Stateless National Defense: A Fable
The following post is by guest-author Jay P. Hailey.
Let us kick up the imagination machine and say that there is the land of Purple and the land of Green.
Purple is a free land. They don’t have a State as it is commonly understood. Instead, they have interlocking market institutions that provide the services of dispute resolution, protection, and insurance.
The land of Green is in the grips of an iron-fisted dictator. General Green is like Hitler or Stalin. Cross him and you sleep with the fishes.
For the Green government, the Green/Purple border is a major problem. Purple people will sell anything to anyone. Everyone is armed, and they refuse to acknowledge the border, let alone enforce the idea that the Green people belong to the Green nation. Most Purple people can’t be bothered past that. They don’t like that the government in the land of Green uses torture, fear, and murder to enforce its rule.
However, there are some Purple people who seem to take delight in breaking Green laws. They’ll smuggle contraband. They’ll smuggle refugees. They smuggle each other for practice! The money is too good to pass up – the Greens will pay almost any price to escape, and will pay vastly inflated prices for goods which are difficult to find in the land of Green.
The Purples are always thinking of new ways to smuggle! The Green government can capture and publicly execute one Purple smuggler and it seems like five more are motivated to take up the practice! The Purple people smuggle ideas and guns. The Green secret police start to lose agents to Purple smugglers and Green resisters. Those that remain are forced to spend ever-increasing amounts of time and resources watching each other.
The harder General Green pushes the Purples, the more creative they become.
Green refugees in the Purple land start working hard to fund more smuggling and resistance activities. General Green sends assassins but since everyone is armed, killing green refugees is a dangerous proposition.
It seems like everything General Green does just encourages more anger and resistance from the Purple people and their new Green friends.
So General Green starts lining up tanks along the border. He’s going to invade.
Several Purple insurance companies view this with concern. Each Purple person is prepared to file a claim against their insurance company if their property is destroyed in a Green invasion. Mutual Insurance, which insures several industrial buildings near the border, stands to lose millions.
So Mutual hires mercenaries to keep the Green war machine at bay. They alone are no match for the Green invasion force, but Mutual isn’t the only insurance company threatened by Green and his goons. People who live in the invasion path also have a vested interest in making life hard for Green soldiers and war machines.
General Green’s war planners have a problem. There is no Purple capitol. There is no Purple defense headquarters. There is no monolithic Purple command structure. There is no respect for political authority among the Purples.
The Purple people are rich compared to their Green counterparts. Purple people have recently begun organizing shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile shooting leagues, in which teams compete for prizes, cash, and social status. The old stand-by Purple sport of the biathlon (target shooting combined with cross country running, in individual and team categories) is as healthy as ever.
In the opening stages of the invasion, the Green army rolls right up to its goals and takes them with little resistance. But then, they can’t convince the Purple people to stop fighting. There’s no capitol, no one authorized to surrender. The Greens will have to defeat each Purple citizen, and no Purple will view the surrender of any other Purple as having any binding authority upon himself.
While an invasion looks promising in the opening stages, the follow-through looks horrible. What’s worse, Green troop morale is falling. There are tremendous amounts of contraband appearing among the Green soldiers – everything from drugs and pornography to seditious and traitorous ideas and literature. Radio stations on the border broadcast invitations to defect, really cool music, and advertisements for the huge bounty prepared for anyone who can bring down a Green war plane or helicopter over Purple territory. And General Green himself is at a disadvantage – the Purple insurance companies know that the best way to end the invasion is to end his life. There is a massive bounty on his head – available to be collected by anyone, Green or Purple, who puts him down. He cannot retaliate in kind because there is no single Purple leader.
Engagement, threats, coercion, even outright invasion all turn out to be losers for General Green. He can cost the Purple people a lot of money, misery, and death, but his interactions with their spontaneously ordered society set into motion events that can neither be predicted nor controlled.
So, as a free Purple living in the Purple land, who will you be? A smuggler for sedition and fun? A rifleman competing in your neighborhood biathlon league? A coyote, leading people out of tyranny to freedom?
I would aim to be the disc jockey playing extremely subversive music for the enjoyment of people both Purple and Green.
Living in a free society which cannot undertake an aggressive war does not require you to stand by and do nothing when Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or whoever are being assholes. However, as with anything in a free society, the risks you undertake are yours.
Yes, a tyrant can rape his people for the resources to build a horrible war machine. Germany’s role in the second world war and every soldier who goes to Afghanistan serve to show that while murder and violence are one thing, conquest is quite another.