But who will protect me?

In a thread at a political site, I asked a question something like, “How can you keep supporting government given the record of government tyranny and abuse?” The answer came back from someone who likes to be known as “liberal rob”:

Because I don’t want to live in an anarchy, where I’ll be one of the first victims of someone deciding it’s easier to kill me and take my stuff than to make it himself.

This complaint in one form or another is frequently seen. There have been generations of propaganda claiming that the state is absolutely necessary that has convinced many, if not most, people that only the state can protect them from armed goons that would run wild and take their stuff without the uniformed state employed goons taking their stuff as they pretend to stop those horrible private criminals. An academic study of the 20th century showed that governments murdered about 200 million of their own citizens during that period of time. This is protection?

The typical person has to be moved from believing there must be a large and powerful government to the position more typical of the “minarchist” libertarian. They then will still believe that without a State to protect private property, everyone would run around looting each other and total chaos would ensue in the absence of the State; but at least they will see that the State needs to be constrained to just preforming the job of protection of the citizens. That would get a person to the stage where they would stop believing in the welfare-warfare state. Once someone sees that the state should be used only for the protection of property rights then we may have a discussion with the person on why the State is needed at all. Most folks need someone to show them how anarchy could protect the life, limb and property of the masses from roaming gangs of thugs in the absence of state employed police and the state court system.


I like to start my defense of anarchy from the moral augment using the non-aggression principle which tells us that it is simply wrong to initiate violence against people who have harmed no one by their actions. If a person does not commit aggression against anyone else or anyone else’s property then he should not suffer aggression himself. This “golden rule” has been at the heart of morality in all major moral systems throughout history. Now the State claims that it must use force and intimidation to protect you and your property. The State claims that it must initiate violence to keep violence from happening.  So when a person supports even “limited government”  they are  supporting the initiation of violence as a means of organizing society. I also like to point out that there have been many places where there was anarchy that worked or there was near anarchy that worked. My favorite is the anarchy of Ireland.

There are those who want to argue for anarchy from consequentialism and these people typically ignore any kind of philosophical moral judgment about the initiation of violence used in ruling the masses or in the collection of taxes. These people do not want to discuss the immorality of the theft called taxes or the lack of morality in the initiation of violence. They tend to look purely at the outcomes of various actions to determine what the best course of action should be for humans. For example, the Austrian School of Economics favors market anarchy for purely consequentialist reasons. They believe that anytime they analyze the behavior of markets that state action always brings about a less positive outcome than if there was no state interference. This is not to say that economists of the Austrian school don’t also look at the morality of the state from their own personal viewpoints, but as economists they tend to believe that their work should be value free.

But once we have established in our minds that the best government is that government that governs the least, we then need to look at the argument that there is no way to keep a government small and weak. Once you cede the monopoly of legitimate use of force and the right to raise taxes against the will of the taxed, you have given that entity all it needs to become a tyranny over time.

So we need to argue that free markets can provide a superior service for the protection of liberty and property rights as opposed to the State.

Robert Murphy’s essays and his book get to the heart of how private defense forces would be organized at the local and national levels.  He shows that there is no need for a State to defend against external States since private markets can accomplish this task without the violence of taxation. He also shows that the private law would be far better as well. I have written on the topic of private and common law systems as well, and one essay is here.

So in the end, we see that It is simply immoral to initiate violence against the innocent, and that includes all forms of taxation. We know from the Austrian School that the initiation of violence never leads to superior economic outcomes. Once the initiation of violence is accepted by the public as a means of organizing government as in the miniarch position there is no way to stop the government from growing ever more powerful and tyrannical. And so, it is inescapable that private markets lead to superior safety, service, quality, and value in all things including private law and defense services.


3 thoughts on “But who will protect me?

  1. To avoid being harmed, humans need to have physical barriers and armed guards to keep out those who cannot be trusted. In urban areas, suburbs are probably the geographic unit that will be selected by market providers of defence and insurance – as the territory from which to exclude people who have shown no evidence of good character.
    The response of suburban South Africans to the obvious criminal consequences of democratic “freedom”, was barricaded neighbourhoods – but this response was suppressed by government insistence on the right of freedom of movement (of the rights worshipped by democrats, this is the right which is most likely to lead to your death).
    Barricaded neighbourhoods would lead to a reduction in all types of real crime, and to the practical organisation of victim-less “crimes” to allow parents to shield naive children from early self-destruction.
    Humans know to respond in this way to this type of threat, and it is democracy which is inhibiting this logical response, and exposing our elderly people to rape (no longer makes front page news – we are inured to it now).
    So the current situation is high walls around individual properties, topped with razor and/or electrified wire; armed response teams patrolling neighbourhoods – both supplemental to the publically-funded police force – and the entire arrangement has more wall, more guards, more vehicles, weapons and cost than the logical solution known to the inhabitants – and is far less effective!

  2. Nice post. I think I would have simply said – we have the most expansive and interventionist government in history, and we still have thugs abusing private citizens every day. What makes you think more statism is going to solve that?

  3. In theory, the ensuing constitutional system would assure that the Federal Government check any state invasion of individual rights, while the states would check excessive Federal power over the individual. And yet, while limitations would undoubtedly be more effective than at present, there are many difficulties and problems in the Calhoun solution. If, indeed, a subordinate interest should rightfully have a veto over matters concerning it, then why stop with the states? Why not place veto power in counties, cities, wards? Furthermore, interests are not only sectional, they are also occupational, social, etc. What of bakers or taxi drivers or any other occupation? Should they not be permitted a veto power over their own lives? This brings us to the important point that the nullification theory confines its checks to agencies of government itself. Let us not forget that federal and state governments, and their respective branches, are still states, are still guided by their own state interests rather than by the interests of the private citizens. What is to prevent the Calhoun system from working in reverse, with states tyrannizing over their citizens and only vetoing the federal government when it tries to intervene to stop that state tyranny? Or for states to acquiesce in federal tyranny? What is to prevent federal and state governments from forming mutually profitable alliances for the joint exploitation of the citizenry? And even if the private occupational groupings were to be given some form of “functional” representation in government, what is to prevent them from using the State to gain subsidies and other special privileges for themselves or from imposing compulsory cartels on their own members?

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