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Informal Renegotiation of the Law

Many people on this list and in the larger world focus on laws and
regulations and sometimes act as if that is the only way that the relative
rights and duties of governments and civilians are established.  In fact,
there is a lot of informal negotiation going on all the time.  This is
significant because an unenforced law isn't a law at all.

For example, you will not read anywhere that compulsory education laws have
been repealed -- but they have.  When the home schooling movement started in
the late 1970s, there were occasional harassment and prosecution of parents.
The home schoolers won some and lost some.  As time went on, the authorities
came to accept home schoolers so that at this point, legal problems are
rare.  Compulsory education has been effectively repealed by the actions of
refusenicks in both the subject population and the enforcement population.  

This same process will occur more frequently in the future as libertarian
memes spread, government enforcement resources shrink, and people's vastly
different attitudes as to what should be legal and illegal make a monopoly
legal regime impossible to keep in place.

Note that unlicensed immigration is against the law.  Note that some
websites post material that others would like banned.  Maybe you can deport
a few or ban a few.  But how many?  If you have three million illegal aliens
or 3 million individual ISPs (people with high speed connections running
their own sites) you can't deport them or shut them down because it simply
takes too much time and too many enforcement resources.  The authorities
give up.  You get de facto open immigration and a de facto unregulated Net.
Coercion is expensive and slow.  Free exchange is cheap and fast.  That's
why free exchange wins in the long run.

It's not a victory without losses.  Some people are busted.  Some sites are
shut down.  You don't go into battle expecting zero casualties.  But what
counts in the end is who wins.  And we've got them outnumbered by far.


"So you think you can handle 3 million sites?  Wait a few years and you can
try to handle 300 million."