How some minarchists can get along better with anarchists

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There is a constant debate that goes on in the libertarian movement between the anarcho-capitalists and the non-anarchists like minarchists and constitutionalists. After a pretty terrible article a few weeks ago by He Who Will Not Be Named, the debate seems to have intensified. It was good timing for Julie Borowski to write a piece explaining why she does not advocate for anarchy (since she’s constantly asked why she hasn’t “come out” yet) and instead focuses on “trying to introduce the basic ideas of liberty to the most amount of people.”

It’s a job that needs to be done and she does an excellent job of it. Nobody is going to change from being a hardcore Democrat or Republican, social justice warrior, or indifferent to advocating in favor of anarchy (or minarchy for that matter) overnight. It takes time to develop these views and it’s often painful—I know this from experience. So to the anarchists who complain to Julie about not talking about anarcho-capitalism and calling her a statist for it, how do you not see what she is trying to accomplish? And how do you not see that it is a good thing? It literally does not matter if Julie is an anarchist or a minarchist; what matters is that she is bringing more people into the liberty movement.

This blog that you are reading right now was not intended to be an “anarchist” site. Slappy Jones and I originally wanted to do exactly what Julie does: introduce people to libertarianism. I never wanted to use the “A word” because I thought it would scare people away. We’ve only actually only used the word recently, as (not including this piece) a search for “anarchy” on McFloogle.com returns only six articles out of the 303 that we’ve published. Only one of them is specifically talking about anarchism. It is used in the others as part of the title of a book, part of the name of another blog, as a joke in a caption of a picture, not used at all in one, and part of the title of one of Julie’s videos. So believe me, I get it—going full speed ahead in liberty mode is not the way to win people over. That’s part of the reason why the name of the blog has nothing to do with libertarianism.

Today, Julie reiterated her point with a Facebook post:

Me: “I have no beef with ancaps. I’d even like to see the philosophy tried out in practice and studied. But, for me, I’ve noticed that it’s a more effective use of my time to spend reaching out to non-liberty minded people and easing them into the ideas of liberty.”

H8ers: “Statist! Spend your time the way I want you to spend your time! Use MY talking points!”

Again, I have absolutely no problem with this and it doesn’t make sense to me that people would take any offense to her not specifically advocating for anarchy. The problem, though, is that many non-anarchist libertarians (whom I will refer to as minarchists for simplicity) use this as a cue to dump on anarchists. I wasn’t there when Julie wrote the post, but I’m pretty sure that was not her intention especially considering that the hypothetical responders to her statement are “H8ers” and not “anarchists.”

So when you say things like the following, do not expect to be dealt with by someone with the patience of a saint:

You can be an ancap without being a full out anarchist though

and

I have beef with ancaps in that their whole entire argument structure is a false dichotomy. You’re either a freedom-loving ancap, or a bootlicking commie

and

Ancaps are pretty f***ing stupid. Every single one of them went from high-school brainwashed statist to minarchist to anarchist yet they think they can take people from step 1 to step 3 with no brakes.

and

anarchy is a complete lack of laws or rules.. which means no one truly owns anything and their entire life goes right back to living like cavemen with guns, defending what little you have as everyone else kills each other over a twinkie.
Anyone who believes in anarcho-capitalism is truly mentally ill, like liberals.

and

Anarchism is chaos.
You can’t call for Law without authorities to write and enforce Law.

and

What I find most amusing is the notion that anarchy, or libertarianism leads to more liberty. Why aren’t you people flocking to Somalia or the Congo. Lots of freedom there. Perhaps you prefer the benefits of that social contract that you didn’t sign.

You might as well say, “I clearly have no idea what I’m talking about, but I’m going to tell you that you’re completely wrong.” These are probably many of the minarchists who claim that they are treated meanly by anarchists for not being anarchists.

Of course not all minarchists are like this and many of the comments in the Facebook thread from minarchists were constructive. It is worth the discussion, however, because it seems to me that there are a number of minarchists who deem it reasonable to put their hands over their ears and yell “LA LA LA LA!!!” as a way to debate the merits of anarchy.

I have a few basic thoughts on this: if you want to be treated with respect, treat the people you’re trying to reach with respect. Nothing turns a person off more quickly than a condescending attitude. If you claim to support liberty, do not be surprised when you’re questioned for holding a view that favors restricting liberty. You should have a good reason for your apparent contradiction.

Furthermore, it is important to look at the debate with some perspective. Libertarians tend to chuckle at people who argue along lines like: “We need minimum wage laws because the economy would be a mess without them.” There is really no substance to that. If you ask why, the argument may very well come down to “because I said so.” Well, anarchists chuckle at minarchists who use the same logic: “We need a state to create laws because there would be chaos without them.” If you’re not willing to back up your views with substance, do not expect to be taken seriously. This is true for every stage of political development. Constitutionalists chuckle at the establishment, minarchists chuckle at constitutionalists, and anarchists chuckle at minarchists. But it goes further than that. Many anarchists get uneasy with pacifism. Brutalists get upset by anyone who questions anything they say. Consequentialist anarchists and deontological anarchists are always debating as well. And many anarcho-capitalists find it frustrating to deal with their brethren who look no further than the non-aggression principle as the sole basis for their philosophy.

I think that it’s important for people to understand what anarcho-capitalism is about. It’s about choice. There is no such thing as utopia and there’s no way of knowing what’s best for everyone. People ought to be empowered to improve their own lives the way they best see fit and not be forced to use someone else’s solution. It is easier to have a constructive discussion with someone if you acknowledge that instead of brushing them off as being unintelligent. Liberty will not happen overnight, so let’s all try to work together to get things going in the right direction.

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Brady Shackelford
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I am a minarchist, and, as much as I admire many of the positive attributes of anarchy, I cannot fully support it in its entirety because there are times in which a strong government can come in handy, such as when a foreign power invades.

Jared
Guest
I think Thomas Paine said it best. “Government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.” I have no problem with ancaps, I never have, but I can’t stand a neckbeard anarchist. Especially, when they haven’t even read Spooner or Rothbard. That excessively pisses me off when I’m talked down to as a… Read more »
Craig W.
Guest

Minarchist here. While I’m not prepared to embrace the ancap position, I would much prefer to be “stuck” in a debate about how much Liberty is too much, vs. how much regulation is enough. Should we ever reach the point where we’re actually having that first debate, I’d say we’ve come a long way.

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[…] Sometimes it is good to go over some basic ideas especially since I have the tendency to get wrapped up in the technical aspects of libertarianism and take for granted that people understand certain things.  And sometimes it’s these simple ideas that even a lot of libertarians do not quite understand.  It often causes headaches when trying to have discussions. […]

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