Bryan writes,

I fail to see how getting a [government] counts as “breaking” a warlord equilibrium. Why shouldn’t it simply be described as “accepting” a warlord equilibrium – you quit resisting the rule of the most powerful warlord, and let him run things?

Here, he is guilty of the same sin as those who romanticize government. He anthropomorphizes government. The collectivists see government as a benign individual. Bryan sees it as a single warlord.

I see government as an institutional arrangement. It is implemented by many individuals, with competing interests. The difference between government and warlordism is that these competing interests are resolved using rules that are viewed as more important than any one individual.

In a warlord regime, the President could not be voted out of office or impeached. He could only be defeated by a more powerful military gang.

Put it this way. Why is it that the Mafia do not shake me down regularly? Because I am protected by the rule of law, backed by the threat of force.

Does paying taxes represent the same type of shakedown? I would say that it does not. With the Mafia, most of the money goes for the personal benefit of gang leaders, who hold their personal positions by threat of force. With the government, most of the money gets recycled back to people, and the government’s leaders can be peacefully removed.

I believe that my fellow citizens are unwise in their support of leaders with a much more expansive view of government than I favor. However, Social Security and public education arose from due process, not as a Mafiosi’s racket.

I do not believe that a competitive market in private security services could protect me from the Mafia. As I said in my previous post, all it takes is one successful warlord to break a private security equilibrium.