I am not a Libertarian.  Libertarians see the government as a “necessary evil” with a BIG emphasis on EVIL.  They have no coherent philosophy of what government SHOULD do and place way too much emphasis on political and social liberty over economic.  The have the mid IQ obsession with conspiracy theories that is so very very embarrassing.

Minarchy is MINIMAL government and it’s position on government is morally neutral.  Simply put–Man’s individual liberty depends on a removal of the option of force from human relations.  By vesting the Sovereign with a monopoly on the legal use and threat of force, in the form of police, courts and military, individuals have somewhere to turn for mutually agreed upon satisfaction of greivances, whether criminal tresspass to person or property or the enforcement of agreements.  This is the bedrock of civilization and the sole legitimate purpose of Government

What do Libertarians believe the LEGITIMATE  role of government is?  Can anyone tell me?  I’ve heard them say they revile force and that the government IS force, well–yeh, if not them, who?  Me?

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11 Responses to Minarchy

  1. Original JB says:

    Libertarianism seems to have changed in the last 20 years, maybe not in theory but in the type of people who seem to profess being ones (and by extension which aspects of it they emphasize/deemphasize.) Too much countercultural cops are pigs/let’s legalize all drugs posturing and less rigorous analysis of policy.

    “The have the mid IQ obsession with conspiracy theories that is so very very embarrassing.”

    I laughed when I read this because I’ve noticed the same thing. At the point where one hits the complexity ceiling, one resorts to conspiracy theorizing.

    I think I once said something like “Libertarianism isn’t a political philosophy, it’s a state of arrested adolescence.” That may have been a bit too uncharitable (there are clearly very rigorous and reasonable libertarian thinkers,) but it certainly describes many self-ascribed libertarians. Many of them simply refuse to face reality.

  2. dana says:

    conspiracy theories really appear to arise at an iq point where you begin to discern connections but yet lack the ability to either properly connect the dots or to discern whether or not you have enough dots to connect

    i’d place them on a continuum half way between religion and science

    note in europe they appear right as science because to get a foothold on religion and skepticism begins to creep in.

    the current black obsession with conspiracy theories indicates to me theyve finally arrived in the 19th century


  3. James Caan says:

    By “vesting the Sovereign with a monopoly on the legal use and threat of force,” you don’t “remov[e] the option of force from human relations,” you institutionalize it. There is no morally legitimate role for government, because the fundamental relationship between a government and its citizens is extortion. Whether government is necessary is a different question entirely.

  4. dana says:

    “By “vesting the Sovereign with a monopoly on the legal use and threat of force,” you don’t “remov[e] the option of force from human relations,” you institutionalize it. ”

    please clarify “institutionalize” it? so?

  5. James Caan says:

    >please clarify “institutionalize” it

    An organization sustained by and devoted to force does not and can not “remove force as an option in human relations.” I can’t make it any clearer.

  6. dana says:

    im sorry

    i misread read your comment–you dispute my saying vesting the use and threat of force in government removes it from between people by saying it doesn’t remove that threat–it institutionalizes it. yes–thats exactly what i mean–by vesting it in a government that is subject itself to the rule of law, the omnipresent threat of personal force is removed from between people. look how almost totally unarmed western societies are? there is still CRIME–but generations long vendettas have been abolished for the most part from between all but the lowest classes.

    every day 1000s of contract disputes are solved to the satisfaction of the parties involved

    without some party having a monopoly on the use of force how would YOU solve contract disputes and deal with injusry and crime?

  7. James Caan says:

    >by vesting it in a government that is subject itself to the rule of law, the omnipresent threat of personal force is removed from between people

    It is not. As you say, crime still exists. In addition, men in costume are willing and able to kidnap and imprison you for anything from smoking cannabis to refusing to be extorted for the sake of a murderous military/industrial complex and endless “social engineering.” Nearly every voluntary interaction for mutual gain is subject to restriction and extortion. That isn’t the removal of violence.

    Resolving family vendettas, that I will grant you.

    >without some party having a monopoly on the use of force how would YOU solve contract disputes and deal with injusry and crime?

    As I said, whether government is necessary is a separate issue from the moral nature of government: evil. We might agree that there is no alternative to government, although I’m not sure I do. But the violent nature of the activity of government compels any moral person to desire the activity of government to be as constrained as possible. That is not the standard by which government is judged today, unfortunately.

  8. dana says:

    “But the violent nature of the activity of government compels any moral person to desire the activity of government to be as constrained as possible”

    and here is the crux

    it is by the very fact that we give government the monopoly on the LICIT, and i have to keep emphasizing LICIT, use of force that compells us to ensure that a properly constituted government remains not only severely limite din SCOPE but also in SIZE, hence the “min-” in minarchy.

    violence is a fact of nature–it is morally neutral. the heart of civilization is human cooperation. as long as anybody has the UNALIENABLE right to use force to solve disputes there can be no cooperation. its that simple. when i talk about the licit use and threat of force i am talking about, say, the government having the power to arbitrate AND ENFORCE a boundary dispute between two neighbors. when was the last time two literal FAMILIES went to war with each other over metes and bounds in the west? crime is ILLICIT force–and is dealt with by the sovereign using its LICIT enforcement arm–do you see my point? we could not develop the level of trust involved in creating advanced technological society if we didn;t at least believe we could turn to the sovereign for some manner of redress from physical crime, broken agreements, legitimate disputes over property, torts, etc it would always be the war of all against all

  9. BobW says:

    I suggest that libertarianism is a sum of vectors, not an ideology. Just as the Democratic and Republican parties in the USA are long term coallitions, so is libertarianism.

    The US government is not, in fact, sovereign. The American people are. Our conflicts with government arise when people in government forget that. We did not set out to replace hereditary autocrats with elected ones.

    As an example, American citizens have the High Justice in their own homes, subject to review by our peers. Almost everywhere in the USA, even where there are strict gun control laws, shooting a home invader will not put you in jail. Unless you obviously lured the intruder into the house sane prosecutors will leave you alone. Juries will refuse to convict you.

    The USA has a much lower hot burglary rate than Europe.

    The disarmament of the West is a recent phenomenon. As recently as WWII the British had the right to keep and bear arms. The saying that “A man’s home is his castle” is English, after all.

  10. R.Sole says:

    Nice blog and interesting post. I describe myself as a small ‘l’ libertarian. I find most Libertarians to use the capital L – it’s a sacred-faith ideology rather than a pragmatic guide to how politics and law would work best. As a sceptic and a pragmatist, I am hostile to ideologies – no ideology in history has ever explained everything, worked as it claimed, or been 100% successful. To claim that Libertarianism is the one ideology that is perfect when all others were flawed is to ignore reality and empirical data -it’s unscientific thinking, blind faith and dogma, not fact-based proven reality.

    An ideological Libertarian thinks Liberty is the highest value, in fact a sacred value. A pragmatic libertarian recognises liberty as one of the most important values but not the only one. For example, survival is higher than liberty. If the choice is between infringing someone’s property rights or dying, then even the most hardcore Libertarian will infringe the property rights, or else die out. Thus true Libertarians self-select out of the gene pool.

    And the survival of the group is more important than the survival one individual. If the human race faces an extinction event, and it can be avoided by killing one person, then the person has to die, just as the fat old man has to be thrown out of the overcrowded sinking lifeboat, even if he’s a nice guy who did nothing wrong. Any moral system that claims otherwise is trying to fight evolutionary fact and human nature, and is thus pie in the sky unrealistic nonsense.

    IMO a pragmatic libertarian views the rights/liberty of the individual as superior to the *preferences* (prejudices, faith-based beliefs, self-interest, traditions etc) of the group.

    On the the function of government – there is no sustained liberty in a society without government. Liberty can only exist naturally in individual cases e.g.a man in nature is free (though more likely to die), a man on the high seas is free. As soon as there are 2 or more people, potential conflicts and struggles for power and dominance will emerge. Having no government means a state of nature where might makes right – whoever has the most force will be able to do what they want. Eventually the strongest will expand their control to most/all of society – and so a “government” (a brutal, oppressive one) does in fact emerge. Thus, no government *guarantees* government – of one of the worst kinds. With no restraint on power, you will get abuse of unrestrained power.

    Libertarians often confuse official government with de facto government. It is de facto government which infringes liberty, not just the official kind. Don Corleone infringed liberty just as much as Stalin, just on a smaller scale. Having no official government does not create a natural state of liberty, it creates a state of 1 or more unofficial and thus less accountable governments.

    So, some kind of government is, by definition, an unavoidable necessity in any society. The question is not, then, should we have government or not. The sole question is what type of government we should have. Pragmatic libertarians recognise that a minarchist government provides more liberty and secures more individual rights than either a collectivist state (social democracy as we have in most of the world) or no state at all (Somalia, mafia-run ghettos, lawless war or disaster zones etc).

    Thereore, all libertarians, whether pragmatic or ideological, who examine the historical evidence, should conclude that small government is the best option for advancing liberty and individual rights. It is an empirical question with a clear-cut answer, and – so long as you value liberty and wish to see it arrive – it has *nothing* to do with your other political views, ideological points, emotions, personal preferences etc. If you want liberty you have to either ignore the evidence or support small government.

  11. R.Sole says:

    James Caan gave an example of ideology (no personal offense meant here):

    “whether government is necessary is a separate issue from the moral nature of government: evil.”

    Would you accept, as a matter of simple logic, that if I can supply just one example of a government action that is not morally evil, then your claim has just been contradicted and must be abandoned?

    If so, then all we have to do is think of one such example. How about if the government catches and imprisons a serial child rapist/murderer? Or fends off an unprovoked hostile invasion from a foreign power? In what ways are those evil?

    I know your next response – they are not evil in themselves, but compulsory taxation to fund them is. So, consider the following case: you start choking to death in a restaurant. A doctor comes over to assist. Because you cannot speak, you cannot consent when he says his usual charge is $50 for saving a life, and he will go ahead once you say yes. You die. What is the alternative? That he tells you he is going to charge you $50, assumes you assent to this fantastic bargain, then saves your life without asking for permission to charge. He bills you in retrospect. Did he commit evil by doing so? You are far better off, and if you had been able to consent, you would have done. I can’t see that action as evil in any way. What if he had said the bill is $5 million? No court would uphold that debt. One must try to impute what the value of the service would have been, had you been able to consent. Difficult, open to disagreement – yes. Evil? No.

    So, consider the corollary – a foreign power invades. Instead of going round to countless millions of people and asking for consent to pay the current defence budget before taking action, and thus losing the war in a few days (and having no standing army because of no tax), the government taxes in advance for military preparedness and spending. Again, is this evil, and if so, how? Everyone, even the most ideological libertarian, needs military protection against aggressive conquering powers. How is it evil if a state provides said service and then bills the populace a fair price for providing it? Even if it is evil for some bizarre reason you come up with, surely it is the *lesser* of two evils – being taxed for defensive military spending (a tiny % of any country’s budget today) is less bad than being untaxed and getting invaded and either killed, enslaved, or taxed at huge rates by the invading collectivist state (since no truly minarchist states wage imperialist wars). Just like pushing a fat man out of a crowded sinking lifeboat is the lesser of two necessary evils (1 person or ALL people die – no other choice), and thus morally virtuous rather than evil, so taxing for military self-defence is not evil, because it is a necessity in the face of the alternative of death, slavery, and defeat.

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