Given that we have a system of property, is it better for the source of the enforcement to be centralized or decentralized? To me, this is a no-brainer with a big if. If decentralized enforcement is stable, then it is clearly preferable. The reason is that centralized coercion results in expansions and abuses of power. It’s not like there’s a choice on the menu of “centralized property rights enforcement with zero abuse of power.” You have to take the bad with the good. My preference, conditional on stability, is decentralized coercion.
Is decentralized enforcement stable? This is an active line of research for me, and my best answer so far is “sometimes.” There are a lot of people in armchairs who argue that of course decentralized enforcement is unstable. I find them rather unimaginative and non-rigorous.