The Journal of Libertarian Studies

Home | Mises Library | Governmental Inevitability: Reply to Holcombe

Governmental Inevitability: Reply to Holcombe


Tags Political Theory

05/19/2021Walter Block

Holcombe (2004) has written an interesting and challenging but ultimately fallacious essay on government. In his view, this institution is “unnecessary, but inevitable.” I heartily agree with the former contention, but adamantly reject the latter. Worse is the implication for him of the supposed inevitability of the state: since it will come about in any case, we men of good will should strive to set one up ourselves in cases where this has not yet come about, so that our version of it may serve to stave off a later and more virulent strain of it. Says Holcombe (2004, 326): “If people create their own government preemptively, they can design a government that may be less predatory than the one that outside aggressors otherwise would impose on them.” This is akin to the cowpox smallpox technique. Infect the patient with the former, which is a mild strain, so that his white blood cells can create antibodies to fight it off; then, when the stronger smallpox attacked, the defenses would already be set up, and strengthened, able to fight off the disease.

Note: The views expressed on are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.

Contact Walter Block

Walter Block is the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair in Economics at Loyola University, senior fellow of the Mises Institute, and regular columnist for

Click here to see an extensive online compendium of Dr. Block's publications.

Click here for a complete list of Dr. Block's books.