Tuesday, September 16, 2008

the state and national defense

we often hear calls from the establishment and their followers for a "strong national defense". but, thanks to a poor understanding of the economics behind such an idea, this is a utopian daydream.

based on what we know about the inability of monopolies to provide goods or services, calling for a strong state defense is virtually the same as calling for no defense and a strong offense that will certainly expose the lack of defense, all at an extremely high price tag, rife with corruption and waste. that sounds like the worst possible deal, without factoring in the massive theft of private money through taxation, inflation and deficits required to support it, thereby crushing the right to property of the society subjected to such a debacle.

all this is readily visible in the current state of affairs. in the u.s., the "national defense", aka military, is used almost exclusively for offense rather than defense. the unprovoked attacks on the countries of iraq, afganistan (no, afganistan had nothing to do with 9-11, either) and the threats leveled against iran and russia, the useless involvment in WW1, the provocations of WW2 and the invasion of korea and vietnam demonstrate this. yet, where was this "defense" on 9.11.01? where were they during the pearl harbor attack (which they provoked)? actually, have they ever defended the nation against any threat? all this at an undeniably huge price tag forcibly extracted from citizens - like it or else.

centralized defense also comes with a major strategic disadvantage: because it is centralized, it is very slow to react and easy to disorient by attacks on the central hub. if the pentagon and a few important bases where attacked and destroyed, the defense mechanism would be rendered useless, allowing access to the entire nation, which would then be defenseless, having relied on such a system for defense provision. the wars in iraq and afganistan are great examples of the inferiority of the state's centralized force against a truly decentralized defense. though the greatest state military in the world occupies those areas, they have been totally unable to overcome the country's insurgent defenses and are being bankrupted by such ongoing operations. lucky for the u.s. government that it only attacks third world countries that have to resort to insurgencies for defense, or else they (the u.s.) may have already been completely destroyed.

it is another rather clear example of the failure of the coercive monopoly to achieve its stated goals. the solution, of course, is the free market. in the market, there would likely be no such thing as national defense, since there would be no particular nation to defend. defense would likely be made up of networked regional defense supported by area business interests to defend themselves and their market base against outside attack. because of the competitive nature of such services, price would naturally be pressured lower and quality, higher.

that isn't all. where the state endangers itself by creating enemies abroad with imperialistic adventurism, the market-based society would do no such thing. in fact, because there would be no restrictions on trade, such a society would have much stronger ties to virtually all nations, greatly reducing any threat to itself. also, the fact that defense would be decentralized makes the market-based society an unattractive target for imperialist interests abroad, by having no central structure to target. any invasion would have to be hopelessly massive and rely on a bit by bit process of conquering every community separately. even if such an invasion were successful, the reduction of productivity of the subject areas would offer less access to economic opportunity than had previously existed in a virtually unlimited capacity. the incentives to attack just aren't there.

the provision of defense on the market is the virtual opposite of such provision by the state: low cost, high quality, great threat-reduction and a virtually inpenetrable, decentralized configuration. best of all, no rights violation need be implemented for this reality. it's all voluntary, just like anything worth having.

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