“I’d really like to see anarchy succeed, but minarchy would be OK with me. And let’s face it, is anarchy even realistic in our lifetime?”
Libertarians, particularly the political variety, often proclaim something along the lines of the above imaginary quote when explaining how they align politically. I’d like to dissect this position, and explain why it’s flawed to believe there’s anything practical about limited government.
The fact of the matter is, whether or not we can bring about a free society in our lifetimes isn’t really that important of a question. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to wake up to discover that the Washington Mall is nothing more than an ultimate frisbee field, the pentagon is nothing but a five-sided shape, and that this government thing was all just a nasty dream. Unfortunately, I don’t see government and the state going away anytime soon.
Though, I didn’t become an anarchist because I thought I’d be able to reap the rewards of the unimaginable innovation that awaits humanity on the other side. I became an anarchist because supporting even the most limited (involuntary) government would be immoral. I don’t mean to sound preachy here, but the immorality of taxation is something we are all familiar with, and claiming a constitutionally restrained government is anything other than immoral would simply be dishonest. Even if government were the ONLY entity capable of providing the basic government services minarchists hold so dear (defense, criminal justice, etc.), we must still reject the state’s legitimacy, and do without if need be. This is a peaceful revolution, and resorting to violent methods is out of the question.
Some would say that we owe it to ourselves to try to get the government off our backs as much as we possibly can. Minimize the evil that is taxation, and eventually (ideally) dissolve the state altogether. Again, there’s nothing practical about minarchy, because governments don’t shrink. The life cycle of government is to expand well beyond its means, eventually collapse under its own weight, and start all over again. Government is doomed from the start, and can not be fixed or restored to its minarchist roots.
There’s this idea in business that when starting out as a fresh entrepreneur, you want to fail fast, and you want to fail often. Why would anyone want to fail at something? For the experience, of course! Because you can’t learn to do something right, until you know how it’s done wrong. Needless to say, we’ve been doing things very wrong when it comes to governance. Likely ever since our ancient ancestors decided to establish the first Cave Dwellers Association. Since then, government institutions have come and gone more times than historians can count, and yet we still haven’t gotten it right. But the ideas of liberty are young in the grand scheme of things, and I do believe we are on the precipice of finally getting this thing right.
The time will one day come when the sun sets on the Great American Empire. The good news is, we don’t have to lift a finger for it to happen. The bad news is that we, as individuals, may not be ready to live free when the time comes. All we can do, as a united libertarian movement, is hope we did everything we could do, while we were here, to educate others on the ideas of liberty and merits of non-aggression, so that future generations may be prepared to resist the temptation to install a new coercive government when that time comes.
This all flows into the idea that a greater market demand for freedom must be created in order to make anarchy possible, and part of that is reducing the market demand for violence. I’m sad to say that participating in national politics isn’t going to help the cause. Certainly not in the long run. You see, past generations have been passing the buck, so to speak, for who knows how long. Every 4-8 years, the majority of the voting public rallies to elect a new mob boss to dethrone the current “fascist/communist that is ruining this country.” Voting for a libertarian candidate isn’t much different. After all, what are they other than the lesser of three evils? If you agree that anarchy is ideal, you must then agree that even a libertarian candidate is not ideal. I’m also afraid this course of action doesn’t come free of negative consequences. Win or lose, it reinforces, both internally and to those around you, the idea that government can work. Just as long as you get the right people elected. Should you succeed in transforming the nation into MinPar, congratulations, you just legitimized government for another century! Maybe two!
It’s time to stop passing the buck and shifting the responsibility to future generations. The idea that we can reign in government, restore personal freedoms and achieve the level of economic prosperity that we once had is certainly alluring, no doubt about it. However, is getting an extra couple feet of leash from our overlords really worth it, knowing that future generations will again have to live in the tyrannical state we find ourselves in today?
Let this be the generation that rejects all involuntary government, even those that are the most polished and refined. Let us abandon the archaic, coercive tools utilized by the state, and adopt peaceful ones. I don’t know about you, but I became an anarchist because I think it’s the right thing to do, and subjecting the people of the future to the problems of today is just plain wrong.