The vast majority of competition in Aristillus was friendly – or, at the very least, civil

In the novel I have this bit:

The vast majority of competition in Aristillus was friendly – or, at the very least, civil. It wasn’t like back home, where bribing government procurement offices and putting moles inside other firms competing for the same winner-take-all contracts was the norm.

My line editor asked me what my justification for this was.

One of the things that’s pulled me away from hard-core CULTURAL ancapism (not that I was ever really there, given the inherent tension between Catholicism (or any theism ) and the whiff of Randism at the core of much ancap thinking) is my growing acknowledgement that the market (in the fullest sense of the word, not in the denegerate ‘two guys haggling in the souq’ sense) depends – not on government as Lefties suggest – but on a broader Enlightenment culture.

Government, even horrible 1984 style government, will never be able to prosecute more than 0.00001% of frauds, borderline frauds, and excessive sharp dealing in the marketplace. In the end it comes down to self government, cultural norms, and a sense of fairness (either from a Judeo-Christian background, Voltarian ideals (growing out of Judeo-Christian culture), etc.).

A bunch of Harvard physicists at a shared cabin for a fishing weekend will organize themselves somewhere on the ancap – Ken Macleodian communist spectrum. A bunch of Afghanis or Nigerians with a copy of the US Constitution and voting booths will, on the other hand, divide things up according to tribal loyalty, not because they are ‘subverting democracy’ but because according to their lights that is the proper way to do things.

Aristillus is presented in my novels not as the perfect way for all people to live, but as the perfect way for people who want to live in Aristillus to live. The folks there aren’t WEIRD but they are WEIR.

And, of course, game theory is all about the defection problem, and how there can be multiple equilibria. In the novel businessman Leroy Fournier defects from the cultural norm and cheats in business…and it works for him.

That exposes a troubling zero day flaw in the Aristillus culture and Fournier has the exploit.

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