When Guerrilla Warfare Can Succeed – And When it Will Fail

by Ryan McMaken

Murray Rothbard was relatively fond of guerrilla warfare. He wasn’t fond of war, of course, which he considered to be synonymous with mass murder, but he believed guerrilla warfare — conducted by non-state institutions — to be more morally legitimate than state-centric conventional warfare.

Modern warfare, after all, is primarily the domain of states, and its the reason states have been so successful. As historians of the state, such as Charles Tilly, Hendrik Spruyt, and Martin van Creveld, have long noted, the state is exceptionally skilled at warfare. It’s why the modern bureaucratic state has endured as long as it has, and why it has crushed most competing institutions, such as churches, private defense forces, and family clans.

With the state so successful at war, is there any hope for non-states ever competing with states on the battlefield?

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