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The Case Against the State - Logical Contradictions

October 19, 2009 - 6:18pm
Nick Coons by Nick Coons


Many libertarians believe in what they term "limited government", which is a government that is defined as one who's sole purpose is to protect individuals from the initiation of force by other individuals, and in doing so it cannot itself initiate force. For instance, government cannot rightfully say, "I'm going to steal some of your money so I can create police to protect you from being stolen from." It would be a contradiction to act in aggression to prevent acts of aggression.

However, this scenario is unsustainable. If an individual decided that it was unsatisfied with the government's enforcement of individual rights, he could start his own organization to compete with the government. He could try and do it better, and people could pay him for his services if they chose. If the government has a monopoly on its services, it must enforce its monopoly by aggressing against the private organization, at which point it ceases being "limited government" in the definition above. On the other hand, if it did not violently smash its competition, what would make the first organization government and the second organization not government? There would be no difference between the two. Both would be providing services only to willing participants.

One might argue that the first employees its people based on popular election, and the second hires them for economic reasons. But these aren't inherent. There's nothing that says government officials need to be elected (indeed, the vast majority of government employees are not elected), and there's nothing saying that a business couldn't decide to hold a popular election in choosing its employees. But if it did, we wouldn't grant the title of "government" to any business taking on such a practice.

So "limited government" cannot exist for any period of time. It is simply unsustainable. You would end up with multiple competing organizations, which would be a plus, as competition breeds lower prices and better services. In essence, you'd have the system that I promote – Free market anarchism.

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The Case Against the State - Anarchy, Not Chaos - Nick Coons
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