Lab e4: Peace, defense and foreign policy

Peace, Defense and Foreign Policy

On OboxPlanet, there are no states. Therefore, there are no war departments, no armies, no foreign policy and no wars with all the waste, death and destruction that goes along with it.

All the resources, workforce, and intellectual capabilities are directed toward civilian and productive endeavors. The news coverage on OboxPlanet focuses on topics that directly impact and enhance people’s lives, such as diet and fitness, psychological well-being, and innovations in products, along with quality comparisons.

Now, let’s dive into the question of organized crime on OboxPlanet. Has anything resembling the Mafia taken control, establishing a state-like monopoly extortion racket on the OboxPlanet? The short answer is no.

Firstly, individual criminals would face a tough time sustaining any illicit activities because the competitive protection companies operate far more efficiently than today’s state police. Going beyond individual criminals, i.e. organizing a gang of criminals with significant power and weapons is a complex task that will almost certainly end in failure. Even if they manage to amass some loot to buy weapons, it’s likely to be far less than what productive individuals have for their defense. It’s an impractical venture that even the most audacious thugs would think twice about.

Now, let’s consider a hypothetical scenario where a group of criminals somehow seizes control of a territory. If they plan to live at the cost of producers, they need the producers to keep on producing. They need, as Ayn Rand put it, the “sanction of their victims”. However, because productive individuals are highly valued everywhere on OboxPlanet, they would most certainly run away and relocate. The criminals would be left on their own, with the prospect of some probably rather mercyless revenge. Things are categorically different on earth.

This contrasts sharply with Earth, where escaping an illegal Mafia racket is often possible within the same country and easier than escaping an invasive state for a less invasive alternative.


Lastly, we can treat an interesting question “between earth and OboxPlanet”. Let’s suppose we could abolish the state in some sizeable country, like Switzerland. Could it last? Could it defend itself if it got invaded by a state?

There already exists interesting literature on the subject with many answers, two of which we want to mention here. One problem for an invader is that there is no “official” military to fight and no one government organization that could be defeated and replaced. There are only individuals, probably most of them armed and proficient in using them and an invader would have to subdue each inhabitant of the stateless territory. And then? Would they really be a worthy prize, productive and willing to share their wealth? Secondly, these individuals would not be bound to international laws. They could threaten to kill the family of the leader of the aggressor country or nuke their homes.

On the point of peaceful coexistence, in the words of David Friedman from “The Machinery of Freedom”:

“Perhaps the best way to see why anarcho-capitalism would be so much more peaceful than our present system is by analogy. Consider our world as it would be if the cost of moving from one country to another were zero. Everyone lives in a housetrailer and speaks the same language. One day, the president of France announces that because of troubles with neighboring countries, new military taxes are being levied and conscription will begin shortly. The next morning the president of France finds himself ruling a peaceful but empty landscape, the population having been reduced to himself, three generals, and twenty-seven war correspondents.”

Let’s illustrate the points made in the introduction above in some more details:

A more peaceful world means much more wealth creation. Think about all the resources that foreign policy, the preparation for war and wars themselves use in terms of resources. There are the monetary expenses and destructions in wartime. There are the human lives and there is the huge human capital dedicated to planning destruction. Many of the smartest people go to construct weapons and work for the CIA, anti terror and foreign relations departments. On the OboxPlanet, they all put their efforts to productive use instead. 

The news on international, national and local politics, political haggling, bribes and corruption does not exist on the OboxPlanet and neither does the costs, corruption and conflicts, including wars, that go with the whole mess. The consumers can instead focus their attention on topics that will improve their personal lives. They can focus on consumer protection and product comparisons, on child and animal welfare, on travel opportunities, culture, sports concerts, museums etc. 

On to another frequent question. On the OboxPlanet, can a mafia-like organisation ever develop, take over whole communities and establish a state-like monopoly extortion racket?

There are compelling reasons for a clear answer: No. 

Let’s think of the following scenario. A group of gangsters conquers some territory. How are they going to rule the inhabitants, force them to work? By putting a gun at their head? After all, if the criminal gang plans to live at the cost of others who produce goods for them., they need their victims to keep producing. The criminals need, as Ayn Rand put it, “the sanction of the victims”. But because on the OboxPlanet, producers are welcome just about everywhere, productive people would just move away, and the criminals would be left on their own. 

We can observe this mechanism on Earth, even with all its restrictions. Whenever states behave too oppressively, people start “voting with their feet”. The most oppressive states, like the former Eastern Germany, have literally turned the whole country into a giant prison facility to keep their population from escaping. And it is usually the most productive people who escape first. Today, many of them still choose the United States, for example, with relatively more freedom for productive minds. But the Earth is much more restricted. And while you may escape some state oppression, you can never escape all state oppression. You can, to put it bluntly, just choose between more or less restrictive prison camps. 

What experiences on Earth, past and present, help us understand life on the OboxPlanet?

The 19th century was marked by small states, increasing wealth, global trade and relative peace in Europe. Peace and trade were probably no coincidence, as Frédéric Bastiat, one of the great economists of this time observed, “if goods don’t cross borders, armies will”.

The 19th century also saw the emergence of private humanitarian initiatives, notably the Red Cross. Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman, proposed the idea of neutral assistance after witnessing the suffering of soldiers in the Battle of Solferino. Inspired by his book, Gustave Moynier co-founded the International Committee for the Relief of the Wounded, leading to the adoption of the First Geneva Convention in 1864. This event established rules for humane treatment during wars and introduced the Red Cross emblem.

The nature of wars changed significantly with the growth of the state, nationalism, and access to resources and financing. The ability to print money and deficit-finance played a crucial role in the First World War’s continuation, without this possibility, some argue it would have run out of money within a few months and history would have unfolded who knows how. In 1943, Göbbels declared “total war,” representing the spirit that too often characterizes warring parties today.

The lesson we can draw? The peacemaking force is trade, the warmaking force are the states and nationalism.

This is the moment to mention the many ideas and initiatives to establish minimal-state territories or completely stateless territories on Earth today. So far, none of the efforts have had lasting success but they produce most interesting ideas and experiences. And who knows, maybe some effort will succeed somewhere and then infect the whole world. History has a way to take turns we never thought possible. Those of us who remember the end of the cold war, suddenly and overnight in 1989, can tell from experience.


John Stossel Life Free at Sea

Now it’s your turn: how would you defend yourself if you lived in a stateless society, surrounded by states?

Things we could learn and implement from the OboxPlanet:

  • End all wars, including the war on drugs. 
  • Declare neutrality. 
  • Decentralize, allow secessions. 
  • Turn the world into 10 000 Lichtensteins.