GonzoTimes.com | Ideally, invasions should be prevented rather than repelled, just as illnesses should be prevented rather than cured.

This is an exert from Practical Anarchy The book by: Stefan Molyneux of Free Domain Radio.
You can read and purchase the full book Practical Anarchy: How Freedom Will work here.

The strongest conceivable case for anarchism is that a stateless society would by its very nature prevent invasion, rather than merely possess the ability to violently repel it.

So first, before we figure out how to repel an invasion, let us look at what an invasion is actually designed to achieve.

Why Invade?

Let us imagine a land where there are two farms, owned by Bob and Jim respectively. Bob is a rapacious and nasty fellow, who wishes to expand his farm and make more money.

To the east of Bob is Jim’s farm, which is tidy, efficient, and productive, with a wide variety of cows and chickens and neatly-planted fields.

To the west of Bob is an untamed wilderness full of bears and wolves and coyotes and mosquitoes and swamps and all other sorts of unpleasant and dangerous things.

From the standpoint of mere practical considerations, how can Bob most efficiently expand his farm and increase his income?

Surely it would be to invest in a few guns, head east, and take over Jim’s farm. For a very small investment, Bob ends up with a functioning and productive farm, ready to provide him with milk, eggs and crops.

On the other hand, Bob could choose to go west, into the untamed wilderness, and try to cull a number of dangerous predators, drain the swamps, hack down and uproot all the embedded trees and bushes. After a year or two of backbreaking labor, he may have carved out a few additional acres for himself – an investment that would scarcely seem worth it.

If Bob wants to expand, and cares little about ethics, he will “invade” Jim’s farm and take it over, because he will be taking command of an already-existing system of exploitation and production.

Thus, we can see that the act of invading a neighboring territory is primarily motivated by the desire to take over an existing productive system. If that productive system is not in place, then the motivation for invasion evaporates. A car thief will never “steal” a rusted old jalopy that is sitting up on bricks in an abandoned lot, but rather will attempt to steal a car that is in good condition.

This analysis of the costs and benefits of invasion is essential to understanding how a stateless society actually works to prevent invasion, rather than merely repel it.

When one country invades another country, the primary goal is to take over the existing system of government, and thus collect the taxes from the existing citizens. In the same way that Bob will only invade Jim’s farm in order to take over his domesticated animals, one government will only invade another country in order to take over the government of that country, and so become the new tax collector
. If no tax collection system is in place, then there is no productive resource for the invading country to take over.

Furthermore, to take a silly example, we can easily understand that Bob will only invade Jim’s farm if he knows that Jim’s cows and chickens are not armed and dangerous. To adjust the metaphor a little closer to reality, imagine that Jim has a number of workers on his farm who are all ex-military, well-armed, and will fight to the death to protect that farm. The disincentive for invasion thus becomes considerably stronger.

In the same way, domestic governments generally keep their citizens relatively disarmed, in order to more effectively tax them, just as farmers clip the wings of their geese and chickens in order to more efficiently collect their eggs and meat.

Thus the cost-benefit analysis of invasion only comes out on the plus side if the benefits are clear and easy to attain – an existing tax collection system – and if the costs of invasion are relatively small – a largely disarmed citizenry.

In a very real sense, therefore, a stateless society cannot be invaded, because there is really nothing to invade. There are no government buildings to inhabit, no existing government to displace, no tax collection system in place to take over and profit from – and, furthermore, there is no clear certainty about the degree of armaments that each citizen possesses (don’t worry, we will get into gun control later…).

An invading country can be very certain that, if it breaks through another government’s military defenses, it will then not face any significant resistance from the existing citizenry. A statist society can be considered akin to an egg – if you break through the shell, there is no second line of defense inside. Invading governments are well aware of the existing laws against the proliferation of weapons in the country they are invading – thus they are guaranteed to be facing a virtually disarmed citizenry, as long as they can break through the military defenses.

Invading Anarchy

Let us imagine that France becomes a stateless society, but that Germany and Poland do not. Let us go with the cliché and imagine that Germany has a strong desire to expand militarily. The German leader then looks at a map, and tries to figure out whether he should go east into Poland, or west into France.

If he goes east into Poland, then he will, if he can break through the Polish military defenses, be able to feast upon the existing tax base, and face an almost completely disarmed citizenry. He will be able to use the existing Polish tax collectors and tax collection system to enrich his own government, because the Poles are already controlled and “domesticated,” so to speak.

In other words, he only has one enemy to overcome and destroy, which is the Polish government’s military. If he can overcome that single line of defense, he gains control over billions of dollars of existing tax revenues every single year – and a ready-made army and its equipment.

On the other hand, if he thinks of going west into France, he faces some daunting obstacles indeed.

There are no particular laws about the domestic ownership of weapons in a stateless society, so he has no idea whatsoever which citizens have which weapons, and he certainly cannot count on having a legally-disarmed citizenry to prey on after defeating a single army.

Secondly, let us say that his army rolls across the border into France – what is their objective? If France still had a government, then clearly his goal would be to take Paris, displace the existing government, and take over the existing tax collection system.

However, where is his army supposed to go once it crosses the border? There is no capital in a stateless society, no seat of government, no existing system of tax collection and citizen control, no centralized authority that can be seized and taken over. In the above example of the two farms and the wilderness, this is the equivalent not of Bob taking over Jim’s farm, but rather of Bob heading into the wilderness and facing coyotes, bears, swamps and mosquitoes – there is no single enemy, no existing resources to take over, and nothing in particular to “seize.”

But let us say that the German leadership is completely retarded, and decides to head west into France anyway – and let us also suppose, to make the case as strong as possible, that everyone in France has decided to forego any kind of collective self-defense.

What is the German army going to do in France? Are they going to go door to door, knocking on people’s houses and demanding their silverware? Even if this were possible, and actually achieved, all that would happen is that the silverware would be shipped back to Germany, thus putting German silverware manufacturers out of business. When German manufacturers go out of business, they lay people off, thus destroying tax revenue for the German government.

The German army cannot reasonably ship French houses to Germany – perhaps they will seize French cars and French electronics and ship them to Germany instead.

And what is the German government supposed to do with thousands of French cars and iPods? Are they supposed to sell these objects to their own citizens at vastly reduced prices? I imagine that certain German citizens would be relatively happy with that, but again, all that would happen is that German manufacturers of cars and electronics would be put out of business, thus again sharply reducing the German government’s tax income, resulting in a net loss.

Furthermore, by destroying domestic industries for the sake of a one-time transfer of French goods, the German government would be crippling its own future income, since domestic manufacturing represents a permanent source of tax revenue – this would be a perfect example of killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

Well, perhaps what the German government could do is seize French citizens and ship them to Germany as slave labor. What would be the result of that?

Unfortunately, this would not work either, at least not for long, because slave labor cannot be taxed, and slave labor would displace existing German labor, which is taxable. Thus again the German government would be permanently reducing its own income, which it would not do.

Another reason that Germany might invade another country would be to seize control of the wealth of the government – the ability to print money, and the ownership of a large amount of physical assets, such as buildings, cars, gold, manufacturing plants and so on.

However, nothing remains unowned in a stateless society, except that which has no value, or cannot be owned, such as air. There are no “public assets” to seize, and there are no state-owned printing presses which can be used to create currency, and thus transfer capital to Germany. There are no endless vaults of government gold to rob, no single aggregation of military assets to seize.

Furthermore, if we go up to a thief and say to him, “Do you want to rob a house?” what is his first question likely to be?

“Hell I don’t know – what’s in it?”

A thief will always want to know the benefits of robbing a house – he is fully aware of the risks and costs, of course, and must weigh them against the rewards. He will never scale up the outside of some public housing welfare tenement in order to snag an old television and a tape deck. The more knowledgeable he is of the value of a home’s contents, the better he is able to assess the value of breaking into it.

The German leadership, when deciding which country to invade, will know down to almost the last dollar the tax revenues being collected by the Polish government, as well as the value of the public assets they will seize if they invade. The “payoff” can be very easily assessed.

On the other hand, if they look west, into the French stateless society, how will they know what they are actually going to get? There are no published figures for the net wealth of the society as a whole, there is no tax revenue to collect, and there are no public assets which can be easily valued ahead of time. There is no way to judge the cost effectiveness of the invasion.

Invading a statist society is like grabbing the cages of a large number of trapped chickens – you get all of the eggs in perpetuity. Invading a stateless society is like taking a sprint at a flock of seagulls – all they do is scatter, and you get nothing, except perhaps some crap on your forehead.

Thus it is completely impossible that the German leadership would think it a good idea to head west into France rather than east into Poland.

We could leave the case here, and be perfectly satisfied in our responses, but I am always willing to go the extra mile and accept the worst conceivable case.

Let us say that some mad German who was beaten with bagfuls of French textbooks when he was a child ends up running the government, and cares nothing at all about the costs and benefits of invading France, but rather just wishes to take it over in order to – I don’t know, burn all the textbooks or something like that.

We will get into the nature and content of private agencies in the next chapter, but let us just say that there are a number of these private defense agencies that are paid to defend France against just such an invading madman.

Well, if I were setting up some sort of private military defense agency, the first thing I would do is try to figure out how I could most effectively protect my subscribers, for the least possible cost.

The first thing that I would note is that nuclear weapons have been the single most effective deterrent to invasion that has ever been invented. Not one single nuclear power has ever been invaded, or threatened with invasion – and so, in a very real sense, there is no bigger “bang for the buck” in terms of defense than a few well-placed nuclear weapons.

If we assume that a million subscribers are willing to pay for a few nuclear weapons as a deterrent to invasion, and that those nuclear weapons cost about $30 million to purchase and maintain every year, then we are talking about $30 a year per subscriber – or less than a dime a day.

The defense agencies only make money if an invasion does not occur, just as health insurance companies only make money when you are not sick, but rather well.

Thus the question that I would be most keen to answer if I were running a defense agency is: “How can I best prevent an invasion?”

Let us assume that the French stateless society is a beacon of liberation in a sea of aggressive and statist nations. The French defense agencies would work day and night to ensure that the costs of invasion were as high as possible, and the benefits as low as possible. Were I running one of these agencies, I would think of solutions along the lines of the following…

Deactivated Money

If I were concerned that my subscribers might be robbed by an invading army, I would offer reduced rates to those willing to allow their electronic money to be secured so that it could not be spent without their own thumb print, or something like that. (Naturally, any system can be hacked, and people can be kidnapped along with their money, but the purpose here is not to prevent all possible workarounds, but rather to simply reduce the material benefits of invading France.)

Similarly, I might offer reduced defense rates to manufacturers that would be willing to allow a small GPS device to be installed in the guts of their machinery, so that if it was removed to another country, it would no longer work. This device could also be included in cars and other items of value, so that they would either have to be used in France, or they could not be used at all.

Given that the control of bridges is a primary military objective, in order to facilitate the movement of troops and vehicles, I would also encourage the installation of particular devices in domestic cars and trucks, which would automatically keep access to bridges open. Thus invading armies would find their access to these bridges much harder, which would again slow down the speed of their invasion.

Furthermore, if invasion seemed imminent, I would arm and train as many citizens as possible. Any invading army would face a quite different challenge in a stateless society. If Germany invades Poland, how many citizens would risk their lives fighting against just another government? Whether a Polish leader taxes you, or a German one, makes relatively little difference – which is why your average citizen does not care much about who runs the local Mafia. Citizens of a stateless society, however, would be resisting an attempt to inflict taxation and a government upon them, and so would be far more willing to fight the kind of endlessly-draining insurgencies that we see so often in the annals of occupation.

These are just a few admittedly off-the-cuff ideas, but it is relatively easy to see how the benefits of invading France could be significantly diminished or even eliminated, while the costs of invading France could be significantly increased or made prohibitive.

The objection could be raised that some lunatic group could simply detonate a nuclear bomb somewhere inside France, for some insane or nefarious motive – but that is not an argument against private defense agencies, and for a statist society, but rather quite the reverse.

The “nuclear madman” argument is not solved by the existence of a government, since no government can protect against this eventuality – however, a free society would be far less likely to be the target of such an attack, since it would have a defensive military policy only, and not an aggressive and interventionist foreign policy, and thus would be infinitely less likely to provoke such a mad and genocidal retaliation. Switzerland, for instance, faces no real danger of having airplanes flown into buildings.

It is my belief that over time, the need for these proactive and defensive strategies would diminish, since the only thing that would really ever be needed is a few nuclear weapons as a deterrent – and even the need for these would diminish over time, since either the world itself would become stateless, thus eliminating the danger of war, or the statist societies would continue to attack each other only, for the reasons mentioned above, and the need to continually defend a stateless society would diminish.

Finally, let’s look at some of the illusions that we have about statist “protection” in history, as a demonstration of how we can critically evaluate an example of a statist function.

Statist National “Defense”: A Critical Example

Briefly put, “national defense” is the need for a government to protect citizens from aggression by other governments.

This is an interesting paradox, even beyond the obvious one of using a “government” to protect us from “governments.” If you were able to run a magic survey throughout history, which government do you think people would be most frightened of and enslaved by? Would it be (a), their local State or Lord, or (b), some State or Lord in some other country? What about ancient Rome – would it be the local rulers, who forced young Romans into military service for 20 years or more, or the Carthaginians? What about England in the Middle Ages? Were the peasants more alarmed by the crushing taxation and strangling mobility restrictions imposed by their local Lord, or was the King of France their primary concern? Let us stop in Russia during the 18th century, and ask the serfs: “Are you more frightened of the Tsar’s soldiers, or the German Kaiser?” Let us go to a US citizen of today, and demand to know: “Are you more frightened of foreign invaders taking over Washington, or of the fact that if you don’t pay half your income in taxes, your own government will throw you in jail?”

Of course, we have to look at the Second World War, which has had more propaganda thrown at it than any other single conflict. Didn’t the British government save the country from Germany? That is an interesting question. The British government got into WWI, helped impose the brutal Treaty of Versailles, then contributed to the boom-and-bust cycle of the 1920s, which destroyed the German middle class and aided Hitler’s rise to power. During the 1930s, the British government supported the growing aggression of Hitler through subsidies, loans and mealy-mouthed appeasement. Then, when everything had failed, it threw the bodies of thousands of young men at the German air force in the Battle of Britain. Finally, it caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands more British citizens by defending Africa and invading France, rather than let Nazism collapse on its own – as it was bound to do, just as every tyranny has done throughout history. Can it really be said, then, that the British government protected its citizens throughout the first half of the 20th century? Millions killed, families shattered, the economy destroyed, half of Europe lost to Stalin, and China to Mao… Can we consider that a great success? I think not. Only States win wars – never citizens.

The fact of the matter is that we do not face threats to our lives and property from foreign governments, but rather from our own. The State will tell us that it must exist, at the very least, to protect us from foreign governments, but that is morally equivalent to the local Mafia don telling us that we have to pay him 50% of our income so that he can protect us from the Mafia in Paraguay. Are we given the choice to buy a gun and defend ourselves? Of course not. Who endangers us more – the local Mafia guy, or some guy in Paraguay we have never met that our local Mafia guy says just might want a piece of us? I know which chance I would take.

There is a tried-and-true method for resisting foreign occupation which does not require any government – which we can see being played out in our daily news. During the recent invasion, the US completely destroyed the Iraqi government, and now has total control over the people and infrastructure. And what is happening? They are being attacked and harried until they will just have to get out of the country – just as they had to do in Korea and Vietnam, and just as the USSR had to do in Afghanistan. The Iraqi insurgents do not have a government at all – any more than the Afghani fighters did in the 1980s.

Let’s look at the Iraqi conflict in a slightly different light. America was attacked on 9/11 because the American government had troops in Saudi Arabia, and because it caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis through the Iraqi bombing campaign of the 1990s. Given that the US government provoked the attacks, how well were the innocent victims of 9/11 protected by their government? Even if we do not count the physical casualties of the war, given the massive national debt being run up to pay for the Iraq war, how well is the property of American citizens being protected? How much power would Bush have to wage war if he did not have the power to steal almost half the wealth of the entire country? The government does not need taxes in order to wage war; it wages war because it already has the power of taxation – and it uses the war to raise taxes, either on the current citizens through increases and inflation, or on future citizens through deficits.

This simple fact helps explain why there were almost no wars in Western Europe from the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 to the start of World War One in 1914. This was largely because governments could not afford wars – but then they all got their very own Central Banks and were able to pave the bloody path to the Great War with printed money and deficit financing. World War One resulted from an increase in State power – and in turn swelled State power, and set the stage for the next war. Thus, the idea that we need to give governments the power to tax us in order to protect us is ludicrous – because it is taxation that gives governments the power to wage war.

For pacifist countries, this “war” may be a war on poverty, or illiteracy, or drugs, or for universal health care, or whatever. It does not matter. The moment a government takes the power – and moral “right” – to forcibly take money from citizens, the stage is set for the ever-growing power of the State.

The question then arises – how does a citizen keep his property and person safe? The first answer that I would give is another question, which is:

Which sector does more to protect you and your property – the public or the private?

Let’s look at the security mechanisms the private sector has introduced in just the past few decades:

– ATMs/credit cards (less need to carry cash);

– Cell phones (can always call for help);

– Call display (virtually eliminates harassing phone calls);

– Sophisticated home security systems;

– ID tracking tags;

– Credit card numeric security;

– Pepper spray;

– GPS;

– Security cameras;

– Anti-shoplifting devices;

– Secure online transactions;

– And much more…

What has the public sector done? Well, they shoot harmless drug users and seize their property. They will shoot you too, if you don’t pay the massive tax increases they demand. The police are virtually useless in property crimes – and many violent criminals are turned loose because the courts are too slow, or are put in “house arrest” because the prisons are too full of non-violent offenders.

So, who has most helped you secure your person and property over the past few decades? Your government, or your friendly local entrepreneurs? Those who have stepped in to protect you, or those who have doubled your taxes
while letting criminals walk free? Have capitalist companies enraged foreigners to the point of terrorism? Of course not – the 9/11 terrorists attacked the World Trade Center (to protest the financing of the US government), the Pentagon, and the White House. They didn’t go for a Ford motor plant or a Apple store – and why would they? No one kills for iPhones. They kill to protest military power, which rests on public financing.

In summation, then, it makes about as much sense to rely on governments for security as it does to rely on the Mafia for “protection.” The Mafia is really just protecting you from itself, as are all governments. Any man who comes up to you and says: “I need to threaten your person and steal your property in order to protect your person and property,” is obviously either deranged, or not particularly interested, to say the least, in protecting your person and property. As long as we keep falling for the same old lies, we will forever be robbed blind for the sake of our supposed property rights, and sent to wage war against internal or external “enemies” so that those in power can further pick the pockets of those we leave behind.