“Why did American colonists self-organize and start the war in the first place? British were not killing anyone, nor forcing anyone to become or stop being British – they mostly wanted to get their taxes, just like with any State of today.”
Many colonists were opposed to the break with Britain and still others were indifferent. The treatment of the loyalists (so-called) hardly bears scrutiny.
“Why would a rational adult choose to go to a war and bear a tremendous risk (of death or, even worse, horrific mutilation) for what? To get a tax break?? I know it’s a silly question, but right now I’m stuck on it.”
It’s not a silly question. Rightly or wrongly, some of the colonists regarded the imposition of taxes upon them which they had no say over as a form of tyranny. It is ironic that the so-called Whiskey Rebellion was an outbreak of tax resistance against the new Federal state!
“If a neighboring State tries a “gentle” takeover of an anarchic territory, by simply saying – we are here just to collect some taxes and that’s mostly it, then what incentive would anarchists have to fight and maybe lose their lives… it seems they would need to value their anarchy very dearly. Regular soldiers (conscripts of a State) do not need to value much of anything, many of them fight because they are forced to.”
The Roman Empire was largely concerned with collecting taxes from conquered territories. Broadly speaking, once the taxes were paid, the Romans weren’t too concerned about matters of religion or local government. Of course, if the taxes are not forthcoming then violence is used to extract them – nothing gentle about that.