Anarchists and minarchists do a lot of bickering, but they have more in common than not. They are both for radically less government, and both often call themselves libertarians. While we should strive to, as much as possible, put aside the ideological differences and work towards our mutual goals, there is always some benefit to having friendly discussions about the virtues of the two philosophies. What follows is a sort of “intro” to anarchism (more specifically, anarcho-capitalism, or one of its plentiful synonyms such as capitalism, voluntaryism, or anti-statism) for minarchists.
The basic moral premise of anti-statism is that no man should ever aggress against another man who has not first aggressed against him (the non-aggression principle, or NAP). Aggression, of course, includes stealing, or taking anything from a man against his will. Involuntary taxation, then, is a form of stealing by majoritarian consensus (or democracy). The penalty for refusing involuntary taxation is to be kidnapped against your will and thrown in a cage (jailed). To violently resist this would of course lead the state to kill you. The most basic inherent principle of the state, then, is violence and aggression, as it must be.
Of course, many will say that everyone implicitly agrees to taxation via the social contract. However, this is a form of collectivism whereby the individual, even if radically opposed to the “social contract”, must conform. In other words, if I disagree with the contract, then it’s not really a contract, it is merely the imposition of force under a euphemism. Some believe that anarchism runs into a problem with hierarchy, for example, in religious institutions; however, anti-statism is not opposed to hierarchy. It is opposed to involuntary hierarchy. People are free to voluntarily submit themselves to any form of hierarchy, or even aggression, they so choose. The only stipulation is that the individual should always have the option to opt-in or out of a contract, as opposed to subjection to the will of the forceful collective. The case for government, then, is the utilitarian/pragmatic argument for risk mitigation. In other words, though we know it’s immoral to aggress against a peaceful individual for any reason, we will do it anyways, in order to defend against a supposed greater evil. Then again, as libertarians, we know that the utilitarian/pragmatic argument is always a compromise of principles.
On the other hand, the basic economic premise of anti-statism is quite simple: government never does anything as economically efficiently as the private sector. In keeping with the principle of the “tragedy of the commons” – no man protects another man’s property (or money) as well as he protects his own. Most libertarians and even mainline conservatives will generally agree to this premise. The problem of course comes in the practical implementation of anti-statism. One useful conception, instead of “no government”, is complete privatization.
So for example, we might privatize the taxpayer-subsidized city police force into a subscription-based force, whereby you and others in a community hire Force A to protect your homes. In fact, we would probably see a market for police forces – you might pay Force A to protect your home, and your neighbor might pay Force B to protect his home. The most important thing here is that you can truly vote with your dollar. If a cop from Force A abuses his power in some way, you would probably immediately withdraw your subscription to Force A and hire Force B alongside your neighbor. Cops in a private market would therefore NEVER have an incentive to abuse their power, as there is true accountability to the consumer. A state monopoly on force is not a good thing, it is demonstrably bad, for these reasons.
In the same way, we might privatize the US military. So the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, etc, might each be sold off (perhaps even in divisions of 50% or 10% or whatever) at market price to the highest bidder, such as Boeing or Lockheed. People of a region (say, the east coast) would subscribe to Boeing, Lockheed, or whichever force they feel most adequately and efficiently protects that region.
One important piece of the puzzle is that if a defense force did start to act out of hand, we would expect its monetary base (its subscribers) to immediately rescind all monies and support from that force, and in fact to send their money to a competing force to protect them from force A. Thus it is in the rational best interests of each company to fulfill its contractual obligations to its subscribers and in fact to work together with the other companies on many things (reciprocity agreements, etc), even though they are market competitors. This addresses concerns about rogue private armies.
Another important realization is that anti-statism, or anarchism, does not mean “no law”, it means “no rulers”. The law still prevails, no matter what. In this case, it would be the common law, which might be rooted in the NAP. Of course, the implication is that there would be private law agencies as well. We already have precedent for this today in private arbitration agencies. In fact, in studying ancient Israel (books of Judges, Samuel, etc), they had a very similar societal structure – without a king, government, or any ruler (other than God) – for 450 years.
For some more specific solutions to some common questions and objections, here is a brief essay called “Objectivism and The State: An Open Letter to Ayn Rand“. It addresses a lot of these tougher issues in a way that Rand supporters can appreciate.
It is of course natural to have reservations about all this. It’s natural to have questions and doubts as to whether there are solid answers or things could actually “work”. But the most important question to continually consider is this: which is the greater evil? Is it a greater evil to advocate a system whereby you inherently endorse theft from your neighbor, or a system where, whether or not the functional micro-details are all ironed out, you do not support said principles of aggression, violence, and immorality, which empirically and inevitably becomes the leviathan state we fight today? Do you stay true to your principles, or will you cave to the utilitarian, pragmatic argument of “compromise”?