Anarchists & Minarchists & Socialists, oh, my!

I’m getting asked a certain question a lot lately. Why pick on minarchists? We’re on the same side! Why aren’t you picking on socialists more? I’m glad I was asked because it made me put some thought into best how to express this with words. What is it about the philosophy of minarchism that really gets up in my craw?

And then it occurred to me. Anarchists and minarchists in one key respect are polar opposites. I’ve said before that there is an ocean between an anarchist and a minarchist, but only a creek between a minarchist and a socialist and I can finally nail it down succinctly. An anarchist believes that a monopoly government is the source of our enslavement. A minarchist believes a monopoly government is crucial to protecting our liberties. Exact opposites! So why do people keep saying we’re on the same side? Presumably it’s because we have similar preferences. We both love liberty.

(Read On…)

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71 Comments

  1. Exactly right. Minarchists make it harder for us anarchists to get people to understand liberty. This irrational thought that we need an organization to initiate force in order to protect us all from the initiation of force is the biggest impediment to getting a clear and consistent message of liberty out there. Die minarchism, die!

  2. The (Read On…) link was broken but has now been repaired.

  3. //Minarchists make it harder for us anarchists to get people to understand liberty.//

    Seriously? Talk to the average person on the street, show them how liberty can be achieved with reducing government vs. anarchy; they won't get anarchy, they will think of it as scary and you won't get anywhere.

    //Presumably it’s because we have similar preferences. We both love liberty.//

    And what's wrong with that? Why be decisive? Focus on common goals and go forth.

    And sorry Dale, again, you are putting all minarchists into the same boat. We don't all think government is "essential" to protect liberty, some of us think that since it's here lets work on getting it to do that.

    You talk about logic and crititcal thiking, then don't be a collectivist because it will likely lead to incorrect conclusions.

  4. You idiots.

    Stop taking energy away from the struggle.

    Minarchists would get popped just the same as fascists if they believed a state knows best. idiots. states, by the very definition, cause heart break and greed, war and corruption…anyone representing the state is an enemy of mine. so fuck you.

  5. Scott, you misunderstood me. Your reply does not address my claim.

    I'd like to see one example of reducing government size. That's a complete fairy tale.

  6. Anarchists believe that the initiation of force against individuals whose actions are not causing harm to anyone else is never justified. Period. Minarchists won't follow that belief to its natural conclusion, which does not allow for an institution with the exclusive right to make and enforce the law.

  7. Minarchists are just timid voluntaryists, and many who call themselves minarchists are really only gradualists. See Scott: "We don’t all think government is “essential” to protect liberty, some of us think that since it’s here lets work on getting it to do that."

    It's really not helpful to bash them, in my view, as I said earlier, I consider them allies — at least tactically, and for the gradualists, strategically as well.

  8. How is it that someone who insists on propping up the beast and the insane delusion that one can reduce the beast in size is the ally of someone who is entirely against the beast in all its forms?

  9. As much as you may believe it is a tactic that will ultimately be unsuccessful, attempting to reduce the size of the beast is not equivalent to propping it up, any more than cutting some of a prisoner's chains is equivalent to strengthening the others.

    I say that gradualists are strategic allies as well as tactical ones, because they ultimately believe in the NAP — they wish to make me completely free.

    I say that true minarchists, who believe in a small coercive government, are tactical allies, because they wish to make me many times freer than I am now.

  10. Hear Hear!

    Minarchists. Love u guys!

    Just remember, when the time comes…

    Leave Me Alone

  11. //and many who call themselves minarchists are really only gradualists//

    This would be accurate with my view.

    This is part of why I get pissed when all minarchists or all libertarians in general are said to have a unified specifc motive or belief other than valueing liberty and having the NAP. We are individuals and our ideas are as varied as any other group.

    //I say that true minarchists, who believe in a small coercive government, are tactical allies, because they wish to make me many times freer than I am now.//

    That makes practical sence, yet some folks will say that you are "un-principled" for saying this, and that's when it's gets to the point of dogma over the point of what will work.

    //I’d like to see one example of reducing government size. That’s a complete fairy tale.//

    I'd like to see an example of government magically going away so people can interact on a solely voluntary basis.

    Here's one example of reducing government. Several years ago, the Manitoba government owned telephone company was put in the free market, and competition in phone services was opened up. That's one huge government branch that was eliminated.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manitoba_Telecom_Ser

  12. Yay Manitoba! Love you guys!

    Now, let's open up those power monopolies. Better yet, let's all have portable reactors!

    When that happens, you know you're on the right track

  13. There has been much grumbling about marketizing some other provincial programs, such as the government car insurance and Manitoba Hydro, though insurance is more likely.

  14. Sovereigns have 'business ventures' and governments have 'programs'. A program is a specific set of ordered operations, while a venture is a risky or dangerous undertaking, especially a business enterprise in which there is danger of loss as well as chance for profit.

    Not hard to imagine why 'ventures' work out so much better than 'programs'. Good ventures come, and bad ones go, but programs just roll on in their predetermined way without regard to reality or anything else.

  15. Minarchists are allies in spirit but it's a bit like the guy in a sitcom at the CPR class who just rears his fist back and slams it into the dummy's chest as hard as he can. The intention to do good is there but he's not helping and will likely make it worse.

    It's still good that their hearts are in the right place. That means they're good people and potential allies, but they're not true allies yet until they stop contributing to the illusions and legitimacy of statism, the State's greatest weapons for enslaving us.

    Anarchy is not a system to implement upon society. Anarchy is a personal philosophy. Anarchy is in your head and your heart when you are ready for it. Free yourself of the virus of the mind known as statism and you will be on track to at least begin to reduce the state's power over us.

  16. As much as you may believe it is a tactic that will ultimately be unsuccessful, attempting to reduce the size of the beast is not equivalent to propping it up, any more than cutting some of a prisoner’s chains is equivalent to strengthening the others.

    The proper analogy is becoming a chain-installer or reinforcing the legitimacy of the process that puts chains on people. Running for office and voting increases government's legitimacy, the very thing which we must take away in order to become successful.

    Cutting some chains would be disobeying some laws and not others, but what inside-the-system types are doing is strengthening all the chains by competing to be in charge of the chains. No one should be in charge of the chains.

    I say that gradualists are strategic allies as well as tactical ones, because they ultimately believe in the NAP — they wish to make me completely free.

    Why is the word "ultimately" in this sentence. Either one lives the NAP or they don't. Government types are not living it.

    "they wish to make me completely free". This is the core problem. You can't set people free via government. Government is the initiation of force, which is the opposite of liberty.

    I’d like to see an example of government magically going away so people can interact on a solely voluntary basis.

    It's a strawman to say that is what anarchists say will happen. Read the New Libertarian Manifesto, it has a decent strategy that does not involve the "government magically going away".

    Here’s one example of reducing government. Several years ago, the Manitoba government owned telephone company was put in the free market, and competition in phone services was opened up

    Interesting but doesn't strike me as significant.

  17. Well, certainly anarchists don't have enough enemies or obstacles as it is.

    Most of the planet's populaton being statists and having overwhelming resources at their disposal? Bah! Might as well turn off potential minarchist allies as well by adopting the old "You're either with us, or you're with the terrists." meme. Everyone loves the underdog and the tough loner-type antihero anyway. Well, except all those statists…

    But, if we aren't going to turn them off completely with anger or ridicule, let's at least give them the warm welcome of a three-eyed mutant nose-picking cousin from "over yonder" so we can point and laugh at them and their statist security blanket from time to time.

  18. //Interesting but doesn’t strike me as significant.//

    That's irrelevant. You asked for one example of a reduction in government, "a fairy tale" I gave ya one.

    BTW, for Manitobans it is significant. Do you want the government system as your only choice for cell phone service? That's what we would have if it was never marketized.

  19. It's relevant to *me* Scott. If government's intrusion on my liberty can't be significantly rolled back then there is absolutely zero countervailing value in me working within the beast.

    You know Zeus, anarchists are not PR people generally speaking. We're not usually the type who's out looking to coddle people into being our friends and allies. Generally speaking we're people who at least have the courage of spirit required to search for the truth and stick by it.

  20. //It’s relevant to *me* Scott.//

    You are trying to distract from the point, you asked for ONE example, and I gave ya one. Just because it's not significant to your life doesn't mean it's not significant to others.

    //then there is absolutely zero countervailing value in me working within the beast.//

    I'm not telling ya to, do what you want. You are making assumptions about this minarchsit that I want you to "work in the system". More collectivism and asummptions about minarchists.

    //Generally speaking we’re people who at least have the courage of spirit required to search for the truth and stick by it.//

    This "truth" thing is getting dogmatic. There is no absolute truth.

    It only works if someone accepts the NAP, and there are some people in this world that don't, so a small government or anarchist message won't get to them.

  21. Scott, that's not an assumption. It is a fact I learned from dealing with minarchists. Not everything is about you personally.

    More collectivism? Whatever.

    "There is no absolute truth."

    Oh Scott. 🙂 "There is no absolute truth." is an absolute truth. Now go listen to Stefan Molynuex's podcasts or something.

    People who don't accept the NAP are DEFINITELY not my ally.

  22. //It is a fact I learned from dealing with minarchists.//

    You are assuming that all minarchists are the same. That would be as much as a fallicy as assuming that all anarchists are the same. Your personal dealings with a few people is not a large enough sample size to make an assumption about a whole group of people, THAT is collectivism.

    //People who don’t accept the NAP are DEFINITELY not my ally.//

    Many minarchists DO accept the NAP. But you are willing to call them your enemy and fight against them rather than work with them? Good luck with that and your "truth".

  23. You know Zeus, anarchists are not PR people generally speaking. We’re not usually the type who’s out looking to coddle people into being our friends and allies. Generally speaking we’re people who at least have the courage of spirit required to search for the truth and stick by it.

    While there is much truth in what you say, it is equally true that there are those anarchists among us who tend to come off angry and mean-spirited which is extremely unhelpful in trying to explain one's point of view to statists, minarchists or even each other.

    Any anarchist is going to have a difficult time telling Joe Statist to put away the gun and leave him/her alone or convince Mary Minarchist the logic and reason of the NAP if they start barking guttural Klingon at them and shake their fist in the air.

    In other words, my concern is about tact, not coddling.

  24. No I don't assume they're all the same.

    Anarchists by definition work against minarchists. Your statement goes to show that you don't understand what the terms mean.

    Again no one here is barking or pumping fists. More strawmen.

  25. Anarchists by definition work against minarchists. Your statement goes to show that you don’t understand what the terms mean.

    I understand them fine. I just prefer Sun Tsu's advice to "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."

    Plus, I understand that minarchists don't mean to be "enemies". They want to be allies because they want the same thing, they're just not quite sure they want as much of it as anarchists. Statists, on the other hand, actively work against both groups.

    By acting civil toward them and trying friendlier methods of persuasion, they may not be minarchists for long.

    And that, at least to me, is a much more workable solution than demonizing them and berating them for their inability to take the final leap of faith into the pool of free market anarchism, to let go of the last of their statist beliefs.

    It's like badgering a smoker about quitting. Eventually, they write you off as a "Health Nazi" and ignore your "advice". They know they need to stop. They know it isn't healthy. They know it hurts others around them. They know it's hurting them and is a waste of their money. What they need is assistance in quitting their addiction. Not harassment.

    Again no one here is barking or pumping fists. More strawmen.

    Sorry, I tend to speak figuratively and be a metaphor hog. What I meant by those is hostility. Even here, being a voluntaryist who doesn't simply accept the company line and who dares to critique standard anarchist methods, I wound up on the receiving end of some of that hostility.

    When I was a minarchist, I got it far worse and saw others get it even more. Even among anarchists there is collectivism but worse than that, there seems to be this tendency to devolve into cranky zealotry.

    Of course, not all anarchists are like this. But enough of them are that it appears to be the norm — in my experiences thus far at least.

    Of course, pointing this all out isn't likely to earn me any hugs either.

  26. Minarchists simply want the beast that is government to eat less. I want the beast dead.

  27. I think the more accurate parallel to minarchism would not be socialism, but rather petty authoritarianism. Socialism certainly does have its brands of authoritarianism, but it is a pretty broad concept that doesn't always include authoritarianism.

    But functionally the argument you're making Dale, et. al. is all the same and no less true.

  28. Minarchists simply want the beast that is government to eat less. I want the beast dead.

    Good point. 350 million Americans, the majority of whom are statists who either want to keep the status quo or fatten the beast up so it'll do tricks for them… one you… yep. They're outnumbered.

    Go ahead and kill the beast. We'll wait.

    Forget what I said about embracing minarchists as allies. Who needs them when you've got Jeff? 🙂

  29. It's kind of funny that tact keeps coming up. I already admitted to being tactless. I'm a cartoonist! Tact has no place in a comic strip. It's a tool of the trade to exaggerate and make fun.

    On top of that, I think when you are talking about a subject that is so thoroughly indoctrinated into people from such a young age, it takes a proverbial grabbing of the shoulders and shaking a person, slapping them around a bit (again proverbially) and shouting "SNAP OUT OF IT! YOU'VE BEEN BRAIN-WASHED!" I talk about that in a blog post called Softening the Message of a Hard Truth.

    I've been there myself. I know how powerful that indoctrination process is. It wasn't easy for me to escape either.

  30. Thank you Dale, my point exactly!!

  31. On top of that, I think when you are talking about a subject that is so thoroughly indoctrinated into people from such a young age, it takes a proverbial grabbing of the shoulders and shaking a person, slapping them around a bit (again proverbially) and shouting “SNAP OUT OF IT! YOU’VE BEEN BRAIN-WASHED!” I talk about that in a blog post called Softening the Message of a Hard Truth.

    And my point has been that the tactic you subscribe to is part of a glacially-slow process with a relatively low success rate. It rarely, if ever, works on cultists and it's unlikely to work on statists. Few of them listen to opposing views as it is. Verbally slapping them around is just going to turn off the majority of them. And then what do you have to show for all that effort? Certainly not converts… and now, not even allies. Perhaps even new enemies to join the multitudes already opposing you.

    I present to you Empirical Evidence Exhibit B, an article regarding a recent research study on how people react to new or opposing views.

    In the struggle between authoritarianism and anarchism, the odds are massively stacked against us. Why is it that a call for tactfulness and strategy are so unwelcome among anarchists?

    Why not heed master-strategist Sun Tzu's other piece of advice?

    "The enemy of my enemy is my ally."

    All that said, if I have not convinced you after all my rambling that there is at least room for other, less hostile methods or that there is value in having minarchist allies, and you still believe the right choice for you is to badger and ridicule them into giving up their statist ways, so be it. Perhaps we can at least agree to disagree. We each choose are own paths. Some are bumpier than others and some are dead ends.

    Just remember this:

    "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." – Zen Master Linji

  32. The enemy of my enemy are the big government people. They are our allies bc they will grow govt till it collapses. Best of luck to them.

  33. Considering that those Big Government allies are kidnapping, stealing and killing people while you wait for the inevitable collapse, how much harm will they continue to cause until then? How many lives will be shattered?

    And you're okay with that?

  34. Of course not. I'm just saying that they make our case for us. While the minarchists distort our message.

  35. I'm with Dale. How can I use tact when dealing with people who think they own some part of me, no matter how small?

  36. It's unfortunate you guys are so willing to not only write off minarchist allies like Mark at Free Talk Live or Nick & Toby from Free Minds Media but actually regard them as your enemies.

    I find such an attitude mindbogglingly counterproductive, hostile and close-minded.

  37. George, I think Zeus has some good points. Yes, minarchists view the necessity of the state from a utilitarian instead of an ethical point of view, which is a huge mistake that compromises their entire moral argument against aggression. And I believe that a consistent moral argument, such as the one that anarchists present, can be much more persuasive in educating the general public about the virtues of non-aggression.

    But the fighting and bickering going on here is very unproductive and harmful to the cause of anarchism. Before I was an anarchist I was a minarchist, or limited government libertarian. And I loved liberty then just as much as I do now. But I didn't understand anarchism. The person who probably had the most to do with my finally seeing the light was Sheldon Richman. Sheldon's arguments for anarchism over minarchism were never abrasive or condensending, but patient and understanding. Sheldon didn't try to make me feel stupid or foolish for not understanding anarchism. Instead, Sheldon provided me with the resources that I needed to see why anarchism is right and minarchism is not. He answered my questions. And, in the end, he convinced me that he was right.

  38. <blockquote cite="George Donnelly"> The enemy of my enemy are the big government people. They are our allies bc they will grow govt till it collapses. Best of luck to them.

    But George, as we've noted, it doesn't help anything for government to end that way. That's how you get Somalia — and other examples of chaos around the world. A people fully willing to rule violently over each other will do so, central government or no.

    The only way to really reduce agressive violence is for people to reject government for the right reasons, not simply to wait for the government to collapse under its own weight.

    <blockquote cite="GEORGE DONNELLY">The proper analogy is becoming a chain-installer or reinforcing the legitimacy of the process that puts chains on people. Running for office and voting increases government’s legitimacy, the very thing which we must take away in order to become successful. Cutting some chains would be disobeying some laws and not others, but what inside-the-system types are doing is strengthening all the chains by competing to be in charge of the chains. No one should be in charge of the chains.

    I know that's the party line, but I frankly think it's baloney. If someone were to offer to give me real power in MS-13, I'd take it, and try to reduce their violence as much as possible, and disrupt their operations. That doesn't mean I approve of MS-13. To take that position would not be to increase the "legitimacy" of MS-13, only to use whatever means I have at my disposal to stop it from doing evil. If a person tries to get control of the chains in order to cut them all, that's absolutely a worthy goal. In reality, of course, no one person has "control" of the chains, but if a person uses whatever power they have to try to eliminate all the chains they can, that person is absolutely an ally of mine.

    Just as, if I really were rotting in a dungeon on false charges, I'd be absolutely grateful for any person able to get a place on the prison control board, in order to conpletely oppose all false imprisonments, and consistently work to set me free. I'd also support people trying to undermine the authority of the board to hold prisoners at all, as you propose.

    <blockquote cite="George Donnelly">Why is the word “ultimately” in this sentence. Either one lives the NAP or they don’t. Government types are not living it. “they wish to make me completely free”. This is the core problem. You can’t set people free via government. Government is the initiation of force, which is the opposite of liberty.

    They currently believe in the NAP, they only have a different tactic from yours in order to get there. The word "ultimately" is only there because they're gradualists, and eliminating aggression is their final goal. You know, I am driving through the woods and over the brook, "ultimately" to grandmother's house. If enough people get elected who want to reduce government power, they can vote to do so. Government initiates force, these people are infiltrating the organization to stop it. Again, your reasoning ignores the possiblity of infiltrating an organization in order to stop it — apparently a CIA agent in the Kremlin is really pro-Russia, and FBI informants in the mob were really supporting it.

    You prefer outside the system tactics, and that's fine. You prefer to publically denegrate the mob, and convince people to boycott it, rather than to infiltrate it and stop it from harming people that way. There's nothing wrong with that — just don't claim moral superiority to those who employ other approaches. If I had to guess, the inside the system approach is more likely to bring us some liberty in the short term, wheras the outside the system approach is more likely to bring us complete liberty in the long term. Both are valid — and frankly, the last thing we need among the far too few of us working for people to be more free, is infighting.

  39. Paul, read the New Libertarian Manifesto, http://agorism.info.

    Also, pls read the short novel Alongside Night, available free online.

  40. Just finished the NLM, and liked it — I support the strategy of agorism. I also support people trying other approaches. You seem to believe that they clash — I believe they make each other stronger. Inside the system activists can help stop government from cracking down on baby agorist systems, while agorist movements can help eliminate the apparent necessity of the state, and thereby make it more possible for inside the system activists to eliminate immoral programs and services.

  41. Congrats on enrolling at Anarchy University, Paul! You just received your first reading assignment! It just ain't anarchy without a good reading list!

    Yes, in just a few years you can earn your Masters Degree in Anarchism and join the ranks of such prestigious alumni as Stefan Molyneux, Lysander Spooner, Murray Rothbard and Henry David Thoreau!

    Then you'll be cranky and angry enough to embrace the world… with hostility and derision!

    And best of all, it's free! Just like you'll be!*

    <cite>*someday, hopefully, when government finally collapses under it's own weight or anarchists get through convincing tens of millions of people to also get a degree at Anarchy University. No guarantees or warranties implied or expressed. </cite>

  42. I love this reading.. love it love it love it!!

    I hope that George D burns his passport.. I mean what selfrespecting anarchist would keep that. It is a symbol of the State's oppression.

    Please let this thread go on forever… good stuff.

    Did I mention I love this thread.

  43. Statists are like the thugs that'll break both your legs and then offer you a wheechair 'to help'.

    Minarchists will only break one of your legs, then give you a crutch.

    Both suck.

  44. Some anarchists are akin to skydiving instructors who take away their client's parachute. shove them out of the plane 30,000 feet up and shout "Don't worry! You'll bounce!".

  45. I still love the minarchists.

    I'm convinced they'll let me make my own choices in life when push comes to shove.

    Embrace your fellow pragmatists, anarchists.

    And don't give me none of that you don't pragmatize poopoo.

    Unless you are a 100% non participant, every one of us gives a bit of ground to help us enjoy our existence as much as is possible in this paradigm.

    Minarchists just shout slightly different stuff from the rooftop, is all.

    Yay minarchy

    Yay anarchy

    Yay liberty

  46. How timely that "300" is on at just the point where the hunchback traitor tells Leonidas to "use his reason" to come to the conclusion that he should kneel to Xerxes as LPViper says yay minarchy.

    btw if the minarchist lets you opt out, he's no longer a minarchist.

  47. It should be noted that as cool as that flick is and the ideals it champions, Leonidas and his men were slaughtered by the Persian statists.

    If only they had convinced all those sympathetic tribes ("The 10,000") at the very end to join them beforehand instead of rushing into battle blindly, they might have survived to enjoy the freedom they fought for so valiantly.

  48. The 10K never would have assembled without the vision the 300 demonstrated.

    Minarchists are statists, too!

Care to comment?