The US Constitution is today a very ambiguous text. The Second Amendment constitutes the most surprising (for foreigners) and certainly most important adjuvant to the original Constitution. While it certainly constitutes a guarantee of freedom additional to the First Amendment, it was clearly promoted by Madison in an hypocritical attempt at gaining the support of states, and not with actual care for freedom and protection against federal tyranny. Nevertheless the spirit of its adoption (starting from Madison’s promise to the electors of Virginia that allowed him to defeat James Monroe) commits to a single interpretation which is that it precludes any government intervention in markets and thus involves the sole spontaneous order (and a voluntarily-only funded government, a charity with no power to regulate, draft, declare war, engage the responsibility of the people « under » it or give any orders – a simple think-tank). Even though Madison’s hypocrisy is palatable, additional propaganda (esp. his famous 1795 article on « war, taxes and debt ») confirms that the anarcho-capitalist interpretation of the Second Amendment is the right one. This article then discusses how the spontaneous order caters very simply to security, defense, justice and money.
The Second Amendment is easy to read. The author would like to point how the progresses of technology have allowed what was not possible to envision 230 years ago – especially the rapid communications through Internet, algorithms, and tactical & strategical nuclear weapons. The Second Amendment’s intrinsically anarcho-capitalist content could not give birth to a really sustainable model, outside of the more typical ideas of « systematic decentralization » and extremely limited government ; but now the game has been transformed radically.
James Madison cannot be defined as a true liberal. Serving in the Congress, he supported granting it the right to set tariffs on foreign imports to raise revenues for the war together with Washington and Hamilton. His Federalist Paper no 10 legitimized centralization of government with the well-known hypocritical idea that despotism would tend to prosper in little communities (and not in a big empire, as history of the world already had shown many times in the Old Continent). Madison opportunistically proposed the Bill of Rights as he faced a close race against James Monroe for a seat in the US House of Representatives, in the state of Virginia, as a guarantee against a text which he himself had fathered earlier. The Bill of Rights was solely an electoral promise, yet it gained the genuine support of enough constituents to get Madison elected against Monroe and eventually became part of the US Constitution. Confronting Federalist Paper no 46 to the absence of any Bill of Rights in the original Constitution and observing how Madison’s promise of a Bill of Rights came in the context of a closely tied electoral race suffices to conclude on James Madison’s hypocrisy regarding limitations to central government. Nevertheless it is obvious that the Bill of Rights should be read, today, with the eyes of those in Virginia that decided to support Madison against Monroe because of his promise.
The text of the Second Amendment, in particular, should not leave any debate open. « Shall not be infringed » is a categorical affirmation that excludes any form of reduction of power to possess and bear weapons. Taxation, tariffs, intervention of governments on markets, forced incorporation of citizens in armies, limits on the free movement of citizens and of their products, all forms of interventions with what Ludwig von Mises calls the ever-spinning economy in fact infringe on the citizens’ ability to own the best weapons to defend freedom. The word of the Second Amendment is anarcho-capitalist and many of Madison’s arguments can be seen to have suggested to the general public this interpretation, in his hypocritical campaigning typical of any politician nowadays. The Federalist Papers are a typical political tract full of promises that many were certainly tempted to believe. The Federalist Paper no 46, which also discusses militias, starts with the claim that « [adversaries of the Constitution] must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone… » and goes on to explain that militias would naturally organize against a standing army threatening freedom. The idea that is presented here by Madison (and also promoted among others by Tench Coxe) to the gullible resembles overtly the idea of spontaneous order ; the impulse to form a militia comes together with the impulse to trade to acquire wealthes to support that militia.
Furthermore the linking of that unlimited right to the idea that it is needed for the security of a free State clearly constitutes a definition of what freedom is : absolute absence of rules, of taxation, of draft etc. Anarcho-capitalism.
In looking at international relations today, it should be obvious that the only efficient form of guarantee for freedom and security is, realistically, tactical and strategical nuclear weapons (Joseph Newhard (2017) argues the same way). Ballistic nuclear missiles form the main bulk of the sovereignty of all States and there is no reason to pretend that they would not be covered by an amendment drafted in the purpose of preserving freedom. It is obvious how nuclear defense has guaranteed security to small States against much more numerous opponents (Israel is a simple example – see also Joseph Newhard (2018) for another argumentation on Israel’s nuclear deterrence and anarcho-capitalism) and how even the worse dictatorships (think of North Korea today for instance) can bring the US government to a stance of negociation thanks to their limited nuclear arsenal. Nuclear weapons are relatively easy to make, they can be fitted into small cases easy to carry and hide, their destructive power has no equal, and it should be underlined how a limited amount of warheads is enough to deter even a rival with many more missiles. Nuclear defense, in fact, has ensured the absence of world conflicts since 1945.
That private entities would 1. have an interest in developing nuclear weapons 2. manage them with care 3. organize spending much more efficiently should make no doubt… Private citizens or associations of citizens, or companies would be certainly interested – it is obviously a very powerful advertisement for your own product line to also offer for free to all citizens of a wide area where your manufactures are, the nuclear umbrella. However no company has an interest in spending anarchically and with no care for efficiency. It should be obvious as well how no private company has an interest in offensive behaviour which would immediately lead to its own destruction under legitimate actions of preventive strikes by other owners of nuclear weapons. The general efficiency of privatization extends to nuclear defense and private owners are obviously much better suited to manage it. A few nuclear warheads are enough to ensure the security of any country – maximizing power by multiplying layers (two fission stages instead of one around a fusion stage with more depleted uranium around, for instance, as in the original Tsar Bomba design that was to reach 100 megatons – it is even possible to produce much more powerful designs with more stages) allows to turn a single warhead into an extremely strong deterrence for enemy powers. Drone designs, satellite-based warheads, hypervelocity with statoreactors, for instance, allow to increase uncertainty without having to increase dramatically the number of warheads – it is enough to have threats hidden everywhere and radars and computation to identify incoming threats and trigger, perhaps autonomously as in the so-called « Dead Hand », a counter-strike. It is obvious that a big part of the spending of the Cold War was mostly linked to overbilling and retroceding in politicians’ private accounts1 and that nuclear deterrence has never been designed on the basis of cost-efficient solutions.
That all forms of government intervention in the economy limit the citizens’ ability to own the best ballistic missiles and submarines to carry them (etc) should make no doubt in all minds ; it is a simple consequence of the most basic rule of economics – Say’s Law. Only non-Popperian theories (Keynes’, for instance) come against. The idea of spontaneous organization is widely implied by all those who promoted the Second Amendment in the early days of the United States – in Federalist paper no 46, Madison repeats the idea that the threat to governments is « the people in arms », in which resides « the ultimate authority », and that those conducting these militias (states’ governments) would need to possess their « affection and confidence » ; his correspondant and ally Tench Coxe affirmed it as well, asking rhetorically in a widely reprinted article « Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? » ; Jefferson also repeated his attachment to that duty of the people to self-defend – for instance in his November 1787 letter to William S. Smith (« What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms »). Most famously, Madison himself tied the knot between the issues of standing armies, taxes and debt in his April 20, 1795 article (« Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few »). This piece, in a pamphlet published in Philadelphia, was certainly highly political and hypocritical from a man who supported a Constitution allowing Congress to tax people and to declare war (and who will eventually as President start a war in 1812), to blame taxes and war for the domination and oppression of the people, but this confirms again how the Second Amendment can be legitimately read as a true prohibition of all government interference in the economy and of all other constraints on the freedom of the citizenry.
The spontaneous organisation also makes no doubt from another point of view. The « well regulated » militia cannot be a forceful, highly motivated team of warriors if regulations infringe on the freedom of the citizens. Economics demonstrate how freedom of the individual is the best environment for production, especially for something that demands personal creativity such as organizing the defense of a territory. It is akin to any entrepreneurial activity – in fact most businesses involve the equivalent of a war plan to engage on a market, draw support of shareholders, find customers and convince them – the military activites are naturally no wonder to trained businessmen and businesswomen and many use to see years of military service as a training for later entrepreneurship. The best regulation is the natural order of self-government. Autonomy of the individual always makes it more productive. It is obvious how many citizens would come to the companies that offered a nuclear umbrella to a given area, ask questions, and how transparency would be natural in the networks of nuclear defense (even as concerns the radars and satellites accompanying it, and especially on a « Dead Hand » system). Any foreigner using these informations to e.g. attack the satellites would de facto commit an assault legitimizing, certainly, a very strong and overwhelming retaliation…
As regards the issue of borders, as well, the issue should be a non-debate – and the basic idea of a popular militia coincides with anarcho-capitalism as social networks and right of any citizen to boycott and discriminate in all its contractual activities suffices to define a new dynamic of self defense without any central planning, relying solely on free wills and spontaneous cooperation. So long as some body needs to be organized to prevent the entry of some people into a given territory, it is an embryonic government and a future threat to the freedom of its citizens. One can simply imaginate, as an alternative to that organized body, voluntaryism by private entities and companies, based on e.g. reports of citizens and their own intelligence, regarding threats that could represent some foreign persons attempting to enter a given territory they committed themselves to watch, as a self-promotional stunt. We can imagine surprising ways of caring for the security of customers inside the territory protected by the « umbrella », e.g. flying in permanence drones above suspected intrants, while letting them free to move, to monitor them swiftly. Internet social networks matter as they also allow the spontaneous organization of the boycott of voluntary companies that would for instance trespass on the natural rights of foreigners (likewise regarding police and justice, of course – Internet social networks are the natural companion of the free market). Private police and justice firms can be expected to form very dense networks of cooperation relying on full transmission of informations and of course on the mutual recognition of decisions (to allow absence of contestation) and counting on the commitment of subscribers to provide, as well, as soon as needed, the information required to ensure their security or to warrant their innocence in front of another company. These cooperation networks would nevertheless certainly allow the entry of newly founded companies that provide full transparency to the others. Issues of criminality such as drug trafficking immediately disappear with government (and its diplomatic bags full of cocaine… as noted already by Frederic Bennett at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 1984). Prostitution is a separate issue in which the consent is extremely arduous to warrant on the side of the prostitute – Mises himself knew it, pointing in Socialism how prostitutes are not free but « belong to the owner of the brothel » and how prostitution is not linked to capitalism but reminiscent of older traditions such as militarism ; paid sex is extremely rarely consensual, the links between brothels and the mafia or mobs have been widely reported (in Germany’s legal brothels, for instance, many cases have arisen), and the only sensible solution is a ban which would target customers. Private police networks, for instance, funded by persons agreeing with Mises, such as the author of this article, could enforce such a ban by organizing the hunt for « customers » and jailing them with their own means based on relatively moderate sanctions for first-time convicts and increased sanctions for recidivists. In addition, it should be noted how legal prostitution increases pressure on prostitutes to accept more brutality from customers, or unprotected sex (as noted by a report of the Court of Accounts of Geneva in Switzerland in 20142). In general the tolerance on prostitution attracts mafia rings and lays the basis for increased insecurity in the areas of sex « work », notwithstanding the obvious human suffering, and an anarcho-capitalist society tolerating it would see the overall cost of security increase significantly.
The right of all private business to define which forms of payments they accept and at which rate, is obvious. The right to discriminate between customers as well. It is part of the self-defense of society against e.g. foreign invasions, and part of a process involving social networks – allowing also other forms of boycott, permitting the defense of other causes – for instance environmentalists boycotting hunters or big polluters (and the reverse !), KKK members boycotting persons of colour, Jewish citizens boycotting Nazis, etc. As concerns private currencies, in the absence of government and so with (obviously) no legal tender, all forms of commodity can be used yet one reliable solution is certainly the use of shares, bonds, other financial products, traded in nature or virtually with blockchain security – frangible, easy to carry, linked to property (right to dividend and vote, or to coupon and to a final refund, etc) – together with other commodities such as gold, cannabis oil, or whatever is seen as useful (even alcohol). The bonds, shares, could be divided easily (as if today somebody came to the mall or the baker with a phone containing a virtual wallet with many stocks and bonds, and paid e.g. an apple pie with 5/1000th of a Google share – that is a simple example showing what is spontaneously possible ; the company would simply need to accept that voters, in the general assembly, vote with percentages of shares, and grant percentages of dividend in proportion as well). In this system no company has an interest in overflooding the market with bond or share emissions (unlike what States always do with fiat3) for it would certainly rapidly lead to not only a fall of average purchasing power of the bond or share, but also increase the risks of a company buyout. The main principle is that the commodities balance each other – each has its specific values. Bonds, shares, are virtual and can be traded all over the world instantly and rely on the value of a company that can be asserted by each one, especially if the company itself does the effort of providing good accountability on its financial situation (market competition incentivizes as always a relative transparency). Cannabis oil can be kept for years, has enormous medical properties, and constitutes a simple complement especially as technology shall certainly allow simple portable devices permitting for each user at a low cost the spectrometry of the product through the glass of a bottle, to measure the grade in phytocannabinoids (« is it really 15 % CBD and 0,3 % THC? ») without breaking the seal of the manufacturer. The spontaneous order will certainly produce many other currencies and Internet networks allow for immediate comparison of prices…
The idea that any form of State is needed for security and defense is erroneous. What people really want, they invest to achieve it – by organizing charities to ensure security if they feel it needed, by asking some to pay more or by refusing to contract with those they despise, etc. If they do not want it, they should not be forced to pay for it – no central organization should have any power to decide for them – market and spontaneous organization provide a natural balance, as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Murray Rothbard and many others have argued. What was implied in the wording of the Second Amendment, is now fully possible thanks to new technologies that resolve all the old issues of currency, security, defense and minting. Government really should be considered as, quintessentially, an old makeshift solution that definitively failed and essentially a thing left for museums, together with dinosaur skeletons and cubist paintings.
Madison, James, (and Alexander Hamilton & John Jay). The Federalist Papers, 1787-1788
Newhard, Joseph Michael. 2017. “Minimum Deterrence as a Vulnerability in the Market Provision of National Defense.” Libertarian Papers 9, no. 1: 56–76
Newhard, Joseph Michael. 2018. “A Strategic Doctrine of Disproportionate Force for Decentralized Asymmetric Warfare.” Libertarian Papers 10, no. 2: 207-231
Von Mises, Ludwig. Socialism, 1922
1For the period after the Cold War this process is directly evidenced by research of Mark Skidmore and his team showing $21 trillion in unauthorized spending by the Pentagon as well as the department of Housing and Urban Development over 1998 to 2015 – see https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2017/msu-scholars-find-21-trillion-in-unauthorized-government-spending-defense-department-to-conduct/ – the authors do not conclude on the retroceding process but it should be obvious as those yielding power to tax cannot be expected to spur money without very significant compensations.
3James Madison expressed his fears regarding paper currencies in his young years, and regarding Hamilton’s national bank projects in 1791 (unsuccessfully)…
I also recommend reading my working paper on uranium mine death camps (some newer findings here) and my article on the repressed bisexuality of the human being & the spontaneous order.