It’s easier to raise questions than it is to answer them. My brief answers are merely indicative of a direction an answer might take, but I’d expect many possible more elaborate answers.
If tomorrow the Crimeans changed their minds and decided to join Ukraine, would Russia’s owners and operators let them?
Probably not, no more than any state’s owners and operators are willing to see its territory diminished.
Why did the Crimeans decide to join Russia? What benefits or avoidance of costs did they expect?
Beyond the ethnic and nationalistic attachments and the fears of being oppressed by an alien government, this is a choice of laws and economic measures.
In what ways are this decision like or unlike choosing a protection company for protection services in an anarcho-capitalistic framework?
This decision probably cannot be easily reversed by the Crimeans, whereas decisions to buy defense services in a market are likely to be more reversible. One may be able to drop one supplier and choose another. In an anarcho-capitalist world, law and law enforcement are on the market. There is greater choice. Each person is going to have to decide what justice is for him and seek to obtain it at a cost he’s willing to pay. The resulting social outcomes will differ from today’s. Justice systems among the states both converge across societies and cultures and diverge as well in important respects. The same is likely to happen when justice is on the market. The costs and benefits of a host of tastes and services are going to be very different than in the system of anarchic states that prevails today. The actual spectrum of goods and services is going to be quite different. With every person having the option to be his own master and decide what he’s willing to pay for, the outcomes are going to differ greatly from today’s.
What really is the international law among states? Who decides on how to enforce it? Who decides if enforcement is worth its costs?
Analogous questions arise in an anarcho-capitalist world. In both scenarios (an anarchic world of states and an anarchic world of individuals) much depends on the states of mind of the participants, their ethics, knowledge, history, ideas and values. There is a tendency for convergence or a central tendency to adhere to a popular set of outcomes, but still allowing for idiosyncratic deviations of states, individuals and associations of individuals. If a law system is too “far out”, its chance of survival will diminish because the economic autarchy that results from it will be very costly to its adherents.
Aren’t the world’s states in anarchic relations with one another?
Yes. There has been a degree of convergence to an international law with enforcement being a combination of united and individual state action. When states agree on a just international law, this tends to reduce the frictions and costs of those frictions. There is some of that beneficial agreement at present. However, when they agree on unjust international law or interpret good law unjustly or twist it to their interests, the outcomes are bad. The UN declarations have numerous unjust aims and norms, for example. There is a serious misunderstanding of rights.
In an anarcho-capitalist world, the mis-named positive rights favored by progressives become possible goods and services with prices. Health security is not state-provided (and therefore obtained through a force-backed taking) but purchased on the market. The incentive with anarcho-capitalism is to produce wealth so that one may purchase the kinds and amounts of insurance one may want. The incentive under the state system, now enshrined and codified in international law, is for people to use the state’s power to guarantee the kinds of security they seek. This creates theft and lower production of wealth. It impoverishes a society and creates capital flight and lower production of capital.
Is there a tendency for a superpower to take over and end the anarchic relations?
Yes, among states there is. One empire after another is evidence of this, as is the attempt by a superstate to become predominant.
Will the same kind of tendency occur with anarcho-capitalism?
It might, and if so, it’s going to be costly for everyone. Any company that tries to be predominant by using force will cause others to resist, and the result will be a negative sum game. This is a warlord mentality in which one or more warlords tries to become the biggest honcho. This is the Achilles Heel of anarcho-capitalism, but it is also a weakness among states in the existing system. The system will not go to this outcome, however, if patrons de-fund any company that tries to become the supreme lawgiver. It’s easier to stop patronizing a company that supplies protection than it is to secede from a state. Hence, war-lordism is easier to stem in an anarcho-capitalistic world than in an anarchic world of states.
What may happen is that the aggressive people who can’t or won’t make it on the market band together and form a hostile force. Then the market-oriented people have to put them down by force. Hence, there needs to be a military force somewhere among the supporters of anarcho-capitalism and markets.
The same scenario has played out time and again among states, when one aggressive state started a war, or several states fought it out.
However, there is another difference. Warfare among states tends to be limited by the economic deprivations and destruction it entails. Hitler’s suicidal drive toward war, based partly on his monumental miscalculations, was recognized by some Germans who opposed it and him, such as Admiral Canaris. The greater that the economic losses can be and the more rational are those who can count and realize what must be given up to assume an aggressive posture, the more likely that warfare can be avoided. If anarcho-capitalism creates a higher degree of economic prosperity than the state system, as we can expect, then warfare should diminish. The losses from the negative sum game become too large compared to the gains from controlling others.
Another factor favoring anarchy among individuals and their free associations is that the state no longer has a monopoly on propaganda and education. It will be much harder to generate hostile sentiments based upon irrational ideas, or to develop and nurture hostile sentiments based upon nationalism, ethnicity, religion, cultural inferiority on some dimension, superiority of political system, superior values, and other such items that can be used to build support for aggression.