We Need a State to Protect Us from a State

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. While discussing anarchism a statist pops in and says “Guys, if we don’t have a state some war lord is going to take over and enslave everybody!” The anarchists look at the statist baffled. One of the anarchists looks to another and asks “Did he just say we need a state to protect us from a state?” The other anarchist slowly nods his head and response “I think he did.”

Claiming that we need a state to protect us from war lords is circular reasoning. Consider what a war lord is. A war lord is nothing more than a man with an army who goes from area to area and uses his army’s capacity for violent to coerce people into obeying him. In other words a war lord is nothing more than an individual who uses coercion in an attempt to acquire a monopoly on the use of force. What is a state? An organization that uses coercion in an attempt to acquire a monopoly on force.

After hearing that reasoning the statist is likely to rebut with the claim that his or her preferred system of government is somehow different. A vast majority of the time the statist will be advocating for a currently or historically existing form of government that has already proven his or her claim false. Fans of constitutional republics will claim that a properly written constitution will protect the people form a tyrannical government. The United States is proving this claim false every day. Even though a large majority of fans of constitutional republics claim the Constitution is a properly written document it has failed to protect us and people abroad from government tyranny. Socialists will often jump in and claim more democracy will fix an problem. But when they say more democracy they almost imply that too much democracy will be detrimental. You see, a society where every person has an equal vote in matters is a form of anarchy and that’s possibly work. But if people are allowed to vote on certain governmental positions and certain laws then tyranny can be avoided. Just ask the former Soviet Union! Then there are the fans of limited socialism. These are the statists that aren’t ballsy enough to jump into the deep end of the socialism pool and too scared to take a dip in the constitutional republic river. In their mind striking the right balance between socialism and republicanism will solve all of the world’s ills. Norway is the commonly cited example of a functioning social democracy. Of course advocates of social democracy often overlook Norway’s foreign engagements. I’m sure things will become even more interesting once Norway’s vast oil supply runs out.

How are war lords supposed to protect us from war lords? I guess one could argue that a slightly less violent war lord is preferable to a more violent war lord. But history has demonstrated that most of those less violent war lords become more violent once they have conquered their competitors. Whenever you hear a statist claim we need a state to protect us from war lords just remember what he or she is really saying: we need a war lord to protect us from war lords. I’m sure there’s some way to use fire to protect one’s self from fire but the outcome seems to be little but ashes either way.