Guest Post: Security In A Free Society

The next in a continuing series (most recently: The Governance of a Free Society).
Submitted by Free Radical

Security in a Free Society

The Real choice isn’t between liberty and security;
it is between our security and the state’s.
– Llewellyn Rockwell, The Real Meaning of Security

While the state pretends to protect its people from external threats, it is in fact the perpetrator thereof, the more so the larger the state is. Which is to say, the state does not provide security. Rather, it creates the need for security on a scale that would not otherwise exist, assuring that the more it spends, the more liberties must be sacrificed on the altar of “national defense.”  Why else would the American people, for example, find themselves in something approaching lockdown status, despite the fact that their government constitutes nearly half of all military spending worldwide?

The answer, of course, is that the finally “successful” attack on the World Trade Center was simply blowback – i.e., the all but inevitable response of those victimized by the U.S. Government’s decades-long military intervention in the Middle East. And not surprisingly, as a consequence of this “unprovoked” attack, the U.S. Government has vastly expanded its intelligence apparatus, seeking nothing less than Total Information Awareness (since renamed, following an “adverse media reaction to the program’s implications for public surveillance”), while making “preemptive” war a key component of its foreign policy, the rationale for which was laid out in the former administration’s National Security Strategy of the United States of America, which remains in full effect under the present administration.
Yet such is the twisted logic of the state that the solution to the endless warring between and among them is to have but one state:

Thomas Hobbes, and countless political philosophers and economists after him, argued that in the state of nature, men would constantly be at each others’ throats. Homo homini lupus est [Man is a wolf to man]. Put in modern jargon, in the state of nature a permanent “underproduction” of security would prevail. Each individual, left to his own devices and provisions, would spend “too little” on his own defense, resulting in permanent interpersonal warfare. The solution to this presumably intolerable situation, according to Hobbes and his followers, is the establishment of a state. …

… Once it is assumed that in order to institute peaceful cooperation between [individual] A and [individual] B it is necessary to have a state S, a twofold conclusion follows. If more than one state exists, S1, S2, S3, then, just as there can be presumably no peace among A and B with S, so can there be no peace between S1, S2, and S3 as long as they remain in a state of nature (anarchy) with regard to each other.  Consequently, in order to achieve universal peace, political centralization, unification, and ultimately the establishment of a single world government, are necessary. i

While a single world government has long been and is now the fervent hope of both neoliberals (socialists) and neoconservatives (fascists), it should be clear to all who have followed this continuing series that a world government – a world state – would be the worst possible eventuality for humanity. True, it would theoretically bring an end to the state of nature that exists among the world’s nearly 200 constituent states and thus put an end to war between them. But given the nature of the state, this would, in practical terms, amount to a Final Solution for human freedom and thus for humanity itself. For in the bureaucratization of all human affairs, a world state would complete the process of political parasitism that has ever and always sucked the life out of the human enterprise.

So rather than succumb to the belief, however deeply entrenched, that the state provides security for anyone other than itself, let us confront the fact that what the state provides is a one-sided affair that is entirely at odds with its people’s security. After all, “no one in his right mind would agree to a contract that allowed one’s alleged protector to determine unilaterally – without one’s consent – and irrevocably – without the possibility of exit – how much to charge for protection.” ii Yet as this is precisely what the state imposes on its subjects, it should come as no surprise that the cost of security, as noted above, increases in inverse proportion to the security actually provided.

And while it is certainly true that without a state, “stronger agents will be tempted to use force against the weak and impose government on them,”iii  it is also true that such agents will be tempted to do so with a state.  They always have, and, as long as long as material scarcity is a fact of human existence, they always will.  There will always be those, that is, who, whenever possible, will choose the political means – theft – over the economic means – work – so why encourage them with the provision of a territorial monopoly on the use of force and thus the institutionalization of the political means?  Why capitulate in advance to the “stronger agents,” in other words, when it is not at all a given that (1) one or another of these agents will succeed in imposing a government on “the weak” or (2) that “the weak” will stand for it if they do?  Once a given society is empowered, say, with genuinely contractual protections of life, liberty, and property, who can say with any assurance that “stronger agents” will prevail against its members?  What about such a society’s own strength?

For again, with the whole world watching, predatory groups will have to stand trial in the court of public opinion. And being found guilty – i.e., being openly devoid of any moral authority for their actions – they will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to impose their will on others, at least for long. Thus, as the devolutionary process challenged the moral authority of smaller and smaller states, constrained in direct proportion to their increasing “feebleness,” society will turn elsewhere for security.

Where?  To its only alternative, the market. How?  Mostly likely via the insurance industry. For “even now insurance agencies protect private property owners upon payment of a premium against a multitude of natural and social disasters, from floods and hurricanes to theft and fraud.” iv All are forms of security, after all, so why should “defense” be any different, especially since insurance companies are very large, far-flung affairs that are

… in command of the resources – physical and human – necessary to accomplish the task of dealing with the dangers, actual or imagined, of the real world. Indeed, insurers operate on a national or even international scale, and they own substantial property holdings dispersed over wide territories and beyond the borders of single states and thus have a manifest self-interest in effective protection. Furthermore, all insurance companies are connected through a complex network of contractual agreements on mutual assistance and arbitration as well as a system of international reinsurance agencies representing a combined economic power that dwarfs most if not all contemporary governments, and they have acquired this position because of their reputation as effective, reliable, and honest businesses. v

And again, with the collapse of the “monster” vi states, the monstrous threat that they present to the world will decline proportionately, reducing security insurance to something more in line with the mundane tasks to which everyone is already accustomed, the reason being that “defense” insurance will have the same market-based advantages of other insurance:

First off, competition among insurers for paying clients will bring about a tendency toward a continuous fall in the price of protection (per insured value), thus rendering protection more affordable. Second, insurers will have to indemnify their clients in the case of actual damage; hence they must operate efficiently… Third, and most importantly, because the relationship between insurers and their clients is voluntary, insurers must accept private property as an ultimate “given” and private property rights as immutable law. … Moreover, out of the steady cooperation between different insurers in mutual interagency arbitration proceedings, a tendency toward the unification of the law – of a truly universal or “international” law – will emerge. vii

Security, then, will ultimately be a purely individual affair, no matter if “group” insurance is the manner in which it is provided. Either way, the decision will be individual, and the benefit will be individual, with no state dictating the price of that benefit while failing to provide it. 

In the meantime, the reduced threat to the American states from the collapse of their central government will allow them to make a generally peaceful transition to independence. After all, the violence that is being directed at America today, even though it often targets civilians, has but one objective and that is to topple the American government. That is to say, what al-Qaida and others want to happen to the United States is the same thing that Americans wanted to happen to the former Soviet Union. And it is as ludicrous to think that al-Qaida would attack America after its central government had collapsed as it would have been to think that the U.S. would have attacked the Soviet Union after its government had collapsed. 

Thus are we left to contemplate what is really afoot as the interregnum of the state finally draws to a close, which we address in my next submission: “The End of History.”



i Ibid., Hoppe, pp. 239 and 241.
ii Ibid., Hoppe, pp. 279 and 280.
iii Ibid., Stringham, p. 373.
iv Ibid., p. 281.
v Ibid., p. 281.
vi Donald W. Livingston, “Dismantling Leviathan,” Harper’s magazine, May, 2002, p. 14.
vi Ibid., pp. 281, 282, and 283.