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Minarchism is a libertarian political philosophy which advocates for the State to exist solely to provide a very small number of services. A popular model of the State proposed by minarchists is known as the night-watchman state, in which the only governmental functions are to protect citizens from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud as defined by property laws, limiting it to three institutions: the military, the police, and courts. However, some advocates of minarchism also support State-provided fire departments, prisons, legislatures and an executive.
Some minarchists argue that a state is inevitable, thus believing anarchy to be futile. Minarchists justify the necessity of the state on the grounds that private defence agencies and courts could be biased by unevenly representing the interests of higher paying clients. Robert Nozick, who publicized the idea of a minimal state in Anarchy, State, and Utopia, argued that a night-watchman state provides a framework that allows for any political system that respects fundamental individual rights, and therefore morally justifies the existence of a State.
Anarcho-capitalists argue that governments are malum in se in their nature and violate the non-aggression principle arguing that the market should supply all goods and services. Anarcho-capitalists criticize state sanctioned monopolies, citing them as corrupt and inefficient due to their ability to artificially limit competing services via laws and regulations.
Social anarchists criticize the state as being founded around the protection of private property and the mode of production that surrounds it. Thus, the minarchist state is a reductionist form of the welfare state, and not substantially different in purpose. Social anarchists argue that only with the abolition of the state can truly just economic relations and prosperity arise.
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 (see Keynesian economics) or existential threats.
Social liberals and social democrats argue that a government should be able to appropriate private wealth in order to better reach a society-wide optimum (as opposed to each actor sub-optimizing for themselves). Those exact obligations of the state to its citizens are decided by consensus and ultimately the parliamentarian democratic process. This may include ensuring care for disadvantaged or dependent people such as the elderly, the physically and mentally disabled, immigrants, the homeless, and the poor.
Social conservatives argue that the state should maintain a moral outlook and legislate against behavior commonly regarded as culturally destructive or immoral, proposing that the state cannot survive if its citizens do not have civic virtue.
There have been initiatives to create minarchist states.
- In 2001, Jason Sorens, an American Ph.D in political science and economics, founded the Free State Project, a plan of mass migration to the state of New Hampshire in order to establish there an independent government founded on libertarian principles. One of the project's initial goals was to collect a petition with 20,000 signers declaring their intent to move to the state; this was achieved in February 2016.
- In 2015, Czech politician and libertarian activist Vít Jedlička proclaimed the Free Republic of Liberland on a disputed area between Serbia and Croatia on the margin of the Danube river. The project aims to establish Liberland as a libertarian micronation with voluntary taxation in the region. In the first week following the creation of Liberland's official website, over 200,000 people applied for citizenship.
Minarchist or similar models and concepts
- Night-watchman state – a popular model of minarchy which recognizes only police, courts, and national defense forces as legitimate provisions of government
- Small government – a government intended to intervene little on peoples' economic and individual activities
- Limited government – a government whose actions are limited by its law
Related or encompassing philosophies
- Right-libertarianism – encompasses both theories as anti-statist market economy or laissez-faire philosophies; advocates either the full privatization of the means of production including land (economic sense), or else conservative social values such as traditional morality, conventional aesthetics, and natural inequality (cultural sense)
- Anarcho-capitalism and minarchism – comparison and relation between the two theories
- Classical liberalism – the 18th-century Enlightenment political philosophy that, together with 19th-century individualist anarchism, gave rise to the modern libertarian movement
- Left-libertarianism – a wide array of economic and political proposals that emphasize social equality and anti-statism, and most often deemphasize private property and capitalism in favor of common ownership and worker collectives
- Georgism – an economic philosophy holding that, while people should own the value they produce themselves, economic value derived from land and natural resources should belong equally to all members of society
- Geolibertarianism – an economically centrist or left-libertarian model in which all necessary operations of government are funded by the collection of market rental value from private land holdings, understood as an optimal tax or fee on the monopolization of natural opportunities, the surplus revenue being distributed to residents as a form of basic income
- Objectivism – a rationalist, atheist, and ethical egoist philosophical system proposed by Russian-American novelist Ayn Rand, who supported laissez-faire capitalism and opposed collectivism, altruistic morality, and state authority
- Big government – a government with a large bureaucracy that intervenes in many sectors of civil society, perceived as inefficient, corrupt, and lacking in transparency
- Statism – general support for large-scale state intervention and highly centralized government authority, coined by Ayn Rand
- Economic interventionism – state intervention into economic affairs, either to generate demand for particular goods and services, nationalize industry, reshape the wealth distribution and combat material inequalities attributed to market freedom, restrict private sector competition, or promote domestic over foreign trade (see protectionism)
- Nanny state – a pejorative term for an overprotective, overinvolved, and paternalistic welfare state
- Paternalism – the belief that a state (or other organization) ought to make decisions on behalf of individuals who are presumed to be unable or unwilling to do so
- Social engineering (political science) – the concept of a state or other powerful group manipulating society
- Welfare state – the concept of state promoting well-being of citizens, leading to intervention on a great number of sectors
- Samuel Edward Konkin III, New Libertarian Manifesto, 1980, p. 9.
- Emmett, Ross B. (2011-08-12). Frank H. Knight in Iowa City, 1919–1928. Emerald Group Publishing. ISBN 978-1-78052-008-7.
- Holcombe, Randall G. http://www.independent.org/pdf/tir/tir_08_3_holcombe.pdf. "Government: Unnecessary but Inevitable".
- Nozick, Robert (1974). Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-09720-3.
- Gordon, David (2008). "Minimal State". In Hamowy, Ronald. The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE; Cato Institute. pp. 332–34. ISBN 978-1412965804. LCCN 2008009151. OCLC 750831024. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n204.
- Belluck, Pam (October 27, 2003). "Libertarians Pursue New Political Goal: State of Their Own". The New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
- "Membership Statistics". Free State Project. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
- Nolan, Daniel (25 April 2015). "Welcome to Liberland: Europe's Newest State". Vice News. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
- Stroukal, Dominik (18 April 2015). "Několik nestrukturovaných poznámek k Liberlandu" (in Czech). Ludwig von Mises Institut – Česko & Slovensko. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
- Nolan, Daniel (24 April 2015). "Liberland: hundreds of thousands apply to live in world's newest 'country'". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
In the week since Liberland announced its creation and invited prospective residents to join the project, they have received about 200,000 citizenship applications – one every three seconds – from almost every country in the world.