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Friday, June 03, 2005

Libertarian Views of Government

There are three different "levels" of possible government compatible with libertarianism. Libertarians will usually be discovered arguing for one of these as "the" appropriate libertarian view, but all are compatible with self-ownership.

1. Anarchy. Zero. Government is evil. If less is better, none is best. Government commands are not voluntary suggestions; all government is the use of coercion, and all coercion is morally wrong or ineffective (zero or negative sum games as opposed to positive sum games in voluntary cooperation).

2. Minarchy. Government is a necessary evil. A monopoly on force is needed to protect individuals from violations of their rights by other individuals. In minarchy, the purpose of government is to prevent government.

3. A Rights-Respecting Government. Government can be good. There is no imposed limit on the size or functions of government, but it must respect the self-ownership rights of individuals just as any other entity. If I am forbidden from using a piece of property, it does not matter whether that property is owned by Bob Smith, Intel, or the government. Likewise, I cannot be abused, killed, enslaved, or deprived of my rightful property by either Bob Smith, Intel, or the government.

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