On the Conspicuous Absence of Private Defense

Libertarian Papers 8:221-234 (2016)
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This essay offers a standard by which to assess the feasibility of market anarchism. In anarchist thought, the concept of feasibility concerns both the ability and the willingness of private defense agencies to liberate their clients from state oppression. I argue that the emergence of a single stateless pocket of effective, privately-provided defense for a “reasonable” length of time is sufficient to affirm feasibility. I then consider the failure of private defense agencies to achieve even this standard. Furthermore, I identify five possible explanations for the conspicuous absence of private defense agencies. These explanations are entrepreneurial, technological, or economic in nature, or result from a lack of consumer demand or a lack of incentive for violence specialists to refrain from aggression. Of these, only an economic deficiency renders anarchism intrinsically unworkable.
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