Minarchism has been variously defined by sources. It is a libertarian
Libertarian may refer to:*A proponent of libertarianism, a political philosophy that upholds individual liberty, especially freedom of expression and action*A member of a libertarian political party; including:**Libertarian Party...

 capitalist political philosophy
Political philosophy
Political philosophy is the study of such topics as liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it...

. In the strictest sense, it maintains that the state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 is necessary and that its only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression
In psychology, as well as other social and behavioral sciences, aggression refers to behavior between members of the same species that is intended to cause humiliation, pain, or harm. Ferguson and Beaver defined aggressive behavior as "Behavior which is intended to increase the social dominance of...

, theft
In common usage, theft is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's permission or consent. The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crimes against property, such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting and fraud...

, breach of contract
Breach of contract
Breach of contract is a legal cause of action in which a binding agreement or bargained-for exchange is not honored by one or more of the parties to the contract by non-performance or interference with the other party's performance....

, and fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

, and the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

, police
The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

, and courts. In the broadest sense, it also includes fire departments
Fire department
A fire department or fire brigade is a public or private organization that provides fire protection for a certain jurisdiction, which typically is a municipality, county, or fire protection district...

, prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

s, the executive
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

, and legislatures as legitimate government functions. Such states are called night watchman states.

Minarchists argue that the state has no right to use its monopoly on the use of force to interfere with free transactions between people, and see the state's sole responsibility as ensuring that transactions between private individuals are free. Minarchists generally advocate a laissez faire approach to the economy.


Samuel Edward Konkin III
Samuel Edward Konkin III
Samuel Edward Konkin III was the author of the New Libertarian Manifesto and a proponent of the political philosophy which he called agorism. Agorism is a leftward evolution of anarcho-capitalism, and subset of market anarchism...

, an agorist
Agorism is a political philosophy founded by Samuel Edward Konkin III and developed with contributions by J. Neil Schulman that holds as its ultimate goal bringing about a society in which all "relations between people are voluntary exchanges – a free market." The term comes from the Greek...

, coined the term in 1971 to describe libertarians who defend some form of compulsory government. Konkin invented the term minarchism as an alternative to the cumbersome phrase limited-government libertarianism.


Minarchists generally justify the state on the grounds that it is the logical consequence of adhering to the non-aggression principle
Non-aggression principle
The non-aggression principle , or NAP for short, is a moral stance which asserts that aggression is inherently illegitimate...

. They argue that anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 is immoral because it implies that the non-aggression principle is optional. They argue that this is because the enforcement of laws under anarchism is open to competition. Another common justification is that private defense and court firms would tend to represent the interests of those who pay them enough. Robert Nozick
Robert Nozick
Robert Nozick was an American political philosopher, most prominent in the 1970s and 1980s. He was a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia , a right-libertarian answer to John Rawls's A Theory of Justice...

 in Anarchy, State, and Utopia
Anarchy, State, and Utopia
Anarchy, State, and Utopia is a work of political philosophy written by Robert Nozick in 1974. This minarchist book was the winner of the 1975 National Book Award...

argued that a night watchman state provides a framework that allows for any political system that respects fundamental individual rights.

The issue of taxation is polarizing among minarchists. Some minarchists support taxation on principle or see it as a necessary evil
Necessary Evil
Necessary Evil sometimes referred to as Plane # 91 was the name of a B-29 Superfortress participating in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945....

 to address the free rider problem
Free rider problem
In economics, collective bargaining, psychology, and political science, a free rider is someone who consumes a resource without paying for it, or pays less than the full cost. The free rider problem is the question of how to limit free riding...

, while others believe it is morally
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

 wrong. Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism....

 is notable for her opposition to taxation, while also holding that the elimination of taxation in a society should occur gradually. Another polarizing issue among minarchists is whether citizens should have to pay the government to enforce their contracts.


Anarcho-capitalists generally argue that government violates the non-aggression principle by its nature because governments use force against those who have not stolen private property
In common usage, theft is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's permission or consent. The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crimes against property, such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting and fraud...

, vandalized private property
Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable...

, assaulted anyone
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

, or committed fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

. Many also argue that monopolies
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

 tend to be corrupt and inefficient.

Murray Rothbard
Murray Rothbard
Murray Newton Rothbard was an American author and economist of the Austrian School who helped define capitalist libertarianism and popularized a form of free-market anarchism he termed "anarcho-capitalism." Rothbard wrote over twenty books and is considered a centrally important figure in the...

 argued that all government services, including defense, are inefficient because they lack a market-based pricing mechanism regulated by the voluntary decisions of consumers
Consumer is a broad label for any individuals or households that use goods generated within the economy. The concept of a consumer occurs in different contexts, so that the usage and significance of the term may vary.-Economics and marketing:...

 purchasing services that fulfill their highest-priority needs and by investors seeking the most profitable enterprises to invest in. Therefore, the state's monopoly on the use of force is a violation of natural rights
Natural rights
Natural and legal rights are two types of rights theoretically distinct according to philosophers and political scientists. Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable...

. He wrote, "The defense function is the one reserved most jealously by the State. It is vital to the State's existence, for on its monopoly of force depends its ability to exact taxes from the citizens. If citizens were permitted privately owned courts and armies, then they would possess the means to defend themselves against invasive acts by the government as well as by private individuals." In his book Power and Market
Power and Market
Power and Market: Government and the Economy is a 1970 book by Murray Rothbard in which he analyzes the negative effects of the various kinds of government intervention, and denies that the State is either necessary or useful...

, he argued that geographically large minarchist states are indifferent from a unified minarchist world monopoly government. Rothbard wrote governments were not inevitable, noting that it often took hundreds of years for aristocrats to set up a state out of anarchy. He also argued that if a minimal state allows individuals to freely secede from the current jurisdiction to join a competing jurisdiction, then it does not by definition constitute a state.

Anarchists generally argue that private defense and court firms would have to have a good reputation in order to stay in business. Furthermore, Linda & Morris Tannehill argue that no coercive monopoly of force can arise on a free market and that a government's citizenry can’t desert them in favor of a competent protection and defense agency.

Proponents of an economically interventionist state argue it is best to evaluate the merits of government intervention on a case-by-case basis in order to address recessions
In economics, a recession is a business cycle contraction, a general slowdown in economic activity. During recessions, many macroeconomic indicators vary in a similar way...

 (see Keynesian economics
Keynesian economics
Keynesian economics is a school of macroeconomic thought based on the ideas of 20th-century English economist John Maynard Keynes.Keynesian economics argues that private sector decisions sometimes lead to inefficient macroeconomic outcomes and, therefore, advocates active policy responses by the...

) or existential threats
Risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth
Various existential risks could threaten humankind as a whole, have adverse consequences for the course of human civilization, or even cause the end of planet Earth.-Types of risks:...


Social liberals
Social liberalism
Social liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include social justice. It differs from classical liberalism in that it believes the legitimate role of the state includes addressing economic and social issues such as unemployment, health care, and education while simultaneously expanding...

 and social democrats argue that a government ought to appropriate private wealth in order to ensure care for disadvantaged or dependent people such as children, the elderly, the physically and mentally disabled, immigrants, the homeless, the poor, the unemployed, caretakers, or victimized minority groups.

Social conservatives
Social conservatism
Social Conservatism is primarily a political, and usually morally influenced, ideology that focuses on the preservation of what are seen as traditional values. Social conservatism is a form of authoritarianism often associated with the position that the federal government should have a greater role...

 argue that the state should maintain a moral outlook and legislate against behavior commonly regarded as culturally destructive or immoral; that, indeed, the state cannot survive if its citizens do not have a certain kind of character
Public morality
Public morality refers to moral and ethical standards enforced in a society, by law or police work or social pressure, and applied to public life, to the content of the media, and to conduct in public places...

, integrity and civic virtue
Civic virtue
Civic virtue is the cultivation of habits of personal living that are claimed to be important for the success of the community. The identification of the character traits that constitute civic virtue have been a major concern of political philosophy...

, and so ignoring the state's role in forming people's ethical dispositions can be disastrous.

See also

  • Anarcho-capitalism and minarchism
    Anarcho-capitalism and minarchism
    Anarcho-capitalism and minarchism are two distinct strains of libertarianism. Although anarcho-capitalists and minarchists agree on most political issues, they are often hostile towards each other, particularly because most adherents of both philosophies support the non-aggression principle and see...

  • Anti-federalism
    Anti-Federalism refers to a movement that opposed the creation of a stronger U.S. federal government and which later opposed the ratification of the Constitution of 1787. The previous constitution, called the Articles of Confederation, gave state governments more authority...

  • Constitutional republic
    Constitutional republic
    A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over all of its citizens...

  • Jeffersonian political philosophy
  • Libertarian conservatism
    Libertarian conservatism
    Libertarian conservatism, also known as conservative libertarianism , includes political ideologies which meld libertarianism and conservatism...

  • Market liberalism
    Market liberalism
    The term market liberalism is used in two distinct meanings.Especially in the United States, the term is often used as a synonym to classical liberalism...

  • Old Right
    Old Right (United States)
    The Old Right was a conservative faction in the United States that opposed both New Deal domestic programs and U.S. entry into World War II. Many members of this faction were associated with the Republicans of the interwar years led by Robert Taft, but some were Democrats...

  • Paleoconservatism
    Paleoconservatism is a term for a conservative political philosophy found primarily in the United States stressing tradition, limited government, civil society, anti-colonialism, anti-corporatism and anti-federalism, along with religious, regional, national and Western identity. Chilton...

  • Paleolibertarianism
    Paleolibertarianism is a school of thought within American libertarianism associated with the late economist Murray Rothbard, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute. It is based on a combination of right-libertarianism in politics and cultural conservatism in social thought...

  • Traditionalist conservatism
    Traditionalist Conservatism
    Traditionalist conservatism, also known as "traditional conservatism," "traditionalism," "Burkean conservatism", "classical conservatism" and , "Toryism", describes a political philosophy emphasizing the need for the principles of natural law and transcendent moral order, tradition, hierarchy and...

External links

  • http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/areed2/LongXXXMachan.pdf Anarchism/Minarchism: Is a Government Part of a Free Country? Roderick Long
    Roderick Long
    Roderick Tracy Long is a professor of philosophy at Auburn University and libertarian anarchist blogger. He also serves as a senior scholar for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, an editor of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, director and president of the Molinari Institute, and an advisory panel...

     and Tibor Machan
  • Market Anarchism as Constitutionalism Roderick Long
  • "Anarchism and Minarchism. A Rapprochement", Journal des Economists et des Estudes Humaines, Vol. 14, No.4 (December 2002), pages 569–88 Tibor R. Machan
  • Chaos Theory: Two Essays On Market Anarchy Robert P. Murphy
    Robert P. Murphy
    Robert P. "Bob" Murphy is an Austrian School economist and anarcho-capitalist.-Education and personal life:Murphy completed his Bachelor of Arts in economics at Hillsdale College in 1998. He then moved back to his home state of New York to continue his studies at New York University. Murphy earned...

  • http://mises.org/journals/jls/1_1/1_1_6.pdf Robert Nozick and the Immaculate Conception of the State Murray Rothbard
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