There has been quite a lot written about dispute resolution in a stateless society by the likes of Murray Rothbard, Robert Murphy and others. A lot of it is quite sensible. But it’s just words on paper until we put it into action. The idea of defense agencies was just words on paper left to be explored at a later date until I started Shield Mutual. Likewise, we need to start eating our own dogfood, as software developers say, on the topic of dispute resolution in the libertarian community.
Up until this point, I have seen libertarian disputes settled in one of two ways: (1) recourse to government, i.e., call the police or file a lawsuit; and (2) no settlement at all but endless bickering and rumormongering. The former is obviously not advancing our practice of libertarian principles. It should be considered a liberty fail. And the latter leaves a terrible taste in our mouths, it turns people off, it makes us look stupid and one is left never quite knowing what exactly happened to kick it all off.
I am certain that some people have managed to settled disputes among liberty folks without recourse to either of those two options and I would love to hear about that. Please post in the comments below so we can learn from your experience.
I am proposing a third way and I am putting it into practice. Here is my proposed process. Keep in mind that it is mine only in the sense that I am using it right now. I have had considerable help from Murphy’s excellent book “Private Law” and from the direct advice of Brad Spangler. Keep in mind that anything you don’t like here has nothing to do with Brad Spangler and should not reflect poorly on him. That part is all me.
(1) Document the alleged wrong that you believe you have suffered. Take screenshots. Scan documents. Download videos. Make sure you have multiple copies of all evidence. Always keep a copy in a safe place because if someone will wrong you and not promptly remedy their wrong, then they will not bat an eye at destroying evidence, too.
(2) Write up a complaint. Document what happened in great detail but in a neutral tone. You may need help with this. Discuss how you have been hurt by this wrong. Suggest a reasonable way for the respondent to your complaint to make you whole. If you request ridiculous or hurtful remedies to make you whole, you will likely only exacerbate the conflict. You must set aside your ego here and be reasonable if you really want to resolve the dispute. If you don’t, then you are abusing the process.
(3) What if the respondent, the person you believe has wronged you, ignores your complaint or is unable to reach an agreement with you as to a mutually acceptable remedy? Put some thought into the next step. Will you seek cooperative mediation? Adversarial arbitration? A declaration of war? (Just kidding on that last one!)
(4) I highly recommend that you hire an advocate to compose and/or review and edit your complaint. An uninvolved third party can bring a calmness and neutrality that will help you frame the complaint in the way most likely not to engender further conflict.
(5) Have your advocate convey the complaint and handle negotiations for the remedy.
(6) I recommend setting a deadline. Before the deadline, you will publicly pretend that the complaint does not exist in order to give respondent time to cool down and save a little face before responding. After the deadline, if respondent is not participating in the process, you might publicize the dispute and/or move on to a mediation or arbitration phase.
Mediation is a form of alternate dispute resolution. Here is a legal definition:
Mediation is an informal dispute settlement process run by a trained third party, called a mediator. Mediation is intended to bring two parties together to clear up misunderstandings, find out concerns, and reach a resolution. The process is voluntary …
During the mediation, each side will present its view of the issue, and the mediator will work with each side in a caucus to attempt to work out a settlement. At the end of the process, the mediator can present his or her findings and present a potential solution to the issue. The mediation process, unlike arbitration, is non-binding; that is, the mediator does not impose a decision on the parties, but he/she attempts to present a solution that is acceptable to both parties.
Arbitration is another of alternative dispute resolution but is more adversarial than mediation. It should be considered a last resort. From Wikipedia:
Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), is a technique for the resolution of disputes outside the courts, where the parties to a dispute refer it to one or more persons (the “arbitrators”, “arbiters” or “arbitral tribunal”), by whose decision (the “award”) they agree to be bound. It is a resolution technique in which a third party reviews the evidence in the case and imposes a decision that is legally binding for both sides and enforceable.
Bad Faith Status
If the respondent to a dispute simply fails to reply, there is a lot that can be done in a full libertarian society. They could lose insurance coverage, be denied credit or entry to certain areas or even the roads, in an extreme case. Their legal report, think credit report, might reflect this and decrease their confidence rating.
In our world today, it is my personal opinion that people who fail to adjudicate disputes in a responsible and prompt way should be considered outlaws – individuals outside the bounds of society. They might even be exiled, shunned or ostracized in extreme cases. “Outlaw” sounds sexy and adventurous in western movies but when you are outside the law (or commonly accepted practice) of a libertarian society, it’s not heroic anymore.
The flip side of liberty is responsibility. We can’t have the former without the latter. We must all be individually accountable for our actions. We can hardly demand accountability for cops, politicians, prosecutors and judges if we ourselves do not live by the same standard. When a complaint is issued there is a minimum responsibility to respond to it and take all reasonable steps to settle it. If you won’t do that, then you are not responsible or accountable for your actions. I for one want nothing to do with people who can’t be trusted to act responsibly.
More specifically and urgently, if we hope to build an agorist counter-economy of small businesses as our strategy for evolving beyond the state, we can’t hope to do it without trust. When we send sums of money or product to each other in trade, we have to know whom we are dealing with and that that person or group is not just acting with integrity but also will respond appropriately if there is a dispute. Trust is, even before honest money, an essential building block of an economy. We need a dispute resolution process (or processes) that is predictable, understandable and easy to follow. People need to understand that resolving your disputes is integrity 101.
My Pending Complaints
I have two pending complaints, one against Darrell Young and the other against Liz “Delish.” Young and “Delish” work in some capacity as part of Adam Kokesh’s “Adam vs. The Man LLC” online podcast and video blog. I filed my respective complaints with them last Friday morning July 19th 2013 and set a deadline of this morning at 8AM Eastern, July 22nd 2013. Since I have yet to receive any written reply from them to my complaints and they have not accepted my proposed remedies, I am not inclined to extend the deadline and am now making the matter public.
I allege that both Young and “Delish” defamed my character, the former engaging in libel and the latter in slander by publicly stating to perhaps as many as 150,000 people online that I did not release to Adam Kokesh the proceeds of legal defense fundraising I completed for him in May as part of my responsibilities as lead agent in his defense at Shield Mutual.
Adam was arrested on May 18th 2013 in Philadelphia and was a Shield Mutual customer prior to that, so we went to work for him. Shield Mutual is a defense agency that defends activists from aggression using public relations. On June 21 2013, after conferring with Adam and his then-business-manager, I disbursed the bitcoin, litecoin and USD proceeds of the legal fund. I have fully documented this to Adam and his business managers. You can get the full story on Adam’s legal defense fund at ShieldMutual.com.
But this past Thursday July 18th, Young and “Delish” issued statements to perhaps as many as 150,000 people claiming that I “never released” the funds. I have already shown that this is false. I documented the disbursements with screenshots the whole way, as you can see at the above link at ShieldMutual.com.
This is evidence of Young and “Delish” defaming my character, or so I allege:
This also went out on the Adam vs. The Man Facebook page, adamvstheman.com and on other websites.
Furthermore, we have clarification regarding ADAM VS THE MAN’s relationship with Shield Mutual. As of July 15, 2013, we are no longer using Shield Mutual for any of their services. The reason behind this decision is based upon funds that George Donnelly raised on May 18, 2013. These funds were never released to Adam and are still missing.
The video should start for you at the 02:34 mark.
YouTube: AVTM Press Release 130717
These are my complaints:
You can see the full documentation of Adam’s legal defense fund here: Adam Kokesh Legal Defense Fund Update (Shield Mutual).
Why am I Doing This?
I take my reputation seriously. I am not going to sit by quietly while people tell lies about me. Slander and libel are forms of defamation of character, all of which is a form of telling falsehoods, commonly known as lying. Since lying is a form of fraud, I consider it to be tantamount to aggression. Force and fraud – these are violations of the non-aggression principle.
I want this to be a learning opportunity so other people can learn from and use the above model for dispute resolution, improve on it or design and publicize their own models. As a community we need to have a conversation about dispute resolution. It’s long overdue, in fact.
My intention is not to create more “drama”. There is a certain group of people who thrive on exploiting existing drama and creating new drama. I don’t like them very much. And it’s not my fault if they latch on to my legitimate dispute in order to promote themselves. That’s on them.
But most importantly, if our libertarian principles are to have any credibility out there in the marketplace of ideas, if we are to be believable when we say that voluntary interactions can effectively replace coercive government, then we have a responsibility to actually show that to the people that we alternatively lecture and cajole on a daily basis in attempt to get them to agree with us. We have to make it work amongst ourselves, first. We have to be a laboratory for freedom. If I let this incident with Young and “Delish” pass, then I am permitting voluntary interaction to fail in this instance. And that’s meaningful to all of us, no matter what your position is on me, my character or the validity, or lack thereof, of my complaint.
Please post below your constructive comments on these topics so that we can create an ongoing conversation about libertarian dispute resolution – a conversation that will lead to the evolution of liberty by helping all of us better practice what we preach.
- AYMFL: A Convincing Schematic for Market Anarchy
- About.com: Mediation
- Wikipedia: Mediation
- Shield Mutual: After-Action Report for Adam Kokesh 18 May 2013 Arrest
- Shield Mutual: Adam Kokesh Legal Defense Fund Update