Liberty is a jigsaw puzzle scattered in bits and pieces all over the world.  Some countries have privatized this, but not that.  Other countries have privatized that, but not this.  However, few, if any, have put the entire puzzle of liberty together.  So many people say, “Yes, I can see how privatizing this would work, but we could NEVER privatize that.”  Without seeing the whole picture, many people just give up on the whole idea of liberty.  Yet, liberty does exist in thousands of iterations around the world, and if someone took all the seemingly impossible pieces of individual freedom and tried to complete the puzzle, a beautiful picture would start to form – one of an entire society based upon voluntary action.  That’s why it’s important to collect each piece, so that a strong case for a voluntary society can be made.

Many of the puzzle pieces have been missing for a long time.  Take, for example, private roads.  Did you know that there is a city in China where all the roads were built privately?  In Wenzhou, businessmen in took it upon themselves to form private co-ops to build all the roads in the town.  Businessmen also built the highways, shipping docks, and even airports all by themselves.  Largely ignored by the Chinese government, the town of Wenzhou is now one of the richest cities in the country.

Another elusive puzzle piece has been the idea of a private police force.  Yet private police exist in many places around the world.  The Detroit Threat Management Center is a company of private security officers who protect the residents of Detroit — residents who are frustrated with the lack of protection that the government police provide.  The private security agency does a great job, and has found a payment structure that allows for them to service everyone, including the free riders.

Another missing piece of the puzzle is the idea of a private court system  But private courts are everywhere.  When Microsoft had a dispute with Yahoo, the two companies decided to skip the government courts, and instead use private arbitration courts.  It only took them 25 days to get through the whole process, and settle the case (light years faster than the government courts).  Private courts are being used more and more today, with great success.

Many people have trouble wrapping their head around the idea of a private army. Yet, private armies exist all over the world today.  After all, many insurgent groups are really just private armies.  Sure, it’s not pretty, but the American Army is routinely fended off by private insurgent groups like the Iraqi insurgency.  This private military force continues to hold off the world’s largest army through guerrilla tactics.  And if that’s too modern, then take a look at 1400s Italy.  Stateless individuals would pay groups of military privates to protect their property against invading armies.   The private armies succeeded in defending themselves against the most powerful armies of Europe.

Although this small list may be interesting to some, it’s not the whole picture.  It’s only four tiny pieces in the giant puzzle of liberty.  There are thousands of missing pieces scattered throughout the world, and people are discovering more every day.  Each piece demonstrates that liberty exists in the real world, without the need for government.  The exciting part about finding all these pieces of liberty and putting them together is that eventually, one must ask whether government is needed at all, or whether individuals working voluntarily for their own self interest would create a society free from government — a society which may indeed be stunningly beautiful.