The Prankster

The Prankster

Minarchy, or what I like to call the absurd belief that evil is necessary, has got to be one of the most irrational mythologies mankind has ever concocted. For many, it’s a brief step on the way toward fully rejecting statism, but I can’t understand how anyone spends any substantial amount of time there.

I’m hoping to expand this post later, but I’m tired.

Discussion (25)¬

  1. Kevin Dean says:

    The Free State Project’s “Statement of Intent” has really been weighing on me since I attended “Anarchy Hour” in DC this week.

    “The maxiumum role of civil government should be the protection of life, liberty and property and nothing else”.

    Why then do the minarchists think it’s okay for the police to exceed this and protect “a monopoly on the industry of police protection”?

    I use the label “Voluntaryist”. I refuse to be labeled a “libertarian” else people might assume my philosophy is simiar to libertarians, which includes minarchists. I refuse to accept aggression. Ever. Always.

    Until my biggest concern is “government shouldn’t control roads”, I’ll continue to work with minarchists and see them as allies. At the same time, I’d like to drive home the point that my philosophy is different, and that if you support aggression, you’re my opponent.

    I’m loving AIYH more and more. :)

  2. Kushin Los says:

    Nowadays I tell people that I’m a minarchist by necessity. Not many inquire further, but I tell those that do that as long as I’m forced to pay taxes under weight of death (imprisonment, etc) that by necessity I will have to be involved in some way to keep as little as my property from being used against me and others. Admittedly that hasn’t worked well.

    I also have started to use the term voluntaryist in discussion instead of anarchy as the latter is unfortunately a term that has too many false connotation to it. I make sure to point out that the majority of their actions are voluntary and that any where except government, a refusal to pay means you don’t get the service, not that you are kidnapped by those who you “owe” money to and may possibly be killed or imprisoned in what amounts to systematic rape rooms by the organization that is supposedly there to help secure your rights.

  3. Less Antman says:

    My definition of minarchy - the theory that free market capitalism is best protected by a socialist monopoly.

  4. Darian W says:

    I used to be of the opinion that if all aggression were treated as crime, then government would have to compete with other service providers on the market or go out of business. Then I realized that a zero-aggression market service relying on voluntary involvement wasn’t really government, as it held no authority. Around the same time I realized that the services that minarchists always allow government - military, courts, and police - were some of the most harmful arms of the state. So I went all the way and raised the circle A.

    Less, your comment reminds me of this pamphlet:

  5. Rev. Spike says:

    I support minarchy only as a stepping stone to true anarchy. We can’t just throw away the government because people won’t be able to adjust, then we will have anarchy in the common sense. If we got there gradually society might adapt. I’m not sure I trust people as a whole to function properly without a government nanny. I think that you would have corporations or gangs fill the power vacuum. Then again if man can’t govern himself why do we trust other men to govern us?

  6. bile says:

    Many minarchists are anarchists without a good idea of how things would work. I find that many will NOT say yes to “Would your government agress against me for not paying its defense fees.” Meaning their “government” is really just a business. I wouldn’t be so quick to throw out “libertarian.” The definition is straight forward enough (NAP) that correcting people has worked well enough for me. “They aren’t really following libertarian theory. They are libertarian leaning but not consistent in their proposed belief.”

  7. Ganja Blue says:

    I’m with Rev. Spike. I think minarchism is acceptable only as an evolutionary step toward the complete dissolution of government. Although I think they’re wrong I’ll be happy to work with them toward their goal. Once we get there and see that minarchism fails too, we can then progress to a point of complete voluntaryism.

  8. Mike Vine says:

    Maybe I should read David Friedman before I chime in, but you all should read Robert Nozick. Nozick, in ‘Anarchy, State, and Utopia’ presents a logical argument for why, even if we were to erect a voluntaryist society, it must collapse into a limited (or unlimited) state.

    That said, I will always choose you all as friends over a statist. I think ‘bile’ nailed it in that most minarchist libertarians would find a voluntary way to collect ‘taxes’ even if the state claimed universal jurisdiction as the arbitrator of last resort. We can all agree that no freedom is possible while the Federal Government runs the show.

    Mike Vine

  9. Dale says:

    Mike, it’s impossible to “erect a voluntaryist society”. Any attempt to do so would fall back into the trap of statism. All we can do is enlighten individuals. When a person rejects criminal behavior consistently, then the person acknowledges the state as simply a very powerful criminal organization. Mistaking anarchism as a societal structure that would lead to utopia is a tragic mistake. Anarchism is a personal philosophy that, when applied, discourages crime and promotes prosperity as more and more people understand it. That’s why I would not claim that anarchism will eliminate the state and prevent anyone from attempting to institute a new one just as I would not claim that anarchy will eliminate all (other) crime. It is simply the most effective way to combat and minimize criminal behavior, including that particularly effective form of crime anarchists refer to as statism.

  10. Puke says:

    BWUAHAHA! I love it!
    The new character is hilarious as well.

  11. weston says:

    as a minarchist, i expended a lot of mental energy trying to figure out which form of taxation was morally defensible and finally realized that all taxation is theft backed by violence and therefore immoral. it’s amazing how obvious it is and yet how many are duped into not even questioning it.

    i’m having quite a bit of success first convincing people that taxation is immoral and then slowly working through the implications of that rather than jumping right to the conclusion that government is evil and unnecessary.

  12. H. Rearden says:

    That is a rather minimal entry about minarchy.

  13. Minarchism is basically the Deism of political theory.

  14. Kushin Los says:

    The essential problem with minarchism is that when you say you believe that there is some things that you need a government for, you end up with an ever growing government. If there is a truly necessary thing that government provides, its probably because the government has used its illegitimate power to keep any would be competitors out.

    Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that the only reason men institute governments is to secure their rights, that that government must have the consent of the governed and that the consenting governed have the right to alter or abolish government and set up a new one or a new guard. If they had taken this to heart, then it would be a voluntaryist system by its nature. Instead Jefferson had to petition the government of Virginia so he could free his slaves (as I recall they never did). This is while we should use Jefferson as an example for what not to do. We can praise his strong language in separating from Britain and his opposition to the ratification of the Constitution (as it allowed for a strong central government among other reasons). We can praise his Declaration of Independence as it is not only a secessionist work, but properly read is also an anarchist one as well.

    He did not reject the State of Virginia’s central government. I doubt he was all that bothered by the local governments he came into contact with, each central in their nature as well. I was asked today about the rival governments argument as I promoted the concept of a voluntary society and it didn’t even occur to me until I wrote about the state and local governments just last sentence that the federal system we are forced to live under is an example of that.

    Be that as it may, all political systems are authoritarian in nature. It just depends on where that authority lies. We are called anarchists because we hold that the authority is held in the individual and that no one be they king or fellow countryman, by they one or many, be they God Himself if He exists (I’m fairly certain I’m a Deist but have to admit to periods and moments of agnosticism) has the right to use violence to do their business. We are seen as immoral despite the fact that we will not force ourselves on anyone who else past peaceful and mutual trade (which come to think of it is never done by force).

  15. weston says:


    I agree. The Dec of Ind is definitely an anarchist document, whether Jefferson knew it or not. People who advocate centralized govt don’t really believe in inalienable rights, govt by consent, etc.

  16. fester says:

    The funny thing is that the minarchists are convinced that they are the more rational libertarians and us crazy anarchists are the loons. Even though it is not very hard to see the lunacy of the minarchists argument. The idea that the government is the best organization to protect your property, your life and liberty, when the course of history shows that the government is the biggest threat to all of those things is crazy.

  17. Less Antman says:

    @Mike Vine

    The feeling is mutual about our being on the same side, and Nozick’s book was an important milestone in establishing credibility for libertarianism in the academic world, for which I will always be grateful, but I don’t believe Nozick’s arguments are nearly as strong as you think they are, and many anarchists have taken them seriously and addressed them effectively, in my opinion.

    I could name several different refutations of Nozick’s view of the immaculate conception of the state, but I’m currently putting together a blog post on one of them, so I’ll mention it as just one example: Nozick made the same mistake as many anarchists of assuming that institutions of violence were essential to law enforcement. In fact, both Celtic Ireland (650-1650) and Viking Iceland (900-1230) operated for centuries with no such institutions:

    (1) Compliance with judgments was assumed because the source of authority for judges was the mutual agreement of the parties to arbitrate.

    (2) Those who refused to arbitrate disputes or failed to honor judgments were ostracized: socially (loss of friendship), economically (loss of trade), and legally (nobody was obliged to arbitrate THEIR claims). Both then and now, ostracism is a punishment so severe as to come close to being the death penalty.

    Nozick simply assumed that law had to rest on violence for its enforcement. But society isn’t a zero sum game, and the benefits of friendship, trade, and the peaceful settlement of disputes are collectively so massive that they, not force, are the most powerful enforcers of social norms.

    [I am not, by the way, denying the validity or even necessity of defensive violence in addressing an actualized threat to life and property in real time, and the sooner we stop confusing defense with law enforcement, the better.]

  18. Agape says:

    Hahaha! I love the implied meaning, in addition to a parody of some of the Joker origins. The comic translates to “He’s full of shit” :)

    I’ll put up with minarchist shit for a couple reasons. Not the least of which is it was only about a year and a fraction ago that I was one… Most anarchists used to be minarchists, and those who can be helped along the path can’t be turned away just because they haven’t come all the way. As bile said, quite a few minarchists are just anarchists who don’t see how it’s possible for society to function without threatening people that if they aren’t good little boys and girls you’ll shoot’em without asking “may I?”. Choiceless good behavior. They proceed from this premise, as I did, to try and find a way to shackle this evil into only doing this and nothing else.

    Then there’s those who believe that government is good at some things, the best at those things in fact. And that it’s immoral to try and prevent government from doing those things. It’s just not great at doing anything but those things. Since it’s the best, perhaps only, thing at doing those necessary things it’s only right that it maintain its monopoly and use whatever means necessary to remain in that position.

    The former essentially sees humans as evil and stupid, yet forgets that if humans are stupid and evil enough to need a government then government is going to be made up of people too stupid and evil to be trusted with the authority. The latter make absolutely no sense at all, since they draw an arbitrary line where they like government to be and where they’d prefer it not to be. A totalitarian at least is consistent. They want government to do everything, period. Unfortunately, both types of minarchist (and the totalitarian, for that matter) are completely and totally full of shit. Thanks for another one, dale!

  19. Giggan says:

    Haha, love it.

    But wasn’t everyone here a minarchist of some sort before stepping into the light? My minarchist period was maybe between 6 months and a year, looking back it was just as ridiculous as my undefined ‘conservative’ self…but an important step in the right direction.

  20. most excellent posts, topic, and graphic!

  21. Agape says:

    Giggan, yes, probably everyone passes through minarchy. Which is my point, really. Many minarchists just need that little extra push. So don’t be too pushy, heh.

    But there are many minarchists I can’t stand talking with. They’re the Constitutionalists. The ones who believe absolutely that all we need is to get government to follow the constitution, and once done that’s the right and proper role of government. They refuse to even really contemplate the idea of not being governed. Any argument against government, they bring up the problems in Somalia (mostly caused by attempts to re-impose government, or inherited from the communism that preceded the current situation), or any number of chaotic situations that were really quite bad. I’ve even had one person argue that Zimbabwe is an example of capitalism and anarchy, because the corruption is so rampant there…

  22. Giggan says:

    Oh yeah, anyone who frames their sentences with “we need” is unreachable. Or at least they take 10x longer.

  23. Alex Libman says:

    I’m both a Minarchist and an Anarcho-Capitalist, and I don’t see any contradiction in my views. Some FTL forum posts summarizing my position:

  24. Tel says:

    You guys completely miss the point. The primary purpose of government is to protect you from other governments, and to maintain it’s own power. A central command structure has been proven to be very effective for military purposes. Unless you can come up with an equally effective defense force that does not require a central command structure, then you can fully expect to lose the next war. After that you will be subjects of someone else’s empire and your plans for the future will be irrelevant.

    And yes I agree that minarchists tend to get stumped searching for an effective mechanism to prevent continual government expansion, but when you look at the level of government expansion that has already happened it is self-evident that no one at all has any idea how to stop it, nor are the anarchists actually managing to achieve any genuine movement toward smaller government in any realistic sense (unless you believe that all government will suddenly vanish from the world in a simultaneous flash of fantasy, in which case, God help you, and the Spaghetti Man too, you will need all those guys helping and more).

    If anything I would argue that the corrupt criminals who white-ant government from within (causing the structure to fall down as quickly as it builds up) are probably the only practical constraint on complete totalitarianism. In other words, government automatically grows to the largest size that it can grow whilst still remaining reasonably stable, and that’s the size it remains regardless of anyone’s efforts.