December 28, 2022

Since the security of a free state requires an armed, organized, and disciplined body public, that is inculcated in martial arts and trained to execute the law, repel invasions and suppress insurrections, the majority of people raised in such an environment would be able to deter most criminal encroachments upon their person through self-responsibility.  More  importantly, there would be a cultural shift, resulting from widespread civic martial training, turning away from the present envy-based politics and toward a civil order.

Why would this be true?

Training in an armed martial art, as opposed to sport fighting, leads practitioners to realize the destructiveness and inefficiency of conflict that Sun Tzu described in The Art of War.  The debilitating potential of armed conflict reinforces the need for inoffensive behavior and etiquette.  Experiencing the effects of combat, even in simulation, instills a healthy respect for avoiding unnecessary conflict.

This is also one of the reasons why people need to train with real lethal arms, and, under the US Constitution, these are the types of weapons that are suitable for executing the law, repelling invasions, and suppressing insurrections.  Handling live blades and firearms safely requires a respect for their lethality.  Indeed, one’s own safety and survival demands a respectful attitude toward the tools of their task, as well as heightened awareness of others and the environment.

Additionally, security operations require defining the boundaries of one’s area of responsibility.  This is embedded in the General Orders of all the US military services.  One must know the limits of their post in order to guard everything within it.  Laying out property boundaries is essential for accountability and responsibility.  It also helps identify when a violation has occurred as well as who the perpetrator is.

Therefore, understanding the primacy of private property as the center of justice analysis is crucial to the rational production of security services.  This remains constant for security operations arranged through political communities, e.g. the militia, as well as supplemental providers, whether they be police, sheriffs, insurance companies, or other contracted firms.

Notice the key distinction, which should also translate into attitudes, beliefs, and the way the subject is framed if the goal is to see the end of gun control, that individuals are the unit of analysis.  Notions of “public safety”, “public health”, or “national security” are but  abstractions with an embedded collectivist bias.

Abstractions may be convenient terms for conversation and conceptualization, yet unthinkingly accepting these words as reality begins a slide into lazy thinking that glosses over human action in the real world.

Only individuals act.

When describing the behaviors of communities, political bodies, countries, or nations, regions, as well as “the police”, sheriffs, or even the militia of the several states, what is actually being described is individual people making a series of choices over time within an organizational structure.  While analyzing the impact of organizational structures on individual behavior may be useful at times, it is essential not lose awareness of the human action axiom, which always resorts to individuals.

While recruitment, training, retention, and policy may heavily weigh on police uses of force in crime suppression, it is the individual officer that pulls the trigger on their firearm.  Similarly, while economic circumstances, social status, and environmental factors may influence a tendency toward criminal behavior, it is, ultimately, the individual that  perpetrates a robbery, rape, or other violation.

Incentives matter.  People respond to the incentives posed by institutional arrangements.  This is one of the fundamental pillars of political economy, and it is through reasoning informed by analyzing incentives that we can conclude that securing the blessings of
liberty and prosperity requires putting an end to gun control.

Security and justice functions left in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats will inevitably lead to tyranny.  Any service provider that derives revenue, as well as authority and prestige, through forcibly confiscating, i.e. taxing, private property cannot be a reliable protector.  It is a contradictory arrangement filled with perverse incentives.

Economists call an arrangement where someone has an incentive to consume more resources than they otherwise would because doing so comes at the expense of another a moral hazard.  Modern governments have learned that people tend to revolt against direct confiscations and, therefore, employ more subtle or even surreptitious ways of separating owners from their property in the name of protecting them.

Rather than having to feel the pain of paying income taxes, they are withheld before a worker receives their paycheck.  Instead of confiscating bits of money “clipped” from the coins in circulation, inflation of Federal Reserve Notes allows the general government to spend newly created currency before prices adjust to the “new normal” money supply.  As an alternative to confiscating property in the name of central economic planning, governments “regulate” or “license” how owners employ their resources to ensure such actions serve the prerogatives of state.

All of these arrangements allow government actors to use, consume, or control more resources than they otherwise would, had it come at their own expense, and thereby incentivizes them to disregard the skillful and economical allocation of means under their care.

In other words, the politically manipulated and bureaucratically managed production of any product or service carries with it a deadweight loss to society as resources are inevitably squandered.  This remains the case in the production of security and justice as well.

It is time to admit that the current state of security and justice provision is based on a socialist model.  Every citizen pays taxes into a common pool, progressively, according to their “ability” to where central planners allocate resources to bureaucracies, whether they be police, sheriffs, troopers, or agents, and here is the important part, regardless of their performance.

There is no connection between the consumer, and their satisfaction, and the funding of justice and security providers.  This is a massive disconnect between the citizen, as the principal, and the security providing agents.  Political control and bureaucratic  management, as the contracting mechanism, is what severs the principal-agent relationship and reverses the demand signal.  Rather than the citizen, as security consumer, establishing the priority of preferred services, the politicians and bureaucrats dictate the terms of service.

As you can imagine, this incentive structure is a recipe for disaster.  As politicians and bureaucrats demand ever increasingly onerous budgets and impose ever more taxes from the citizenry to fund them, the price of security will continually rise.  Since those, supposed, security agents get paid regardless of performance, there is no incentive to perform well.  So, the price of security and justice increases while the quality declines.

So long as the incentive structure remains, these burdens will grow until the entire edifice crumbles.  This is the cycle of empire witnessed throughout history.  Of course, the Roman Republic is the typical case in point, yet I would also highlight Japan under the Tokugawa Shogun 1600-1868.

Tokugawa Ieyasu was a warlord in feudal Japan that won his supremacy at the battle of Sekigahara in 1600.  He then set about unifying Japan under a military government through a series of bureaucratic reforms that literally placed the country in chains.  This is why the term “sakoku”, or chained country is used to describe Japan’s isolationist policy under the Tokugawa.  Foreign trade was prohibited at all but a few designated ports.

While the Tokugawa regime endured for over two and a half centuries, and the absence of many overt battles is widely characterized as peaceful, the situation was tenuously held together through regulating semi-autonomous states through a balance of power.  This took the form of disarming the populace, imposing strict limitations on classes of employment, particularly the warrior caste, and consuming ever-increasing swaths of financial resources so as to prevent any challengers from mobilizing against the regime.

Tokugawa Japan is a prime example of weaponized bureaucracy to keep people occupied and depleted so as to deny any significant opportunity to revolt against the ruling elite.  It is also an example of how warriors tasked with providing security and justice for a nation continually raised the price of their services while the quality of their product declined and ultimately catastrophically failed at their sole purpose for being on the payroll.

For two and a half centuries, Tokugawa Japan sat largely in isolation and internally focused on managing the balance of power among feudal lords, who were constantly jockeying for position and the chance to become the next shogun.  Political intrigue became the chief weapon and most day-to-day law enforcement was abandoned as warriors were pulled away from the common folk and centrally managed within castle towns.

Villages became more autonomous and left to deal with their own issues so long as they paid their taxes and avoided disturbances.  This is one of the reasons that Japanese culture is so focused on social tolerance and group cohesion today.  Survival and prosperity under the  Tokugawa required settling disputes without involving formal policing mechanisms, even though the people were still steadily paying more for them.

At the same time, the samurai became stagnant in the production of security, ultimately leaving the country vulnerable to external subjugation.  As a result, the Tokugawa regime had no answer to the invasion of American Black Ships under Commodore Perry in 1853.  The Tokugawa Shogunate’s ultimate failure to fulfill its purported reason being, to protect the nation and quell uncivilized actors and behaviors, left the country in a state of panic and the Japanese premium on “wa”, social harmony, devolved into turbulent factional conflict.

The upheaval imparted by the Shogun’s protective stagnation led to unrest and fighting in the city of Kyoto, the official capital and seat of the Emperor.  The Shogun was responsible for administering justice on behalf of the Emperor, considered a living deity too pure to be sullied with managing administrative tasks, and the miscarriage of this responsibility prompted calls for a return to imperial rule.

As various factions agitated for ‘new safeguards’ against foreign invasion, the Shogunate scrambled for a solution to the chaos within the capital.  Since the majority of ranked samurai had grown indolent in their comfortable tax-funded sinecures, more bureaucrat than warrior after more than two and a half centuries of idle living, the Shogun commissioned bands of ‘ronin’ mercenaries to suppress the insurrection.

While there were a number of different groups set about on a variety of tasks during that chaotic period, the story of the Shinsengumi “Newly Selected Corps” is illustrative of a predictable pattern applicable to breakdowns in social order.

What is significant about the Shinsengumi is that the core of this group was drawn from a martial arts school.  After a short period of internal ordering, the commander and vice-commander of the Shinsengumi were Kondo Isami and Hijikata Toshizo.  Both Isami and Toshizo were prominent members of the Shieikan Dojo training hall, of a unique school of swordsmanship known as Tennen Rishin Ryu.

Interestingly, Tennen Rishin Ryu was innovated between 1790 and 1800 by Kondo Kuronosuke who found most existing schools lacking martial integrity after close to two hundred years of relative peace under Tokugawa rule.  Kondo Isami was the fourth inheritor of mainline Tennen Rishin Ryu and found the Shogun’s official training academy, the Kobusho, similarly lacking in spirit and rigor when appointed to instruct there in 1862.

The pattern repeats.  Allowing any entity a ‘monopoly on the use of force’ leads to a rise in the price of security and justice accompanied by a decreasing quality of service that continues until inevitably collapsing in a conflagration of infighting, usually accompanied by external incursion.

The decline and fall of the Roman Empire also illustrates this pattern of increased security and justice costs accompanied by deteriorating security conditions and widespread injustice.  Emperor Septimius Severus advised his successors in 211 A.D. to “enrich the troops, scorn everybody else”.  Political leaders are caught up in the dilemma of having to not only pay off popular supporters but, more importantly, warriors that will enforce their decrees.

Paradoxically, once warriors are comfortable in their positions, paid regardless of  performance, they begin to ossify and cease to be effective or, at the very least, effective relative to the cost of employing them.  This is why political regimes fall.  Absent rational economic calculation in the production of security and justice, quality service and customer satisfaction are lost under political monopoly and bureaucratic management.