I realized from the reaction of some people here that I did not assure readers I had fully understood Gene Callahan’s point, when he claimed that drug cartels today offer a real-world glimpse into what Rothbardian defense agencies would look like. So I wrote a follow-up post to be sure I acknowledged Gene’s exact point, and contrasted it with my own:
Thus, to reiterate, Callahan looks at, say, Colombian or Mexican drug cartels, and he sees: These are people who are operating outside of State interference and control. This is what the world would look like if we followed Rothbard’s advice and pulled back the State from every sector, not just the production and distribution of cocaine.
But hold on a second. There’s another effect too, when the government decides to make cocaine (say) illegal: It is now greatly magnifying the role of the State in this sector. In particular, there is an enormous “gang”–the biggest in society–of men with guns (and tanks, bombers, and missiles if push comes to shove) who will throw businesspeople in a cage, or possibly even execute them, for engaging in what otherwise would have been peaceful commerce. This aspect of drug prohibition obviously represents a move away from Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism.
I end with this observation, which is absolutely devastating to the Callahanian position for anyone who has the moral courage to truly ponder it:
So, if Callahan is right, then we should see pot dealers acting as violently as cocaine dealers. But if I’m right, we should see much less violence when it comes to the distribution of marijuana, compared to cocaine. And although I couldn’t find hard numbers to back it up, I think casual observation says that pot dealers are clearly less violent, as a general rule.