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;
- 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.