How would one handle a noise complaint in an anarchic system?

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How would one handle a noise complaint in an anarchic system?

  • Zain D

    The more I read about the concept of anarchy the more I am attracted to its tenants of voluntarism and non-aggression. That being said, some people are just dicks, and the heavy hand of the state can be very useful in dealing with such individuals.

    Let’s say a new neighbour moves next door. He buys the property outright and is free to do with it (and on it) as he chooses. Let’s say he chooses to play his music ridiculously loudly at all hours of the night. His music is keeping my kids up and proving to be a nuisance all around. I’ve tried reasoning with him but nothing will dissuade him from blaring his music as loudly as he wants on his property.

    Currently, I can call the cops and the problem will be solved (one way or another).

    What recourse would I have against this “noise pollution” in an anarchic society?

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  • Daniel Davis

    There is technology that specifically aims sound in a direction. We see this on cruise ships in the form of LRADs (I think this is what they are called) and they are used to send a sonic sound wave at an aggressor such as a pirate.  Perhaps the technology would have the chance to develop and become affordable. For the use of listening to our own music without disturbing others. If the neighbor refuses to use the technology we could use it to blast our music back at them until we reach an agreement about noise level.

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    TB

    I’ve been curious about the same as well as in regards to smoking, etc. I may not want to breathe in second-hand smoke, but who’s liberty is being violated? My liberty to breathe clean air or the smoker’s liberty to smoke? I also may not want to smell fried food, but while walking by a diner that may be unavoidable. How about perfume? Where’s the line?

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      Daniel Davis

      Meh, the second hand smoke thing is mostly based on bogus claims and studies done in the 90s. If anything it is a nuisance because of the smell. There is no real scientific evidence to support the claim that second hand smoke is effective enough to be hazardous to your health provided you aren’t just allergic to it. Now they are even trying to say third hand smoke is a real dangerous thing. Again there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. The original study that stated a link between second hand smoke and adverse health effects existed was found to be untrue over a decade ago. The heart association and the lung association had already adopted the study results as fact, however, and never changed their stances after the original study was “debunked”. Not only are the anti-smoking laws unconstitutional but the reason behind them is completely unfounded.

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    Zain D

    I suppose that the “radius of nuisance” (for lack of a better term) of a particular activity would have the most bearing on how the issue is dealt with. Smoking, in my opinion, is an easy one to deal with because once you’re 10 feet away from a smoker in a public place it essentially becomes a non-issue. Likewise, a person could smoke up a storm in their house and it would have no effect on me living next door. Private businesses like restaurants, shops, apartment buildings could set their own rules.

    The main problem lies with the situations where the radius of nuisance emanates from one individual’s private property and extends into another’s. Sound pollution is one example, but smell could be another if, say, my neighbour decides to raise livestock in his backyard. In these cases there is no escaping from the issue, even when you are within the bounds of your property.

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    Dave Burns

    some people are just dicks, and the heavy hand of the state can be very useful in dealing with such individuals.[…]
    Let’s say a new neighbour […] chooses to play his music ridiculously loudly […].

    Currently, I can call the cops and the problem will be solved (one way or another).

    Will you consider the problem solved if the cops overreact, shoot the guy’s dog, and drag him off to jail?
    The question is not how to deal with this in the libertarian future. It is, how can you deal safely and reasonably with it here and now, minimizing the risk that someone gets shot or kidnapped?
    Will the cops do something effective? Will they piss off your crazy neighbor and inadvertently (?) tip him off that you are the source of his annoyance? Will they arrive promptly if the guy comes to your home looking for vengeance?

    The police enjoy a monopoly, various forms of legal immunity, support from a powerful union, the respect of judges and juries, and a lack of accountability. They might not particularly care about your outcome. This is a problem we need a solution to right here, right now.

    Calling the cops is like spanking your kids. It is obvious and socially acceptable, but also, it turns out, might be a terrible mistake. Thinking of alternatives calls for creativity.
    I would never consider calling the cops on my neighbors. But I know them, and we live in a boring suburb. If I lived in a denser neighborhood, I’m not sure what I would do. Maybe buy soundproofing.

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    Zain D

    So, because of the inconsiderate nature of my neighbour, I would have to go out of pocket and soundproof my entire house just so my kids can get a decent night’s sleep. It’s all well and good saying we need to get “creative” but it still doesn’t solve the problem at hand in a just manner.

    As trivial as the issue in question may seem, it highlights what, in my opinion, is one of the toughest nuts to crack in a completely voluntary system: how are we to deal with jerks who, while acting fully within their natural rights, can still be a nuisance to those around them.

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      Dave Burns

      toughest nuts to crack in a completely voluntary system: how are we to deal with jerks

      As I tried to point out, voluntary/current system, not that different. So what would really be valuable would be a technique to use now that reduces the risk of violence. Getting to know your neighbors is a good idea, but won’t solve this problem in every instance. If soundproofing costs too much, you could try earplugs. Or just get used to it, they say New Yorkers have trouble sleeping if it is too quiet. Or move somewhere where quiet time is part of the contract. Or move to the countryside. Or take a course in conflict resolution.

      You seem sort of disappointed with my response, what are you expecting?

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    Micah Christensen

    The most obvious solution is in a sacrifice (no, not that kind of sacrifice): individuals trade their individual property for collaborative property; rather than a group of unrelated individuals owning individual homes, they all own the neighborhood and thus decide what actions are reasonable.  This is done through conditions a home buyer must agree to before purchasing their home; if these conditions are broken, the home buyer agrees to leave, and if he breaks his word, he agrees to be removed through force.  If the home buyer does not prefer any condition, then I imagine there are other neighborhoods which have no conditions for buying and thus can afford the potential of there being a loud neighbor.  This works for both houses and apartments; the problem as I see it is generational, where individuals who are born in these homes and grow older realize that they did not implicitly sign any terms of conditions and thus have no obligation to respect them (i.e. the fallacy with the social contract.)  This means they could play loud music with no concern for consequence; however, just as a babe cannot sign a contract, he also cannot take ownership over a home (he doesn’t even know what one is.)  Therefore, the parents are still liable for breaking the conditions they agreed to and thus the child must go with them; if the parents leave their child the home, ownership of the property changes hands and the new owner must agree to the conditions or leave.

    It’s a bit of a messy solution but I don’t believe the conditions of home buying would ever become so overbearing that it could become an issue (nobody would want to move in if you could get evicted for farting too loud…well maybe some people would, but if the conditions became too ridiculous then home sellers would never make money.)  Because there is a direct reciprocal in which conditions are agreed upon (if more or less are added for example), there is little room for abuse.  As long as people don’t do something silly like appoint a neighborhood king who decided all the conditions a neighborhood would have, or assign to different people different conditions without reason or warning, it should effectively stop whatever bad things a neighbor could do as there is the fear of ostracism.

    This is how similarly a smoker and a non-smoker would get along, which is only ever an issue in public spaces such as a restaurant or a mall; the owner of said establishment might declare their property as smoking/non-smoking, and so whichever group has an issue should avoid that establishment.  Because businesses do not want this to occur (and to avoid having to deal with smokers in non-smoker establishments as smoker-friendly establishments don’t have an issue with non-smokers), it is very likely that they will compromise and provide enclosed smoker-friendly areas.  None of this is new to us; businesses have been doing this for a long time.  Only difference is, a smoker who insists on smoking in a non-smoking establishment has the property owner to answer to, rather than the government (technically the same thing since the gov basically owns everything.)

    But whose rights are being violated?  We only have to ask whose property is being unwillingly damaged; the smoker always willingly damages his own person so that’s not the issue; non-smokers don’t necessarily care whether smokers are around, so that’s also not the issue; the individual who does not want to inhale smoke is a likely candidate, however, it is not always the case that he is the victim: if an anti-smoker goes into a smoking-only room, he cannot expect everyone to leave for his sake as he willingly put himself in harms way (thus invalidates whatever verbal cues he gives as to how much he dislikes smoke); this is true for any establishment which is smoker-friendly, as the anti-smoker realizes what he’s getting into before he goes inside.  It is ultimately the property owner of the given space whose rights are potentially violated, as they have the say in how their territory will operate; if a man smokes on another man’s property that has been designated as non-smoking, then it is the smoker who has violated his property; however, if a man tears cigs out of smokers hands due to a distaste in smoking on a man’s property that is designated as smoker-friendly, it is the anti-smoker who is the violator.  A man can protect his property by preventing another from entering; so, if a smoker refuses to comply, he can be forcibly removed, and if an anti-smoker is causing trouble, likewise.  A business which does this without any real reason is not necessarily wrong–it is their property we tread on–but it’s a very easy way to lose customers, so it’s very unlikely to happen often.  The ability to freely associate is the key factor in all of this; it’s what separates everything that’s been said here from how gov handles things, which is compulsory and thus the foundation of many corresponding problems as one might expect from a violent monopoly.

    But what stops people from deciding they’ll collaboratively own an entire nation i.e. something like what we have now?  Nothing; if a majority of the population can decide on all the same conditions, then that’s what will happen and the rest of us who disagree are SoL.  Because people are so diverse and have such different conditions of living comfortably, there is (normally) a natural defense against the social version of the 51% attack.  The only difference between here and the anarchic system is, there’s a huge group which is propagandized to believe the state’s actions are legitimate.  Once most people believe voluntary association is the way to go, there’s nothing to worry about.  It’s kinda funny to say this as the USA’s gov in particular has such a low approval rating, but because people think it can’t work without them, it remains.

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      Dave Burns

      But what stops people from deciding they’ll collaboratively own an entire nation i.e. something like what we have now? Nothing; if a majority of the population can decide on all the same conditions, then that’s what will happen and the rest of us who disagree are SoL.

      I’m not clear what sort of thought experiment you are suggesting, sort of a majoritarian coup? I think you are oversimplifying, but maybe I don’t understand what you think would happen.

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    Properal

    How could an AnCap justice system deal with nuisances? I think sound pollution that interferes with the use of another’s property could be considered a trespass, similar to other types of pollution, and could generate a tort claim.  Then it could be dealt with like any tort claim.

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      Zain D

      Fair enough. All I’m looking for is some recourse that doesn’t involve me having to completely turn my life around just because someone else is being uncooperative. If such a tort was filed but the defendant in question failed to comply with the court order, would I then be in my rights to initiate force in order to solve the issue?

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    Malcolm Heights

    http://members.jacksonville.com/news/crime/2014-05-08/story/police-upset-neighbors-st-johns-woman-bulldozes-their-mobile-home#cxrecs_s

    Violate the Non Bulldozer Principle and just flatten your neighbor lol

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    Roger Browne

    Here are some non-violent solutions to this problem:

    1. If he’s playing his music “all night”, then he’s probably sleeping during the day. Play your Mozart at full volume in his direction, during the day. Then, when he emerges angry and bleary-eyed, suggest an arrangement whereby each person plays loud music during agreed hours only.

    2. Offer your neighbor $5 per week to turn the music down.

    3. Ask your neighbor what bothers him. It might be that he hates your dog barking, or he hates that you put your garbage out for collection too early, or that the car you are restoring is an eyesore, or something else. Make a trade. You can both agree to stop the behavior that is annoying the other.

    4. Negotiate a voluntary agreement the residents in your street. Those who choose to join up will agree to refrain from any of the nuisances listed in the agreement. Most people want to live in a pleasant environment, and for most people they will be giving up only one or two things in return for protection from the whole list of nuisances.

    5. Use earplugs, or soundproof your house, or move your sleeping space to a room on the opposite side of the house.

    6. Move house, to a quieter area. Each area develops its own norms, according to the type of people who generally live there. You could even look for an area with an explicit neighborhood agreement, if that is what is important to you.

    But definitely, don’t call the cops.

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    Daryl Dominic Tan

    Could the concept of Tort law function in an Anarchistic society? I think it can. Personally, I think law represents the bedrock of every society. Every small community, every tribe, just about every voluntary association has a select set of laws in which they are governed by. Even an individual has a moral code which he adheres to which seems to represent a kind of “legal system within one’s self”. The problem is when the State monopolizes law and enforces it at the whim and fancy of the ruling class. Otherwise it can be purely customary and normative rather than coercive.

    How about the idea of Polycentric law? Competing legal systems that aim to promulgate the “free’est'(for lack of better words) and best form of legal system through market competition. It worked in the Old West (which we know now to be not so much of a violent place thanks to Terry Anderson, P.J. Hill and Thomas Dilorenzo). What are the ramifications of not following the laws that are promulgated? Perhaps ostracization if some sort of compensation for distress is not paid? That way you can have an influence over how one behaves without recourse to coercion.

    Just a thought.

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    Properal

    All I’m looking for is some recourse that doesn’t involve me having to completely turn my life around just because someone else is being uncooperative. If such a tort was filed but the defendant in question failed to comply with the court order, would I then be in my rights to initiate force in order to solve the issue?

    Torts could be transferable,  so you might pre-sell your torts to a protection provider. So you would likely just have to report the issue to your protection provider and they would prosecute the tort claims and indemnify you for any damages per your contract with them. If you had a full service plan they might put you up in a quite hotel so you can get sleep, until the issue of an uncooperative neighbor is resolved.  If you had no protection you might have to prosecute it yourself and get restitution afterwards for the damage caused or sell the tort to someone else to prosecute and collect a smaller amount immediately.  You might then rent a quite place with the money from tort sale, until the issue is resolved.

    Their might be cases in which a neighbor must temporarily  make a lot of noise to construct a building or something productive.  They could offer compensation to victims to mitigate the nuisance.  Treating nuisances like a trespass could help resources be used more efficiently, see the Negative Externalities and the Coase Theorem.

    Their are many sanctions that can be used against uncooperative or dangerous people, ostracism, confinement, or outlawry are just a few.  Excessive force could generate a tort claim as well so it would be costly so would likely be limited.

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    Liam

    A group of people living in an area can preemptively opt-in to form a homeowners association which has the ability to place a fine on homeowners for poor conduct.

    Any homeowner moving into an area will have to sign a contract agreeing that they will only transfer ownership of their property to someone else who has agreed to the HOA terms and conditions.

    Problem solved! 🙂

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      Dave Burns

      A group of people living in an area can preemptively opt-in to form a homeowners association which has the ability to place a fine on homeowners for poor conduct.

      What if you have hold-outs?

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    Liam

    Keep in mind that houses will be MORE VALUABLE if every house in the area agrees to join the HOA, then you have a sort of assurance that your neighbors won’t cause problems. Any new houses being built, therefore, will have incentives to be sold into the HOA.

    Furthermore, who do you think will pave and upkeep the roads in the neighborhood? Who will order the garbage collector to come every week? Let’s see how well someone holds out when they have to pave their own private road just to get to and from their house.

    Not to mention, it’s easy to think of ways to be a dick on the internet, however, when you are single-handedly lowering the value of your neighbors (and your own) house by not joining the HOA, I’m sure most people will cave.

    And of course, if you don’t want to be apart of an HOA, you can just move somewhere that doesn’t have one 🙂

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      Dave Burns

      Keep in mind that houses will be MORE VALUABLE if every house in the area agrees to join the HOA, then you have a sort of assurance that your neighbors won’t cause problems.

      You’re making some assumptions here. My understanding of condo associations and homeowners associations is that they tend toward petty tyranny. Michael Dean was talking the other day about the HOA he belonged to in LA before moving to Wyoming. He had a burglar attempt to break in and wanted to install a motion-detector and light, same as several other units had. He was going to pay for it. Denied. I guess good security would make the property values go down.

      Who will order the garbage collector to come every week?

      I know people who have private pickup now. They have pickup twice a week, no need to call.

      Let’s see how well someone holds out when they have to pave their own private road just to get to and from their house.

      I’ve known ranchers with paved driveways a half mile long. You are overthinking this.

      And of course, if you don’t want to be apart of an HOA, you can just move somewhere that doesn’t have one

      I don’t know, you make it sound so tempting.

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      Liam

      Well, yes, that is why you should consider HOA’s terms and conditions before moving somewhere. Don’t agree to something that you don’t like.

      Rich neighborhoods always have tyrannical HOAs because they can enforce the rules that make the neighborhoods, as a whole, look better. But that is not bad because it is voluntary.

      Garbage collection, per household, is cheaper when done in bulk. Road usage, per person, is cheaper when distributed among more people. These are just a few, of many, tactics that could be used.

      There is a difference between a HOA in a free society and one in a statist society. The state provides a bunch of essential services, so current HOAs are just for adding extra shit like making sure your grass is a certain length. In a free society, HOA would replace a lot of essential government functions.

      Of course you don’t NEED a HOA to do this, but it sure helps. By comparing contemporary HOAs to hypothetical free ones, you are comparing apples to oranges.

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      Daniel Davis

      See to me a home is much more valuable if it doesn’t have an HOA. I grew up on a small farm and we either used a private pickup service for our garbage or we just burned it depending on how muddy the roads were. We paved our own drive way if that counts. The country road to our home was eventually paved but we were actually saddened by this because it increased through traffic. The less interference from others the better we liked it. For us the things a HOA offers decreases the property value. I am on my own now and building my own house. The first question I asked was whether the neighborhood had a HOA or not. The latter being my first stipulation before purchasing the land.

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    Roger Browne

    The current HOA model is less than optimal, because the HOA can only add to the surrounding regulatory environment. If it were possible for HOAs to subtract regulations too, when it suited the members, we would see some really interesting communities forming.

    Also, as far as I know, HOAs are generally set up by the developer of the subdivision, whose interests aren’t necessarily aligned with those of the ongoing residents.

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      Liam

      Yes but starting from no regulatory environment, HOAs have plenty to offer.

      That may be true in some instances. I wouldn’t move somewhere if I had to sign a bad HOA agreement in order to do so. Bad HOA designs would detract from property values.

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    Stephen Davis

    Regarding noise pollution (loud music, etc.) and air pollution (smoking, etc.), these things are physical and therefore subject to property rights. The details of specific instances will vary, but, in general, the solution to such disputes can be found by appealing to the principles of homesteading.

    If you build a house and start playing loud music 24 hours a day, then someone builds a house next door and complains about the noise, they “moved to the nuisance” and therefore have no complaint. If an airport homesteads the sound of planes taking off and landing, people who move close by have no complaint.

    If, on the other hand, the loud-music-playing guy came later, or the airport came later, earlier users would have legal standing to prevent the latecomers from violating their property rights.

    I recommend checking out Murray Rothbard’s paper, “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution”: https://mises.org/rothbard/lawproperty.pdf

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    Nikita Perminov

    There is too many factors to address. I will give my thought to one solutions however. If you want to live in a neighborhood where you won’t have problems with noise you would absolutely have to pay more. This is exactly how it works now on a practical level. So nothing in that regard would or should change.

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    Brad Moore

    I don’t see why there couldn’t be mutually agreed on contracts for neighborhoods/blocks/streets/etc regarding noise and private security forces to enforce the contract. No one, realistically, is going to move to a neighborhood , not agree to the contracts (assuming that was an option) just to be a nuisance and be visited by security constantly.

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    Dave Burns

    My take on HoAs is you might as well be a renter. They may be small, but they have all the problems of a government in microcosm.
    Maybe that is a good challenge for minarchists, go fix an HoA and your credibility will go way up in my estimation.

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      Daniel Davis

      With no HOAs who would build muh….MUH ROADDDDSSS!!!!!!!!

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      Daniel Davis

      Lol sorry I couldn’t resist.

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    Daniel Davis

    I want to post this again down here. Fuck contracts and HOAs, technology is better.

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      Daniel Davis

      Well never mind for some reason I can’t post a link right now. It was the same as the one I posted above.

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    Dave Scotese

    That being said, some people are just dicks, and the heavy hand of the state can be very useful in dealing with such individuals.

    Some noise complaints would be successfully handled very quickly (often using some of the strategies other people have mentioned), and some would go on forever, and still others would take some time to abate.  The best answer to this question is unavailable in our world because it is infested with the cannibalistic parasite called “government” that prevents solutions.  So… it’s really too early to tell.

    But there’s hope!  If you can find a liberty-minded person living near a noisy neighbor, you can get to know that victim and discuss the problem until the two of you find, test, and verify the efficacy of a solution.  The trick is to avoid using coercion, either on your own or through the state apparatus.  But the question as you asked it doesn’t have a single answer; it has as many answers as there will be free people who have and then solve the problem of a noisy neighbor.  That’s the nature of liberty.

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