My Frustration With You Minarchists

Column by Alex R. Knight III.

Exclusive to STR

It’s not as great as with the out-and-out leftie government lovers, but it’s catching up. In fact, in many ways you’re worse. It’s not your sentiments, for the most part, just your methods.

They will change nothing.

In fact, they are detrimental.

Let’s set aside the fact that any government, however small, violates the Non-Aggression Principle – the very foundation of libertarianism. That alone sufficiently torpedoes your intentions to the point of non-redemption, but let’s even talk pure surface pragmatism for a bit. Theoretical math, if you like.

Suppose that in Magical Minarchy Land, American government was rolled back to where it was in 1790 or so (okay, 1791 if you want the Bill of Rights in there). Let’s even suppose that this was not an instantaneous process, but a gradual one, in which a sizable enough percentage of the populace were educated and ideologically-aligned enough to vote in overwhelming numbers for a therefore presumably available full slate of constitutionally-minded candidates at all levels of governance: Federal, state, municipal, and local. And over the same number of years it took this process to occur, little by little, laws, regulations, and taxes were rolled back – by hitches, and with stops and starts from various sources of opposition. But ultimately, small government prevailed. Bare bones constitutionalism, through the correct sequence of elected and appointed bureaucrats, and after many fierce and tedious legislative battles, became reality.

What actual chance would you give this to last? And for just how long?

Remember that this enormously hard-fought and tediously patched-together “victory” could collapse in the very next election cycle. It could likewise fail if or when those in office also retire, die, become corrupted with payoffs, are intimidated, or simply commit human error in their voting record. Unelected judges can issue blanket rulings reinstating in a fell swoop what was erased from case law after much harangue, debate, and sacrifice. Police, soldiers, and tax collectors – although perhaps feeling some temporary restraint in the wake of the newborn socio-political tone – are still free to act as viciously as possible, with no market-based accountability. The socialist, tax-financed agency set up to employ them – in which they are tasked with policing themselves – ensures that no meaningful accountability will be brought to bear against any of their misdeeds, no matter how egregious, except in a bare minority of cases.

Do you see how this cannot work? Getting there is a fanciful enough proposition. Staying there for any extended measure of time is a concept so preposterous as to be disregarded out-of-hand as completely absurd.

So long as government exists – meaning, that so long as most of the population desire it or at least consider it necessary in some form -- there will be a sizable faction who will seek to use its fundamental characteristic of deadly force to their advantage: Whether this be out of a desire to be welfare-dependent, or out of raw power-lust. Whether to wage war with impunity, or to impose one’s egotistical ideas on others. The mechanism of government will be used to violate the lives, liberty, and property of others by others. Always. That’s why they call themselves “legislators” and “lawmakers.” Lawmakers! Correspondingly, do you ever see them doing anything except passing more and more of those? It’s never less of anything . . . except maybe self-restraint. The “solutions” of the government bureaucrats are in every case more taxes, rules, prisons, police, wars, surveillance, intolerance. And the overall situation, in every arena, grows exponentially worse as a result.

Do you seriously think that’s going to end? Ever? At any future point no matter how you try to “limit” it?

And yet, likely, you call a world without any of this unrealistic and utopian. You say Market Anarchy/Voluntaryism cannot possibly function, nor prevail. Even when the last 70 centuries of doing things your way have led us to the present reality. That’s a track record I sure as hell wouldn’t want to defend, and that’s just one of the more predominant reasons why I don’t.

You can be part of the solution, or part of advancing the problem. Right now, you’re pretty much in bed with the lefties who constantly tell us that we’re just one more set of taxes and regulations away from risk-free ultra-perfect Marxist heaven-on-earth. Is that where you want to be? Really?

I’d ask you to think about it. Here’s a damned good place to get started.

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Alex R. Knight III's picture
Columns on STR: 111

Alex R. Knight III is the author of numerous horror, science-fiction, and fantasy tales, including Tales from Dark 7.  He has also written and published poetry; non-fiction articles, reviews, and essays for a variety of venues; and is former Communications Director for the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire.  In 1998, he was awarded Activist of the Year for that organization.  He now lives and writes in rural southern Vermont where he holds a B.A. in Literature & Writing from Union Institute & University, and looks forward to living in a governmentless society of liberty.

Comments

Jim Davies's picture

Well said, Alex. I've had many friends who'd call themselves Constitutionalists, and admire their courage very much. Often, it would put some of us to shame. They keep on calling on government to obey its laws, to stay within the bounds that charter set for it. Nobody listens, or cares.
 
American history since 1790 is all the proof required, that "limited government" is unattainable.
 
And the 1790s themselves were not exactly pristine. That was the decade of Washington's savage suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion, and of the Alien & Sedition Acts. Government is not an entity to which limits can apply. If they could, government would not be government.

Mark Davis's picture

My minarchist (I prefer calling them ministatists) friends like to tell me that we agree on 98% of issues and they just can't figure out why I'm so passionate about the 2% we disagree on.  I retort that principles are not fungible and agreeing that there should be less initiation of violence (smaller states) is well and good, but we will disagree when they try to promote the idea that the initiation of violence is just fine as long as some collectivist institution (a ministate) run by people with (supposed) good intentions does it; and not only is this okay, but required by human nature.
Then I'm told that I'm a Utopian.  You explain well why it is the ministatist that is the Utopian stargazer.

Thunderbolt's picture

Great article! Like oil and water, the two will not mix, no matter how much you stir. The Online Freedom Academy should be required reading in every public prison (school).

Paul's picture

Minarchists don't bother me. Hell, communists don't bother me. I'd rather have a hundred communists who decline to impose on me, than one anarchist who doesn't. The imposition is the problem, not the particular political model favored by the individual.

Panarchy is the answer. :-)

Sharon Secor's picture

You are so right. It is the imposition. How people choose to organize themselves is just fine, as long as they do not try to force my participation or assign legislative penalties upon my decision not to participate.