I have had discussions with many people about the topic of anarchy. They of course think I am crazy for thinking that a system of voluntary exchange and relationships could order society in a sufficient manner. They argue that a central monopoly on force is necessary in order to create an environment conducive to social order. In their eyes, a little bit of violence perpetrated by the State is more desirable than the potential violence perpetrated by marauding gangs that could take formation in market anarchy.
This first objection is already fallacious on certain levels. The logic that we need to have a “gang” now (and even of our own choosing) in order to keep any other competition from a rival gang from gaining power makes no sense. Essentially what these state apologists are saying is that we need a central authority of some sort, which is capable of abusing its powers, right now in order to combat any potential monopoly that could abuse its powers in the future.
As you can see, this logic makes absolutely no sense. We need a monopoly on the initiation of violence now in order to combat any potential monopolies on the initiation of force in the future? It is self defeating logic.
There are those that argue that under market anarchy, there would be competing defense factions all vying for control of the market. They could then, theoretically, use the powers at their disposal to wage war with opposing defense firms. The apologist of the state then argues that it is more beneficial for this theoretical society to put aside any differences they have in interpreting law and supporting one monopoly defense firm.
This argument is fallacious as well. If a society is enlightened enough to understand that solving problems through violence is not beneficial, why would they need to support one defense faction? If they are capable of coming together with a peaceful (though incorrect) solution in the statist argument, why would they be incapable of solving their disputes in a peaceful manner under anarchy?
The other problem with this argument is that it is also fallacious in another way. Warfare is expensive. Unlike a government, a defense firm in the market place cannot really conscript individuals in order to fight its battles. It has to hire workers, like any other business, at competitive market wages. This means each employee is an investment and an asset that cannot be thrown away foolishly. What the state apologist is doing is imposing the lack of care concerning soldiers and war that the state exercises onto a competing market defense firm in a theoretical situation. If anything, it highlights the dangers of granting one group of individuals monopoly powers; as they can conscript people to fight for them and wage useless and reckless wars to advance their own agenda. The market is competitive in the sense that whoever brings the best product to the market for the consumer wins. Governments negate this feature of the market in the realm of defense because government is itself a monopoly on force and accomplishes everything by pointing guns at people. The state is not concerned with offering competitive services simply because it uses violence to stamp out all competition. In this regard, it can offer poorer quality services like we see with police abuse and reckless military campaigns in the Middle-East.
Under anarchy, no single group would be able to do that.
It is easy to conclude therefore, that the argument that warlords would take over is not a good argument against anarchy. It is important to point out that the anarchist is not saying that anarchy is perfect either. The anarchist is only saying that all services that are offered by the state could be offered on the free market at better prices and quality. Disputes and violence will of course still occur, but using peaceful means to solving these problems is far better than using violence. If we are civil enough to vote in the democratic process in order to try and exact change instead of using civil war and violence, we are capable of using non-violent means of dispute resolution within market anarchy.