Category Archives: Free Society

Thoughts on a reformed Militia system


The main idea: Though only a second-best alternative to a nuclear umbrella, a reformed Militia system could still afford weak defenders a way of imposing high costs on much stronger aggressors, with obvious implications for non-territorial defense in a Free Society.


1. The rationale of Militias

1.1 From the position of a weak believer in the ability of a future Free Society to credibly defend itself by conventional (non-nuclear) means, the idea of a Militia begins to look attractive. If non-territorial private defense agencies would probably be underfunded due to public good problems, if territorial entities could not be large enough to property defend themselves due to rational calculation issues, and if, for the time being, a proper credible nuclear second-strike capability is very expensive to procure (that is, too expensive even for China), than one is left with precious few alternatives when it comes to defending against a stronger attacker.

1.2 And indeed, a Militia system along Swiss lines is held in high esteem by some libertarians, who often compare it to the alternative of behemoth, uber-costly conventional armies creating problems too well-known to discuss.

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An Empirical Inquiry into Polycentric Power Structures

Interacting centers of power

When anarcho-capitalists argue that protection should be provided in a private manner by companies instead of coercively by governments, opponents maintain that neighboring police agencies will start fighting amongst each other. The argument goes that one company will decide that it will make more money if it physically forces another company out of business, and this sets the stage for endless fighting. Structures that have many police forces in the same general area are thus bound to fail. Robert Murphy has an excellent refutation of this line of argumentation in his article “But Wouldn’t the Warlords Take Over?” [3] Here, I will turn the opponents on themselves and challenge them to explain what makes government work.

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From Volunteers to Conscripts: the French Republican Army 1789-1794-Part One

In this short essay I will attempt to chronicle the transformation of the French Republican Army from a volunteer army made up of professional soldiers and willing citizen-soldiers in a large mass of military serfs in the 1789-1794 period.

I know this topic will be highly controversial but I personally believe it provides a useful discussion and reflection topic in the defense debate. Any criticism, as long as it’s constructive, is highly welcome.

The armies of the Ancien Regime were, essentially, volunteer in nature. France had traditionally three sources of recruits.
The first, and most important, were the great cities like Paris, Lyon and Toulouse. Recruiters particularly targeted paupers, easily attracted by a steady, if meager, paycheck and the promise of food and lodge, and the younger sons of artisans and shopkeepers, who could not hope to take over the family business and were usually doomed to a lifetime of perpetual misery.
The second were the country estates of certain noble military families. Members of these families, serving as military officers, were regularly given six-month leaves (semestres) to recruit troops for the army. Military life, as hard as it was, was usually seen as an attractive alternative for the younger sons of peasant families. Moreover these men usually ended up serving under the same noblemen who had recruited them, often in highly regarded cavalry and artillery unit.
The third were the many foreign (Swiss, Bavarian, Irish etc) regiments serving France. These were of very varied quality and each had its own way of finding recruits. [1]

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The People vs. the Media

Justin Raimondo over at has more on the issue of the regime media versus the people on Edward Snowden. Great stuff, do check it out.

How Mainstream is Your Media?

Today’s edition of highlights a piece by Jeff Cohen where he asks would the US media have handled the Snowden Affair any differently, if it were state-controlled? This touches on something I have been thinking about for a while.

Once again, for the umpteenth time, there is a situation where the general public is heavily divided on an issue, and yet the so-called “mainstream media” speaks on it in near-perfect unison. This begs the question, just how mainstream such a media actually is. You would expect a significant portion of a media that was actually mainstream to stick up for Snowden as is the stance of a very large part of the public. Cohen reports one recent poll found 53% of Americans, and 70% of those aged 18-34, held a favorable view of Snowden’s actions.

So if the views of the major media outlets on issues such as the Snowden Affair, do not actually correspond with the views of the mainstream public, what do they correspond to? The answer is that each and every time they correspond with the view of the regime. Whether we are talking issues like the financial bailouts of 2008, which the American public was dead set against, or the Iraq invasion of 2003, on which the public was split right down the middle, the regime could always count on major media to overwhelmingly propagate its views.

That being the case it is clear the term “mainstream media” is in fact a huge misnomer. The proper term for major media in the US is actually “regime media”. True, the major media outlets in the United States are not actually subject to control by state employees in editorial boards and censorship bureaus, but so what? They are subject to the same basic system of incentives and controls just the same. The controls are applied by owners and sponsors of the outlets, who, for either commercial or ideological reasons, for the most part have a strong personal identification with the regime. The end result, is the same, major media services the public, but for the benefit of the regime.

Speaking of the regime media as the “mainstream media” therefore gives it credibility it does not have. Sure thanks to its greater means and state favor its output is more voluminous and has much greater visibility. However, this was also true for example in the Soviet Union. Why would the situation in the US, which has proven a more successful state, be any different? The key point is not visibility, but function. Only the independent media actually attempts to serve its audience, not the regime. Instead of speaking of the “mainstream” and its counterpart the “alternative” media, we should refer to both by their real names, the independent media, and its counterpart the regime media.
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Democracy as crowdsourcing


The main idea: representative democracy fails in producing unbiased crowdsourced answers to difficult problems, as do its direct and statistical offshoots.  Only unfettered trial by jury can be realistically considered a fair crowdsourcing mechanism.

Previously on Lost...

Previously on Lost…

My previous post tried to analyze the claim that mass (i.e. representative) democracy is the only realistic non-violent alternative to civil conflict and found it in need of severe qualifications, to put it mildly. Here I will try to deal with the other appealing argument made for mass democracy: that it provides an algorithm for crowd-sourcing difficult issues.  May democracy be in better luck this time?

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Introduction to Libertarianism (For the Left)

[This is the first article in the left-leaning LBRT101 section of the Guided Study at Liberty HQ]

The Past 12 Years

A foreign policy of war

The past twelve years have seen the US enter numerous new military engagements, many of which show no signs of fading. Iraq and Afghanistan are well known to everyone, but are far from the only ones. Despite strong evidence that the US intervention would not improve our national security − and, in fact, would worsen it − we continued to remain, at both a high human cost − all the lives lost (American and foreign) − and a high financial cost (with conservative estimates at $1.5 trillion). Besides throwing the US into these wars, Bush passed into law the Patriot Act, escalating the level of government invasion of the personal lives of the public. Suddenly, everyone became a suspect in the hopeless War on Terror. How does this square with the respect for individual freedom that Bush is supposed to have? Continue reading
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