Militant Libertarianism (Part 2): Man, War, and Conflict

Libertarians are known for their strong and vocal opposition to war. They oppose the funding of war, the political effects of war, and the violent nature of warfare. It could be argued that libertarians are the only major political group which opposes all three of these things. Liberals have no issue with taxation, conservatives have no issue with violence, and of course, the corporations, bankers, and politicians (the elite class) love the political effects of war.

It disorientates the irrational masses and allows for a tighter grip of their anti-democratic power, with very little resistance from the mainstream. It allows for paradigms and societal morality to shift, which allows the state to construct an enemy and use illegitimate moral rhetoric to suppress anyone who attempts to question their power. State warfare, particularly democratic warfare, is violent, immoral, and costly. This is why to be a libertarian means to reject state warfare.

But now to hypothesize a hypothetical future. A future where libertarians have toppled every government and a voluntary order has been created. Many naive and particularly “liberal” [1] libertarians believe all individuals would pursue their own happiness while respecting the rights of their fellow man. They believe there would be peace and prosperity, and while there may be small conflicts, they would be settled by the free market and the system of law that would be created and upheld. This is, as mentioned before, naive.

To first determine the problems with this utopian worldview, it is important to determine how and why conflicts arise. Conflicts are inevitable in a world of scarcity[2]. In a world with infinite resources there could never be conflicts. Whether it be over land, objects, or people- if there was an infinite amount of these resources every person would be satisfied and no conflicts could emerge. However, this is a fantasy. One which can never even hypothetically exist, as our universe is finite, and so too the amount of energy within it. Therefore, conflicts will always exist.

Because conflicts are inevitable under any political system, the goal of such systems should be to minimize conflicts and to deal with them when they do arise. I believe that voluntaryism is the most efficient way to do this. Under voluntaryism, all people must respect the property rights of everyone else, and everyone may be free to choose who they associate with. They may choose for what reason, how and where to do it, and for how long. Nobody would be forced to live amongst people fundamentally different from them, and in the case of physical conflict, there is always someone in the wrong and someone in the right (although, in some situations, both sides are at fault). Fault is not determined by mere arbitrary legal systems which can be changed and added to, but a universal law. This law may be built upon, as long as it respects the fundamental basis of the original law- every action must not violate the property rights of another individual. This, of course, leads to the principle that all relationships must be based on voluntary association.

This form of law, if accepted by all conscious beings, would lead to a libertarian utopia, where all men were truly free in their pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, this utopian thinking, while necessary, is unrealistic in terms of practicality. While these concepts are fundamental for any just social order, they are merely that; concepts. They are philosophical abstractions and ideals. However, this does not refute libertarianism as many would claim. To the contrary, it suggests that we must find a way for these concepts to be actualized, and we must strive towards our ideal. In doing so we must accept two fundamental truths bout man- we have tendency to engage in violent behaviour and certain individuals always seek power[3]. Because of these facts, if we were to degenerate into complete political, cultural, and societal disorder, the common man would most likely align himself with a “leader” (a person with the will and means to power) who would serve his interests (whether that be economically, culturally, or just for security). Humans are also diverse, and because of this, tribal[4]. As said before, voluntary association is the most efficient way to minimize group conflicts, however, even under this system many people will still wish to destroy, dominate, or suppress others. This may be due to faulty property claims, a sense of superiority, or pure hatred, in any case, these individuals must be dealt with, and voluntaryism is not a sufficient answer (reactionary instead of preemptive force). We must forcefully suppress these violent people, groups, or movements. They pose a direct threat to our very existence as sovereign individuals and they must not be tolerated.

There is an inevitable collapse looming in the distance. A political, economic, and cultural devastation. Where the democratic governments of the west collapse on their own weight. This will be an age of disorder. There will be violence, chaos, and rising political movements willing to use force. Libertarianism is beautiful as it seemingly rejects the usage of preemptive force. But while this may make perfect sense in the abstract, in reality it will be our downfall. Every political movement will be willing to use force to achieve to their goals. If we are passive and sit on our hands we will not win. We will find ourselves in a situation most likely worse than that of our present neo-liberal order. We must be willing to carve out our own future, and to do this we must be willing to take an active stance against our opponents. We must be willing to go to war.

Now for some libertarians this may seem scary and supposedly unprincipled. Possibly less so for the “revolutionary libertarians” who see a civil war and rebellion against the government as necessary (which I would heavily disagree with, a violent uprising against any modern western government would result in mass casualties and a complete destruction of libertarianism on the political and intellectual stage). It is important to note that I do not simply see warfare as a means to an end (abolishing the state in its current form). I see war as an inevitable product of nature, one which does not seem to be going away. I see the future of libertarianism as a future which involves conflict and war (as it is with every political ideology), and there simply is no escaping this. The history of humanity has been constant warfare, and the people with the means and willingness to assert themselves have always triumphed over the passive and timid people.

Now to go back to hypothesizing a possible future. Once a libertarian order has been created, those who live in it will have to be hyper vigilant. They will have to crush rebellious movements before they can become a serious threat. While the “revolutionary libertarians” see a war as only a necessary means to achieve a libertarian order, I see it as engrained within it. Due to human nature, conflicts will always exist. Some individuals will not be satisfied with being left to their own freedom and devices. Some may wish to force their ideals upon others, and not to achieve them through legitimate and peaceful means. Environmental changes may also lead to a rejection of libertarian principles in favour of a strong authoritarian hand which could enforce solutions to various issues. The history of humanity is conflict and war, and while voluntaryism is the most effective way to minimize conflicts, it is not an end in and of itself. Oppression of violent people and

movements will be necessary. If we do not take this necessary action, we would get run over and our society would collapse in a very short amount of time.

As explained in part one of this series, the NAP in it’s only logical form must allow for preemptive force under certain circumstances[5]. In order for a use of preemptive force to be justified, the person considered the “threat” (“thret” as I said in my previous essay) must meet a certain criteria. They must be willing, they must have the means, and their actions must be oriented towards committing aggression. If a group of armed people got together and were planning on attacking your community, a preemptive attack would be completely justified. Declaring war on legitimate threts will always be justified.

If the attacking party ends up winning the battle, and the survivors surrender, the attackers must back down. Once someone has surrendered they have stopped meeting atleast two of the criterions. Any force against an individual who does not meet all three criteria must be considered illegitimate and unjustifiable.

Once a libertarian society has been created, a confederacy or alliance of libertarian minded communities, countries, tribes, and etc would likely naturally form due to mutual benefit. This would allow for large armed forces to become allies and defend their common values in the face of violent enemies and threats.

In conclusion I believe I have given a fair case as to why conflict is inevitable. I believe the current libertarian views on responding to possible threats with passiveness, or declaring that we must wait until a physical attack, is naive and will be our downfall. This essay has laid out a relatively new concept for libertarians. While it may be new, it does not call for violence and does not support it. It only presents a justification for war, and a very mild and humanitarian form of war aswell (relative to history’s wars, where slaughtering all survivors and attacking people for no reason was considered legitimate). Of course there is more to maintaining any form of social order beyond the threat of violence, but it is a big component. In later essays I plan on going over other strategies for libertarians to achieve and maintain a voluntary order.

1. When I say “liberal” I do not mean in the modern sense of the word, but rather, its view on the “state of nature”. Rousseau is the famous for his (rather absurd) belief that the state of nature is peace, and that if left to their own devices (absent any tyrannical state) man would live in perpetual peace, as he is innately good.

2. See “The Economics and Ethics of Private Property” or

3. There is centuries of philosophical, sociological, biological, and anthropological research on this topic. Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Will to Power” is an important concept in this debate. Friedrich Hegel also had a grasp of this concept and used it as a defence of monarchy. The relatively new “neo-reactionary” movement has done a formidable job analyzing the nature of power, although I disagree with them heavily. Unfortunately very few, if any, libertarians have discussed this extremely important topic, as most of libertarian thought has been confined to philosophical abstractions.

4. For further reading on this topic I suggest the articles “What Science Says about Diversity” part 1 and 2.


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