"I cannot accept, your canon that we are to judge pope and king unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they do no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power....Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." ~ Lord Acton
A Quick Response to Per Bylund
Column by John deLaubenfels.
Exclusive to STR
Per Bylund's most recent column on STR is titled Why Minarchists Are the Enemy. That's a pretty strong statement, especially as it identifies minarchists not as AN enemy, but THE enemy, and the text of his column reinforces rather than softens the message. We read, for example, that (in some sense at least) "minarchist libertarians are nothing but gutless wimps" who are "statist socialists with a fetish."
Full disclosure: I'm somewhere between a "minarchist libertarian" and an anarchist. I'm not convinced that either will result in a stable society that consistently dispenses justice, given the apparently intractably flawed nature of humankind. However, I don't take particular personal offense at Mr. Bylund's accusations, but rather find them wildly off the mark.
Mr. Bylund seems to be confused as a result of using sloppy definitions of terms such as "minarchist libertarian" (I'll use ML for short). He accuses the group, for example, of responding to the question of who will provide for helpless individuals in society by answering, "government will take care of this matter." I've NEVER met a self-professed ML who would answer the question in that way, and would assert that no rational definition of ML would lead to such a response.
It's true that some people who self-identify as MLs almost certainly do make silly statements that reveal them to be statists in libertarian clothing. So what? It's also true that there are people who describe themselves as anarchists, who advocate throwing bombs into crowds as a way of promoting a better society. Shall we therefore state, "Anarchists are murderers who delight in bloody chaos"? The statement is as absurd as Mr. Bylund's is about MLs.
A minarchist libertarian, as I define the term, is someone who believes that human beings are born with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men. It may well be the case (as time goes by I'm more and more convinced it IS the case) that any government will, over time, grow and encroach on basic rights, until it no more secures rights than a thief in an alley does. It is perfectly reasonable to question the practicality of trying to bring to pass a minarchist's dream of the best possible society. It is nothing short of ridiculous to try to dismiss all MLs as statists in disguise, as Mr. Bylund does.
I would never ask Mr. Bylund to consort with people whose philosophies are at genuine odds with his own. I would ask him to consider, however, that by going out of his way to promote infighting among people who really are on the same side of the liberty question as he is, he may be illustrating the maxim (apologies to Edmund Burke) "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to squander their energies fighting each other."