Simplistic Libertarianism

I interact with quite a few libertarians of all types on the internet and one of the claims I hear frequently made by some of them is that; “only the federal government can use the force that is intrinsic to Statism. The states are incapable of being a “State” because the federal government is the ultimate power in the United States that has a monopoly on all the force in America.

I’ve taken to calling this; Simplistic libertarianism” because it doesn’t take into consideration the complexity of how a society works, especially one as large as American society. It doesn’t take into account the social contract that exists between the people and the body of law that is the expression of that social contract.

The simplistic libertarian claims to focus on who has the greatest monopoly on force but even in this his view is two dimensional and they’re incredibly selective in how they pick who in fact has that monopoly. If you look at the United States government versus it’s citizenry in terms of who would wipe the other out if the two engaged in all out warfare clearly the United States would be the victor in that contest.

But that’s a rather fallacious way to look at the problem. For many reasons the Federal Government wouldn’t engage in that sort of warfare with its own citizenry. The warfare they practiced on them would be of a limited nature with the intention of doing as little damage to the natural resources and infrastructure within the borders of the United States as possible which severely limits the type of weaponry the military could use, not to mention decreasing the damage to America’s ability to engage other nations in diplomatic or contractual negotiations from a confident position of assurance and strength. Revolution and internal strife weakens your negotiating power with other nations. These are just a few examples of why the proposition of civil all out warfare is a red herring.

The reality is that we’ve got 75,000,000 private citizens who own guns compared to 1.5 million active military personnel and about one million law enforcement personnel so that’s 75 million armed private citizens versus 2.5 million potential federal warriors so looked at from a perspective of who has the greater potential for having a monopoly on force? All of a sudden you begin to look at the arguments presented by simplistic libertarianism and you begin to wonder.

When one considers just these few factors one realizes that the limited assets the Federal government would be able to use in such an exchange in comparison to the number of armed and capable citizens responding to that force? One sees that the federal government is actually at a distinct disadvantage.

Obviously the government survives at the whim of the people and a sufficient number of the people must approve of the existence of the government even if they don’t always agree with their actions. So the claim of; “the federal government has a monopoly on using force” is only true in the sense that the American people acknowledge its right to use that force and they give them the power to use it by staying their own hand when they find themselves in dispute with the government.

So you see the issue of “monopoly of force” isn’t so straightforward as to; “who has the superior military power” there are subtler facets to the issue of monopoly of force.

This brings me to the example of the city of Secaucus versus the New Jersey State government. Here you have a city, Secaucus that is positioned to increase its wealth by taking advantage of the tri-state area gambling customer base; the gamblers in the surrounding states provide a substantial source of income to the local tri-state gambling venues. This is something many of the citizens of the city of Secaucus has wanted to do for some time.


But NJ governors and a select few well positioned New Jersey state senators have for years refused to allow the city of Secaucus to build any sort of gambling casino because if that happened it would seriously harm Atlantic City’s economy.

Especially now that we’re in a poor economy, Atlantic City would most likely go under while Secaucus would develop a robust, healthy economy fed by the traffic diverted from Atlantic city because let’s face it, New Yorkers are going to choose to travel 30 minutes versus traveling over 2 hours to do their gambling, there’s no question on that.

But The Governor is saying; “NO” to Secaucus and if Secaucus tried to set up casinos he’d send in law enforcement and use force to shut them down.

This is a state issue, has been for years, article ten of the Constitution of the United States does give states power in areas that the federal government has no say.

Areas the federal government cannot use threat of force because of the preexisting social contract that is the agreement between the states and the federal government in the form of law.

It’s a clear cut case of the governor, representing the State of NJ threatening to use force against a city in the state.

A State using Statist force.

The federal government is bound and limited by the very factors that give it the power it has and in this instance is not the entity with the monopoly on force; it is the State of New Jersey.

So the next time someone goes on about how; “States can’t be Statist because they don’t have a monopoly on force?

Ask them if that’s the case why is there still not a Secaucus version of Atlantic City in existence?

Relevant Links:

Governor Christie (State of NJ) vs. Secaucus

Governor Corzine (State of NJ) vs.  Secaucus

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