Comment: Why I'm a minarchist

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Why I'm a minarchist

I believe there should be a government to perform "night-watchman" duties, and that governments should not exceed these powers.

I am a Jeffersonian who believes, "That government is best which governs least" (quote is most likely really from Thoreau's Civil Disobedience, but still describes Jefferson's thought). Murray Rothbard inferred that the least of least is no government at all, but clearly that renders the quote as nonsense and in no way describes Jeffersonianism.

Why not simple apply the free-market principles premised in minarchism to police, firefighter, etc.? The supposed efficiency gains of privatizing these seems dubious to me. Murray Rothbard, and others, simply gloss over how this would work in practice.

There is a real history of private police and firefighters, and that history is not as flattering as the utopian vision of anarcho-capitalism would make it seem. When New York City had private firefighters they would often fight among themselves while the house burned, this competition never gave rise to efficiency gains. Also, it was common for these firefighters to loot the homes and even start the fires themselves.

The Pinkerton Detective Agency was little better than a domestic Blackwater.

The smallest government is history, the Althing in Iceland, could very quickly handle disputes among people.
The efficiency gains of using contract law among competing courts seems highly dubious to me. If a private Pinkerton agent punches me in the face for no reason, I must first find the contract between him and me that prohibited that, then I have to go to the particular court where this was enacted. All the while I am hoping that the Pinkertons do not apply pressure on this court. Of course, if there is no contract I am out of luck. This all sounds like a litigation nightmare.

Anarchism seems like a Utopian dream, no different from Marx's picture of the ideal state.

*Please don't get the impression that I dislike Murray Rothbard. I think he was the greatest intellectual of the 20th century, and can think of few people who have had a greater effect on my intellectual development.