A the wall street journal story illustrates the economics of violence, what UCLA economist Jack Hirshleifer has called “the dark side of the force.” Referring to a moving speech delivered by Vladimir Putin, the WSJ mentions a bellicose supporter, one of Instagram’s “military bloggers”, who himself made catchy statements (“As risks rise at home, Putin takes anti-Western rhetoric to new heights», October 2, 2022):
Another military blogger, Vladlen Tatarsky, recorded his own Kremlin video with a different message.
“We will defeat everyone, we will kill everyone, we will loot whoever we need, and everything will be as we like it,” he said.
This project has been a frequent feature of human history. Civilization – which cannot be classical-liberal civilization, or it is regimentation – attempted to replace violence with the ideal of an abstract social order based on voluntary exchange. But potential conquerors, killers and raiders will always exist. If they can be bribed into choosing the prosperity of a free society over following their tribal instincts, the problem is solved. (This is easier to achieve within a single society where institutions for gaining consent are available.) When that doesn’t work, fighting them or being prepared to fight is the only solution, although defending the liberal civilization imposes severe constraints on the means used. Of course, particular caution is also called for in the nuclear age.