's in their /long-term/ best interest,
evolution has imbued us with the ability to sense immediate danger and avoid it.
It's the same reason you get nervous about walking down a dark alley at night.
Consequently, with no victims entering these Zones, the criminals wouldn't have
anyone to victimize, and would simply leave to find easy targets. That's what
||In other words, a voluntary, temporary anarchy would tend to self-select
/against/ criminals who take advantage of others. It may seem counterintuitive,
but it's difficult to see how it could be otherwise. Although when you think
about it, it may not actually be so counterintuitive. A criminal can only exist
within the framework of a legal system. What gives the criminal his power over
others is that he is willing to disobey the law, whereas others are not. In a
system with no laws, he is inherently stripped of his power, and placed on an
equal footing with other citizens. As Heinlein pointed out, An armed society is
a polite society, and everybody in a Zone can be assumed to be armed.
||//If that were true, there would be no gang wars inside maximum-security
||A prison, particularly a maximum security prison, is the diametric opposite of this
idea. Nobody voluntarily goes to prison. Prisoners are highly regimentedthey
are told what to do and how to do it every hour of the day, every day of the
week. Prisoners aren't even theoretically permitted to leave at will. And
prisons, by their nature, self-select for criminals, whereas (as pointed out above)
Zones would tend to self-select against criminals. If anything, pointing out the
violence common in prisons is an argument in favor of this idea, because the
violence is directly attributable to the extreme restrictions imposed on
prisoners. Real-world evidence bears this out. Minimum security prisons
experience less violence than maximum security prisons. And the average free
citizen is far less likely to experience violence than the average prisoner. Taking
this to its logical conclusion, the total absence of laws would tend to mean the
near-total absence of violencebuy only if shedding the law entirely is a
voluntary (and revocable) decision, thereby creating the selection pressure for
people who are willing and able to fight back against their oppressors.
||//in the death throes and immediate aftermath of WWII, Europe was one such
||Geographical regions of anarchy resulting from political instability are not in any
way relevant to this idea. The big problem with all of the examples provided of
existing or past anarchical states is that they are not voluntary. A state plunged
into anarchy is a recipe for disaster, as is a state forced unwillingly into
communism or totalitarianism. But as the kibbutzes of Israel have shown, even a
poorly thought out idea like communism /can/ function on a small scale, so long
as everybody in the microsociety voluntarily chooses to embrace the system.
Why should this not also work for anarchy?
||What about extradition? If someone accused of a crime in the host country manages to enter the Zone, would they be free from prosecution as long as they stayed there, or would they be extracted with extreme prejudice?
||What if some people took up long term residence in the Zone and had children. Are they forcibly removed from the Zone?
||One outcome would be establishment of a ruling group and an economy based off of some illegal activity. For example, people entering bring legal supplies and/or money. Inside, they manufacture drugs and sell them for use inside the Zone. The ruling group would ensure safety in order to not discourage visitors. Rules would be enforced fairly and corruption minimized in order to make people feel safe and to maximize profits. This would work best if there were multiple zones run by different people. Since they wouldn't have to worry about government interference or regulation, the drugs could be much cheaper than those available outside the zone. There would be some cost for a security force, but since the perimeter is protected mainly by the military preventing people from shooting from the outside in, it should be fairly simple to disarm anyone coming in through the proper entrance, making a takeover by someone else who wants to run the business very difficult.
||Of course then the host country might start wondering why they are paying to have military protection of a business that would normally be illegal.
||Oh wait, you thought I was talking about recreational drugs? No I was talking about patented prescription drugs. That's where the REAL money is at.
||Kowloon City, like anyplace, had their own rules, because they had their own social order. They were unwritten, but they existed.
||Not a new idea - Samuel Delany did this in "Trouble on Triton", and Heinlein did it in the short story "Coventry".
||It comes down to the simple fact that there
are two sorts of law.
||1. Real Laws; Gravity, Thermodynamics,
Conservation of Momentum, Inverse Square.
||2. Stuff humans just sort of made up as they
went along as a social consensus.
||One day you may work out the difference, at
which point your species will either become
incredibly successful, or extinct.
||No hints, but our bar of Latinum's on
||Would the host state enforce the lack of laws? If a strongman put together a set of rules he and his subscribers enforced, would the host country come in and bust all that up? What if law and organization evolved naturally from those who chose to live there? Must they be quashed?
||Maybe the zone should be "reset" every 6 months. Nobody who was previously in the zone will be allowed back in. That allows us to repeatedly study how people react in this type of situation. But I also have to point out that Somalia is basically this idea but children are allowed in and most people aren't there by choice.
||Most countries already are law-free zones, for various reasons.
||Already done, one small part of old London fell in between parishes and was therefore not under any legal control. Damned if I can find it on the internet though...
||//What about extradition? If someone accused of a crime in the host country
manages to enter the Zone, would they be free from prosecution as long as they
stayed there, or would they be extracted with extreme prejudice?//
||Up to the host country, really. If they're ready, willing, and able to hunt the guy
down, then there's nothing stopping them. They could also just put a price on his
head and let the problem solve itself. After all, they're under no obligation to
protect the rights of somebody who has voluntarily waived them.
||//What if some people took up long term residence in the Zone and had children.
Are they forcibly removed from the Zone? //
||Yes. I had originally considered not even allowing women who were past a certain
point of pregnancy, to help prevent just such a scenario, but ultimately decided
that it would be an undue restriction on the freedom of pregnant women.
However, it could also be made a crime to harbor children in a Zone, or aid and
abet in doing so, and any harm towards children would still be considered a crime.
Basically, minors are legally unable to waive their rights, so when it comes to
anything having to do with children all bets are off. For purposes of criminal law, a
child can never be considered to be inside a Zone regardless of physical location.
||//the perimeter is protected mainly by the military preventing people from
shooting from the outside in//
||It wouldn't necessarily be protected by the military. Shooting a gun into a Zone
from the outside would be no different from discharging a firearm in any other
part of the country, and would carry the same consequences. The same would go
for crimes such as fraud, battery, and murder. The fact that you perpetrated these crimes
on somebody who has waived his legal rights doesn't absolve /you/ of criminal
liability. Rule 4 is simply an extension of the fact that all such crimes involve at
least one person who is under the jurisdiction of the host country at the time.
Most countries, if not all of them, claim the right to prosecute crimes perpetrated
against their citizens on their soil by foreign nationals operating in a different
country, and every country has the right to prosecute crimes committed on their
||//Would the host state enforce the lack of laws? If a strongman put together a set
of rules he and his subscribers enforced, would the host country come in and bust
all that up? What if law and organization evolved naturally from those who chose to
live there? Must they be quashed?//
||//Many hardened felons become 'institutionalized', and frequently re-offend
deliberately to get themselves tossed back into prison.//
||That's more of a case of refusing to leave then going voluntarily in the first place.
The point is, no rational person chooses to go to prison in the first place. No
system similar to the one in this idea, whether communist or anarchist, has a hope
of working unless every single person enters into it knowingly and voluntarily.
Prisons are thus the precise opposite of this idea in every relevant way.
||Already done, one small part of old London fell in between parishes and was therefore not under any legal control. Damned if I can find it on the internet though...
||Are you talking about Queen's Park?
||No, that's just unofficially out control, this one was officially no law place.
||<and on that note heads to bed>
||How is this not an anarchy park?
||It is. The quote about it not being an anarchy park
was a quote from your idea.
||so make a place where law doesn't exist and allow the importation of things that were produced and exist as part of a lawful society...
||sure, that always works out so well.
||It's only due to insidious modern propaganda, especially that inflicted on children in the day-prisons called schools, that anyone participates in the mass hallucination that the scribblings-of-the-insane commonly called political laws apply to anyone.
||People just do stuff, or don't do stuff, and that's it. Just because some of them parade around calling themselves governments or police or judges or whatever doesn't change that - if I dressed in a red suit and hung around department stores that wouldn't make me Father Christmas. In other words, a (political) law free zone already exists. It's called the real world.
||No relation to Professor David Law, who (predictably) teaches Law at The University of Hong Kong?
||Are both of his forelimbs equal length?