I'm aware, that there is a long discussion and probably several about the problem and also there is a long collection of articels (http://mises.org/etexts/defensemyth.pdf). But in what i read, i never saw anyone realy addressing the core problem i see.
States are good at killing people.
Winning a war requires among other things killing lots of people.
In case it faces a war, a anarchist society can win without a state-like structure only if it has sufficient advantages to offset the disadvantage of not having an organization, which excels at killing people.
I see only 6 arguments to mitigate this problem.
1. Assumption is wrong.
I suspect no one here will raise this objection?
2. Assumption is wrong.
Considering that always a large part of the "equipment" aggressors in all ages assembled before starting a war consist of devices made to kill and people ready to kill i think this assumption to be plausible.
3. Anarchist societies can avoid wars by not having a state meddling with the affairs of others.
I agree that anarchist societies could avoid most wars, but not all. Look at islamic conqeust in 7th century:
Ok, people in france and india had governments at that time, but this governments were completely unable to meddle into the affairs of the arab peninsula, nonetheless they had arabs and their allies attacking them and only overstretchment and killing enough people stopped this attack.
So not all wars could be avoided.
4. Gurilliea tactics are superior and would be implemented by a anarchistic society.
Only superior in certain circumstances. One main caveat is, that the enemy must have compunctions about killing youre wife and youre children. As the aggressor could be a state, i don't think this condition will always be fulfilled and i guess no one will object this. From the essay collection:
"Guerrillas can be defeated by an enemy even more willingto wage total war than was Abraham Lincoln."
"The British adopted counterinsurgency tactics, drivingAfrikaner women and children into concentration camps(where 26,000 died), and burning and destroying Afrikanerhomesteads, livestock, and other property. Boer commanders—facing the destruction of their entire society—made peace andreasserted their nationalism politically "
(Interesting side note, the Boers used a state-like apparatus to wage war - they had commanders who decided when and where to kill. )
5. Anarchistic societies are more productive, therefore more advanced in military technology and with more equipment avaible, which will offset the disadvantage always.
This is again only true under certain circumstances. Military technology depends on laws of nature. Only what the known laws of nature allow can be built. Before the advent of gunpowder military technology consisted mostly of "sharp sticks accelerated by muscle power" and "layered clothing", preferably made of metal, but there was no technological advantage a anarchistic society could achieve for thousdands of years. Advantage of a late medival knigh army over a greek phalanx?
The knights had iron, the phalanx bronze equipment, but with bad leadership the knights could still lose, they would have no fundamental advantage, that could offset practically any other disadvantage.
In the future their could be again such a technological "plateau", where there is practically no vast breakthrough, that gives the anarchistic society a large edge. E.g. basic hand guns have not changed a lot since 50 years, opponents using newest hand guns facing some having second world war hand guns have no big advantage.
And even if there are further breakthroughs in the future, what keeps states from copying the equipment a few decades later?
Backward and starving north korea managed to put together a nuke and medium range missiles. Give them another 20 years and they will have nuke equipped missiles at least capable of devastatiting any south korean and japanese cities although these societies are far freer and far more advanced.
And even if anarchistic societies can hold an edge, the state takes decades to ruin a society. So if a part of anarchistic society decides to form a state and go on a rampage, it has decades to destroy the remaining anarchistic society before the disadvantage of having a state would translate into a technological military disadvantage.
So while objection 5 has it merits, it only offers limited solution to the problem of not having a state in times of war.
6. A anarchic society would form in case of war a state-like structure and disband it, if there is no longer need for it.
I expect this solution also, but it contradicts the basic anarchist approach, that a state is always a mistake, as it would concede, that at least in case of war the state has it merits. This would turn the anarchist into a minanarchist postition and would change the playing field from aiming for no state to aiming for a state or state-like structures, which only acts in those few or single field, where it actually has advantages.
I cannot see a anarchistic solution for the problem, that war is a lot about killing and the state excels at killing, except in the unrealistic dream, that all states dissolve.
karn- I think you have created a very important thread, and your post is very good. I agree with you.
I hope this thread will receive many replies and generate good discussion.
Right now, I am involved in a detailed discsussion concerning the foundations of Austrian Economics on another thread and unfortunately quite unable to participate.
Best wishes to you,
War is an attempt to capture an objective held by the enemy. What objective does an anarchist society expose?
The fallacies of intellectual communism, a compilation - On the nature of power
2 examples, i think would not be out of place in reality:
Anarchic society exist in territory, where some natueral resources are abundent. Owners of the land, from where the resources are accessible, decide not to do so for whatever reason - maybe just waiting for prices to rise. State in need of such resources wants to avoid rising prices, but political pressure of course fails, as no one in the anarchic society can force the owners to do something. The state also does not or cannot offer the owners a deal, which would cause them to voluntary harvest the resource. The states decides to military conquer the territory and harvest the resources without consent of owners.
The owners themselves would have reason to stop this and their neighbors as well, as they must fear, that with the foreign military power would try to introduce other changes into the society, foremost a weakening of private property rights, in attempt to legalize the theft of land. The objective of those individuals of the society that act, would be, to make the attempt of the state fail.
Most states consider a certain byproduct of certain production processes to be very harmful and dangerous with global effects and therefore heavily regulate such industries globally. The juridical and police companies or institutions in the anarchic society do not consider the byproduct to be harmful. Therefore such industry is not burdened by informal reegulations or fines it has to pay to other people.
As a consequence the possibly polluting industry is heavily concentrated in the anarchic society. The attempts of the states to reduce the global output of the byproduct fails as they can in no way legally force the industry in the anarchic society to shut down, as local jurisdiction can act only against somebody who in their eyes harms someone else, which is not the case if theyconsider the byproduct not dangerous.
As a second consequence, since only the anarchic society can satisfy the global demand of the products of this industry, the economy of the anarchy is strognly aimed towards satisfying this demand.
Some states decide, that the byproduct is so dangerous, that to save live, they have to physically destroy the industry with military means.
Most members of the anarchic society would have to fear great material loses in case this vital industry is destroyed and would share the common objective to stop the attempt to destroy the industries.
This examples of course have the posibility, that the aggressors have compunctions about simple mass murder, so guerrilla could work.
Therefore the real classic, a horde of Mongols or Spaniards come from 2000 km away to steal all gold the society possesses.