This past weekend, the annual local Christmas parade passed by my house, just like always. (Except for last year, when a hard rain thankfully cancelled the parade for the first time in its 40 year history.) And just like always, hundreds of people parked in the fields near the house. Unfortunately, these people tend to be inebriated and lacking in respect for private property. My family and I routinely had to run people out of the various sheds on the property, as they might be harmed by the sharp objects, heavy objects, farming chemicals, and other such hazards therein. In one instance, a random person told others that they could use one of our sheds as a place to urinate. This occurred because the parade organizers never bring enough portable toilets. Someone even had the temerity to drive all over the fields behind the house and out of view of the parade. The day after the parade, we had to clean up broken beer bottles, empty tobacco packs, fast food, and other such garbage left as litter on the property’s road frontage. Unlike previous years, no cleanup crew came by to help us do this.

Naturally, a libertarian can become quite dismayed, disgusted even, at seeing people behave this way. We tried to rope off the yard, but some people just knocked this down and parked anyway. We had “no hunting” signs up, but still found that someone had left spent shotgun shells near the road. (I can only assume that they aimed at some wild turkeys or geese that occasionally visit the property.) The local police officers were of little help; they only sat at the road watching the parade and looked for trouble in the immediate vicinity of the parade. They did nothing about the various transgressions that occurred elsewhere.

As I thought about the events that transpired, I realized that something foundational is very wrong to allow such violations to occur, let alone go unpunished. Then, an epiphany came to me. The reason that any of this can happen is that roads and the land immediately next to it are not private property; they are government-occupied property. The parade organizers can depend on the local government to close off normal traffic on the road to allow the parade to take place. As no one really has an ownership stake in the property and the damage is not typically of a sort that can be dealt with by the courts, there is no incentive to take good care of it.

In an anarcho-capitalist society, carrying out a parade would not be nearly as easy. Without a state, all property would be in private hands, including the roads. A parade organizer would need permission from every person who owns part of the road between the starting point and ending point of the parade in order to carry out the parade. If even one person with a claim on the parade route wished to stop the parade, he could do so, even to the point of using force to defend his property from trespassers. As such, the parade organizer would need to make sure that property damage, trespassing, and litter are kept to a minimum in order to prevent the private property owners from banning the parade in the future. This would mean that private police would need to protect the properties and property owners along the parade route, and as they would be contracted to do a job for the parade organizers and also be subject to the review of the property owners, they would have to do a much better job than the local government police currently do. This would also mean that the parade organizers would have to rent a sufficient number of portable toilets to keep the parade watchers from using people’s yards. Finally, this would mean that a cleanup crew would have to be hired to restore the properties to their original condition, free of parade garbage. Clearly, if we want better parades or just to have freedom from parades in our front yards, an anarcho-capitalist society is the way to go.