THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 750, December 22, 2013
You may not think that the fundamental right
to be a drooling moron has been enshrined in
our nation's Bill of Rights, but it has.
A Thought Experiment for Minarchists
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
Thought experiments are useful little exercises for discovering new truths, and they cost nothing but a little time to do. The results can be significant; Einstein discovered the Special Theory of Relativity through thought experiments having to do with lights on trains.
This article is for "minarchists". It has come to my attention that some think of this word as a pejorative, which I hadn’t realized earlier; but I am not intending that. I could use "Constitutionalists" instead, but then I would be leaving out a lot of people for whom this article still applies; for example, those who would rather get back to the Articles of Confederation.
The experiment is this: getting to the minarchist ideal of limited government. The question: is it easier to approach that ideal from a state of having too much government, or too little?
While there are still a lot of minarchists working in the political process, attempting to "vote themselves free", I suspect if anybody spent more than 2 minutes thinking about it, they would have to agree that it is infinitely easier to get to the minarchist ideal from a condition of too little government rather than of too much. The latter is filled with interest group politics, bought off politicians, inertia, and so forth; everything we are familiar with today. The former takes merely a group of people sitting down and designing some institutions using history as an example and guide, and then submitting it to those to be governed.
This is fortunate for minarchists, because when the currently-looming rebellion gets going, and when the war proceeds to its end, there is likely to be little government left. Who will bother to pay any attention to survivors in the ruling class (if any) when so many people generally will have been killed in the process? Remember, Americans are armed; and after a war they will be armed, and skilled in the use of them. After the war we will be in a state of anarchy, it seems to me, even if it is not the most pleasant example of such, due to the fallout (figurative or literal) from the war. Armistice does not immediately bring the end of suffering.
Well, just as clear as the fact that minarchy can be more easily established from a condition of too little government, will be the fact that those who don’t want it will not be put upon! No, you can crank out all the Federalist Papers you want; a heck of a lot of people won’t be buying that any more. We anarchists can learn from history just as well as you can. Your minarchy will be limited not only in how much government there is (for those who want it), but also to whom it applies. You will have allied with anarchists during the war, and you are not going to be stabbing them in the back after it’s done - because we will be ready for you.
Sorry to break the news to you, but you will have to live with this fact. I suggest minarchists get up to speed on the idea of Panarchy so you will be able to avoid disaster.
Find the most effective path you can, to reach your ideal of limited government. I truly hope you get it; but then, avoid screwing up what you have achieved, through hubris and overreach. Leave those anarchists alone. You’ve been warned!