A libertarian and one of his new friend are in a bar, drinking a beer after work. The friend heard about his fellow being a dangerous anarchist so he decided to investigate a little bit more about that craziness.

The Friend: for you what is a state?

The Libertarian: a group to force the people in a country.

How is the state forcing the people?

The state threatens to put them in jail.

What is a state for?

It was actually to force people not to force each other.

You said “was”. That’s not true anymore?

No. Now, a state is to force people to do what some want: the biggest minority in democracy or the chief in dictatorship. To force them to give some of their money to the state, not to smoke in a bar, etc, etc.

Why do you think the purpose of a state has changed?

I think because people sometimes believe that forcing people to do something they want can be easier and less expensive that getting them to want it. And people quickly understood that the state is the biggest gun of all to force others.

So, in XIXth Century, people owning companies ask the state to force companies abroad to pay money. That prevented the abroad products, which were better, to be cheaper than the local ones. The richer won whereas the abroad companies and the local consumers lost.

When they saw that, it was easier for the new so called “socialists” to convince the less rich to trust them. They could tell the less rich they would make the state to force the richer to give them more money and fewer hours to work. 

OK, wait, if they did not, we would still work 12 hours a week for a misery, wouldn't we?

Actually, this is not right my friend. More money and / or less work and / or better work conditions is not contradictory with the growth of a company. Smart entrepreneurs, like Herb Keleher, know for a long time that happier loyal employees make happier customers that make happier shareholders. For example, why do you think Henry Ford raised wages in the 20s?

Everybody knows that! To make his employees customers!

Sorry but this is the myth, not the reality. Henry Ford raised the wages because he understood that better paid employees would be more loyal and it would thus be less expensive than recruiting and teaching new ones.

That’s the same issue in >?xml:namespace prefix =" ""st1" /?< China…

Wait… China, you won’t say China is a paradise, right?

No, obviously, I am just saying that in China they have been doing in 20 years what we did in one century, which is raising the daily available dollars for a huge part of them, maybe 300 or 400 million people. And you can see many regions out there where the “bargaining power” has been reversed: too many jobs, not enough people, so employers have to seduce people, not the other way around.

But there is no liberty in China?

Yes, and that’s a shame. But as you saw in Arab countries recently, education and globalization will lead to more freedom. What’s the biggest issue with China is not what they’re doing, but that they’re doing it at least 80 years after us, and at ten times the scale. So it is a big deal. Either we let customers in West profit from less exensive products and chinese producers raise their living or we turn back to closed systems where local low value producers will be happy but the Chinese and us as customers will be less wealthy.

Ok, but let’s back to us: honestly, the state is not “forcing” you…

How do you call one that would threaten you with guns if you don’t want to do what it tells you (which is what would happen if I refuse to pay taxes).

Right, if you’re not happy, you can leave the country?

But I was born here! Between you that want a state and me that don’t want one, why should you be more legitimate to stay?

…hmmm, because this is democracy?

Why democracy should be seen as a verifiable god given truth?  [The friend is mum]. By the way, why do you like the state?

Because it can help the poor.

Can you say the “less rich” instead of “the poor”? Honestly even the least rich today in our country are probably “richer” than Louis XIV was. And for me there are no way but arbitrary decisions to decide whether one is “rich” or “poor”: absolute adjectives can kill.

OK. So, because it can help the less rich.

Are you OK to agree that it’s doing it by racketing money from other people?

Yes. But it is necessary.

Necessary for what?

Because, it’s unfair to let them die!

Unfair to whom?

To me, first…

…so you feel better off knowing that the state is doing it? So you are asking the state to force people to do what you want?

…Ok, me, but everyone should feel the same?

Why? Wanting to help the less rich is a choice you make, partly to feel yourself better. You can think that people which don’t feel worse when thinking about the less rich are assholes, but why is that giving you the right to force them?

…but you don’t feel worse about the needy?

I feel worse. And I want them to get wealthier. But I don’t want to get what I want by forcing other people with a state.

…but without a state, they would die!

No. First, all the “universal” services from the state could be done much better and / or cheaper with time thanks to the right to compete. And, as in any country, we would have much higher “real solidarity”, where people choose to give money for nothing. The lower level of charity in a country is directly correlated to the higher level of state intervention.

That’s one of people’s biggest mistakes: wanting to provide a service to everyone by letting the state do it alone with no competition and paid by force. You know, if I can’t convince you to let me live with no state, I would rather let free groups to compete to provide the services and be forced to give money to the less rich for them to choose one of the services.

and what about free school and free French culture ?

It’s a bad example my friend. In France, it’s not a coincidence if we have the highest level of state spending and among the worst results, according to PISA. Second, there, it’s you that is richer and was born in a better off family that is stealing the less rich to pay for your higher education or culture they won’t get. As I said before, and Frédéric Bastiat before and better than me, everybody is trying to force anybody else with a state. Based on that, guess why I am sure you’re feeling a rise in “selfishness” or a crisis of the “vivre ensemble”.

You think it’s because of the state?

Yes. Gifting apart, the best way to get what you want from a person is to trade it for something he wants more. While trading, both are thinking they’re winning. As a state is to force, from the start, there is a forcer and a forced. State is feeding the fight between people.

Ah ah, you said it, “thinking” is the right word. Because we know each other that someone can lie in a trade and someone can regret!

You’re absolutely right…and that’s why some people or companies provide services to tell you whether or not you can trust someone else before a trade. And companies as ebay have even digitalized the process with feedback: you know you should not lie on a trade because people will know and may boycott you.

As you saw with Mediator recently, a state does not seem to be really better at providing trust J

Ok so, according to you, a way to prevent people from lying or forcing others is the risk for them to be boycotted?


But “professional forcers” like Mafia would rise in your world?

I don’t think so. Especially because the state won’t be there to force people not to buy drugs. So many businesses done today in fear and violence would be pacified. Remember Prohibition. Patrick Ricard looks a bit like Al Capone but is less violent don’t you think?

And many groups will provide security services because it's obvious people want it.

Yes but don’t you believe that with time only one private security company will emerge as a monopoly and thus recreating a state?

You know, the very first reason for monopoly or oligopoly is the state. Because companies run by men, are like anybody else, wanting to profit from the state. Bigger corporations are most often pro state and can get rules to prevent competition from newcomers. So with no state, chances are smaller to be the only one to provide a service to anyone. And if eventually the only risk is to come back to where we are…

…but with what consequences! This would be a civil war!

Neither for me. First no place can work without having many people believing at least a bit in trade, state or not state (think about Iraq). Second, most of civil war is actually to…lead the state! So if people lose their faith in the state, one of the biggest causes of war is already gone.

…you say “faith”?

Yes, it’s really that faith I want to kill. I am logical. If some people want a state, I don’t want to force them not to have them. I want to convince them that the state is what prevents us to get wealthier and eventuallly happier. And, to start, I want that people not to force me to be forced by the state. Would you?

Then the dialog stopped and the two buddies left each other. That night, The Friend did not sleep as he could not stop thinking about what The Libertarian told him. What if he was right ?