I was having a conversation with a friend the other night about how things might work in a stateless society. He wasn’t totally on board but he conceded that I made some good arguments that he cannot counter. He said it’s just too hard for him to make the jump to statelessness, why don’t I just argue for the minimal state to get people to move in the right direction? He suggested people would be more open to hearing about corruption in government and getting rid of the “low hanging fruit”, the things that are obviously wrong with government.
I told him that of course I would prefer a minimal state to the state we have. I’d also prefer that if I get mugged on the way home the attacker only takes $10 instead of $100, but I’d never argue for people to steal $10 instead of $100. I’m not good at arguing for something I don’t believe in and besides, there’s nothing memorable about a minimal state. People talk about things the government should and shouldn’t do everyday. It’s boring. However, you almost always get a reaction when you say you want no state at all. It leads to lots of questions and often a long conversation.
If you consider yourself a voluntaryist and you argue for the government to do anything you are legitimizing the theft that funds the action. It doesn’t matter if it is pollution, the border, the military, the schools, the police, or anything else. What you’re really saying is “it is okay to steal everyone’s money to fund the things I want.” That gets us nowhere.
Saying that we need the state to keep foreigners out because they’ll use our roads or increase welfare is asinine. The right answer is to stop the socialized roads and welfare state. You don’t have any right to use force to keep people off unowned property. Keeping immigrants out won’t change anything anyway. The odds that we can elect people who will give up their power to get us to a minimal state is pretty much impossible. The only way to get to a libertarian society is to make government irrelevant by changing the minds of the people. Tell them what government really is and explain what it really does. There is never a reason to say, “the state should…” unless the next word is “disappear”.