Dear American Minarchist

Column by tzo.
Exclusive to STR
Dear American Minarchist,
I share your frustration at the course currently being set by the federal government of this nation. It is expanding its power to ever-more dangerous levels, thereby reducing the freedoms that can safely be enjoyed by all the human beings who find themselves within its purview.
Your contention is that the founding documents of this republic, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, define the proper relationship that should exist between government and citizen. Rolling back government to bare-minimum necessary functions is the only way to ensure that the people retain control over their freedoms and their government and that the government remains restricted to its legitimate scope.
I have repeatedly listened to minarchist arguments that deny the possibility of having a society without government, and that the belief in such voluntary social organization is but a naive belief in Utopia. You, in turn, have repeatedly listened to the arguments that government cannot be restrained by pieces of paper, and that the belief in such restraint is but a naive belief in Utopia.
And so the melee begins. What typically follow are heated discussions about the true meanings of shadowy words like government, capitalism, socialism, authority, and other such zaxlebaxes. We both have seen that in most cases very little progress is made in these jousts, as the focus becomes fixed upon words with ambiguous and even contradictory meanings. Much effort is expended with little or no progress.
Perhaps this is the goal of both parties, as each can retain his beliefs after all is said and done, and that’s always comfy.
But these peripheral arguments tend to ignore the subject of aggression that resides at their core. Each contains the implicit question: Is it acceptable for some members of society to aggress against others for “the greater good”? Or to put an even finer point on it: Are there instances wherein human aggression is justified?
And just so there is no miscommunication between us here, let’s be very clear as to the meaning of this word that is at the core of all these arguments. Aggression is the initiation of physical force against persons or property, the threat of such, or fraud upon persons or their property. Whenever I define this term in my writing, I always invite readers to email me examples of justified aggression according to this definition. No takers thus far.
Aggression is like a huge old gnarly tree deeply rooted in the ground, waving its sharp branches menacingly in all directions. The branches are what scratch and poke at our eyes, and so we naturally focus our efforts on them.
But the branches are mere distractions. Look, this branch is called “government.” Some want to preserve it, some want to hack it off. Some insist it is always coercive, while others claim it can be voluntary. Some want to trim it just a bit, and others think most of it should go.
And look over there at the “capitalism” branch. Keep it because it represents voluntary exchange. Trim it because government is involved. Hack it off because greedy corporations are evil. No, don’t, because corporations are a result of government (return to the previous paragraph).
And so on, round and round, with much sound and fury.
Meanwhile the implacable tree remains at a safe distance, firmly rooted to the ground. Not one in a thousand even realizes that these peripheral arguments usually center around what kind of aggression should be acceptable, avoiding completely the much more vital question of if aggression should be acceptable at all.
Because as I alleged before, aggression is usually the unacknowledged elephant in the room in these arguments. Many will be rendered dumbstruck or take great offense if it is suggested that their side of the argument involves the justification of aggression. What? We’re talking about public education here, what in the world does that have to do with aggression?
See? If the wrong questions are being asked, then the answers don’t really matter, do they?
Few are those who are willing to actually step back and see the tree in its entirety. For most, the tree itself remains unseen for all the branches. But the tree is the thing, my friend: The tree is aggression. While we flail away at the specific branches that may bother us the most, aggression just keeps right on growing.
Now some dedicate themselves to this branch-hacking, but this does not hurt the tree. Au contraire, mon frere: Pruning a tree only helps it to grow taller and stronger. When you "win" and hack away a branch on the tree of aggression, the tree thanks you. It was obviously a weak branch, and so good riddance. The tree can now use the energy that was being diverted to that faulty branch in order to grow elsewhere.
What say we agree to duck our heads beneath all those annoying branches and get right on down to the root of the matter? By striking at that root, you and I can take care of all of those branches, all at once, and for good.
I am willing to believe that you are a good person, as are most people. I assume you would be willing to allow those who wish to have no government to be free to live in their "wretched chaos" while you and others try and work out various forms of "essential" government. Live and let live.
Can minarchy resist the expansion to tyranny? Can anarchy create a stable society?
Duck underneath those branches. C'mon, forget about them for now and follow me on down here.
Look. Just over here—this is the root question: Why do you believe that your United States government organization justly owns 3.8 million square miles of the planet?
You are a good person. If you believe in the minarchist American government, you do so because you believe it is good and just. You continually put forth the noblest sentiments that you can find from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as proof of your best of intentions.
But what of me, the fly in the ointment? Here I find myself within your government's land claim, yet I do not wish to participate. I am not part of the "we" that you assume is the relationship between you and me and your government. You then say that I have to leave if I don't want to be part of this ménage à trios? Why? By what right does the government land claim stand? Because it was taken with and is held on to by brute force? The right of might? That is the foundation upon which the entire virtuous government organization is built?
And you, by chance born within this particular land area, gain a partial control of 3.8 million square miles of land, to the extent that if I do not want to respect the rules laid down by the controllers of this arbitrary land claim, you can tell me I have to leave? That I have no place to stand upon the face of the Earth as a human being because your omnipotent and omnipresent government organizations own the entire planet? You say that governments, not human beings, are sovereign? And in this scheme of things you, as a member of the sovereign government club, have more human rights than do I?
The Declaration of Independence contains the phrase "all men are created equal." The only logical interpretation of this is individual sovereignty. If governments are sovereign, then individuals are not. Of course individuals control governments, and so some individuals are more equal than others as they control the entire planet and everyone else needs their permission in order to exist. Therefore it seems that not all men are created equal after all.
And if men truly are created equal, then this must merely be an error of nature which government officials, in their infinite wisdom, quickly remedy here on Earth.
I am searching for the justice in this bizarre Rube Goldberg device. You are confident that it resides somewhere within the heart of the complex machinery, but no one has been able to point it out to me yet. Perchance you would be so kind as to draw me a map?
It is oh, so easy to just gloss over this and say "Well, in a world full of governments is where we find ourselves, and so we have to work with what we have." But that is not a very convincing argument to the majority of the human beings on the planet. It's pretty easy to take the high road and say that we should all be free to do what we please within our own little sovereign government territories when you are in the fine position of innately controlling a huge portion of the Earth to the exclusion of everyone else.
Live and let live, as long as you are guaranteed to be more equal than are others?
So again, the question for you to put to yourself is this: Why does my government organization, and by extension, why do I, have the natural right to claim all this land and to command all those who find themselves here?
This is confronting the root question of aggression head on without blinking. This is striking at that root. Answer honestly, and the tree is felled. As strong as it appeared while vertical, you will see just how rotten it is when it is laid out on the ground.
Now just walk away and leave it for the worms.

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tzo's picture
Columnist tzo
Columns on STR: 64

tzo now lives in your head.



I LOVE your perspective.


Michael Kleen's picture

Of course, if everyone could be trusted to behave justly in every instance, there would be no need for laws or people to enforce those laws, but we know that is not the case. I think Minarchrists would argue that some government is a necessary evil, not that it's a positive good. Aggression can be justified against those who seek to take away the life, liberty, and property of others. True, government can also be used to take the life, liberty, and property of others. That's why its power needs to be severely restrained.

tzo's picture

Everyone is perfectly free to choose to have any kind of social organizational agreements, governments included, that they wish. But the agreeing parties can only enforce their laws and rules within the confines of their own combined personal properties.

If there is a US government that enforces its laws and rules over the land area that is called the US, this is only valid if the USG is the rightful property owner of all that land.

Can someone argue the case for the USG being the rightful and just owner of all the current US land area? If not, it should refrain from imposing its "necessary evil" upon me and my property. Imposing evil upon a peaceful person is the definition of aggression.

Michael, you seem to have leaped to that common, yet mysterious, non sequitur that government is the only possible means to enforce law in society. And since society needs order, society needs government, the necessary evil. This ignores the possibility of the voluntary organization of security/adjudication/enforcement services, which have been written about in thousands of pages elsewhere. If the charge of Utopia is the response, then that is to ignore the empirical evidence that is provided by human history, wherein these services all tend to be created on the open market first, and then later expropriated by governments.

Because I assume when you say "government" you mean the organization that has been "granted" the power to tax and use force, hence the "necessary evil" label. Any "government" that is purely voluntary would never be referred to as a "necessary evil."

And finally, I really do not wish to live within a society of people who believe that it is OK to necessarily and preemptively aggress against human beings in order to achieve the utilitarian benefit of a happy society. One is not justified in raping "just a little" in the attempt to achieve love.

Utilitarian arguments imagine a difference between means and ends, but they are the same. The means are merely the ends in progress. One cannot achieve "good" ends with "evil" means, ever.

tzo's picture

"I think Minarchrists would argue that some government is a necessary evil, ..."

I apologize if I assumed that this was your position when it was not. Perhaps you were only stating the Minarchist position, not actually taking it.

Suverans2's picture

G'day tzo,

I haven't made time to read your article yet, so this is only a reply to one particular line in your above comment.

You wrote, "Any "government" that is purely voluntary would never be referred to as a "necessary evil."

This is true, but I'm sure you will agree that if this "purely voluntary" government's services are not confined by the law of nature it may most certainly be referred to as "evil".

The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish! ~ Excerpted from The Law by Frédéric Bastiat

Individual Secessionist

BrianDrake's picture

@Michael Kleen

"Of course, if everyone could be trusted to behave justly in every instance, there would be no need for laws or people to enforce those laws, but we know that is not the case."

If you're new to this site, you get a pass, but stick around with an open mind.

The above is a simplistic straw man. No voluntaryist/libertarian(the real, anarchist kind)/anarchist writing here is under the delusion that everyone can be trusted to behave justly. Please point to a single author here that has made such a silly claim. Otherwise, you're just making stuff up.

In fact, it is the "archist" position (minarchist included) that doesn't get this point. The anarchist truly understands the flaws in human nature, and thus realizes how critically doomed is the idea of giving a monopoly of power (and attendant "legitimacy") to a group of humans, who are indeed not to be trusted to "behave justly in every instance". Oh, I forgot the "magic piece of paper" part of the equation that somehow makes minarchy an exception.

You are also (intentionally?) ignoring Tzo's definition of "aggression". He clearly points out it is the INITIATION of force (etc...) that is aggression. Self-defense (which includes the the voluntary hiring of those to provide that defense, if desired) is not aggression.

You have every right to find ways to defend yourself against aggressors. You have no right to foot me with the bill, or criminalize my attempts to defend myself as I see fit (you do this by erecting a coercive monopoly that, by fiat, extends its jurisdiction to me and mine). That is what "limited government" is: aggression. Your concern about those who "seek to take away the life, liberty, and property of others" does not give you license to then take away the life, liberty, and property of uninvolved third-parties (me) in response.

BrianDrake's picture

First, it is clear Mr. Kleen is not "new to this site", being a published author here. So I apologize for my ignorance on that point.

Second, it appears his comments may indeed be intended as the devil's advocate. If so, then my comments are no longer aimed directly at him, but do stand as an intended rebuttal to the claims he wrote, perhaps rhetorically.

Suverans2's picture

G'day Michael Kleen,

IF, (the BIGGEST two-letter word in the English language), everyone could be trusted to behave justly, you are correct in saying that "there would be no need for people to enforce", however, there will always "be a need for laws", because laws, i.e. rules[1], are what tell individuals the bounds and limits of behaving "justly".

And, as we have seen throughout history, you are also right in saying, government power "needs to be severely restrained", in fact all power "needs to be severely restrained". Severely restrained by what, Michael Kleen? Either by the force of the individual himself or of the group of individuals themselves, or by an outside force or forces.

[1] Law of nature, is a rule of conduct arising out of the natural relations of human beings established by the Creator, and existing prior to any positive precept. Thus it is a law of nature, that one man should not injure another [defense, of course, being the exception], and murder and fraud would be crimes, independent of any prohibition from a supreme power. ~ Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language

KenK's picture

People are often sentimental about these things.

kevindanielbrown's picture

Michael those that seek to take away the life, liberty, and property of others are ALREADY aggressors so responding with force against them isn't aggression but defense. So no, this is not an example of justified aggression.

Also If you restrained government to not taking away anyone's life, liberty, or property it wouldn't be government anymore.

Suverans2's picture

G'day kevindanielbrown,

What if government was restricted to its one lawful purpose, that of protecting its individual members life, liberty and property, what name would you then give this agency?

Individual Secessionist

B.R. Merrick's picture

As I understand it, if we agree with minarchists, that a small, limited government (hopefully run by people like Ron Paul) is going to scare away the bad guys, the next question we ought to ask is, "How?"

Minarchists, like us anarchists, don't like the idea of government. That is why they want it small. But they also want it to effectively do what it is supposed to do: protect. How does a small government do that?

A small government cannot provide the protective services it promises. A small town of 500 does not need more than one cop, if we are to assume that all minarchists could agree on that. What if two bad guys are initiating coercion against two people in this small town at once, on opposite sides of the town?

And once this happens, the hysteria and anger over government's inefficiency will undoubtedly lead to adding one more cop. Thus it grows. The reason it grows is because its foundation is coercion against those who did not ask for it.

Small government cannot work for everyone. It will only work for those closest to it that resemble it the most. But at least those who resemble it will feel better.

Suverans2's picture

G'day B.R. Merrick,

I feel you may be confusing "size" with "scope of authority". If its "scope of authority" was limited to protecting its consenting members' life, liberty and property, and it remained within its bounds, [good luck on that one], what do you care what "size" it is? Keep in mind, also, that these same problems will be inherent with a"private protection agency" as well; if it is powerful enough to protect your natural rights, it is powerful enough to trespass upon them.

Individual Secessionist

tzo's picture

Well, I do think size matters (insert joke here). Having a single agency provide any service for all of society is having a monopoly agency. Market competition is the only way to ensure competitive pricing and service. If a single "private protection agency" covered the entire U.S., I can't see how it could possibly resist becoming a government. A privately-funded monopoly on force would change into a publicly-funded, pay-whether-you-want-it-or-not "service." A government.

Competing protection agencies would have to maintain a balance of power, and their clients would help ensure that. There are still approximately 1 bazillion (more or less) guns in private hands in this country, and the only reason we don't see them more is that government restricts their use. Also, their voluntary payments keep the company in business.

It seems very difficult to imagine a private defense company growing out of control in a competitive market and overwhelming the rest. How would a dairy farmer plot to gain a monopoly on milk delivery, absent government help?

Suverans2's picture

It also seems very difficult to imagine a bunch of small, (which equals relatively weak), protection agencies being able to protect its clients from nuclear attacks and invasions by foreign nations. Hey, I got it, maybe all these small agencies could band together and call themselves The United Agencies of America.

"How would a dairy farmer plot to gain a monopoly on milk delivery, absent government help?"

By providing the best milk and delivery service at the lowest price, kind of like Alcoa Aluminum apparently did, at one time, before your government stepped in and saved you.

"Alcoa had been having antitrust run-ins with the Justice Department since 1911, but all of the blows had glanced off of it until U.S. Attorney General Homer Cummings filed suit in 1937, charging monopolization and restraint of trade on Alcoa's part. The trial lasted from 1938 to 1940 and was the largest proceeding in the history of U.S. law to that time. A district court ruling in 1942 found in favor of Alcoa, but the government appealed. In 1945 an appeals court sustained that appeal. In his decision, Judge Learned Hand ruled that although Alcoa had not intended to create its monopoly, the fact remained that it had a monopoly on the domestic aluminum market in violation of antitrust law and it would be in the nation's best interest to break it up. Hand's decision became a landmark in the history of judicial activism, although it did leave open the question of how Alcoa's grip on aluminum was to be broken."

"Judicial activism"?

And, the rest, as they say, is history.

tzo's picture

Question #2: Invasion

I liked your article, but the practical reality is that under anarchy, the few "evil" men would band together and plunder the "good" majority. How many well-armed, coordinated thugs would it take to ravage an unprotected populace – a few thousand? The good people simply go about their business, then one day, 2,000 armed evildoers sweep into an area, and have their way with it. Even if the general populace were armed, they could hardly stand up to a trained group like this. (BTW, this is what the gun lobby doesn't seem to understand – if the government goes after them with 10,000 soldiers, a "well-armed militia" has not the ghost of a chance.)

Eventually the good group might eliminate the evil group through sheer weight of numbers, but the former would probably lose men at a ratio of 10 to 1, since they will always be caught by surprise and fighting is not their stock-in-trade. This would be repeated constantly and is obviously unacceptable. Isn't this what Genghis Khan, and the Vikings, etc. were – essentially wandering thugs who plundered "good" civilizations?

A private security force would be irresistibly tempted to assume the "evil group" role, I'm sure, so this is no solution.

Believe me, I detest all governments; I just feel that there is one valid role for government to play, and that is to protect its citizens.

Stefan Molyneux:

The idea that roving bands of thugs will successfully "take over" a stateless society is a surprisingly durable notion, given the disasters we see every day in Iraq. The simple fact is that invasions are never profitable unless subsidized by the taxpayers of the invading army’s government. From a mere financial standpoint, Iraq is a fiscal disaster – which proves that even invading one of the most oil-rich countries in the world doesn’t pay! Iraq was invaded only because the costs of the invasion are entirely borne by taxpayers – which allows billions to be siphoned off to the military, state agencies and private corporations. The same is true for all occupations in history, from the Roman, British and French Empires to the Eastern Bloc to the Iraq occupation. Taxpayers are forced to pay with money and blood, while billions are stolen through subsidies and contracts. The real target in any war is not foreign troops, but domestic taxpayers. War is a means to an end: the end being the pillaging of the public purse.

Free trade is profitable; in the absence of a state, war is not. This means that peaceful citizens will always have more money and resources than violent criminals. In a stateless society, DROs will constantly work to defuse and exclude the criminal element and ensure that crime does not pay – and it won’t, since an honest income will be so much higher than it is now! Thus the argument that bands of thugs can successfully take over a free society has no basis in economics, logic or history. The worst possible case in a stateless society is that a band of thugs will set up shop locally and demand cash "protection" from honest citizens, like the Mafia. However, even that situation is preferable to the current system, since the Mafia need to ensure that their citizens remain relatively happy in the long run – unlike governments, which drive entire societies into war, bankruptcy and dictatorship.

All right, but what about foreign governments, whose armies are subsidized by taxpayers?

Foreign governments are even easier to deal with than internal gangs, due to one basic fact: political leaders only invade other countries if they themselves are in no danger. If a politician can stay far behind the lines, make stirring speeches, strike noble poses, hand out contracts and watch his popularity soar, war seems like a pretty good deal. If, however, declaring war threatens him personally, suddenly it doesn’t seem so attractive. The simple proof of this thesis is that no country possessing WMDs has ever been directly threatened with war. (In fact, the best way to logically deduce that Iraq had no WMDs was that the US was prepared to invade it!)

Personal threats against warlike foreign leaders always dissuades invasion – so, what is the best way to threaten the lives of such criminals? So far, the only answer has been the proliferation of WMDs. In a free society, cheaper and less dangerous methods will surely be discovered – and here are some possibilities.

Suppose Canada decides to invade a government-free US. The Canadian PM starts making threatening speeches and massing troops along the border.

How could the stateless society respond? Well, DROs are the agencies most threatened by invasion, because if the Canadian government takes over, they will be the first to go. So let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a group of worried DRO leaders. What would we do?

First, we would get to the root of the problem, which is that the Canadian PM is the person responsible for fermenting war. Given this fact, we would avoid threatening Canada’s troops or its general population, who are not the problem, and have no power to prevent the invasion. If we threaten the troops, we’ll make them more belligerent – and if we threaten the general population, we’ll make them more supportive of the war.

So how can we defuse the situation? Here are some ideas (in escalating order):

1. Declare that, if the troops are not disbanded, no offensive action will be taken against soldiers or civilians, but instead political leaders will be targeted.
2. Arm everyone along the US side of the border with any weapons they liked – for free (In Switzerland, for instance, every household has to have a gun – and the Swiss have not been involved in a war in 800 years, despite being right in the middle of Europe!).
3. Offer the foreign troops sanctuary, property and jobs if they lay down their arms, desert and cross the border peacefully.
4. If the threat continues to escalate, offer $100 million in gold to anyone who can convince the Canadian PM to demobilize his troops (using whatever methods work the best).
5. Drive all politicians underground by putting massive bounties on their heads.
6. Kidnap the PM’s family and hold them hostage until the troops are demobilized.

Naturally, things can escalate from the above in ways that are easy to imagine – although I am sure that the problem would be dealt by the first one or two items.

Why are these approaches so effective? For one thing, in a stateless society, there is no single target such as the White House or the Pentagon. Authority is diffused, decentralized, like the Internet, and so cannot be struck at directly. Thus DROs can target foreign leaders, but foreign leaders cannot target DROs – and so the advantage lies with DROs.

Let’s suppose, though, that none of the above works, and foreign troops end up invading the stateless society. What will they face? A combination of determined DROs, private security forces and well-armed civilians. Remember: in a stateless society, there are no legal limits on the weapons that private citizens can possess. (It is likely that DROs, though, would refuse to represent those who possessed certain weapons – a limit that would doubtless be lifted in the case of imminent invasion!)

Thus the invading army cannot tell which citizens have which weapons. This raises a significant "fog of war" problem. The US felt safe invading Iraq because the Iraqi government had been largely disarmed by 14 years of sanctions, and so could not retaliate. Even now, when they are nominally in charge of the country, they face constant attrition from guerilla fighters. Now that the Iraqi population has access to arms, they have the upper hand even in the face of overwhelming US military power. (The main reason for this is that the US military has developed the capacity to blow away armies standing out in the open – with the inevitable result that no army ever opposes the US by standing out in the open, but instead uses guerilla tactics and a war of attrition. It’s as if Vietnam never happened! But that’s inevitable – state armies are not designed to protect citizens, but to create conflict and spend money, and "big thump" weapons are far more expensive than guerilla training.)

Last but not least, if the threat of invasion grows, DROs will hire mercenaries to repel the invaders. In the unlikely event that DRO combatants do actually engage government troops, it will be a case of private incentives versus government inefficiencies – FedEx versus the Post Office. Does anyone believe that a government-run army – which is just the Post Office in fatigues – can beat a private army? The military is just another government program, subject to all the same irrational stupidities as every other government program. So far, we have only seen the agonizing waste of governments fighting other governments – the spectacle of a government army fighting a private army will be brief, efficient and highly instructive.

Finally, can anyone out there show me any examples of a government successfully defending its population from violence? France in 1789? Russia in 1917? Germany in 1933? Poland in 1939? France in 1940? England which, after winning the war against national socialism, imposed socialism on its own population? America, which subsidizes and arms dictatorships and currently has more than 200 troop bases around the world stirring up anti-US rage? What about the Civil War, which murdered 600,000 Americans without even effectively freeing the slaves? The First World War, which caused the Second? Did America emerge from the Cold War more free or less free? (Hint: taxes, debt and regulations!) Did Korea or Vietnam end the Soviet regime? Of course not – the inefficiency of central planning did. What about World War Two? In 1950, more people were enslaved by dictatorships than in 1939 – despite 40 million murdered! So how can anyone say that governments protect their citizens? Violence begets violence. All states do is wage wars, raise taxes and enslave their populations with debts and regulation. Knowing that governments murdered 170 million people during the 20th century, we can all be forgiven for a little skepticism when we hear the argument that governments protect their citizens. It is blind, dangerous nonsense!

There is one final response that, in my view, disposes of the "armed gang" objection. If large numbers of people do want to impose their will on others through force, then armed gangs do pose a risk to a stateless society. However, they are still less of a risk than a centralized state! If an armed gang runs roughshod through your neighbourhood, you can choose to fight, pay tribute, or flee to a freer locale. No such choices exist with a government. In other words, if people are generally peaceful, we don’t need a state – and if they are generally violent, we can’t allow a state to exist, because giving violent people a monopoly always results in the utter destruction of civil society.

Suverans2's picture

"A well regulated Militia[1], being necessary to the security of a free State, the right[2] of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed[3]."

[1] Militia. The body of citizens of a state, enrolled for discipline as a military force, but not engaged in actual service except in emergencies, as distinguished from regular troops or a standing army. State v. Dawson, 272 N.C. 535, 159 S.E.2d 1, 9. ~ Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (c.1991), page 993 [Emphasis added]
[2] Right. ...a just and legal claim to hold, use, or enjoy [a thing] or to convey it or donate it, as he may please. Ibid. page 1324
[3] Infringement. ...a violation of a...right. Ibid. page 780

The problem with all governments is, and has always been, "the standing army", which it controls. It would be very difficult to get a militia to voluntarily go to Iraq or Afghanistan or _____________ [fill in the blank]. And, a government would have an even more difficult time getting a militia ("the body of citizens of a state") to declare war upon themselves.

Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? ~ Tench Coxe (a prominent American political economist of the day (1755–1824) who attended the earlier constitutional convention in Annapolis, writing as "A Pennsylvanian," in "Remarks On The First Part Of The Amendments To The Federal Constitution," in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789, p. 2 col. 1)

This, in my opinion, is the real reason why "the Swiss have not been involved in a war in 800 years, despite being right in the middle of Europe", it has no "standing army" , only a "well regulated Militia"!

" shall certainly set a king over you. You may not give an alien the rule over you, one who is not your brother. Only, he shall not create a standing army, nor cause the people to return to bondage..."

For those of you who don't believe that there is such a thing as a "right", i.e. a just claim to anything, and therefore cannot possibly claim "the right to keep and bear Arms", good luck.

This shift from “militia power” to a standing Federal army, was one of the “cons” created by your “organic United States CONStitution”.

Paul's picture

I'm actually somewhat surprised to see Molyneux take this line, given past impressions I've had of his position. I see nothing to disagree about in it.

One has to wonder about people who worry about the US being invaded. What country would do such a thing? I think these people must have spent their childhoods worrying about monsters in the closet or under the bed, and they haven't outgrown it yet!

As to 'For those of you who don't believe that there is such a thing as a "right", i.e. a just claim to anything, and therefore cannot possibly claim "the right to keep and bear Arms"' - I don't need any right to bear arms, to bear them. I just bear them, because it suits me to do so. Fuck the legalistic arguments, and all the rest of it. But hey, if you like to imagine you have a right to bear arms, go right ahead. No need to debate how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, really.

Suverans2's picture

G'day Paul,

Following that same “rationale”, do you also believe that you have the lawful authority to deprive another man of his life just because it “suits [you] to do so”, and “f**k the legalistic arguments, and all the rest”, or do you believe you should only execute such an act when you have a "natural right" to do so? Self-defense would give you the "right", for example.

"Without a moral code no proper human society is possible. Without the recognition of individual rights no moral code is possible." ~ Ayn Rand

So you see, my friend, we are not debating “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, really”, what we are debating is whether or not a peaceful society needs a moral code. Ayn Rand, L. Neil Smith and I say it does.

DennisLeeWilson's picture

"So far, we have only seen the agonizing waste of governments fighting other governments – the spectacle of a government army fighting a private army will be brief, efficient and highly instructive."

Actually, there is a VERY GOOD example of that spectacle, but you won't learn of it in USA government schools--for reasons that should become obvious if you read the article linked below. It was the American Revolutionary War Battle at King's Mountain.

* "Overmountain Men", Americans settlers of largely Scotch-Irish descent settled west of, or "over," the Appalachians, united into a semi-autonomous "government" called the Watauga Association in 1772 and, when threatened by the most powerful nation on earth (the British), decisively demonstrated
-->> what government doesn't want you to know about militias! <<--

I have collected and organized several articles detailing how effective voluntary militia is when it is not placed under the control of government military nuts.

Suverans2's picture

Great article, tzo, as usual!

Your frustration is palpable.

I feel like I have said this a million times, but I will nevertheless say it once more, the way in which "all men are created equal" is explained by the eleven words directly following that statement in the so-called Declaration of Independence, "that [is to say] they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights". "Is to say" was understood by the functionally literate men and women of their day, but is apparently lost to the vast majority of succeeding generations. Can you feel my frustration?

But that aside, you asked a question of us, "So again, the question for you to put to yourself is this: Why does my government organization, and by extension, why do I, have the natural right to claim all this land and to command all those who find themselves here?"

My answer, no, I take that back, THE ANSWER; Not just no, tzo, but F**K NO, your government , and you, by extension, do NOT have "the natural right to claim all this land and to command all those who find themselves here". Might does not make right. [Emphasis added]

Individual Secessionist

Paul's picture

I have no problems with minarchists per se, particularly since many of them are just anarchists in training (I was a minarchist once). In fact I don't even have a problem with socialists, communists and fascists. If people like those forms of government, they should live with them.

What I do have problems with are the fact they don't want to leave me (and other anarchists) alone. This is a problem with minarchists as much as with communists. If we could only get them to leave us alone, that would be all that is needed. Let the market then decide who prospers.

Before you guys say this is impossible, that they would never leave us alone, think a minute. I am saying they should have their fascism (or whatever), but leave us alone. You are saying not only should they leave us alone, but they also should not have the government they want for themselves (at least I think some here are suggesting that). Clearly the latter notion is much more difficult to achieve than the former. And it also has the problem that we would have to dominate them. Some anarchists!

I think we should ease up on evangelism for anarchism and attacks on socialism and fascism, and minarchism for that matter, and start emphasizing that everyone should get the government they want. Whether this is accomplished through panarchy (, or a somewhat more territorial version of it ( is left as an exercise for the reader.

Suverans2's picture

G'day Paul,

(thumbs up) Like this (1) Ah, the voice of reason is like music to my ears. This is precisely why I am an INDIVIDUAL secessionist; why should I drag anyone along with me that doesn't want to be free of the state?

Individual Secessionist

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Tzo, BrianDrake, Suverans: Excellent post and follow-up conversation. This is a real winner. I'm waiting for Michael Kleen to tap the mat and give up the ghost on this whole minarchist fantasy of his and stop working for the dark side. Excellent work.