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!