In the last year or so I have really delved into the philosophy and economics of liberty. As my personal education has progressed, I have moved from a minarchist position into a voluntarist/anarcho-capitalist position. Since I have begun arguing for the the end of the state, the number one question I always receive is “what about the police — how will we be protected from criminals?” Of course, I have many a responses for this, of which I won’t dump on you all now (but feel free to ask questions in the comments).
However, one the easiest fall backs that any free-market ararchist can use is the old concept of supply and demand: If there is a need for a service, the market will provide.” We can add the recent revolution in Egypt as another example to the list of this being the case.
When Cairo first erupted into revolution, the choas on the street was bewildering and confusing. As the masses grew, police were pulled from all corners of the city to “control” the demostrations. This left a void in protection as the police were now no longer in these areas to scare off looters. Mobs began ran sacking houses and stealing property throughout the city, as the state felt it was more useful of their police force’s time to fire tear gas and bean bags at peaceful people than to protect individuals’ property. So the people took action.
Civilians armed with knives, axes, golf clubs, homemade firebombs, metal bars and makeshift spears watched over many neighborhoods in the sprawling capital of 18 million, defending their families and homes against widespread looting and lawlessness.
Mohammed Gaafar, a 34-year old salesman in the Nasr City area, said his neighborhood watch organized at the behest of residents, who appealed for protection of their property, sending out the call from the local mosque.
“I feel betrayed by the police,” said Gaafar, who has armed himself with stones, a stick and a firebomb in a soda bottle. “They have to be tried for the protesters they killed and for their treason. They left the country to be looted. I am angry at the regime.”
Akram al-Sharif, a 33-year old Cairo resident who lives in one of the affluent compounds in the city’s west at the edge of the desert, said residents hired 20 Bedouins with guns and organized into groups to protect the five gates of the compound.
“I am happy this is happening. There was solidarity,” he said. But he criticized the military for failing to protect private property after the police vanished on Saturday, perhaps because officials thought they were only fanning the flames of unrest.
These people saw the gap that was left in the market when the police left adn took action to protect their own property with out any coercion involved. Whether they paid others or armed themselves, they knew that it was ultimately up to them to protect their property.
For those who think the state is necessary because it “protects property,” the example of Egypt should send a pretty clear message to the contrary. When the state’s choice is between protecting its citizens from criminals or making sure the bureaucrats stay in power, it will always choose the latter.Published in