Sunday, April 18, 2010

On minarchism and anarcho-capitalism

First, and once again, thanks for the (mainly) encouraging comments left on the first post of this new blog. I shall endeavour not to disappoint.

Second, I might try to write a quick post on why I capitulated on The Daily Politics (clue: it has something to do with not fucking over other people in preference to your own personal foibles). However, out of deference, I will probably wait until Sunny Hundal has stopped creaming his panties...

Third, my real life work is getting even more busy so articles will not be flying fast and furious from my keyboard.

Fourth, and most importantly, there is an excellent article over at Counting Cats concerning the problems with anarcho-capitalism.
But it’s at this point that, if we stand back, we realise that the anarcho-capitalists have played a sly trick on us (and, perhaps, on themselves too). We started off asking what society would provide the least coercion. We then noted that the power to coerce is a monopoly of the State. So, by confining the State, we confine coercion. The more we confine the State, the less coercion there is; it is as if coercive power is some violent beast, and we put it in a cage of constitutional limitations. But the anarcho-capitalist isn’t asking that question any more. They are now asking the question-

How can the private sector provide what the State previously provided?

And the product that the State was providing was coercion itself! We started off asking how to rid ourselves, as much as possible, of the whole panoply of arbitrary laws, and courts and police to enforce those arbitrary laws and so on, and the answer the anarcho-capitalist has come back with is, “don’t worry, under my system there will be arbitrary laws and courts and police in abundance!” Our quest for liberty has entirely disappeared, replaced with the search for how to restrict liberty in the absence of a state!

I have, as a minarchist, been berated for believing that any kind of state is necessary: I don't think that a state is necessary—merely that it is the best system in any society that requires coercion.

From a philosophical point of view, I am a pure libertarian—in other words, I believe that, were humans "perfect", no coercion would be necessary. However, I recognise that humans are not "perfect" and—given our biological drivers—never will be. As such, any human society is going to require some coercion.

To my mind, therefore, we should always try to find the best possible outcome—that is, a societal construct that protects property rights but employs the minimal possible coercion. As far as I am concerned, that is a minarchist state.

Anyway, this is a theme that I shall return to but—in the meantime—do take the time to read Ian B's article...


Westerlyman said...

I think Ian B has pointed out the weakness in An Cap.

The weakness of minarchism (which is my own favourite 'ism') is that having a Bill of rights and a Constitution that lay out the rights and restrictions of a government, how do we ensure that these are not amended, or ignored, over time like they were in the US?

The founding fathers brought forth an almost perfect state and over 200 hundred years later what we see is nothing like the restricted government that was intended by those visionaries.

JuliaM said...

"However, out of deference, I will probably wait until Sunny Hundal has stopped creaming his panties..."

I'm betting Hell freezes over first...