Some economics of invasion and the state

(I am not an economist - these are just some rough ideas.)

If someone overthrows the state, he overthrows it both for himself and his neighbor. So the overthrow of a state is a public good, and the public good is undersupplied. Consequence: states will not be overthrown even if everyone would benefit from their overthrow.

But if someone could, in effect, overthrow the state for himself without overthrowing it for his neighbor, then the overthrow of the state would be a private good, and it would not be undersupplied. Consequence: if everyone benefits from the (piecemeal) overthrow of their state, then states will be overthrown.

Two ways of effectively overthrowing a state for oneself but not for one's neighbor:

1) Emigrating.

2) Hiding one's person, activities and property from the state.

Farmers living near each other are easy targets, because a key asset, land, cannot easily be emigrated or hidden from the state, and the overthrow of the state is a public good if (as is likely) the nearness of the farmers places them into the territory of the same state.

A state which relied on a single farmer would have its own resources limited by that farmer's productivity. But a state which relied on many farmers living in an area would have at its disposal resources taken from all the farmers together, which it could use to put down an uprising by a single farmer. Of course, if all the farmers rose together to overthrow the state then the state would not have a chance. But the overthrow of the state is a public good, and public goods are undersupplied.

But how can a state arise? If farmers are living together, a single invader slightly stronger and more determined than one farmer can defeat the farmer. Having defeated the farmer, the invader can use the farmer's assets to strengthen its power and defeat the next farmer. One by one the farmers fall and the invader's strength snowballs. The farmers could defeat the invader by acting together, but repulsion of an invader is a public good, and public goods are undersupplied.

On the face of it, the economics seems to favor conquest and state, if people's key assets are hard to move, hard to hide, and located near enough each other for a single invader/state to conquer/claim as territory. If any of these three changes, then the economics of the state and of successful invasion, which depends on all of these, changes and possibly reverses.

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the cypherpunk program.

You are leading up to the conclusion that states become harder sustain in an economy of ideas, relationships, and reputations, rather than land.

The cypherpunk program, of course, failed - dismally - yet it lives.


That's the idea of seasteading...

How does dynamic geography

How does dynamic geography solves the problem mentioned by Constant ?

it is a new world out there

Considering only economic motives in the bad old days wars were fought for slaves, for land (living space), for raw materials, and for seaport access. In this century the places where the workers have the highest standard of living - Tai Wan, South Korea, England, Hong Kong, Switzerland - have the least in natural resources. The working people in OPEC countries are in economic bad shape.

Taxation is a form of

Taxation is a form of slavery. Wars can be fought to consolidate one's power and thus one's ability to raise taxes.