Minarchists and Anarchists Agree on 95% Reduction in Government, Says Walter Block

The incomparable Austrian economist Dr. Walter Block visited with Brian Wilson on the Libertas Media Podcast recently to discuss libertarianism – especially the movement and its various distinctions. Dr. Block made the statement that anarchists and minarchists agree that the government should shrink by 95%. Minarchists are those limited-government libertarians who believe a tiny government is necessary to protect property rights and uphold the law – something libertarian anarchists believe could be done more effectively in the private sector. Block said these two groups should work together as brothers-in-arms against the Statists to decease the government by 95% and only then should they worry about that final 5%. Perhaps this could have been an interesting debate between the founding fathers around the time of the American Revolution, but right now the aim should be getting rid of the welfare, warfare and waste.

Walter Block, the Big Tent libertarian

Walter Block, the Big Tent libertarian

The big question is one of principle: Can a person still be a libertarian if they are involved in politics? Anarcho-Capitalists, who are libertarian anarchists, would generally frown upon people being involved with the government in any way because they view it as an institution of systematic violence and injustice. But Walter Block, who describes himself as a “big-tent” libertarian, sees no violation of libertarian principles when a libertarian enters politics. Still, as big-tent as Walter Block might be, he noted at the end of the podcast that there are standards that must be met to call yourself a libertarian. There must be economic freedom, personal freedom and non-offensive foreign policy.

Ron Paul is an example of a libertarian who went into politics without abandoning his libertarian principles. But he fought every expansion of the U.S. government and worked to reduce it, constantly educating people on the need to do so. Perhaps it is really a question of the politician’s goal when he gains political power: will he use his power to grow the government or to reduce it. It would be difficult to label Congressman Paul’s involvement in politics as “anti-libertarian.”

We are all involved with the government every day of our lives; it is simply too overwhelming large to not deal with it from time to time. Block cites the example of taxes: if you pay your taxes (even if only to avoid jail) then you are participating with the U.S. government in some way. This is unavoidable. Ben Franklin was right. There are only two guarantees in life: death and taxes. And the government will be an instrumental part of at least one of these guarantees in your life. Block illustrated his point by saying that if a mugger demanded your money and you gave it to him, you would not be in the wrong… you would be a victim. And you are a victim of the government and forced to participate with it in many ways.

And it isn’t just paying taxes that forces you to “participate” with the state. Going to the library, working in any capacity for the government or a company contracted by the government, or even driving on public roads forces you to participate with the government. Why should we single out running for political positions as the sole way of participating with the state? As long as the motivation isn’t power—which it almost always is – an individual running for political office could be a consistent libertarian if his focus was on reducing the government and educating the public. I suppose this would most likely be a minarchist libertarian, but perhaps even an anarchist could take a public office for the express practical purpose of reducing the government by 100%. It would be like buying the New York Yankees, a team you hate, and running the franchise into the ground so they could never compete in the Major Leagues ever again.

According to Walter Block, if you can take money from the government, say through social security or getting matching campaign funds during an election campaign, then you should do it. He calls it “liberating” money from the government. Block said that at age 73 he gladly takes money from the government when they freely give it to him. He quipped that he would possibly also take money from them when they didn’t freely give it to him, but he was too much of a coward with regard to the consequences of jail and violence. Taking from the government is the same as taking from a robber gang (albeit with good PR).

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