Essay:Inevitability of government

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It is argued that if the State is abolished, it will merely be reestablished. Murray Rothbard argues that this is unlikely because any gang of bandits attempting to establish a new state would not be considered legitimate by a public that had tasted true liberty and was no longer being subjected to government propaganda. He further states, "But suppose — just suppose — that despite all these handicaps and obstacles, despite the love for their new-found freedom, despite the inherent checks and balances of the free market, suppose anyway that the State manages to reestablish itself. What then? Well, then, all that would have happened is that we would have a State once again. We would be no worse off than we are now, with our current State. And, as one libertarian philosopher has put it, 'at least the world will have had a glorious holiday.'"[1] Bryan Caplan notes that anarcho-capitalists generally argue that competition among defense providers will keep a government from re-emerging.[2] Thus, it is not much different than the concerns raised about rogue private defense agencies.

The argument of government's inevitability can be a powerful propaganda technique for the government. Rothbard notes, "Nor does the majority support have to be eager and enthusiastic approval; it could well be mere passive acquiescence and resignation. The conjunction in the famous phrase 'death and taxes' implies a passive and resigned acceptance to the assumed inevitability of the State and its taxation. . . . It is also particularly important for the State to make its rule seem inevitable: even if its reign is disliked, as it often is, it will then be met with the passive resignation expressed in the familiar coupling of 'death and taxes.'" Rothbard wrote governments were not inevitable, noting that it often took hundreds of years for aristocrats to set up a state out of anarchy.[3]


It is sometimes assumed that the private institutions that replace government must be structured in a certain way and that therefore they would be similar to governments. Spencer Health MacCallum points out in The Voluntary City that communities governed by homeowners associations "still involve taxation of the residents and voting by the residents, which is political government as usual."[4] He therefore points to land-lease communities as true privatization.


  1. Rothbard, Murray. "Outlaw Protectors". For a New Liberty. 
  2. Caplan, Bryan. "Anarchist Theory FAQ". 
  3. Murray Rothbard. Power and Market: Defense services on the Free Market. p. 1054. "In the purely free-market society, a would-be criminal police or judiciary would find it very difficult to take power, since there would be no organized State apparatus to seize and use as the instrumentality of command. To create such an instrumentality de novo is very difficult, and, indeed, almost impossible; historically, it took State rulers centuries to establish a functioning State apparatus. Furthermore, the purely free-market, stateless society would contain within itself a system of built-in “checks and balances” that would make it almost impossible for such organized crime to succeed." 
  4. MacCallum, Spencer Heath. "The Case for Land Lease versus Subdivision". The Voluntary City.