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Polycentric Law

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In a recent post on Liberty and Power, one of the posters refers to: “‘polycentric’ law, or the idea that multiple forms of law can overlap within the same geographic area. Law need not be, and in fact is not, a monopoly within a specific geographic region.”

I asked there–is there any reason to use the term “polycentric” to describe what is basically anarcho-capitalism, other than the tactical reason of trying to avoid alerting mainstream people that what is being discussed is anarchy?

I had similar concerns in my review of Randy Barnett’s 1998 book The Structure Of Liberty (pp. 67-68), in which he used terms like polycentric legal order (instead of anarchy) and “several property” instead of private property.

Is there something I’m missing here? Are there reasons to use such terms apart from tactical ones?


Stephan Kinsella

Stephan Kinsella is an attorney in Houston, director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom, and editor of Libertarian Papers.

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