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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6462/defense-services-on-the-free-market/

Defense Services on the Free Market

April 2, 2007 by

Those economists and others who espouse the philosophy of laissez faire believe that the freedom of the market should be upheld and that property rights must not be invaded. Nevertheless, writes Murray Rothbard, they strongly believe that defense service cannot be supplied by the market and that defense against invasion of property must therefore be supplied outside the free market, by the coercive force of the government. In arguing thus, they are caught in an insoluble contradiction, for they sanction and advocate massive invasion of property by the very agency (government) that is supposed to defend people against invasion! FULL ARTICLE

{ 31 comments }

jon April 2, 2007 at 8:51 am

Me want that Rothbard badge. Where to get one????

Jonathan April 2, 2007 at 10:19 am

If A accuses B of a crime, but B does not wish to acknowledge the accusation/engage legals counsel etc how can A enforce it?

Francisco Torres April 2, 2007 at 10:59 am

If A accuses B of a crime, but B does not wish to acknowledge the accusation/engage legals counsel etc how can A enforce it?

“A” has to show that his accusation against “B” has substance first. A way to compel a person to engage in legal proceedings (defend him or herself in a court) is to create a kind of database of non compliant people, which businesses and sellers could find useful in rating a customer before doing business with him/her. A person that has constantly ignored pleas to appear in court would not be trustworthy enough to lend money or sell anything.

Yumi April 2, 2007 at 11:28 am

Most people would be insured or represented by protection agencies/security companies (otherwise they would be on their own, bearing all the risk). These companies can draw up contracts and require the clients to give their accounts/statements, should the companies represent the clients in a settlement of disputes. It’d be in the interest of these service providers to do so, otherwise they can refuse to provide services to irresponsible individuals.

D. Saul Weiner April 2, 2007 at 12:10 pm

It seems to me that those who are suspected of violent crime would need to be detained, though this would contradict Rothbard’s tenet. Mind you, there would need to be some evidence to support such an action. And some kind of compensation would be required for someone who is ultimately found innocent. No?

Nelson April 2, 2007 at 12:26 pm

From the article:But we have seen that the principles of a free society do imply a very definite theory of property rights, namely, self-ownership and the ownership of natural resources found and transformed by one’s labor.

Implying a theory is quite a different thing than “defining and allocating the structure of such rights” much less enforcing those rights and their structure.

Dave April 2, 2007 at 1:43 pm

I see Nelson is back, after being shown that he has no idea what he is talking about on the “Market Chosen Law” blog.

I would respond to what he just said if I actually understood him; he is not being all that clear. Sorry Nelson, maybe I am just dense. Do you mind clarifying what you just said, in complete sentences, not fragments?

Regards,

Dave

Nelson April 2, 2007 at 2:28 pm

Rothbard gives a lot of theories on the subject. None of it has been proven. You’ll find it hard to convince people (at least in the USA) to give up what they have now in exchange for what “might” happen. Anarchists should concentrate on making little adjustments to the system we have now over time instead of advocating for a new system.

darjen April 2, 2007 at 2:51 pm

It has been proven time and again throughout history that the State does a terrible job of defense. How much more proof do statists need? It’s time to try something new. Nobody in their right mind should advocate a system like what we have now. Unfortunately, lots of people are not in their right mind.

darjen April 2, 2007 at 3:01 pm

Also, I should add that I am very glad for folks like Mises.org who work tirelessly to educate people on this subject. I am one of the many beneficiaries of their fine efforts. We will soon enough persuade enough people to our side.

Nelson April 2, 2007 at 4:34 pm

What I would like to see is Anarchists test their theories in some place that actually has very poor government. Not the USA because we have too much to lose and for all the complaints, our government is a good one generally speaking. Zimbabwe might be a good choice for a testing ground. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

Kevin B. April 2, 2007 at 5:50 pm

Nelson,

Really? You would like to seem them test their theories? Really? I doubt you would understand the results, since you apparently don’t comprehend the results of the consistently failing statist experiments.

we have too much to lose and for all the complaints, our government is a good one generally speaking

What you mean is that you have too much to lose. As a thief, you will obviously have something to “lose” when your capacity to steal is weakened. As a beneficiary of government plunder, I have no doubt that you honestly believe that the government is generally a good one. Thank you for your callous opinions.

I especially appreciate the offer of Zimbabwe. I didn’t know you held the title. How powerful you are. I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised, since you also hold the title to all property in the US. I thought some of it was mine, but I guess I was wrong.

I must say that you are a gracious master, since you must own me as well. To allow me travel to Zimbabwe, a million praises, m’lord.

averros April 2, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Nelson – “testing” theoiries like you propose in the undeveloped places with poor and ignorant population can reveal only two things – that rejecting the notion of monopolist defense will not make people rich and industrial overnight. And the second is that the “democratic” and more openly plutocratic states will go out of their way to squash this “experiment” before it takes hold.

Somalia is an example.

Nelson April 2, 2007 at 6:10 pm

The replies I received show that Anarchists do not believe their theories can stand on their own. I was hoping they would at least believe their theories could do a better job than Mugabe. And surely those theories would help underdeveloped places even more than advanced ones. Or maybe not. Maybe they’re just plain wrong after all.

Kevin B. April 2, 2007 at 6:23 pm

He speaks! Oh, blessed ears!

Seriously, Nelson. If anarchists aren’t free to live their lives in the “land of the free,” then what the hell makes you think they’ll be allowed to in Zimbabwe?

Sasha Radeta April 2, 2007 at 10:00 pm

What I would like to see is Anarchists test their theories in some place that actually has very poor government. Not the USA because we have too much to lose and for all the complaints, our government is a good one generally speaking. Zimbabwe might be a good choice for a testing ground. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

Nelson,

Actually, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel and we don’t have any wild theories to prove. We just don’t want the strict geographical monopolistic jurisdiction of law – not the abolishment of all laws. We believe in self-determination rights and sovereignty (autonomy) of every individual – not on sovereignty based on land… That’s why we still argue that people within America have an inalienable right to form a more perfect union, without forcing anyone to become a part of it. Your socialist republic can continue to exist on voluntary basis, as far as we are concerned, and it should test its true support and improve itself in a free market competition (the most democratic elections of all).

nick gray April 2, 2007 at 10:18 pm

Here’s an idea I had a while back that relates to this- Time-share Government. Everyone who chooses to be a citizen, by voluntarily joining, might be required to perform some of the functions of the government, such as external (armed forces) and internal (police) defence. Maybe for one month, you spend three weeks patroling the streets, enforcing community laws in community properties like roads, and then one week making and repealing laws. If we want government without politicians, we might be able to have it if we time-share the essential functions. Any other ideas? (I see what Nelson means- if Zimbabwe is falling into chaotic anarchy, maybe our market anarchy ideas could take over. I’m not sure if the average Zimbabwean would know what to make of our ideas though)

Michael A. Clem April 2, 2007 at 11:21 pm

Test our theories? Open your eyes to what’s going on now. No, not in the places that get the most publicity, but the places that are least on the news, because they have the least problems.
Most likely, the American people themselves will supplant government-provided security out of sheer necessity, as they have increasingly done so up to the present–more private security than public police, the ever-increasing use of private arbitration and mediation, the failure of the War on Drugs, the farce of the War on Terrorism, the insecurity of the public schools, etc.
The only real question is once the public system is largely supplanted, will people recognize it as being a private system, or will they still think it’s “backed” by the public system?

Nelson April 3, 2007 at 1:33 am

This whole debate is moot. Nothing is going to change. At least not within the US. My advice to anarchists who don’t want to move is to concentrate on making changes within the system instead of trying to change the system.

The reason I picked Zimbabwe is they used to be the breadbasket of the continent. And they used to have property rights in at least some form before Mugabe decided to forcefully redistribute the farm land. So the concept of private property is not new to the place. And they would probably be willing to go back to some kind of capitalist system given their recent troubles. I obviously doubt the Anarchist theory would actually work (it contains too many assumptions and not enough facts, imo), but if it has a chance of working anywhere, it is there. And if it turns out not to be practicable, the effort to implement it probably won’t make things worse than Mugabe has already made them.

Sam April 3, 2007 at 1:49 am

Heh Heh. Kinda humurous debating isn’t it? What with Libertarians occasionally duking it out with the occasional Liberal passer-bys. It seems Conservatives are too busy running their lives and most Western countries to care.

Interesting reply of yours S. Radeta. You and your pals DO already have that existing right to make a new and better Union. The only problem is to create such a political party requires that the masses loooove Libertarianism (or Austrian values or whatever the correct term is) and will vote for such wonderful sweeping changes. Oops, too bad too many middle-class and rich people vote Conservative!

But I thought theories DID have to be proven. History seems to show that Conservative-type values have dominated. And besides I have to admit before I discovered the Internet I hadn’t even heard of Socio-Economic Libertarians! Sure I have heard of laissez-faire, but still. . .

Yet I have heard of that other type of Libertarian: Civil Libertarians. Their love of getting criminal soft sentences or off the hook and being all round do-gooders makes Liberals blush!

flix April 3, 2007 at 4:09 am

Test anarchy? Competing jurisdictions? Secession? I thought that had already been done:

http://mises.org/journals/jls/3_1/3_1_2.pdf

It was what America was originally about. Read Bakunin or de Tocqueville and see what they had to say about the US.

Dan Coleman April 3, 2007 at 7:12 am

Nelson, your argument rests on this assertion: This whole debate is moot. Nothing is going to change. At least not within the US.

Here’s my counterargument: This whole debate is relevant. Things can change. Just look at U.S. history.

I’m not sure what you’re getting at with “testing” the libertarian ideas; the U.S. was itself an experiment in self-government, admittedly for a short period of time and to greater and lesser degrees. It has been a long time since that was the case, though. Libertarians are simply the ones that are pointing out the government’s failure to do that which people in society can handle for themselves.

flix April 3, 2007 at 8:32 am

To a lesser degree a comparison between highly centralised countries/empires vs. federal/cantonal/confederate arrangements is also very illustrative as to the benefits of decentralisation.
If it is good at the Canton level, why not at the township level? etc, etc..

averros April 3, 2007 at 11:06 pm

> This whole debate is moot. Nothing is going to
> change.

Then why are you bothering to argue? Just because you think we need to hear your invaluable words of wisdom? Earth to Nelson – we’ve heard all you have too say a million times before. Repetition didn’t make it any less stupid.

So get back to your station in this life. Shut up and keep on browning your nose. Your masters just love all-wise all-accepting sheepie like yourself.

Pete Hanley April 4, 2007 at 12:38 am

Things could change, here is how it might occur:

Tim Spicer of Sandline (a Private Military Corporation) once estimated less than $1b to eliminate all armed conflict in Africa. This was based on practical experience in some of the worst affected locations: Angola, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Congo – Brazzaville, Congo – Kinshasa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Lesotho, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

That a credible, profit-motivated, and successful entrepreneur would be willing to bid for this implies that establishing anarchy is now well within the financial capabilities of the private sector.

Based on Spicer’s estimate, several years of enforced elimination of all armed violence within an existing African nation could therefore be purchased for approximately $50m. The scope of such a project could include defeating and disarming warring factions, armed gangs, and bandits, deposing existing despots, deterring rival tribal kleptocrats, and preventing foreign aid or other religious and political groups from disrupting recovering or emerging markets.

$50m doesn’t seem much, but it is plausible considering that most African conflicts are characterised by attacks on unarmed peasants by poorly armed, untrained, drug-addicted, criminal gangs, supporting psychopathic tribal leaders masquerading as international statesmen. Against such opposition, small forces of privately managed, professional, soldiers, with the appropriate motivation and resources, have proven highly effective.

Mercenaries (like anarcho-capitalism) are extremely politically incorrect. So, despite $50m being a relatively trivial sum in comparison to daily expenditure on the Iraq war, including mercenaries, there is no doubt that current governments or international agencies are not willing to pay for such a venture. But there may eventually be enough committed anarcho-capitalists around the world to seed sufficient private project funding – say 25,000 investors at $2000 each. In the event of under subscription, no money would be payable and little would be lost.

A PMC would not accept such a project unless success was certain. And, as a charitable contribution, such an exercise would be at least as worthy as sponsoring a child etc. As a venture shareholder, it also could be potentially lucrative long term, once the venture’s reputation was firmly established and PMCs become an acceptable form of external intervention.

Sam April 4, 2007 at 1:58 am

Well averros & others why not turn the burden of proof towards the positive? Rather than what’s wrong with Liberalism (who don’t have much, if any, political influence), what’s so right about Libertarianism that it’s not just another ‘ism’? If the U.S. started off sorta Libertarianish why didn’t it last very long? If Libertarianism is the natural order why are the only historical references are the sparse examples of Iceland, Ireland and the ‘not so Wild West’? At least Maxism captured the world and changed it for a little while.

Somehow I’m sure the billionaires of the world don’t mind Libertarianist self-appointed back-stratchers telling them how they so amazing and how they shouldn’t pay taxes, take cheek from governments or trade unions, expect to fork money for welfare cheques for slackers, etc. And whilst the big-time rich have helped to scale back the welfare system and reduce tax-rates they don’t seem too concerned with removing governments per se. If they don’t mind a minimalist government system why would they get rid of that? Not surprisingly the rich and laissez faire Capitalists adhere to Mercantilism/Bullionism which originally meant you counted your wealth with how much gold and silver you had and it didn’t matter how that wealth came about. Nowadays I suppose it could also include bonds and shares and platinum, etc. and if government regulations can help you keep that wealth then that’s a bonus too. Why are they going to tip the apple cart?

Perhaps another good example is the Welfare State versus the Warfare State. The Welfare State, it would be said, are where the poor and their advocates reside. And it’s interesting to note how comparatively easy the way in which governments have been quick to respond to Conservatives, who agree with Libertarianists, and try to get back to the old-fashioned charity model. Whereas the Warfare State are where the big, strong guys live, where certain rich people and devious government goons profit from having conflicts erupt around the world. Yet because these guys ARE strong they can’t just be toppled as easily. Funny that. Try to push them and shucks if they don’t just happen to push back twice as hard.

Please inform me WHAT exactly is the magical difference that Libertarianism has that will wonderfully change the world? Laissez-faire isn’t new. Socio-economic Darwinism is the cruel harsh reality of Mother Nature. Self-ownership is a vague concept unless you are an already powerful person. What is the IT factor that even Conservatives are missing? Lest Libertarianists are merely economic-Darwinist cheerleaders for the rich?

Nelson April 5, 2007 at 6:04 pm

Thank you Pete Hanley. That’s the first Anarchist proposal I’ve seen that has any component of action in it. And it supports my position that external force is necessary to resolve disputes peacefully. Of course, most Anarchists would be against such a proposal because they abhore violence and would claim you’re violating peoples’ right to live under dictators, like they did with Iraq.

Scott D April 5, 2007 at 6:38 pm

Of course, most Anarchists would be against such a proposal because they abhore violence and would claim you’re violating peoples’ right to live under dictators, like they did with Iraq.

Violence and aggression are not the same thing. Until you can make that distinction, you will never understand libertarian thought. Murdering another person is violence. So is gunning down a person who attempts to murder you. Only the former is aggression.

Retaliatory violence is acceptable if it is in response to aggressive violence. Even the state realizes this. The problem with states is that they are very good at convincing the people that their aggressive acts are actually retaliatory.

I would also question your idea that the U.S. had a moral obligation to kill half a million people so that those left alive would be “free”.

Rotthund April 5, 2007 at 6:55 pm

What about the incorrigibly disagreeable? Seems those who gravitate towards government incorrigibly disagree and hince their inclination to coerce via government.

Kevin B. April 6, 2007 at 1:04 pm

Sam,

And whilst the big-time rich have helped to scale back the welfare system and reduce tax-rates they don’t seem too concerned with removing governments per se.

You seem to have missed the point that scaling back welfare and taxes are helpful actions.

Nevertheless, just what would you suggest the capitalist “big time rich” do in effort to remove governments per se?

Keep in mind, they want to remain rich and alive.

Björn Lundahl April 7, 2007 at 2:45 am

Scott D,

“Violence and aggression are not the same thing. Until you can make that distinction, you will never understand libertarian thought. Murdering another person is violence. So is gunning down a person who attempts to murder you. Only the former is aggression.”

Good point!

Björn Lundahl

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