Gustave De Molinari and The Production of Security
Gustave De Molinari was a radical classical liberal associated with Frederic Bastiat and the French liberal school of economics. In his work "The Production of Security", Molinari was the first economist to propose the possibility of free competition for the production of security, which had been an untouched matter by laissez-faire economists up until this point. Frederic Bastiat, who was a fairly radical classical liberal economist for his time, initially was tempted to disagree with Molinari on this point, but when he was on his deathbed not long after the release of "The Production of Security" apparently he aknowledged that Molinari was the continuer of his work.
Molinari did not see any reason why economists should argue for free competition in all sorts of areas or industries, and then suddenly create a gigantic caviat for the production of security and arbitration. If there should be consumer choice and free entry to the provision of all sorts of products and services such as food, clothing, shelter and all sorts of types of industries, then why not security and arbitration? If there should be no legal monopoly on such things, why wouldn't this also apply to security and arbitration? Molinari came to oppose both "monopoly and communism" in any industry. In other words, he opposed both state and absolute communal control of industry, viewing free competition as the alternative.
Many contemporary free market anarchists consider Molinari to at least be a proto-anarchist, since he had technically surpassed the formal concept of "limited government" from an economic perspective. By the very least, what Molinari realized is a necessary component of market anarchism. Laissez-faire economists prior to Molinari simply did not question the state production of security or arbitration itelf. With this being aknowledged, Molinari never formally called himself an anarchist, but he did become associated with the movement known as panarchism, which tends to favor pluralism and legal aterritorialism. The degree to which panarchism is even distinguishable from anarchism without adjectives is debatable.
While he is not the most well-known historical figure, Molinari more or less represents the final conclusion of the French liberal school of economics and the first thinker to formally propose free competition in the production of security. In this regaurd, Molinari does have historical significance as a precursor to free market anarchism. Molinari's work was also circulated in America and partially praised by the individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker, who favored free competition in the production of security himself. The revival of Molinari as a key figure is partially due to Murray Rothbard highlighting him and writting an editor's preface or foreward to the most recent English edition of "The Production of Security".
To an extent, the significance of Molinari's contribution has alot to do with how early on in time it was that he initially made it. "The Production of Security" was released in 1849, and the idea of free competition for the production of security was largely absent from laissez-faire economists throughout the rest of the century. Even the early leaders of the Austrian school of economics did not really touch the question. In fact, it more or less wasn't until the time of Murray Rothbard that a laissez-faire economist would meaningfully press the issue of free competition in the production of security. With this historical understanding, Molinari was quite radical for his time and he definitely has significance.