Anarcho-capitalism and minarchism

Anarcho-capitalism and minarchism are two distinct strains of libertarianism.[1][2][3] Although anarcho-capitalists and minarchists agree on most political issues, they are often hostile towards each other, particularly because most adherents of both philosophies support the non-aggression principle and see the opposing philosophy of misrepresenting its political implications.

Philosophical disagreements

Anarcho-capitalism advocates abolishing the state. Minarchism has been variously defined by sources. In the strictest sense, it is the political philosophy which maintains that the state is necessary and that its only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police, and courts. In the broadest sense, it also includes fire departments, prisons, the executive, and legislatures as legitimate government functions.[4][5][6] Minarchist states are called night watchman states.

Minarchists generally justify the state on the grounds that it is the logical consequence of adhering to the non-aggression principle. They argue that anarchism is immoral because it implies that the non-aggression principle is optional. They argue that this is because the enforcement of laws under anarchism is open to competition.[citation needed] Another common justification is that private defense and court firms would tend to represent the interests of those who pay them enough.[7] Anarcho-capitalists generally argue that the state violates the non-aggression principle by its nature because governments use force against those who have not stolen private property, vandalized private property, assaulted anyone, or committed fraud.[8][9] Many also argue that monopolies tend to be corrupt and inefficient.

Murray Rothbard argued that all government services, including defense, are inefficient because they lack a market-based pricing mechanism regulated by the voluntary decisions of consumers purchasing services that fulfill their highest-priority needs and by investors seeking the most profitable enterprises to invest in. Therefore, the state's monopoly on the use of force is a violation of natural rights. He wrote, "The defense function is the one reserved most jealously by the State. It is vital to the State's existence, for on its monopoly of force depends its ability to exact taxes from the citizens. If citizens were permitted privately owned courts and armies, then they would possess the means to defend themselves against invasive acts by the government as well as by private individuals."[10] In his book Power and Market, he argued that geographically large minarchist states are indifferent from a unified minarchist world monopoly government.[11] Rothbard wrote governments were not inevitable, noting that it often took hundreds of years for aristocrats to set up a state out of anarchy.[12] He also argued that if a minimal state allows individuals to freely secede from the current jurisdiction to join a competing jurisdiction, then it does not by definition constitute a state.[13]

Anarcho-capitalists generally argue that private defense and court agencies would have to have a good reputation in order to stay in business. Furthermore, Linda & Morris Tannehill argue that no coercive monopoly of force can arise on a truly free market and that a government's citizenry can’t desert them in favor of a competent protection and defense agency.[14]

History of conflict

The two philosophies have historically been in conflict with each other. The debate over which philosophy is preferable has been most notably pursued by Walter Block, Bryan Caplan, Roderick Long, and Stefan Molyneux defending anarchism against minarchists such as Ayn Rand, Tibor Machan, and Robert Nozick.[15][16][17]

The U.S. Libertarian Party sought to be a "big tent" party when it was founded by welcoming both factions into its midst. The 1974 Libertarian National Convention adopted the Dallas Accord, which made the platform of the Libertarian Party purposefully ambiguous on the desirability of the state's existence. This involved using such phrases as "where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual" in the statement of principles. In 2006, delegates to a national convention added the following language to the section on "Crime and Justice": "Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property." This led some to feel that anarchists were no longer welcome in the party.[18]

Related topics


  1. ^ Stringham, Edward Anarchy and the Law Transaction Publishers (2007). New Brunswick. pp. p.504. ISBN 0765803305. 
  2. ^ Christensen, Karen (2003). Encyclopedia of Community. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. pp. p.859. ISBN 0761925988. 
  3. ^ Heywood, Andrew (2000). Key Concepts in Politics. New York: Macmillan. pp. p.63. ISBN 0312233817. 
  4. ^ Gregory, Anthory.The Minarchist's Dilemma. Strike The Root. 10 May 2004.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Holcombe, Randall G. Government: Unnecessary but Inevitable. 
  8. ^ Long, Roderick, Market Anarchism as Constitutionalism, Molinari Institute.
  9. ^ Plauché, Geoffrey Allan (2006). On the Social Contract and the Persistence of Anarchy, American Political Science Association, (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University).
  10. ^ y (March 18, 2004). "The Myth of Efficient Government Service". 
  11. ^ Murray Rothbard. Power and Market: Defense services on the Free Market. p. 1051. "It is all the more curious, incidentally, that while laissez-faireists should by the logic of their position, be ardent believers in a single, unified world government, so that no one will live in a state of “anarchy” in relation to anyone else, they almost never are." 
  12. ^ Murray Rothbard. Power and Market: Defense services on the Free Market. p. 1054. "In the purely free-market society, a would-be criminal police or judiciary would find it very difficult to take power, since there would be no organized State apparatus to seize and use as the instrumentality of command. To create such an instrumentality de novo is very difficult, and, indeed, almost impossible; historically, it took State rulers centuries to establish a functioning State apparatus. Furthermore, the purely free-market, stateless society would contain within itself a system of built-in “checks and balances” that would make it almost impossible for such organized crime to succeed." 
  13. ^ Murray Rothbard. Power and Market: Defense services on the Free Market. p. 1051. "But, of course, if each person may secede from government, we have virtually arrived at the purely free society, where defense is supplied along with all other services by the free market and where the invasive State has ceased to exist." 
  14. ^ Linda & Morris Tannehill. The Market for Liberty, p. 81.
  15. ^ "Anarcho-Capitalism". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  16. ^ Long, Roderick T. (2008). "Market Anarchism as Constitutionalism". In Long and Tibor Machan. Anarchism/Minarchism: Is a Government Part of a Free Country?. Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 0754660664. 
  17. ^ Nozick, Robert (1974). Anarchy, State, and Utopia. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0465097200. 
  18. ^ Antman, Less. "The Dallas Accord Is Dead". May 12, 2008.

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