Can A Libertarian Society Provide National Defense? Reply

A former military officer weighs in.

By Zack Sorenson

Libertarian Institute

A recent Tom Woods podcast featured a debate about whether the free market can provide for national defense.

Arguing that libertarian society can offer defense “services”, Bob Murphy relies on the idea of insurance paying the costs of defense.

Arguing that a monopoly state should offer these services, Todd Lewis points out numerous historical examples in which government organized national defense is seemingly necessary.

I dislike this kind of discussion in general.  My feeling is that there shouldn’t be such a thing as any kind of organized, politically driven, violence.  The idea of private armies is as horrifying as the idea of a giant state army.  However, this issue is obviously relevant, and worth addressing.  I’m just going to address different issues in no particular order.

First, Todd Lewis mentions the Sengoku Jidai (“feudal” Japan), and also the Roman civil war between Marius and Sulla.  He argues that these are examples of “private” defense, where mercenaries for hire end up fighting brutal wars that devastated each country.  I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about.

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