Who Guards the Guardians? Will the Warlords Take Over?

From: T
Sent: Monday, April 08, 2019 2:39 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Dodge City; by Tom Clavin

“Dodge City” by Tom Clavin

Hi Walter,

I’m reading “Dodge City” by Tom Clavin.  I’ve come to an interesting bit of the book about 1/3 of the way through it. Seems that in the winter of 1876/1877 Dodge City got a bit quiet due to blizzards and lack of cowboys and cattle.

Bat Masterson left first for the gold fields of Deadwood, South Dakota. Wyatt Earp soon followed in March of 1877. The lawmen were no longer making $2.50 for an arrest for a human and there weren’t even any rabid dogs to shoot for that smaller bounty.

My question is this;

Is it okay for a Libertarian to hire out his own self defense? And if so; how does the Libertarian control such a situation? How does a Libertarian control the “lawman” he’s hired?

The classic story is of Sicily. The landholders hired gunmen to protect their lands. Within a generation the gunmen owned all the land and became the Mafia; which we still have today.

Is there a way out of this puzzle?


From: Walter Block [mailto:wblock@loyno.edu]
Sent: Monday, April 08, 2019 10:32 AM
To: T

Subject: RE: Dodge City; by Tom Clavin

Dear T:

Yes, of course, it is entirely compatible with libertarianism to hire a body guard, a private policeman.

Your challenge is the classic question of “Who guards the guardians.” There are no perfect solutions. Here’s an excellent analysis of this, though:

Murphy, Robert P. 2005.  “But Wouldn’t Warlords Take Over?” July 7; http://mises.org/story/1855; http://mises.org/library/wouldnt-warlords-take-over

Best regards,



5:13 pm on August 12, 2019