Sunday, April 02, 2006

Minarchist, Anarchist, or Other? Part I

"The current LP membership pledge does not allow for limited government," writes Dr. Carl Milsted (see link). "Some initiation of force is required for a government to do its job. Some taxation is necessary."

So states Tom Knapp in his excellent article “Yes we have no banarchists” in

Well, here is one Libertarian who is also a libertarian who says that Dr. Carl is wrong – and might even argue with Tom about his conclusions (not that THAT has ever happened before, you know).

Now, we are supposedly known by the company we keep, and I admit to keeping some pretty bad company in the form of a whole bunch of anarcho-capitalists (I know, don’t you just hate hyphenated terms, but the Black Flag anarchists have so tainted the name “anarchist” that you really have to specify) like Mama Liberty ( and Lady Liberty ( and all the rest of my fellow Knights of Non-Agression at Most folks probably figure I am an anarchist or anarcho-capitalist – and probably wouldn’t consider me a minarchist, based on my writings of the last four or five years (my word! One-tenth of my life!). Well, they’re wrong. And if they think I’m a minarchist, they are wrong, too.

HEY! Easy there! IF you care to look under the table, you’ll see I’ve already got this little Hi-Point shucked. Just move your hands away from the holsters, pardners, and keep reading. That’s better. No, you don’t need that rope, either, pure hemp or not. Easy, easy. Did I happen to mention that I'm a "small-mouthed" pacifist, also?

Anyway, as I was saying, I really don’t fit into either camp, and I tell-you-three-times I am NOT a statist or anything like that. The reason is tied up in that quote from Dr. Carl. He’s wrong: Neither taxation (please, let us stop with the mealy-mouthed words – neither THEFT) nor any other initiation of force (see “aggression”) are necessary for a government to exist and function. Not to say that 99% of all human governments don’t use one or both of those methods, but it is possible for such to exist, and in fact, they have existed, pretty much continuously, for about 2600 years. No large percentage, but enough to know that they CAN function. Today, there are probably about 10-20 million people (not many, out of 6.5 billion, I know) that spend at least part of their time in voluntary participation in such governments.

To cut to the chase, what I am talking about is the way that hundreds of thousands of congregations, Jewish and christian, have been organized since the Babylonian Captivity and the days of Peter and Paul. It is not quite unique to them, but by far their version is the most successful and best organized of such groups. (And I must point out that not all religious organizations, christian or otherwise, meet the standards and criteria I will discuss here.) There are several keys to their success, and to the reason that they are an apt model for non-coercive government:
* Voluntary in nature – adults (those who are able to believe and act on their own) volunteering to participate, and remain in association with each other.
* Organized – as a body, functions are given out and accepted voluntarily, but they are specific in nature, not open-ended nor amorphous.
* Leadership is local, collective, limited in power, voluntary, and must meet certain agreed-upon qualifications.
* Power is limited, especially the power of punishment – anything more than withdrawing from the offender (refusing to allow the offender to continue to associate and benefit from the organization) does not exist.
* No use of aggressive force – the members cannot be forced to do anything; persuasion is the only way of obtaining cooperation and participation.
* Justice in resolution of conflicts and righting of wrongs done is by consent – and limited to restitution, not punishment.
* The scale and scope is limited to a relatively small number of participants in a fairly small geographic area – from a few families and individuals to perhaps several thousand. There is, therefore, competition between the organizations for members, and mobility between organizations without requiring physical relocation.

(Continued in Part II)

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