Minarchism & Anarchism

I consider myself a student when it comes to libertarian thought. There's still much to learn and explore. One of the biggest debates among libertarians is between minarchy, minimal or limited public government, such as that established by the U.S. Constitution, and anarchy, the absence of public government or the absence of the state.

Among my so far limited amount of study between the two, I have yet to encounter a truly appealing and constructive view into what is called market-anarchy. (This is also called anarcho-capitalism.) That is until I read this article by the libertarian philosopher Roderick T. Long. I am not yet prepared to come down on either side, but this essay is deserving of my sharing it here. He explores the possible fulfillment of constitutionalism in market anarchy. His introduction:
A legal system is any institution or set of institutions in a given society that provides dispute resolution in a systematic and reasonably predictable way. It does so through the exercise of three functions: the judicial, the legislative, and the executive. The judicial function, the adjudication of disputes, is the core of any legal system; the other two are ancillary to this. The legislative function is to determine the rules that will govern the process of adjudication (this function may be merged with the judicial function, as when case law arises through precedents, or it may be exercised separately), while the executive function is to secure submission (through a variety of means, which may or may not include violence) to the adjudicative process and compliance with its verdicts. A government or state (for present purposes I shall use these terms interchangeably) is any organisation that claims, and in large part achieves, a forcibly maintained monopoly, within a given geographical territory, of these legal functions, and in particular of the use of force in the executive function.

Now the market anarchist objection to government is simply a logical extension of the standard libertarian objection to coercive monopolies in general. First, from a moral point of view, among people regarded as equals it cannot be legitimate for some to claim a certain line of work as their own privileged preserve from which others are to be forcibly excluded; we no longer believe in the divine right of kings, and on no other basis could such inequality of rights be justified. Second, from an economic point of view, because monopolies are insulated from market competition and hold their customers by force, they lack both the information and the incentive to provide consumers with fair, efficient, and inexpensive service. The anarchist accepts these arguments, and merely asks why they should apply with any less force to the provision of legal services.
The entire thing can be downloaded here (.pdf).


Stefan Molyneux said…
Hey, sorry to intrude, but if you are interested, I have a free audio book/PDF on how such a stateless society could practically work - Practical Anarchy, available at http://www.freedomainradio.com/free/#PA
The anarchist dream strikes me as a utopian fantasy. In my opinion the argument for an anarchist society is an argument for life in Haiti

Let's have minimal and constitutionally limited government. Give me Jeffersonian minarchism please.

Mark, it has been difficult for me to imagine market anarchy, especially in light of those places in the world that are in chaos. I'm sure studying more the reasons for that chaos with either support, or the opposite, the idea of market anarchy. As Walter Block has written, "Thus many have agreed that this debate [anarchism vs. minarchism], except as a matter of intellectual curiosity, will have no practical relevance until that happy day when present governments are reduced to, say, 5 percent of their present size and influence." 5% is our goal, then we can seriously discuss anarchism/minarchism, the way I see it.