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.