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What is Minarchism?

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The Minarchist Flag

The Minarchist Flag

What is Minarchism

What is Minarchism? When describing minarchism the etymology of the word itself. The first part is a contraction of minimum as in: to the least degree necessary and "archy" a Greek word meaning "method of government." In short minarchy or a night watchman state means the government to the least degree necessary to keep social order and prevent unfairness within society.

The core beliefs of minarchism can be summed up with this analogy: you have a medical problem with your hand ultimately malignant but it would cause more harm than good to remove. It would be uncomfortable or scary to remove but it will only cause you harm should it be contained. Minarchists don't desire a state they don't like the state they aren't going to enjoy being taxed or being policed. They just prefer it to the alternative. This is why I myself am a minarchist. I wouldn't ever want no government this means no dependable security should I be wronged and no stability in life. Government, when contained, will provide a level of security within society. It won't be perfect but it will be the closest to an ideal society. Many minarchists will disagree on what should and should not be covered by the government. The standard model of minarchism is what is known as a night watchman state. In a night-watchman state, the government will run courts, the military, and police/civil services. This is meant to protect its citizens from external threats, breach of contract, protect property rights, and prevent theft.

Minarchists will never enjoy having someone telling them what to do they simply believe that life is kind of a catch 22 or perpetual checkmate. Without government or state-enforced rules, life would have no consistency, security, or even the ensured protection of basic freedoms. This is the ideological divided between anarchism and minarchism. In short: minarchism is the ideology that you don't want a state but you need it.

Anarcho-capitalist flag

Anarcho-capitalist flag

How Anarchists and Minarchists Differ

To be clear I'm not attempting to talk down upon anarcho-capitalists many of the group's beliefs are actually quite grounded and their desire for freedom is nothing less than admirable. However, there is a clear divide between minarchism and anarchism. Anarchists believe that any state is evil by default and their argument is based more off of morality and a personal belief set than practicality. Minarchists believe that a state is needed to preserve certain rights and most minarchists will accept the fact that while no state in a perfect world would be preferable but we don't live in a perfect world. Minarchists essentially to believe that governments are a necessary evil. Incredibly immoral but the alternative is worse.

You can debate the idea of anarchism not being practical but keep in mind this is coming from a minarchist. Most minarchists will see anarcho-capitalism as a preferable fantasy but a fantasy none the less. There is also the fact that anarchism is really only temporary someone will eventually take control. I'm not going to say that minarchy isn't temporary since all states trend towards tyranny it is just less so than anarchy. As opposed to anarchists minarchists believe that a small state is preferable to anarchy. Anarchists will preach that any state is tyrannical and I'm not going to refute this since it is true but some governments can be more tyrannical than others. For example America in 1800 vs the Soviet Union or the DPRK.

Minarchists generally adhere to the idea that people on there own are not enough to uphold the non-aggression principle. Another common belief is that private courts, police forces, etc will favor those who are able to pay them. Robert Nozick in his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia argues that minarchist political philosophy provides a framework for a political system which upholds individual rights, therefore, this justifies the existence of a state.

Similarities of Minarchism and Anarcho-Capitalism

Both anarcho-capitalism and minarchism derive from Libertarianism except for the fact that ancaps are generally more radical. They also will both believe in a free market and the non-aggression principle. But as stated before minarchists believe that privatization is insufficient to protect this. Both anarchists and minarchists have a hatred for tyranny and statism (or in the case of minarchists over statism.) Both anarchists and minarchists agree on many issues such as how governments can and likely will infringe on rights if not sufficiently contained.

Anarcho-capitalists and minarchists also believe in a free market economic approach but minarchists believe in state-run police forces, courts, and militaries as stated previously. In general, though both will believe that the freer the market the freer the people.


In Short:

Minarchists believe that any state is bad but they prefer the outcome of having a minimized state over having complete and total anarchy. Minarchists don't like the government as much as anarchists but are more practical about their political philosophy. Minarchists will defend certain government institutions that are required for individual freedoms. The idea of minarchy is that: a state is inevitable might as well have a small one that protects our rights.

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