| Many people ask, “But how in the world could a laissez-faire society deal with aggression by foreign nations, since it would have no government to protect it?” Behind this question are two unrealized assumptions: first, that government is some sort of extra-societal entity with resources of its own — resources which can only be tapped for defense by the action of government — and, second, that government does, in fact, defend its citizens.

In reality, government must draw all its resources from the society over which it rules. When a governmentally controlled society takes defensive action against an aggression by a foreign power, where does it get the resources necessary to take that action? The men who fight are private individuals, usually conscripted into government service. The armaments are produced by private individuals working at their jobs. The money to pay for these armaments and the pittance doled out to the conscripts, as well as the money to pay the salaries of that small minority comprising the other members of the armed forces, is confiscated from private individuals by means of taxation.

Government’s only contribution is to organize the whole effort by the use of force — the force of the draft, taxation, and other, more minor coercions, such as rationing, wage and price ceilings, travel restrictions, etc. So, to maintain that government is necessary to defend a society from foreign aggression is to maintain that it is necessary to use domestic aggression against the citizens in order to protect them from foreign aggression.

In spite of the obvious immorality of forcing men to protect themselves against force, some people still maintain that a coerced defense is more efficient than a willing one and is, therefore, permissible or even necessary in an emergency situation such as war. A brief examination will show the fallacy of this variation of the moral/practical dichotomy.

The success of any endeavor, including war, depends on the amount of thought and effort put into it by those involved. Under the pressure of force, a man may be induced to put forth a great deal of effort and even a little thought, but his reluctant, fear-driven exertions can’t compare in efficiency and productivity with the ambitious and tireless efforts of a free man striving to accomplish something he really wants to get done. The man who works enthusiastically not only works more efficiently, he also uses his mind to discover new and better ways of reaching the goal, and such innovation is the key to success.

Furthermore, a system of force is always wasteful of resources, because the more unwilling is the victim of the force, the more energy must be diverted to keeping him in line and the less is left to accomplish the task. Men who are forced to do what they don’t want to (or not to do what they do want to) are amazingly good at devising devious and complicated ways to cheat on the system which enslaves them. This is why even the most totalitarian of governments find that they cannot wage war without huge propaganda efforts aimed at convincing their own people of the justice and necessity of the war.

Freedom is not only as moral as governmental slavery is immoral, it is as practical as government is impractical. It is foolish to suppose that men would not organize to defend themselves, and do so very effectively, if they were not forced to. Men are not so blind that they can’t grasp the value of freedom, nor so indifferent to life that they will not defend their values. Nor are they so stupid that they need politicians, bureaucrats, and Pentagon generals to tell them how to organize and what to do. The freer people are, the more efficiently they will perform. This being true, a free-market system of defense against foreign aggression can be expected to be very effective, in contrast to a governmental system of comparable size, resources, and maturity.

The belief that society couldn’t be defended without a government also assumes that government does, indeed, protect the society over which it rules. But when it is realized that government really has nothing except what it takes by force from its citizens, it becomes obvious that the government can’t possibly protect the people, because it doesn’t have the resources to do so. In fact, government, without the citizens on whom it parasitizes, couldn’t even protect itself! Read Entire Article

By Morris and Linda Tannehill.