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Your Dog Does Not Own Your House

Tweet [1]

It is both illogical and factually inaccurate to assume that social order owes its existence ultimately to the state [2].

If the state does nothing more than serve as a specialist in protecting citizens from violence, as well as, perhaps, in supplying some dispute-resolution services, then it could be credited with contributing positively to society.  But the state here would be due no more credit than any other producer (or group of producers).  Sure, protection against violence, as well as dispute-resolution procedures, are necessary for the creation of a great society, but they are far from sufficient.  (And as made clear by the Leeson article highlighted in the previous post [3], a solid argument can be made that the state is not necessary to supply these services.)

Even if we stipulate, for purposes of argument, that the state is the only possible, or the best possible, supplier of protection against violence and the best possible supplier of dispute-resolution services, society as we know it would nevertheless collapse were it not for farmers, tailors, home-builders, physicians, lawyers, stockbrokers, engineers,….. the list is long.

Get rid of any of these producer groups and people die by the millions.  And yet, no one proclaims that "Justice is whatever farmers claim it to be" or "Because society cannot exist if people aren’t clothed, then weavers and tailors are the foundation of society."

One of the beautiful facts about a great society such as ours is that no group of persons, no particular group of specialisst, plays a role that alone creates society.  Each of many groups of specialists is necessary for society to exist; no single group of specialists — not even that group specializing in protecting people from violence — is sufficient.

This insightful article by Anthony de Jasay explains further [4].

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