Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Myth of National Defense: Introduction

Yes, another book. This is a compilation of essays on the theory and history of security production, edited by H.H. Hoppe.

One of the more difficult questions to address for the advocate of anarchy is that of national security or national defense. This book appears to be right on topic. My thought is to give some commentary and expand n some of the ideas presented in this work.

In the introduction, Hoppe identifies two of the most widely accepted propositions among political economists and political philosophers:

1) Every monopoly is bad from the viewpoint of consumers, monopoly here meaning exclusive privilege granted to a single producer of a good or service.

2) The production of security must be undertaken by and is the primary function of government.

The two propositions are obviously incompatible. In this, the orthodox view is to take exception to the first proposition. This book will attempt to address that it is the second proposition that should be challenged.

Empirical evidence supports the unorthodox. The 20th century should be proof enough of the horrors unleashed when security is provided by the monopoly state. Certainly, many states are, in fact, aggressors and not defenders.

The orthodox then claim that these disasters are due to the types of governments involved - the absence of democratic government being the culprit. This, however, fails to answer many counter-examples: the American war between the states, for example.

Mises suggests that, in order for a government to fulfill its primary function as a provider of security it must satisfy two conditions: it must be democratically organized, and it must permit unlimited secession in principle.

Where government is a compulsory territorial monopolist of protection and jurisdiction equipped with the power to tax without unanimous consent, any notion of limiting its power and safeguarding life, liberty, and property must be deemed illusory.

Experience certainly bears this out.

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