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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Why Libertarians Are Bad At Shrinking Government

Thomas Sipos wrote that minarchism "can mean almost any level of govt."  Thomas, you may be confusing "minarchist" with "lessarchist". 
The notion that non-anarchist libertarians are in principle indistinguishable from socialists or fascists is profoundly un-intellectual, and the stink of this idea is all over Ruwart's essay.  Maybe this is why Libertarians have proven so bad at shrinking government; they exhibit no understanding of the different arguments for the various possible amounts of government one might advocate.  I have on the back burner an essay describing a taxonomy of about 20 different categories of escalating levels of state intervention between anarchism and outright communism, with the first 10 or so being arguably minarchist.  Each level can have its own justification(s), and it's just not serious to say with Ruwart that they're all refuted by the one-size-fits-all bumper-sticker argument for force-initiation abstention.
Wikipedia has good articles on the various schools of libertarianism.  I give summaries at  For now, I'll just repeat Brian Doherty's definition: ""it has been mostly definitive of libertarians to believe that government — federal, state, or local — should be restricted in its functions, generally to the protection of citizens' lives against force or fraud and the provision of a small set of so-called public goods that could not be provided by free markets."
Michael, you can either answer my point, or not.  Either way is fine with me.