How one carries on in the face of unavoidable catastrophe is a matter of temperament. In high school, as was custom, I had chosen a verse by Virgil to be my motto: Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito. Do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it. I recalled these words during the darkest hours of the war. Again and again I had met with situations from which rational deliberation found no means of escape; but then the unexpected intervened, and with it came salvation. I would not lose courage even now. I wanted to do everything an economist could do. I would not tire in saying what I knew to be true.
A ruler always assures his victims that their loss of liberties is the price they must pay for the additional security (order) he purports to establish.
Well might we question whether the ruler has either the intention or the capability to reduce the degree of social disorder. Plenty of evidence exhibits state-ridden societies boiling with disorder. In the United States, for example, a country brimming with official “protectors” of every imaginable stripe, the populace suffered in 2004, according to figures the government itself endorses, approximately 16,000 murders, 95,000 forcible rapes, 401,000 robberies, 855,000 aggravated assaults, 2,143,000 burglaries, 6,948,000 larcenies and thefts, and 1,237,000 motor vehicle thefts (U.S. Census Bureau 2007, 191). The governments of the United States have taken the people’s liberties—if you don’t think so, you need to spend more time reading U.S. Statutes at Large and the Code of Federal Regulations, not to mention your state and local laws and ordinances—but where’s the protective quid pro quo? They broke the egg of our liberties, without a doubt, but where’s the bloody omelet of personal protection and social order?
Unlike the forced exchanges and coerced arrangements enforced by the state, the protective and productive innovations of a spontaneous nonstate order can achieve acceptance only voluntarily, which is to say, only when all who participate in them expect them to produce net benefits. Consider, for example, the householder who keeps a watchful eye on his neighbor’s property when the owner is away, just as the neighbor will watch his property when he is away, and contrast this simple, effective cooperative form of protection with the faux protection of the state’s police officer, who occupies himself at great public expense driving about aimlessly, harassing citizens pointlessly, or loitering in the doughnut shop. Neighborliness spreads naturally and beneficially, whereas state “protection” spreads cancerously and harmfully. The one preserves liberties, the other destroys them.