Private Militaries and Market States

Returned from the San Francisco trip, met a smart group of people in a wide variety of fields and was able to influence some thinking. Excellent lunches with a few guys in Palo Alto too.

Here is the core of my thinking on the topic I presented on:

  • The nation-state system is distorting the market that the PMC industry acts within.
  • It is important to understand that the real customer of PMC services is the tax paying citizen, not the nation-state.
  • Due to the nature of the nation-state and its focus on providing welfare it is important to recognize that it is not the most efficient or effective customer of PMC service.
  • With the increasingly diffused nature of the ability to use coercive force it is necessary to understand that the questions of accountability that rise will be answered by the market, not by regulation.
  • When violence reaches a tipping point and becomes a commodity, the PMC industry will face pressure to act in accordance to the market as opposed to what is dictated by the nation-state system.
  • This is where it becomes imperative to fully understand the market-state and choose the most effective model to implement.

Sign up for my newsletter.

  • Brad Spangler
    Apr 17, 2007

    Are you familiar with the thought of Austrian School economist Murray Rothbard? You folks talking about a “market state” seem to be haphazardly stumbling your way into recreating the set of ideas he called “anarcho-capitalism” — in which law (i.e. dispute resolution) and security services (i.e. “police” and “national defense”) would be provided via a polycentric competitive enterprise model rather than monopolized by a nation-state. The roots of Rothbard’s thought on this actually go back to 19th century Belgian political-economist Gustave de Molinari. I would recommend reading the following:

    The Production of Security
    by Gustave de Molinari

    “Chaos Theory: Two Essays On Market Anarchy”
    by Robert Murphy

    “For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto” by Murray N. Rothbard

  • Kent's Imperative
    Apr 18, 2007

    Nation states as market distortions

    The ever thought provoking Shlok Vaidya has presented a fascinating corollary to the growing body of maxims regarding the re-emergence of the non-state soldier…..


  • zenpundit
    Apr 19, 2007


    “Market-states” as Shlok is most likely using the term are still more “state” than Rothbard probably would have liked – the concept comes from the strategic theorist Philip Bobbitt’s Shield of Achilles. Rothbard, as I recall, argued for something far more radical with his anarcho-capitalism.

  • Shlok Vaidya
    Apr 19, 2007

    Brad –

    I personally like the market-state/ Philip Bobbitt model because of the coherent historical analysis that fully pulls out the trend-lines in both directions.
    Rothbard and family look to be hitting a lot of the same stuff, but without that historical trend-line, which is why I think, as Zen states, they go farther than they should.

  • Phil (Pacific Empire)
    Apr 20, 2007

    It is hard to compare the two ideas because Rothbard (especially in his earlier writings) was ideological and normative, rather than empirical. He had a utopian ideal of private courts and police forces, based on a few medieval parallels, but in terms of current events his analysis was nothing more than wishful thinking.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *