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Minarchists: You’re Really Anarchists!

give peace a chance

It was just another day of polite sparring with minarchists – those in favor of minimal government – when I realized that minarchists are actually anarchists! I was bowled over by the realization that limited government fans who won’t force me to participate in their government forfeit that organization’s claim to being a government.

Minarchism: Just Police, Courts and National Defense

Minarchists, to be clear, are those who think government is needed, but that it should be kept as minimal as possible. Many think government should be limited to just the protection of life, liberty and property. Minarchists don’t want their government interfering in economic matters and envision it as only consisting of police, courts and a national defense.

Minarchists Won’t Initiate Force

But when I deploy Stefan Molyneux’s “Against Me” argument, the minarchists inevitably fold. “No,” they say, “I would never force you to submit to my ideal government.” Or, “You can opt out,” they say, “as long as you don’t initiate force against anyone who does subscribe to my ideal government.” Minarchists understand the Non-Aggression Principle, so that’s not a surprise.

To be Government, its Powers must be Exclusive

“A government,” Ayn Rand said, “is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area.” Agree with her or not, but the key concepts of “exclusive” and “given geographical area” are indisputably unique to governments. If there are multiple governments holding the same powers over the same geographical area, by definition they’re not governments anymore.

If I Can Opt Out, it’s NOT Government Any More

All it takes is one person to opt out of a government in order for it to no longer be a government. If I can leave the minarchists’ government, I can also start my own and offer defense and arbitration services in competition with them. Since there are now two players in the market for defense services, neither is government because neither has exclusive power over a given geographical area.

Minarchy Inevitably Evolves into Anarchy

This puts my new defense and arbitration services company on equal footing with the Organization Formerly Known as Government (OFKAG, i.e., the minarchists’ limited government). The OFKAG is now just a private membership organization that collects dues from its members and renders services. A free market in “governmental” services has arrived. The state has been abolished. Welcome to anarchy!

No Force, No Government

This analysis illustrates a key point about government: without the use of coercion, it inevitably fails. Governments depend on the initiation of force to survive. Without force, it ceases to be a government. This is why people say that government is force. Many government fans have trouble integrating this key concept into their existing world view.

Minarchists Stick with AT&T (OFKAG)

Compare this to the 1984 breakup of AT&T. Instead of one phone (government) company for all, we now have multiple choices. The different organizations will compete strenuously for customers. Each month they’ll contact you offering a better deal than before. Some will prefer to stay with the old and established AT&T (OFKAG) while others will select the services they need a la carte from the new competitors (Sprint, MCI, etc.). People will be able to contract just those services they really want and switch from one company to another when they’re not satisfied.

Irrational Fascination with Limited Government

Minarchists are just anarchists who hold a romantic (yet irrational) fascination with limited government but don’t mind if the rest of us go off and start our own organizations to provide defense and arbitration services. Minarchists are really anarchists who want to stay with the proverbial AT&T in a new free market in those services formerly only provided by governments. Where there are determined market anarchists, minarchism will inevitably evolve into market anarchism. The progression is unstoppable.

Former Minarchists: Join us Market Anarchists!

If your ideal is limited government, recognize the contradiction inherent in that line of thinking now. Don’t delay! Join with the anarcho-capitalists, the voluntaryists, the agorists and/or other market anarchists in order to build the political space you need to do what’s right for you and your loved ones. Using government to realize your ideals is a contradiction anyway.

Are We Already Living in the Stateless Society?

In fact – in a sense – we already live in a stateless society. We’re simply besieged by a powerful and unscrupulous gang with a great con job going. They think they own us. They think they have the right to run our lives. A minarchist asked me “What if, in an anarchy, a majority try to take power?” Well, isn’t that the situation we face today? Now what are you going to do about it? I, for one, am moving to New Hampshire where I’ll practice agorism. See you there!

Photo credit: skitzianist. Photo license.

By George Donnelly

I'm building a tribe of radical libertarians to voluntarize the world by 2064. Join me.

69 replies on “Minarchists: You’re Really Anarchists!”

You’re assuming here that the only competing government will simply be even more anarchistic and people will be able to freely choose the ‘government’ they wish to have over them. This is not the case when someone sets up some sort of totalitarian system and oppresses people and doesn’t allow them the freedom to leave for a competing government.

If you can set up a competing totalitarian government will the minarchist government let you do that? or will they exert the force of the minarchist military to free those whom you oppress?

This competing totalitarian system is exactly what I was getting at in the last paragraph. What you describe is precisely the situation we face today.

What are you going to do about? :)

Thanks for commenting.

Aren’t there some minarchists who believe that force may be required as well? If not, maybe there’s just no label for me. I agree with you that any size government requires use of force. The consequences of non-compliance must be considered when establishing the government and any law.

The con job isn’t just that the gang think they own us. It’s that peoples’ standards are too low… they think they have to settle for the lesser of 2 evils. It amazes me that people think there are only 2 choices in any election. Sometimes I wonder if “No Child Left Behind” was deliberate as a way to keep future voters dumb and responsive to fear-mongering. But people are starting to wake up– I see signs of it every day. The American spirit is alive and well.

Call me crazy, call me an optimist, but I believe a turning point will occur soon in the US, and not just in NH.

Hey George,

Great seeing you at the Liberty Forum. I just came across this article on reddit, and I think it’s a very cogent analysis. However, I think you’ll find that not all minarchists are really anarchists at heart. I’ve met many who *do* believe it justifiable to use force to compel people to support basic “necessary” functions of government, including (ironically) the protection of life, liberty, and property.

Ayn Rand believed that protection from coercion is a prerequisite to the transparency needed on a free market, and that therefore we could not develop competitive markets until after such protections were guaranteed, i.e., by a monopolistic agency such as government. Although she did not believe in forcing people to pay for government services, she did believe in preventing people from seeking such services from any other person or organization.

Hope you’re doing well, and don’t take too long to make it back to the Free State.

If we define minarchism as the belief that the state’s only legitimate function is to protect individuals form aggression, then does a minarchy have the power to force people to participate in it? And if it does force people to participate, will it still be a minarchy?

Do you think force should be required to keep people participating in a minarchy, Liberty Snippet?

I used to buy into Rand on this topic, but increasingly I think her position on it is just contrived. Was she just too scared to come out for anarchy?

Thanks for commenting guys. Mike, it was great to see you at the LF, too and look forward to hanging out in NH again soon. If all goes well, I’ll be looking for NH housing sometime in May. :)

If we define minarchism as the belief that the state’s only legitimate function is to protect individuals from aggression . . .

That’s not minarchism; that’s market anarchism. By defining minarchy that way, you’re excluding a significant portion of those calling themselves minarchists—those who support compulsory government and involuntary taxes.

BTW, Roy Childs’ open letter to Ayn Rand is a great resource for anyone calling themselves a minarchist.

Patrick, how can any form of societal organization that includes a state – a government – be called anarchism? Anarchism is a stateless – government-less – society.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_anarchism

[Market anarchism] refers to an individualist anarchist philosophy in which monopoly of force held by government would be replaced by a competitive market of private institutions offering security, justice, and other defense services.

IOW, there is _no_ state in market anarchism.

Who defines minarchism as including taxation? I have not heard of any kind of formal concept of minarchy that includes taxation. User fees , donations and lotteries, yes, but taxation, no.

I’ll check out that article. Thanks for commenting. :)

how can any form of societal organization that includes a state – a government – be called anarchism?

If “the state’s only legitimate function is to protect individuals from aggression”, that’s how. :)

I wouldn’t call that a state, which is why I wouldn’t define minarchism that way. What you described was free-market anarchism.

According to wikipedia,

market anarchists . . . see the minimal state as an unnecessary evil since it infringes on individual liberty by unnecessary taxation, wars, and police brutality. [emphasis added]

I agree that if a self-described minarchist believes that the state should be funded voluntarily and should only provide services on the free market, then they’re really an anarchist. But in my experiences, most minarchists believe in involuntary taxation, the “rule of law” and the social contract.

Under anarchy – any form of it – there is no state, period. If there is a state, it is not anarchy. And if it is anarchy, there is no state. ‘State’ and ‘anarchy’ are mutually exclusive. These are the definitions of these words.

If you want to change what words mean, by all means, but don’t expect others to understand you. And frankly arguing over commonly accepted definitions is a waste of time.

I defined state/government in the article above.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minarchism

minarchism … refers to a political ideology which maintains that the state’s only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression. Minarchists defend the existence of the state as a necessary evil, but assert that it may only act to protect the life, liberty, and property of each individual

IOW, when there is a state and “its only legitimate function is to protect individuals from aggression”, it is minarchy, by definition. That is the definition of the word.

Minarchists do NOT believe that their state should “only provide services on the free market”. Any organization that offers its services on the free market – by voluntary agreement – by definition is NOT a state.

I’m still waiting to see an example of formal minarchism that includes taxation.

What point are you attempting to make with the scare quotes?

With all due respect, you’re all mixed up. But thanks for commenting.

You are using a narrow definition of minarchy that excludes many self-declared minarchists. Many minarchists believe that involuntary taxation is a legitimate part of the state.

Minarchists do NOT believe that their state should “only provide services on the free market”.

There is no difference between a “state that provides protection services on the free market” (my phrasing) and a “state that protects individuals from aggression” (yours.) They are equivalent. By your own definition, minarchists believe that their state should only provide protection services on the free market. If you disagree, explain how the two phrases would differ in application.

I’m still waiting to see an example of formal minarchism that includes taxation.

Do you deny that some self-declared minarchists believe involuntary taxation is a legitimate function of the state?

Your definition of minarchism excludes too many supposed minarchists for me to accept it as a valid definition. Your definition of minarchism is equivalent to free-market anarchism.

Hi all,
Here are my thoughts on some of your comments and questions. I’m a novice at inline-quoting bloggy stuff, so please bear with me.

George says:
“With all due respect, you’re all mixed up. But thanks for commenting.”

Yes and yes. Yes, I also appreciate the good discussion and comments. And yes, at least speaking for myself, I’m very confused. I’d never heard of “minarchist” until yesterday, and I’m not any clearer on the term now. Going forward, I’ll try to avoid labels and just stick to ideas.

Mike says:
“I’ve met many who *do* believe it justifiable to use force to compel people to support basic “necessary” functions of government, including (ironically) the protection of life, liberty, and property.”

I believe this too, as long as the use of force is considered and checked. Too bad I missed this year’s LF; I’d love to meet you all next year.

George says:
“If we define minarchism as the belief that the state’s only legitimate function is to protect individuals form aggression, then does a minarchy have the power to force people to participate in it? Do you think force should be required to keep people participating in a minarchy, Liberty Snippet?”

Yikes. A state that forces people to participate sounds like a prison to me!

George says:
“I used to buy into Rand on this topic, but increasingly I think her position on it is just contrived. Was she just too scared to come out for anarchy?”

I don’t know about Rand… I only know her through 2 of her works, Atlas Shrugged and We the Living. I agree with a lot of her ideas there, though I admit skipping the manifesto part since it was way too long, and other things about her work confuse me. For example, why Dagny would dump Hank for John in Atlas Shrugged is a mystery I may never understand. ;)

But to the point of your question, Rand seems thoughtful, so I would guess that she considered anarchy and chose a different concept instead. As for myself, yes, anarchy scares me. The idea of private police (and the tyranny of the rich) scares me.

That said, I agree with George’s original blog post that tyranny takes many forms, and I don’t know which form is worse. When I lived in Sao Paulo as a kid, it was tyranny by military-government combined with crushing poverty in the favelas and orphanages we frequently visited and tried to help. Later, my Brazilian relatives told me about the tyranny of crime. Here in the states we see the tyranny of the majority in all kinds of ways like Prop 8 in California. And we have the generational economic tyranny of sneaky thugs, like in the Fed decision to take away all risk from investors in bad banks.

I don’t know which form of tyranny is the worst, but I believe we can do better. Our Founding Fathers had a healthy fear of tyranny, and I predict that more and more people will understand those fears and see the wisdom in how the FF’s tried to put checks in place. We may have a bit more darkness before the dawn, but I believe it’s coming.

Patrick says:
“By defining minarchy that way, you’re excluding a significant portion of those calling themselves minarchists—those who support compulsory government and involuntary taxes.”

I would like to believe that taxes aren’t necessary. I would like to believe that we would take care of sick neighbors and fund necessary functions of government without having to take taxes by force. I believe relying on each other would help build strong communities and would help us appreciate our diversity better.

A friend of mine sent me a link to a TED lecture about moral will and moral skill, which helped fuel my hope in a better vision of government, more like the one our founding fathers had in mind. It’s important to keep the government small enough and carefully check its size and power. But assuming that can be done, then if we believe the best in people, and if we give them a true voice and involve them in the decisions, I believe they will step up and do what it takes to make it work. I believe I’m right, but in case I’m wrong, at least, I would recommend starting out trying to make it work without forcing payment of taxes.

Here’s the link to the TED lecture my friend sent me, for reference:
http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_our_loss_of_wisdom.html

I have a few examples from my own experience that fuel my beliefs as well– I see what happens when regulators take responsibility away from companies, and I fight it every day in my work. I also see the amazing amount of growth (and fun!) that occurs when people do what they believe is most right, no matter what the regulations say. Teams I’ve worked with have reshaped the regulations, not by design or committees, but by focusing on what we knew was right and letting the bureaucrats figure it out and follow us. Not everyone has that kind of guts, but amazing things happen when people get together and rally around achieving big and compelling goals. Imagine what great stuff we could unleash if we were free from the burden of regulation and if the strength of our community were up to us.

Thanks all for the forum to share my views.

Patrick, I am using THE definition of minarchism. If someone thinks they’re a minarchist but they hold beliefs in contradiction of minarchism, then they’re not minarchists. It’s quite a simple matter.

There is no difference between a “state that provides protection services on the free market” (my phrasing) and a “state that protects individuals from aggression” (yours.)

Again states do not – by definition – provide services in the free market. Government is force, free markets are voluntary association and never the twain shall meet.

Therefore a state – by definition – can not participate in a free market. If an organization is participating in a free market, it is – by definition – not a state.

Just because a state claims that its mission is to protect people from aggression does not necessarily mean that its services are provided via the free market (which of course it is by definition impossible for it to do anyway). You’re reading that into it.

By your own definition, minarchists believe that their state should only provide protection services on the free market.

I did not say that and the definition of minarchism does not include that.

Do you deny that some self-declared minarchists believe involuntary taxation is a legitimate function of the state?

I can declare myself a national socialist but if I hold the non-aggression principle as inviolable then clearly I am NOT a national socialist, no matter how blue in the face I get when I say it. If someone applies a label to themselves, it does not mean that their inconsistent beliefs suddenly change the definition of the label.

Your definition of minarchism excludes too many supposed minarchists for me to accept it as a valid definition. Your definition of minarchism is equivalent to free-market anarchism.

I don’t own wikipedia nor did I write or contribute to its page on minarchism, therefore it is NOT MY definition.

You defy all logic by declaring that an anarchy would have a state. You don’t have a leg to stand on on that point.

Oh, sorry Liberty Snippet, I thought minarchist was a commonly known word.

You should definitely come to the next Liberty Forum, it was a great lot of fun.

So, Liberty Snippet, I respect your right to form and hold your opinions. Of course this includes the right to _act_ on them. If you want government, by all means, go for it. But will you afford me the same respect? Will you respect my right to form, hold and act on my opinions in the same I respect yours? Because I don’t think government’s right for me. I know you think it’s right for you, and I won’t stop you from having it, I’m just wondering if you’ll force your preference on me?

why Dagny would dump Hank for John in Atlas Shrugged is a mystery I may never understand

Hehe, Hank was saddled with all kinds of nonsensical ideas about duty and unearned guilt that interfered with their relationship. John was the man who felt no guilt.

Rand’s fiction is good, but it’s her philosophy books – which are much shorter and accessible – that I enjoy. I’m more interested in people like Lysander Spooner and Thoreau atm though.

The idea of private police (and the tyranny of the rich) scares me.

That’s kind of what we have now. The tyranny of the rich (via government) and the tyranny of police who have the power of government. I’d like to disarm them by removing the gun that is government from their hands. Wouldn’t you?

I would like to believe that taxes aren’t necessary. I would like to believe that we would take care of sick neighbors and fund necessary functions of government without having to take taxes by force. I believe relying on each other would help build strong communities and would help us appreciate our diversity better.

We used to. There was no federal income or FICA tax before ~1913. Mutual aid societies were common until government wiped them out with Social Security.

I’ll check out that lecture but keep in mind that government IS force. That’s the only way that it can operate. The initiation of force is the root of all evil.

Imagine what great stuff we could unleash if we were free from the burden of regulation and if the strength of our community were up to us.

I could not agree more!

Except I think what the government people call regulation is actually deregulation, because it dismantles the regulation inherent in free markets: profit and loss. So I’m all for regulation, I just want people to regulate themselves. ;D

Thanks for commenting. :)

George says:
“But will you afford me the same respect? Will you respect my right to form, hold and act on my opinions in the same I respect yours?”

Of course.

I just read your other blog on becoming an anarchist, and I wonder if it might be necessary to go through a phase of anarchy as a way to “reboot” the system. Would order emerge from chaos in anarchy? What do you predict? I haven’t thought much about it, but anarchy represents an unknown, and unknowns are scary.

It could be ok– but if we’re ever living in your anarchic world, and someone incarcerates me for speaking my mind, I hope someone would do what it took to break me free… even if force would be required to do so. If you use force to break me free in that case, are you my government or are you just my friend? Maybe I just want friends, not government!

“Because I don’t think government’s right for me. I know you think it’s right for you, and I won’t stop you from having it, …”

Ouch– it doesn’t feel comfortable to hear you say I think government’s right for me, even though it is what I said myself. Hmm- I have to think about what government is vs. what I want… good thing for the plane tomorrow. Just so we’re clear, the current US government is NOT what I think is right for me.

George says:
“I’m just wondering if you’ll force your preference on me?”

No way. If I were in charge of a government for the region that included your house, I’d respect your right to disregard my authority.

If anarchists refuse to initiate force, how can a system of anarchy last? All it takes is one group to begin oppressing their neighbors. If the other anarchists won’t force them to stop, it will simply spread and we’re back to ‘government’ and probably a pretty miserable one.

I do want (minimal) government, only because I believe that anarchism as a system (while ideal) can’t sustain itself.

Of course.

Then you are one of the minarchists I describe in the beginning of this article (which is a good thing!!). You’re inevitably an anarchist because you won’t initiate force to keep your government a government. Which is quite excellent. :)

Would order emerge from chaos in anarchy?

Anarchism doesn’t have to be chaos. With this great gang called “The Government” on our backs, I expect we have more disorder than we would have without it.

One can prepare the way. Agorism is a strategy for doing just that. One builds up markets outside government’s reach until they need private protection services, and those grow until they can replace the government.

And anyway there is usually some order in what appears chaotic. I’ve spent some time in Colombia where the government is severely underfunded (from the perspective of similar states like Argentina or Spain) and the military and police are occupied fighting guerrillas and drug gangs out in the jungle. There’s a de facto space in the cities where you very rarely see police and people don’t require them. They protect each other and go about their business without harming anyone else. It’s a kind of mini/half-anarchy and it works reasonably well under the circumstances.

Ouch– it doesn’t feel comfortable to hear you say I think government’s right for me, even though it is what I said myself. Hmm- I have to think about what government is vs. what I want… good thing for the plane tomorrow. Just so we’re clear, the current US government is NOT what I think is right for me.

Hehe that’s pretty funny. Even if you sized it down to just police, courts and national defense but with taxation and without allowing people to opt out, would you still feel that’s right for you?

“but with taxation and without allowing people to opt out,…”

As stated earlier, I would like to believe it wouldn’t be necessary to force people to pay taxes.

Thanks for the good discussion~ I’ll be offline for a while now.

If anarchists refuse to initiate force, how can a system of anarchy last?

The initiation of force is not needed to defend life. It can be banned entirely from human relationships.

Not all anarchists abjure the initiation of force btw. There are the traditional ones for whom anarchism is about communism or rule by labor unions.

All it takes is one group to begin oppressing their neighbors. If the other anarchists won’t force them to stop, it will simply spread and we’re back to ‘government’ and probably a pretty miserable one.

There are two kinds of force. The other one is defensive, or retaliatory, force. Whereas the initiation of force is wrong and must be banned, defensive force is morally right and should be encouraged IMHO. IIRC even Gandhi agreed with that.

The kind of force you’re talking about is defensive force so I’m certain any given group of market anarchists would defend themselves. Liberty lovers are pretty big on firearms for self-defense.

I do want (minimal) government, only because I believe that anarchism as a system (while ideal) can’t sustain itself.

Would you force your preference on me? :D

I read your comment of :

The initiation of force is the root of all evil.

as referring to all force, since defensive force also needs to be initiated :p Thanks for clarifying that, it pretty much ruins my argument.

Would you force your preference on me?

If you were my neighbor I’d force my preference that you don’t steal my stuff or endanger my family on you, yes. ;)

That’s not what I asked. You’re not conflating government with the protection of life, liberty and property are you?

Ayn Rand explains her distinction between the initiation of force and defensive (she calls it retaliatory) force very very well in her works of philosophy. Maybe in ‘The Virtue of Selfishness”, I’m not sure.

Thanks for commenting. :)

Oppression is a fuzzier word than initiation. The initiation of force means the beginner of the force. IOW, if you haven’t provoked me in any way and there is no immediate threat being made by you against me, but I hit you, I started the force. I initiated it.

Given that, if you now hit me back, that is you defending yourself. You didn’t start the exchange of force, you are just responding to my initiation of force in an attempt to stop it / to defend yourself.

That’s the key distinction. In a nutshell, who started it and who is just defending himself?

Oppression doesn’t lend itself to this distinction I think.

But the person struck in your example does not have to strike back unless they decided to initiate their own force. So the initiation of force is a conscious decision from both parties and is what caused my initial misunderstanding.

Can you give an example where an initiator of force isn’t being oppressive?

Also, “initiation of” is not a verb, or verb-phrase. “initiation” is a noun, “of” is a preposition, and “initiation of force” is just as valid a noun-phrase as anything of the form “<adjective> <noun>”.

By definition, if your force is defensive, it is not an initiation of force. You’re thinking of initiation in a different meaning than the one used in the phrase “initiation of force”.

The initiation of force is always oppressive but I don’t think oppression is necessarily always an initiation of force.

If we define oppression as “the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner” (first definition from dictionary.com), we have to admit that the authority / power can be legitimate or illegitimate. If the power is legitimate, the oppression may not be an initiation of force.

For example, if you own a field and I bring a bunch of people there to have a party, but we’re making a mess and a lot of noise which you object to, one could say that you kicking us out would be oppressive, but it would not be an initiation of force because it’s your property and you have every right to decide how it may or may not be used.

Even if I were to lose this point, the phrase ‘initiation of force’ is much more specific than the word ‘oppression’, and so IMHO makes it a better name for the concept.

Great post George – but I have to agree with some of your commenters, there are a lot of libertarian minarchists out there who think I’m stupider than a football bat for being an “anarchist.” Sure, quite a lot of them haven’t really considered their own position, or what it involves. And fewer yet have any real understanding of anarchism. I liked the way you previously described your “journey” to anarchism, it is a process, it can’t happen overnight – in fact I resisted it for quite a while before I could find no other way.

I’d like to believe that most (all?) “minarchists” would eventually see the light, but at present, I think most (none?) of them actually do.

Thanks David. I enjoy a lot of your posts too.

The beauty of it though is the minarchists don’t have to understand us, they can call us names and think we’re dumb, all they have to do is not initiate force against us, and we’re home free.

Once we reached the situation where they could have their government and we could have our stateless society, we would soon outperform them in a major way and they would come around. It’s inevitable.

Thanks for commenting. :)

Patrick, I am using THE definition of minarchism.

What do you mean? The only definition? There are competing definitions. The right definition? Depends on your premise. The commonly accepted definition? Well, you appear to think so, but that’s the point I’ve been arguing. If your definition of minarchism (and it is yours because you hold it) is truly the commonly accepted one, then the majority of people who are minarchists have merely not taken their premises to their logical conclusions. That’s the point of your article, but I maintain that it is a straw-man argument because many minarchists don’t define minarchy that way. Take Liberty Snippet’s first comment to the article:

Aren’t there some minarchists who believe that force may be required as well?

The answer, Liberty Snicket, is yes, there are several. I don’t know if they are the majority or not, but they do exist and call themselves minarchists.

George, you have made clear the flaw in your reasoning. You either don’t recognize or you disregard the fact that words have multiple meanings; they mean different things to different people. Though you oppose the inherent rightness of democracy in politics, you seem to unquestioningly accept it in the field of semantics.

I don’t own wikipedia nor did I write or contribute to its page on minarchism, therefore it is NOT MY definition.

It is your definition because that is how you would define it if asked. If it’s not your definition, then please tell me what your definition is.

There is no single definition of a word. There cannot be; if you define the right or true definition as the commonly-accepted one, that is still an arbitrary designation made by you, an individual. By assuming that words have single, true definitions, you are oversimplifying to the point that people like me will argue with you about it. :)

George, thanks for the banter, your comments have raised some other questions in me about how anarchy works in various respects, but I don’t think here is the place to ask them.

You guys talk about definitions a lot!

I had been thinking that anarchy would mean that only the rich would be protected. I had assumed that if someone was protecting everyone in a community, then that would have to be a government. But now I wonder if that’s necessarily true.

If police/ security services and “911” are provided by private parties, maybe there are ways to ensure that all of the community are protected, not only the rich and powerful. I would want to protect everyone, because I value living in a community that protects and supports all its members. It’s hard for me to imagine a community that protects all its members without any government, but if such a community exists and works well, I’ll become a believer.

George says:
“Then you are one of the minarchists I describe in the beginning of this article (which is a good thing!!). You’re inevitably an anarchist because you won’t initiate force to keep your government a government.”

If you must label me, anarchist isn’t my favorite term… it has some branding problems. It implies chaos and fear to most people, and maybe that’s unfair, but I’m not sure those fears are unjustified. I’m open to thinking it could be an improvement on our current situation, though that’s not saying much and I aspire to a lot more.

I don’t like labels, but if you must label me, “autocrat” seems a little friendlier and also implies personal responsibility, which I believe is critical to any community I’d want to live in.

Matt says:
“If you were my neighbor I’d force my preference that you don’t steal my stuff or endanger my family on you, yes.”

I almost said the same thing in my previous post but then realized it wasn’t necessary since I believe George and I could work out whatever disagreements we may have peacefully.

When I said earlier that I believe sometimes force is necessary, I was thinking of protection / defense. My 10-year-old daughter politely but firmly speaks her mind. If my neighbor locks her up to quiet the opposition for his project, I would hope that others in the community would help me use force to break her out of that neighbor’s “jail”. I would consider incarcerating someone like this to be initiation of force, and that using force to break her out would be protection/ defense.

Please comment if any of you have other thoughts.

On another topic…
George says:
“Hehe, Hank was saddled with all kinds of nonsensical ideas about duty and unearned guilt that interfered with their relationship. John was the man who felt no guilt.”

Hank was an inventor and producer who moved things forward even after his government stole most of what he had. John was a boring windbag…. IMHO. Dumping Hank for John is the only aspect of Dagny’s character I couldn’t relate to.

In another post, Starchild noticed that George’s “to-do” list included withdrawing from things and reading about other things more than taking positive actions. But political evolution is a process, and it’s necessary to first break the chains and see things anew before the best path forward becomes clear. The actions are usually better that way, more effective… and I have a hunch that George is more than a windbag who likes to read a lot.

Matt, thanks for the questions.

You guys talk about definitions a lot!

Not usually. I think if you want to challenge someone on something they said or some opinion they hold, challenging their definitions is a waste of time. Patrick would do better to attack the ideas instead of the definitions. I really hate arguing about definitions – it’s so silly.

I would want to protect everyone, because I value living in a community that protects and supports all its members. It’s hard for me to imagine a community that protects all its members without any government, but if such a community exists and works well, I’ll become a believer.

Exactly, and a lot of people think that way too. They (correctly) identify that their own self-interest is in ensuring that the protection net is thrown far and wide.

There are countless cases of people protecting themselves without police or state assistance. Many if not most ambulance services are contracted out, well at least in some small towns I have lived in or visited.

If you must label me, anarchist isn’t my favorite term…

My name (George) is a label, too, and it serves its purpose. :)

How about this one: Voluntaryist ?

“autocrat” seems a little friendlier and also implies personal responsibility

How about autarch? See wikipedia’s entry for autarchy for more info. Of course autarchs are anarchists by definition. :)

I almost said the same thing in my previous post but then realized it wasn’t necessary since I believe George and I could work out whatever disagreements we may have peacefully.

But even if we couldn’t your ability to defend yourself would not be hampered by government. And you could form self-defense alliances with your neighbors, like neighborhood watch on steroids. :)

Re/ force you’re right. We have to differentiate between the initiation of force and defensive force.

re/ Hank and John

LOL. John never gave in to the government though. He was never convinced by the argument that he owed anyone anything just by the fact of his existence. IOW, he refused to accept original sin, or unearned guilt. Hank did accept it.

It took me awhile to develop that hypothesis, I couldn’t understand it either.

Hehe well I do read a lot and I could be called a windbag … We’ll see. :)

Thanks for commenting.

Oops- autarch is very different from autocrat, and autarch is what I meant. I don’t mind knowing it’s a form of anarchism, but I’m not ready to be called an anarchist yet… if I’d known you were one at first, George, I might not have followed you here. Anarchy is not a very accessible label, and I think you even said yourself, George, that you were prejudiced against it until recently. It seems like it would be a good “cause” to get folks over their fears and prejudices, and having a place to go for examples and photos of anarchy in action may be helpful… I’ll try to think about some to contribute.

Good point re: names being labels. In this age of constant avalanche of info, tags help us sort what to pay attention to. I agree it’s much more fun to argue ideas vs. terms.

“John never gave in to the government though. ”

I was sad when Dagny moved to Galt Gulch… it felt like she was giving in/ giving up. Where’s a good place to get more info about the FSP? My limited understanding of it so far is that it’s more than just a place to live free and then die– that it’s not necessarily limited to the current political state of NH.

While I support people like yourself, George, who want to move to NH, I would be sad if I felt like I had to do the same. My family has lived in California long before it was considered part of the US. The ocean and mountains and deserts here are in my blood, and I would like to believe that this great place on the earth could be a place where people could grow their businesses and families long after I’m gone. I don’t have any writings from my ancestors, though with some digging, maybe I can track some down. If they exist, they would likely be good examples of anarchy in action.

Thanks for being so responsive, George, and for the good discussion, all.

Oh yes, the general perception of anarchism is that it’s chaos. Maybe I should just use voluntaryist instead? How does that sound?

That’s a good idea!

The FSP website is a good resource. I’m pretty sure it is, yes, just limited to New Hampshire. There is a Free State Wyoming project, and it looks very promising but it’s not as active yet and it doesn’t even announce how many have moved, which they claim is a feature, not a bug. :)

I’m pretty happy where I live now. Great weather, nice people, cost of living is low. But my wife and I are moving first and foremost for the next generation – my 3 year old son. Liberty is the foundation on which human life is built. Without it, potential is dimmed and maximum happiness is not achieved. What is the point of life but to be happy? Or, at least, build the groundwork for the next generation’s maximum happiness.

I comprehend your connection with your ancestors, but, speaking for myself, mine are dead and, if they could care, would probably be more concerned with the future than the past. Our history is in us, not the land or anything around us, and it travels with us wherever we go. I’m taking mine to New Hampshire so that, among other things, liberty and legacy can be restored everywhere.

The FSP is not just a retreat, it’s a brilliant tactical attack. If we succeed, New Hampshire will be a beacon to the world; a reminder of how important liberty is. It will surely spark 100 other free states.

Thank _you_ for commenting. Always a good discussion. :)

Patrick, my reply to you is delayed because I thought I must not be understanding you, and so got some distance before rereading your comments (again) and replying to them.

I understand how my use of ‘minarchist’ could have been confusing. My word choice may have led one to believe that minarchists are all fans of limited government. But that’s not true.

So I may have played a little fast and loose with my terms, but that doesn’t make my use of ‘minarchist’ a straw man, since the number of people who fit in this category of thinking government is necessary but who won’t initiate force to make me participate in their government grows by the day. Now that Stefan Molynuex’s “Against Me” argument is out there, I’m certain I’m not the only one discovering this group of people who want government but won’t force it on those who don’t, either.

Re/ Definitions

Show me where I can find these competing definitions of minarchism. Just pointing me to some guy who thinks the initiation of force is ok but still wants to call himself a minarchist is not enough.

Again, words mean things. I can call myself something but if my views aren’t in agreement with the concept, then I am mistaken in calling myself that something.

George, you have made clear the flaw in your reasoning. You either don’t recognize or you disregard the fact that words have multiple meanings; they mean different things to different people. Though you oppose the inherent rightness of democracy in politics, you seem to unquestioningly accept it in the field of semantics.

It is you who claim words can mean anything people want them to, not me.

Not all words have multiple meanings. Some have just one.

When there is a disagreement about what a word means, we go to the dictionary or other reference. I have done so by pointing you to wikipedia. You have not.

By claiming that I don’t recognize the fact that words can have multiple meanings, you are creating a straw man.

It is your definition because that is how you would define it if asked. If it’s not your definition, then please tell me what your definition is.

I only define it that way because wikipedia and the people whom I have heard using it define it that way. I have no definition of minarchism, I use the one invented by others.

Just as when I borrow a lawn mower it does not automatically become mine, so when I borrow a concept/definition it does not become mine.

There is no single definition of a word.

It is possible for a word to have only one definition. But my position is that any given word means something or somethings and you can not expect to whimsically alter its meaning and still be comprehensible.

There cannot be; if you define the right or true definition as the commonly-accepted one, that is still an arbitrary designation made by you, an individual.

No, it’s a social convention, like rights or saying “God Bless you” when you sneeze. You can say “Snizzleglibick” when someone sneezes but they won’t understand that you’re trying to wish them better health.

By assuming that words have single, true definitions, you are oversimplifying to the point that people like me will argue with you about it.

No, it is simply a fact of reality that any given word has one or more identifiable meanings in any given context.

Do you deny that objective reality exists? I hope you’re not going to question my belief in my own existence next.

This debate over definitions is off-topic here and this will be last comment on this particular line of discussion for now.

Re/ http://www.isil.org/ayn-rand/childs-open-letter.html

It looks like he made the same point I did. So definitely not a new idea. :)

Great article, thanks for the link Patrick.

It is my contention … that a limited government must either initiate force or cease being a government; that the very concept of limited government is an unsuccessful attempt to integrate two mutually contradictory elements: statism and voluntarism. Hence, if this can be shown, epistemological clarity and moral consistency demands the rejection of the institution of government totally, resulting in free market anarchism, or a purely voluntary society.

As I wrote in my last tweet, it’s a non sequitur to say that a government by definition must rule over everyone. For instance, Mexico has a government, despite the fact that it doesn’t initiate force to make tourists citizens or annex Cuba, etc.

So let me get this straight: a government that lets aliens in, doesn’t track them, doesn’t tax them, etc., even if it places restrictions on the availability of its own resources and seeks retribution when resources are consumed without the consent of those to whom they belong — that government isn’t a government? If so, then rejoice: welcome to the Anarchist State of America! ;-)

It’s a non sequitur … in relation to what?

Government “is an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area”, so I’m not sure how your mention of Cuba is relevant to Mexico here.

And foreigners who visit Mexico are considered by the Mexican government to be subject to its rules. It doesn’t have to make them citizens.

I think you’ve misunderstood something because your second paragraph doesn’t seem to be relevant to the article.

Thanks for commenting.

George, I believe Steve was referring to his last tweet to you last night:

“Stephen_Douglas: @georgedonnelly Gov’t is a monopoly on force, but needn’t mandate that all of humanity be subjects (i.e. they can tolerate resident aliens).”

I believe Steve is saying that some countries allow anarchy in their midst.

Steve, are there countries which formally allow opting out? Or are you referring to countries that don’t consistently enforce their immigration/ taxation laws?

By the way, since the time I made some of my previous posts above, I’ve grown comfortable with the anarchist tag. It’s inspiring how many folks are using it these days!

I’ve also come to appreciate the 2nd Amendment like I never had before. I believe a critical success factor to a voluntary society is being ready to defend oneself and one’s community against tyranny of any flavor.

Well first, let it be known that I don’t have a violent reaction against the concept of anarchy. I have considered anarchism long and hard over the last 6 months. If the opportunity presents itself, sure, I’m game — I just don’t think it likely or expect it to last very long.

Libsnip, I know of no current (or past) government that lets you “opt out”. Of course, a couple centuries ago, there were no constitutional republics around, either. It just seems like we’re playing the No true Scotsman game with the term “government”. You know, if I describe a government that’s not evil, the anarchist says “Well, that’s not a true government.” Words of disputable definition like “government” beg for the fallacy of equivocation.

Surely it makes more sense to let “government” be defined by those who undertake to create one, and it’s no good trying to wrest a term with no objective, historically determined meaning (Rand and Rothbard are as recent as the twentieth century!) away from people who set out to start a better system. “Yeah, good job with your non-aggressive government — only you failed! That’s not a true government!” :-D

My point is, if we could start anew (much likelier, IMO, than wiping out all government), the sort of “government” I’m talking about would truly derive its just powers from the consent of the governed, and place those whose consent is not given outside its protection. But of course, initiation of force (violations of the life, liberty, and property of citizens) by resident non-citizens would have to be addressed. This is not, however, initiation of force on the part of the government.

Rothbard says that government is a monopoly of force and argues that, as such, it is morally evil. This is where I get confused a bit: if someone violates another’s rights, what difference does it make to the violator whether the ones holding him accountable were chosen from many or whether they exercised a monopoly? He won’t like it either way. That’s what I truly don’t get. What happens when an anarchist violates the rights of citizens of this ideal government of mine (as they undoubtedly would on occasion). Do you, as an anarchist, think that another person who rapes your wife should be in some way held accountable? If so, what or whom would you appeal to in order to get that done? No matter what you would personally do — what would the others in your anarchist society do? You can’t count on all your fellow anarchists to abide by the “do no harm” credo, or to react the same way as you would to being wronged; I contend that it is in matters like these that an organ of recompense or retribution of some kind will naturally arise out of others looking after their own interests, and such an organ emerging under such adverse, emotionally-charged circumstances is not likely to be particularly just.

I think that it would make much sense to avoid such affairs by establishing a body whose laws and punishments were perspicuous and enforceable by a disinterested third-party umpire (noumpere), based upon natural law protections of life, liberty, and property. This is what I’m talking about in an ideal constitutional republic. If you don’t want to call such a body a “government” and insist on welcoming me into the Anarchists’ Club, knock yourself out. But neither would I characterize my view as “romantic” or especially “irrational”.

Thanks for the discussion!

Thanks for your thoughts, Steve.

You know, if I describe a government that’s not evil, the anarchist says “Well, that’s not a true government.”

The corruptive influence of power exists in any organization, including self-organizing systems. The deeds of our current governments don’t necessarily make all government inherently evil. Tyranny can occur in many forms, and I can’t see much difference between government and any other armed gang. For example, just because they can quietly garnish my bank account doesn’t make the act any less evil than breaking into my house and stealing my property another way.

In order to maintain the kind of community I’d want to live in, we must be vigilant and guard against tyranny by anyone or any party. I believe this is easier to do when trade is free, when power is decentralized and when people are ready for their own defense. My family and I are thinking of moving in the next year or so, and we seek communities that maximize these characteristics.

…the sort of “government” I’m talking about would truly derive its just powers from the consent of the governed, and place those whose consent is not given outside its protection….
I think that it would make much sense to avoid such affairs by establishing a body whose laws and punishments were perspicuous and enforceable by a disinterested third-party umpire (noumpere), based upon natural law protections of life, liberty, and property.

How great it would be if there were “voluntary governments” like you describe! Some have said that Dispute Resolution Organizations and insurance companies would serve this purpose in the free market. It would be good to know some examples of this type of system working free from monopolistic-government interference, and it would be great to be able to try it.

If you set up an organization like you describe, and if you do a good job protecting folks and arbitrating disputes, and if I can see that you’re not extorting fees from my neighbors who choose to opt out, I would be happy to consider moving into your area of coverage and signing up for your services.

My anarchist friends tell me that if you set up a “government” that allows people living in your region to opt out, then that’s not really a government. Based on what I know of the governments that exist in the world, I am happy to distance myself from the term. But as you can see from my first few comments above, I know what you mean!

If you don’t want to call such a body a “government” and insist on welcoming me into the Anarchists’ Club, knock yourself out.

You can call yourself whatever you want. As for me, I’m happy to welcome you to my club of people who would make great neighbors!

@Stephen Douglas

Any government that _really_ derives its powers from the consent of the governed would also have to allow people to opt out and therefore enables competition in government. Competing governments are not governments. Concepts mean things and are delimited.

Unsure what life would be like after slavery? Here’s one good resource on that: The Market for Liberty. It’s now available for free at:

http://freekeene.com/free-audiobook/

Hey if that’s what you want Stephen, more power to you. Just don’t force your ideal system of societal organization on me.

@LibertySnippet

The deeds of our current governments don’t necessarily make all government inherently evil.

True. But the fact that governments depend on the initiation of force to exist does. Without the will or ability to initiate force, it’s not government anymore.

Thanks for commenting.

George said:

True. But the fact that governments depend on the initiation of force to exist does [make all government inherently evil]. Without the will or ability to initiate force, it’s not government anymore.

Upon further reflection prompted by a tweet from @bradspangler this morning and your comments above, I think you are right. I will add, however, that it is important to distinguish the evil system of government from the many good people working within it.

For reference, Brad’s tweet was:

When consistent, libertarianism (ethical theory) becomes anarchism (political theory) in practice.

Governments, by definition, forcibly keep people in their region from opting out, and this practice is contradictory with core libertarian beliefs. Practicing libertarians are anarchists at heart.

Most people working in government believe they are doing the right thing, and a few bravely defy orders to do what they know is wrong (see Oathkeepers, for example). I have compassion for them, and I honor their intent even though it’s difficult sometimes. Note: I am not talking about politicians or elected officials here… elected officials are a tiny portion of the people in government. When I say it’s important to distinguish the evil system from the many good people, I’m thinking of the soldiers, the scientists, the teachers, the EMTs, etc.

The soldiers are _trained_ to murder. The others have private sector alternatives. I can’t find any sympathy for any of them.

If the government workers all quit tomorrow, this thing would be over. They’re the ones who are just following orders. They have to be in the sights.

Absolutely not. My planned training is for the defense of my own life and those of my loved ones. I hold as my principal and most sacred and inviolable moral precept the non-initiation of force.

Soldiers are trained to murder, brutally and using offensive weapons that inevitably lay waste to not only other weapons but also civilian infrastructure and innocent lives.

You may be technically correct in some sense that they are trained to kill, but they are used to murder. They’re very good at it and they’ve been doing it for a long time. When was the last time soldiers defended the USA? The War of 1812?

I agree there are private sector alternatives, but that doesn’t change my belief in the fundamental goodness of most government employees as individuals. I believe in our ability to wake them up as well; most government employees are motivated by a goal to make the country better, and that provides solid common ground. Most could contribute significantly to progress if transferred to the private sector.

The wake-up process is already happening, especially among soldiers who see the torture and unjustified force going on and refuse to do it despite orders, and they’re the soldiers I’m thinking of… those who are not murderers despite their training.

I agree we should defend against anyone who initiates force, whether following orders or not. For the rest, I believe honey will work better than guns.

I was going to respond to my portion of the conversation before I got blown away by the last few comments. You’re smearing a whole host of people who are, at worst, ignorant of your high philosophical principles (I shudder to think what you must feel about Ron Paul!) and are just trying to preserve civilization as they know it, misguided though they may be. I understand having principles, but you’ve got to remember your own good intentions before you turned into a fire-eating anarchist.

Even if you’re right that every initiation of force is the worst sin imaginable (which you have still not demonstrated to be a non-negotiable aspect of government), you’re definitely not going about convincing others in a way that will persuade and bring the majority of humanity to your side. You’ve forsworn violence — well then, you’ve got to tune up your peaceful persuasion tactics! Or would persuasion of any kind be considered evil (since we’ve been harping on the “consistency” motif in this thread)? If so, humanity’s got a looooong way to go before your society manifests itself.

Honestly, the only way your ideal is going to materialize is if civilization is almost wiped out the world over. Resigning yourself to that unlikelihood and working towards the best of the more possible scenarios is much less romantic and idealistic, and IMO, it seems that you would stand a much better chance of bringing liberty to more people in your lifetime.

You’re smearing a whole host of people who are, at worst, ignorant of your high philosophical principles (I shudder to think what you must feel about Ron Paul!) and are just trying to preserve civilization as they know it, misguided though they may be.

No, at worst they clean, oil and load the gun pointed at my head. Sometimes they might even be the shaky guy in the movies who nervously holds the gun for a second while the regular gun pointer is injured or has to do something else.

People who process paperwork at the IRS are just trying to preserve civilization as we know it? Seriously? Soldiers who kill people in Iraq who have never lifted a finger against us? Who torture and defend torture? Scientists who claim the public needs to be forced to pay for their alleged scientific progress or skills?

That’s not civilization. Civilization won’t collapse without 1040’s, bloody foreign wars and suppressed global warming reports.

I understand having principles, but you’ve got to remember your own good intentions before you turned into a fire-eating anarchist.

Sure there was a point when I wasn’t clear on the importance of the non-aggression principle. So what? What special breaks exactly do you guys want for government employees?

If your brother’s alcoholism was destroying his life and his wife was the one going out to buy his alcohol and serving it …. bailing him out of jail, running interference for him …. IOW _enabling his alcoholism_, would you say “Oh, she’s just trying to preserve my brother as we know him.”? Or would you say, “Hey, she’s the enabler. If I want to save my brother I have to challenge both of them.”

On why the initiation of force is an inherent and inescapable part of being a government:

Government is force because they can not exist without initiating it. Without taxes and inflation – both of which require initiating force – there would be no government.

Everything government does is an order backed up by a credible threat of force. Governments don’t offer services on the free market and negotiate with customers until a meeting of the minds is reached. No, government makes its rules and forces them on us. One can comply or face the consequences.

Government IS force because once a government stops initiating force it collapses or stops being a government.

you’re definitely not going about convincing others in a way that will persuade and bring the majority of humanity to your side

Telling others what their tactics should be borders on condescension. Telling me my tactics don’t work misses the point (not to mention that there is evidence you’re incorrect).

the only way your ideal is going to materialize is if civilization is almost wiped out the world over

Not true. All I need is more people like you who like government but won’t force their preferences on others. The stateless/voluntary society is not a new utopia that requires it be forced upon all of society in order to appear to be successful. No, all it requires is that people cease to initiate force. Have your government if you like. I respect your right to form, hold and act on your opinions/values/preferences. All I require is that you reciprocate that respect.

And, of course, once the organization formerly known as government no longer has a monopoly on a given geographic location, it ceases to be a government.

working towards the best of the more possible scenarios

I’d love to hear what you think that is.

Thanks for your comments everyone. :)

George,

The more I think about it, the more I realize that we are differing primarily in style than in substance. A few points of clarification, though…

Please note that I said “civilization as they know it”; they take it for granted that the end of the state’s control would signal the end of everything orderly and good about society. You remember, don’t you, when you first heard of “anarchy”? Didn’t it sound ominous and chaotic to you? Do you understand that what you’re asking of people — to despise an institution that has supposedly been the backbone of every civilization since hundreds of years before the first recorded history — is a *tad* unsettling? I agree that the complete abolition of coercive state would/will be wonderful, so I’m not disagreeing with you. I just want you to know how you sound: like a passionate sophomore armed with heady, unrealistic dreams that include sweeping condemnations for those not as enlightened as you. Talk about condescension! Listen, I know that this characterization may well be more of a caricaturization, but when I tell you that you stand a good chance of appearing that way, take it as well-intentioned advice from a (mostly) like-minded friend.

Most military people I’ve known (including my own father and grandfather), joined the military not to initiate force, but to defend the homeland against aggressors. Our awful militaristic interventionism is probably not in the minds of most young teenagers who get signed up under the “defend our country” propaganda of the recruiters and reinforced by neocon fear tactics (“Take it to them over there or they’ll kill your family here!”). If you’ll pardon the condescension, I think you should allow some of LibSnip’s reasonable qualifiers. IRS — ok, losers to a person. But the Department of Health and Human Services? Hate it as much as I do (and I assure you, I loathe its existence on principle), I can see why they can sleep at night: they think they’re performing a vital role, and most Americans agree.

I get it — you hate all government as humanity has done it in the past. So did the Founders, which is why they set out to create something better than ever. They succeeded in creating something better, but failed at creating Utopia (and they were not ignorant of this). I simply think we should try for a non-utopian best case scenario. I am an advocate of States’ rights, including secession; each state could then decide what kind of government it wanted and include the option of dissolution of state. Ideally I would prefer a state whose services were all opt-in but which exercised jurisdiction over all (citizen or no) who violated the person/resources of those who did opt in. Call it a new kind of government, the anti-state, or whatever; call me an anarchist in denial — the distinction between us, at this point, is strictly academic, and I can imagine good grounds for calling you on aggression/initiation of force when you gleefully attempt to annex our system under the label “anarchy”. ;-)

The stateless/voluntary society is not a new utopia that requires it be forced upon all of society in order to appear to be successful. No, all it requires is that people cease to initiate force.

All due respect, George, it seems you are here contradicting yourself. Believing that we’re anywhere near expecting “people [to] cease to initiate force” is utopian. The best we can hope for is people like me who want limited government and restrain those who don’t by strictly enforced (yes, “force”) laws. The intent of the Constitution was always to restrain government growth rather than create one to restrain people. (You may have noticed that Bastiat has influenced me strongly here.)

Nonetheless, I’ve downloaded the audiobook you linked to and will listen to it at work. I ran across an interesting article; I find myself agreeing the most with R.W. Bradford here. Friedman’s dissent from Bradford in favor of an agrarian society supports my contention that it will take a “wiped out” society with no high industrialization/density in order for the no-state solution to work. Interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject.

Best regards,
Stephen

I just want you to know how you sound: like a passionate sophomore armed with heady, unrealistic dreams that include sweeping condemnations for those not as enlightened as you. Talk about condescension!

Condescension is the showing of feelings of superiority; patronizing or doing something in a haughty way, as though it is below one’s dignity or level of importance .

That is an inaccurate characterization of what I said about government workers. What I am saying is that they can not be excused as good people who are just doing their jobs. They may be working under the false assumption that they’re doing something worthy but – objectively – they are doing something very very wrong.

Just saying someone is not blameless, wrong and/or contributes to evil is not condescension.

Most military people I’ve known (including my own father and grandfather), joined the military not to initiate force, but to defend the homeland against aggressors

Results count, not intentions.

I simply think we should try for a non-utopian best case scenario.

It’s not about utopias, it’s just about doing no harm; i.e., don’t initiate force.

I am an advocate of States’ rights, including secession; each state could then decide what kind of government it wanted and include the option of dissolution of state.

How can a fictional thing like a state have rights? Only living sentient beings can have rights. If a rock or a non-profit organization can’t have rights, how can a state have them?

If you’re willing to let things secede, why wouldn’t you allow people to do so too?

The option of dissolving the state – that’s an example of putting one’s rights up to a vote. Everyone has a right to secede from government and it’s not subject to a vote for the same reason that you would reject voting on who will live and who will die.

Ideally I would prefer a state whose services were all opt-in but which exercised jurisdiction over all (citizen or no) who violated the person/resources of those who did opt in.

So this government doesn’t force anyone to participate but exercises exclusive jurisdiction? It can’t do the latter if it allows the former. Governments simply do not survive without initiating force because inevitably someone will not want to participate in your ideal government.

All due respect, George, it seems you are here contradicting yourself.

So you’re thinking we would need to force people to stop initiating force? But that force would be defensive force, and _not_ an initiation of force. Therefore it is not a contradiction.

Believing that we’re anywhere near expecting “people [to] cease to initiate force” is utopian.

I don’t think so because 95% of the population passes its days without initiating force against anyone – except via government. Once the fact that government is force is adequately demonstrated to them, they will come around.

The best we can hope for is people like me who want limited government

Hey I would like nothing better than a government so limited that it would not initiate force against me to keep me from opting out. Because that would be an anarchy within minutes.

I’ll check out the article. Thanks for your comments.

I agree that there is little difference between anarchist and minarchist when funding is voluntary, or more importantly, personal secession is allowed. Where Rand’s definition fails is censual private communities, of which there are many today, and probably would be under a free market. Would you insist that those contracts be broken? It can get a bit more complicated, depending on your view of covenants.

Nice post as usual.

I’m not in a position to read through all the comments just now, so forgive me if what I’m going to say has already been discussed. I think it’s unduly sanguine to say “Minarchy Inevitably Evolves into Anarchy”, whether talking about individuals’ outlooks or actual minarchic systems. If history tells us anything, it’s that minarchy is at least as prone to devolving into “maxarchy” (or totalitarianism or the strong state or whatever). With that in mind, I think the lesson is that minarchy is unstable (and I think there are many good reasons to ascent to this): to borrow from Ayn Rand, it’s a moral compromise between the good (the outlawing of aggressive coercion) and the evil (the legalizing of aggressive coercion); so at best, a minarchy is a tainted free society, and its adherents are prone to contradiction in the realm of ethics and morals. I think Rand’s valuable insight in this case is that evil benefits from a compromise with the good, but not vice-versa.

I’m sure this isn’t news to anyone here (even the minarchists who would doubtless disagree with me); but my central point is the caution against an optimism that might obtain if people were always rigorously logical. :)

I’ve come to this same exact conclusion in debates with minarchist friends, but for some reason in the end they still go back to “but I believe there must be a state”. In particular – “But without my voluntary, dues-collecting, service-providing ‘state’, who will provide objective laws?” It’s as if they’re not ready to recognize that this concept of the state, divorced of all that separates it from all other human organizations, is vapor, a non-idea, a mis-attribution based on some sense of tradition or nostalgia. Ayn Rand couldn’t do it in the decades of her near-awakening. It’s a hump I have difficulty understanding. After all, A is A.

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