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The Praxeology and Ethics of Traffic Lights

• mises.org / Justin T.P. Quinn

It's over. There can be no hope for the state now. Its time has finally come to an end. If you think this is irrationally optimistic, click here and watch the video. You will see the state's raison d'être smashed asunder.

How often do you hear the minarchist say, "Well, I don't like government, but we at least need things like traffic laws. We need a government to keep us safe"? For all those who call libertarians crazy for wanting to abolish the Federal Reserve, how much more dangerous and criminal would they accuse us of being if we actually began to publicly advocate the abolition of traffic regulations? Yet, here it is, on video, for the entire world to see, that Hobbes was wrong.
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In the case of an intersection, where people encounter one another in an area neither of them owns, a conflict arises. This conflict is the desire of several people to occupy the same space — the intersection — at the same time. When faced with this problem outside the realm of government regulation, people naturally solve it through the first-user principle.

Before anyone else enters the intersection, the first person to have already entered is allowed to leave. It is the same principle that applies to elevators and subways. Those already occupying the vehicle wishing to leave are allowed to. This first-come–first-served, filter-through method is precisely what takes place at these unregulated intersections.

It is a clear-cut case of what is known in Austrolibertarian circles as spontaneous order. Rational human beings organize themselves and cooperate voluntarily without the need for government. It is not government, but people that build a civilized society. All government can do is destroy civilized behavior through its violent coercion.

 

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