The Libertarian Lesson From ‘Downfall’

by | Jul 23, 2023

Once small government advocates concede that war is a euphemism for theft funded mass murder, taxation is theft, and economic regulation turns productive people into “criminals”, they will frequently say, “We at least need a government to protect us from other governments!”.

Set aside the fact that death by government from wars, starvation blockades, and genocides yield a result no private organization could ever come close to, since no one imagines private groups have an arbitrary right to initiate violence against peaceful people.

This mentality ignores the economic reality that one group having a judicial monopoly on an entire geographical area, means that other governments only have to occupy a country’s capital buildings in order to “take it over”.

The excellent WWII movie, Downfall (2004), focuses on the National Socialist government of Germany losing control of Berlin (the capital of Germany) to the Soviet’s. The reason Berlin of all cities was the downfall of the Third Reich, was because that was the central point of the government’s control over the people of Germany. Once that area is taken over, and the masses of people have been trained to answer to the people who occupy those buildings, the country has effectively been conquered.

Even today, the War in Ukraine is frequently referred to as the “Battle for Kyiv“, knowing the implications of how powerful it is to occupy a country’s capital.

Under governments, nations essentially put all their eggs in one basket so to speak. Under a free market, no group would have a recognized judicial monopoly in the form of a capital, making it far more costly for other gangs or governments to take control of millions of peoples lives through military intervention.

Progressives and Conservatives alike, always warn us about the potential dangers of free market monopoles, while advocating the state monopolize law and order, compulsory schooling, taxation, the money supply, and a host of other vitally important aspects of society.

It’s true that monopolies give us higher prices and poorer quality than we would otherwise have under competition. It’s also true, that this economic concept applies to government monopolies as well.

Far from being a Utopian fantasy, private security is already all around us. Recently I witnessed a company experience a Ransomware attack. Every file that made their company what it is, was in danger. At no point did anyone say, “Let’s call 911 and the FBI and the NSA they can protect our property!” They immediately called a private IT company in Arizona, got a hold of SentinelOne private Cyber Security, used Google Cloud Security to back up protected files, and PayPal private security to keep their financial assets safe.

When push came to shove and they needed their most valuable assets protected, they went to private security and ignored the state completely knowing it would be a waste of time.

At shopping malls, baseball games, banks, bars, hotels, amusement parks, and concerts we see private security voluntarily providing what the state claims only they can give us.

It’s time we stop having double standards. If government employees can’t voluntarily compete for our hard earned money, they should go bankrupt and cease to exist.

I’ll end with a quote by author, Michael Malice:

If the government didn’t have a monopoly on security, only rich people would be able to have security just like when the government got out of other businesses, the only cars produced were limousines, the only clothes produced were tuxedos and the only food produced was foie gras. 

– Michael Malice, July 26th, 2022 (Twitter)

About Keith Knight

Keith Knight is Managing Editor at the Libertarian Institute, host of the Don't Tread on Anyone podcast and editor of The Voluntaryist Handbook: A Collection of Essays, Excerpts, and Quotes.

Our Books

latest book lineup.

Related Articles