It’s Too Late for Warlords

Many people have objected to libertarian anarchism on the grounds that absent the state, warlords would take over. But what is the state itself but a species of warlord? Without doubt, war making and preparation for war are, apart from looting the public, the state’s most important activities.

For this purpose the state employs legions of armed men and women to fight on its behalf and equips them with a terrifying arsenal. And without doubt, too, the state is a lord. It has issued countless thousands of dictates that it requires people to obey and has enlisted a great variety of police to enforce these dictates with violence as required.

If you fear a takeover by warlords, you are too late. It’s already a done deal. And you never got to enjoy even a single day of the glories of statelessness along the way.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.