Why minarchism is the greatest delusion. {Part 2/3}

Let’s now start from the sovereignty argument. If we need government to prevent chaos, which is presumably a very undesirable result, then government cannot be said to be “evil.” One may argue that a government that grows “too big” becomes “evil,” but anyone who accepts the sovereignty argument forfeits such a line of reasoning, for he has now abandoned standards and appointed the ruling class to determine how order may be best imposed, and in what areas. A government may judge that it must regulate swear words on television, or news items that oppose State interests, in order to stem back the “chaos” of total free speech. Such an impulse automatically contradicts premise 1.

One may argue that government does not need more than its limited powers under premise 1 to impose order on society. But it is unclear why this should be so. Order can be taken as limited or as expansive as one wants. Total mind-control would be “order.”

If the minarchist posits that we must have “just enough order” to impose one set of rules, in order to prevent judiciary chaos, as one argument goes, then the problem is not quite as dramatic. But it also begs one important question: if we must erect one agency of force as a monopoly over all others, in order to provide a standard and prevent chaos, then what prevents the monopoly itself from turning into chaos, or a set of such monopolies (such as the world is at the moment) from turning into chaos? What prevents this monopoly from imposing different sets of rules to different people or in different places, for instance, in order to gain legitimacy or financial gain?

Ultimately, the only logical options are either a world government, or no government at all. But even the former solution is incomplete, as we would still have no guarantee that this world government would, in and of itself, be ordered. If we cannot grant it to a local agency acting unconstrained, then how can we grant it to a gigantic world agency acting unconstrained?

[W]e must ultimately choose between state-sovereignty and self-sovereignty, between absolutism and anarchy, between subjective decree and objective justice. There is no middle ground in logic.

George H. Smith

Let’s compare the sovereignty argument to consent theory. Given the malleability of the sovereignty argument, how can we declare that it will always correspond to what people consent to? How can we affirm that people would even consent to the concept of sovereignty? Certainly Anarchists don’t. Many people (including the minarchists) may also object to the extent of sovereignty drawn by the ruling class, or to the nature of the order it wishes to impose.

Suppose that some people agree to ruleset A, and some others agree to ruleset B, C, or D. Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that each ruleset is agreed to by an equal proportion of the population (one quarter). Presumably all such rulesets will contain universal rules of natural law such as “murder is bad,” “stealing is bad,” and “defaulting on a contract you agreed to is bad.” But there would still be vast areas of differences between A, B, C and D, on major issues (abortion, “gun control,” the war on drugs) and minor issues (advertising law, contract law).

If our hypothetical minarchist government, exerting its sovereign power, designates one ruleset as “the law,” then 75% of people are necessarily non-consenting to this ruleset, as demonstrated by their voluntary actions. If the government chooses some part of ruleset A, some part of ruleset B, and so on, the percentage of agreement is likely to be even lower. To give a concrete example, no fundamentalist Christian would accept a ruleset that does not prevent homosexuality or abortions, and no libertarian would accept a ruleset that promotes theocratic power over secular power. Whatever compromise one makes, few people are likely to consensually agree to it.

And our scenario is not very realistic, as there would be a great variety of chosen rulesets fulfilling the needs of many different kinds of people. So the situation is far more bleak for the minarchist than I have proposed here. This is, to be nice about it, an intractable problem.

Finally, we come to the principle that government is a necessary evil. As I pointed out, this does not contradict premise 1. It does, however, contradict premises 2 and 4. If government is inherently corrupt and immoral, then we certainly cannot trust it as the final arbitrator of right and wrong, or the provider of order! And it also cannot be result of consent, unless we also assume that most people in a given society are corrupt and immoral. But it is easy to see that a society that operated under such a condition would quickly crumble, regardless of the system in place. Since the vast majority of people are basically good, we must reject this corollary.

We therefore have a problem with the four principles I listed as forming a harmonious system of thought. On the contrary, they seem to contradict or form paradoxes at every turn, as they entail very different systems. Principle 1 expressed the need for fundamental limitations, while principle 2 justifies a State to which limitations cannot be imposed without major paradoxes. Principle 4, on the other hand, expressed a basic rule of Market Anarchy: that people should only engage in voluntary relations between each other, free from State coercion. This inevitably clashes with minarchism as a framework.

Continue to part 3.

4 thoughts on “Why minarchism is the greatest delusion. {Part 2/3}

  1. […] Continue to part 2. […]

  2. Minarchist January 5, 2012 at 22:18

    My bad I saw the argument on the first page. Sorry about that.

  3. Minarchist January 7, 2012 at 10:58

    Interesting perspective when it came to a rational argument against heirachies other than the usual ideological BS that most people base their perspecitve on. I understand that heirarchies are unjust and inefficient in human nature. . What I am wondering is, in a pure anarchist society, how would this structure maintain itself? Perhaps, our definitions of anarchy are different. I completely agree that if we could sustain anarchy it would be beneficial. But again, I think minarchism tries to solve the dilemna that comes with just enough government to prevent a collectivist takeover.
    Perhaps in implementing a worldwide socratic debate we would find that anarchy is the most democratic, innovative, and efficient society and through that argument itself, along with intelligent, rational, and empathetic humans, anarchy could be stable. Yet, there will always be people that want to subjugate others. There will always be either misinformed to be preyed upon and malicious people who want to control more than possible in an anarchist utopia. With a small limited republic that is forced to abide by the rules of the people there would be a force that could combat such aggression.
    Just like any government there will be problems,corruption, etc. I could see members of a goverment trying to seize power, but with minimal government down to its what I think are “essentials” and with the proper checks and balances that aren’t used in other collective organizations we can minimize these problems.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: