"Whatever is not nailed down is mine," reportedly said Colis P. Huntington, one of the great nineteenth century robber barons. "Whatever I can pry loose is not nailed down." In any community, there are two basic ways of dealing with the generic problem of robber barons, freebooters, and pillagers. The first, the "individual method," leaves responsibility for protection to each individual or family unit, which must then maintain its own operational arsenal, adequate for the dangers it anticipates. This method is inherently inefficient, for a pillager will always find some target that is weaker, while fear of the pillager will cause all others to over-invest in defense in order to ensure their security. The second, the "collective method," involves pooling the resources of the entire community and establishing a credible system in which an attack on any one member will be viewed as an attack on all -- an attack to which all will respond.
W. M. Reisman,
Some Lessons from Iraq: International Law and Democratic Politics,
Yale J. Int'l L.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjil/vol16/iss1/6