Practical Anarchy

Libertarians often brusquely dismiss anarcho-capitalism as “impractical.” But what of the allegedly pragmatic minarchism? Is this system more desirable and achievable?

The minarchist opposes aggression but favors the state. For argument‘s sake, we’ll yield that this pairing doesn’t necessarily contradict itself. If the state solely dedicates itself to protecting natural rights, (and strictly limits its “public property” to the army bases, police stations, courthouses, roads, etc, necessary to do so) let us concede it is implicitly justified.

Even given this generous interpretation, the minarchist is still dancing on the tip of a razor. This is because minarchy is unable to ensure social peace.

As BBQ Brains notes, “there are many moral and practical issues that a community would like to control that fall beyond simple property rights. Animals are property, but we don’t want our neighbors abusing them. Parents don’t want porn shops and bars opening next door to elementary schools.”

I’d add that we don’t want people yelling racial slurs in public venues, or “creepers” verbally haranguing teenage girls up and down the streets.


BBQ has raised a serious objection intellectually honest libertarians mustn’t ignore. Below, we’ll argue minarchism has no recourse for dealing with these problems. But that contra BBQ, private property does.

A minarchist state has a monopoly on law enforcement. But unlike today’s state, it is forbidden from regulating any non-aggressive activity. Socially harmful forced integration will ensue. This is a rights violation.

If we allow the state to do even a bit more, we have conceded the impracticality of “true” minarchism. Give the state an inch, and it’ll drag us—kicking and screaming or not—all the back to serfdom.

Conversely, under anarcho-capitalism, the above social problems would be swiftly resolved. In order to be successful, or “profitable, ” free-market private property covenants (communities) would have to satisfy the wishes of their customers, or residents. Property rights can and would be used to segregate our aforementioned miscreants from the public square, confining their racism/porn-mongering/creeping to the outer realms of the community, and far away from children.

But don’t think a system of property rights would negate all unpopular exercises of freedom.  Like minarchy, adults could do anything want  on their own property, or on that of consenting third parties. And “public” venues like Facebook and street corners would, as they are now, be tolerant of harmless weirdos and good-faith eccentrics.

Extreme miscreants are rare. But the free reign given to them under minarchism would cripple that system. The only system capable of dealing with social problems while protecting liberty—and thus, the only practical libertarian system—is anarcho-capitalism.

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