The Warlords Argument: And Why it’s Bogus

May 26, 2021
Anytime minarchists/diet libertarians come to me for a discussion, their most ubiquitous charge against anarchism is their versions of the “bad guys” or “warlords.” This argument, just by existing, is the shifting burden fallacy. They are trying to get the anarchist to prove something isn’t the case, a negative claim; therefore, the anarchist is under […]

Anytime minarchists/diet libertarians come to me for a discussion, their most ubiquitous charge against anarchism is their versions of the “bad guys” or “warlords.” This argument, just by existing, is the shifting burden fallacy. They are trying to get the anarchist to prove something isn’t the case, a negative claim; therefore, the anarchist is under no obligation to address this claim. However, since humans are problem solvers, I will terminate this argument, despite its fallacious grounds.

The first pitfall of this argument is the costs required for this conquest. This warlord, if he wants to seize the free society, he will have to attain money and capital goods — a lot of it. Afterward, he would have to hire soldiers to force the locals to genuflect to his will. The next step would be to house theses soldiers; the soldiers also need armaments and training. These steps already would put a dent in the warlord’s wallet, enough to most likely crack it open. To evince the point further, the US Military budget is bloated and requires nearly guaranteed income, usually via taxation or printing fiat currency. A stateless society, however, has neither; so how is this warlord going to procure this money? The US only just paid off the Spanish-American War debt in 2006 — and the war was in 1890! Even if, best case scenario, the warlord had control over a currency, that is only one of many currencies that would be in circulation. If this warlord inflated his currency, it would be useless. Worse case scenario, the warlord has only this currency to work with, he impoverishes himself. So with a bloated budget and a potentially inflating currency, this attempt is doomed from the start.

The second pitfall is most people would have their own security and armaments. Assuming this warlord sends his stormtroopers, the people in the area will claim the lives of many solders. After the soldiers die, the warlord would have to hire more, further bloating his budget. Any citizen can gain access to any armament of his choosing; this means the troopers would have to keep fighting wars in order to gain a foothold on anything. This also assumes no one finds out who the warlord is and people refuse to associate with him. Assuming the warlord has a revenue source, people, if they found out who the warlord is, would simply not purchase his goods anymore.

Even assuming further that the warlord managed to obtain the required soldiers for the great invasion, “Dis-economies of Scale” knocks on his door — the bigger the business gets, the harder it is to manage the enterprise. This operation becomes difficult because he will constantly mismanage his resources, staff, and capital goods. This mismanagement can lead to large scale losses; this means less soldiers and less mobility, which leads to a more demanding budget.

There lies a heavy concession from the statist position; the worse case scenario for a stateless society is another state will form. If this statist claims to be a libertarian — someone who rejects violence against non-aggressors for political action — and makes this failed argument, then he is suffering from cognitive dissonance. Any doublethink or contradictions are invalid, according to the consistency principle.

The warlords argument forces the statist to concede that they are operating on a fallacious and invalid premise. The premise, assuming the shifting burdens fallacy never existed, is also cartoonishly flawed. It’s, frankly, impossible for a warlord to conquer a free society

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