“It is often suggested that governments exist to fight poverty, deal with crime, and deter foreign enemies. So holy is this dogma that to question it is perceived as utterly incredible. But it is precisely at this juncture that one realizes what gives any government value: the problems it is meant to address. If there is no demand, there is no need for a supply. To sell a supply, a consistent demand has to established.
This is why governments cannot remain peaceful and prosperous long-term, for then their necessity would be questioned. (Is it really necessary to tax everyone so much if we’re not at war?) Poverty, crime, and foreign enemies are problems too lucrative to let go. Two very different 20th century thinkers, Murray Rothbard and Michel Foucault, observed this tension in different spheres of society.
Rothbard noted how important war is to the legitimacy of the state:
War is the great excuse for mobilizing all the energies and resources of the nation, in the name of patriotic rhetoric, under the aegis and dictation of the State apparatus. It is in war that the State really comes into its own: swelling in power, in number, in pride, in absolute dominion over the economy and the society. Society becomes a herd, seeking to kill its alleged enemies, rooting out and suppressing all dissent from the official war effort, happily. (For a New Liberty, 347)