Monday, February 19, 2007

Don't Underestimate Defense

People value things. This is so self-evident a fact it needs no proving.

People have two fundamental economic instincts:

1. Gain things of value
2. Prevent loss of things of value

One of the objections I've gotten pertains to confusion on this issue.

The contention is, people will try to gain things of value by force just because it will work.

I believe, to the contrary, people will avoid using force because they do not want to lose their life for some limited gain. In fact, people tend to have a desire to prevent loss far greater than their desire to gain. This is why many investors are failures, they aren't playing to win, they're playing to not lose. The feeling of security is inextricably intertwined with prevention of loss. And we all know that people seek security. This is actually one of the larger problems libertarians have to deal with.

If I am capable of defending myself with deadly force, this is an extremely convincing arguement against initiating force against me. You may see a great potential gain in doing so, but the potential loss involved, even if you and your friends outnumber me 10:1, will dissuade you from doing so, because there's always a chance I'll kill you. How many times would you play a game of double or nothing?

In the case of government this doesn't apply. The risk of retaliatory force is so low because the government is so widely accepted as legitemate and so powerful that it's literally not resistable. You may take out one or two of them, but they will crush you. Archoexceptionalism creates an exception, enough people believe it to be so that it becomes so.

In all other cases, where someone who is not seen as rightfully able to do as they please, which is anyone that you'd encounter absent a government, can expect to encounter violent resistance to any aggressive action taken.

People will usually ignore the gains when the potential loss is great, even if the probability of loss is small.

You won't have bands of murderers running around under anarchy killing people. The risk is too great. They will either get themselves killed, or as their friends are killed in repeated aggressions, they will realize they will inevitably die if they continue.

This is why I think it's so important that people be at all times able to defend themselves with deadly force, with no reguard to proportionality of force.


Blogger Ratter said...

I was going to disagree with your conclusion for just a second there, then I noticed the difference between "people will be able to defend themselves with deadly force" and "people will defend themselves with deadly force". In a world without government, not everyone needs to carry a gun. And not everyone is going to carry a gun. But no-one's gonna stop them from buying one (except the guy selling the guns, of course). And I doubt that any gun shop would sell a Magnum to an 8-year-old.

11:35 PM  

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