L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 86, August 21, 2000
Back to School
Companies' Defense in Anarchocapitalism
by Joshua Freeman
Special to TLE
Nearly all critiques of anarchocapitalism include some criticism of its internal defense mechanisms. Anarchist economists usually predict the rise of "defense firms," companies to which people can subscribe for defense. The main arguments against them are that they will war against each other, and cause widespread havoc, and that they will form together and become a tyrannical government.
The specifics of how these security companies would probably work is well - documented, but I'll try to outline those explanation's structure here. People, wishing to purchase protection from others, would pay another group of people, who would form a security agency, to protect them. Some of these agencies, it is likely, would be derived from today's C. I. A., F. B. I., police forces, and analogous agencies about the world. People would study which was best to meet their needs, and purchase protection from them.
These companies would have a tendency not to war because, unlike governments, they can only take voluntary payment, and, since they operate in a relatively free market, they have incentive to succeed: more profit. Most of the companies, to avoid the high cost of war, would sign agreements with each other specifying arbitrators that could mediate disputes between customers of those two firms. Similar arrangements would widely be made for customers within those firms. It is profitable to provide protection; therefore, protection will tend to increase in efficiency as competition between companies forced the weakest out of business, and all to evolve, to stay afloat. Property rights will be, gradually, more enforced. A natural monopoly, a non - coercive one, of one company or a cartel of such is very improbable, as a new company can always be formed to challenge the rates of the existing one or ones. Even if the existing ones have magnificent rates, they will probably keep those because of the potential of new companies arising.
What of the combined offensive power of these companies? How could individuals protect themselves from a natural monopoly of a defense company or defense companies? In a statist security complex, the populace is taxed as much as they will bear for the creation of the military, and, usually, denied the se of weapons that would be significantly powerful against governments' military forces. In anarchy, people would probably be individually well - defended, as a little training in weapons use can defray great security costs, and for those occasions when their knowledge of weapons and weapons might be useful against aggressors.
Overall, the size of the inter - personal defense industry as a percentage of all industry will probably decline as the society becomes more and more peacable because of the increasing percentage of "public" awareness of how to use weapons.
Almost certainly, there will be wars between defense companies. The trends will probably trend from them, but some will, probably, happen, and single individuals will, probably, be oppressed, when their ownb defense company is defeated and they employ, even as back - up, only one. Anarchocapitalism dos not promise a utopian society. It is simply an alternative to other systems or lack of.
How much worse would the situation of warring and oppressing defense companies be? They can't collect taxes, so they must finance all of their wars from within themselves, or through donations to them, so they can carry out a war only to a certain extent until they are bankrupted, and any really horrendous war, even a slightly expensive one, will cause them to lose many of their customers. In a world much ruled by governments, governments can collect taxes and use their enslaved populaces to finance war for as long as they wish to do so for, and are not curtailed by profitability.
Nation-states conscript their "subjects" to fight for them, while, if security companies attempted to do this, their customers would simply organize with themselves.