World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Night-watchman state

Article Id: WHEBN0000973781
Reproduction Date:

Title: Night-watchman state  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Minarchism, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Libertarianism, Anarcho-capitalism and minarchism, Left-libertarianism
Collection: Forms of Government, Libertarian Terms, Libertarian Theory, Minarchism, Political Systems
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Night-watchman state

A night-watchman state, or a minimal state, is variously defined by sources. In the strictest sense, it is a form of government in political philosophy where the state's only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from assault, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police, and courts. In the broadest sense, it also includes various civil service and emergency-rescue departments (such as the fire departments), prisons, the executive, the judiciary, and the legislatures as legitimate government functions.[1][2][3]

Advocacy of a night-watchman state is known as minarchism. Minarchists argue that the state has no right to use its monopoly on the use of force to interfere with free transactions between people, and see the state's sole responsibility as ensuring that transactions between private individuals are free. As such, minarchists generally believe in a laissez-faire approach to the economy. The rationale for this belief may be economic prosperity, moral limitations on the use of state force, or both.

Contents

  • Etymology 1
  • Justification 2
  • Criticisms 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
    • Notes 5.1
    • Bibliography 5.2
  • External links 6

Etymology

The phrase "Nachtwächterstaat" was coined by German socialist Ferdinand Lassalle in an 1862 speech in Berlin. He criticized the "bourgeois" liberal limited government state, comparing it to a night watchman whose sole duty was preventing theft. The phrase quickly caught on as a description of limited government, even as liberalism began to mean a more interventionist state.[4] Ludwig von Mises later opined that Lassalle tried to make limited government look ridiculous, but that it was no more ridiculous than governments that concerned themselves with "the preparation of sauerkraut, with the manufacture of trouser buttons, or with the publication of newspapers."[5]

Justification

Minarchists generally justify the state on the grounds that it is the logical consequence of adhering to the non-aggression principle. They argue that anarchism is impractical because it is not sufficient to enforce the non-aggression principle. They argue that this is because the enforcement of laws under anarchism is open to competition,[6] although this argument would only apply to anarcho-capitalism, as no traditional anarchists argue for a free-market law system. Another common justification is that private defense and court firms would tend to represent the interests of those who pay them enough.[7] Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia argued that a night watchman state provides a framework that allows for any political system that respects fundamental individual rights.

Criticisms

Anarcho-capitalists generally argue that the presence of any form of government, or state, necessarily violates the non-aggression principle. By its nature, they argue, a government uses force against those who have not stolen private property, vandalized private property, assaulted anyone, or committed fraud.[8][9] Many also argue that monopolies tend to be corrupt and inefficient.

Murray Rothbard argued that all government services, including defense, are inefficient because they lack a market-based pricing mechanism regulated by the voluntary decisions of consumers purchasing services that fulfill their highest-priority needs and by investors seeking the most profitable enterprises to invest in. Therefore, the state's monopoly on the use of force is a violation of natural rights. He wrote, "The defense function is the one reserved most jealously by the State. It is vital to the State's existence, for on its monopoly of force depends its ability to extract taxes from the citizens. If citizens were permitted privately owned courts and armies, then they would possess the means to defend themselves against invasive acts by the government as well as by private individuals."[10] In his book Power and Market, he argued that geographically large minarchist states are indifferent from a unified minarchist world monopoly government.[11] Rothbard wrote that governments were not inevitable, noting that it often took hundreds of years for aristocrats to set up a state out of anarchy.[12] He also argued that if a minimal state allows individuals to freely secede from the current jurisdiction to join a competing jurisdiction, then it does not by definition constitute a state.[13]

Anti-government capitalists generally argue that private defense companies and court firms would have to have a good reputation in order to stay in business. Furthermore, Linda and Morris Tannehill argue that no coercive monopoly of force can arise in a free market and that a government's citizenry cannot desert them in favor of a competent protection and defense company.[14]

Social anarchists criticize the state as being founded around the protection of private property and the mode of production that surrounds it. Thus, the minarchist state is a reductionist form of the welfare state, and not substantially different from it in purpose, according to this analysis. Social anarchists argue that only with the abolition of the state, whether it be the faux-compassionate welfare state or the boldly unconcerned austerity state, can truly just economic relations and prosperity for all come about.

Proponents of an economically interventionist state argue it is best to evaluate the merits of government intervention on a case-by-case basis in order to address recessions (see Keynesian economics) or existential threats.

Social liberals and social democrats argue that a government ought to appropriate private wealth in order to ensure care for disadvantaged or dependent people such as children, the elderly, the physically and mentally disabled, immigrants, the homeless, the poor, the unemployed, caretakers, or victimized minority groups.

Social conservatives argue that the state should maintain a moral outlook and legislate against behavior commonly regarded as culturally destructive or immoral; that, indeed, the state cannot survive if its citizens do not have a certain kind of character, integrity and civic virtue, and so ignoring the state's role in forming people's ethical dispositions can be disastrous.

See also

Contrast:

References

Notes

  1. ^ Gregory, Anthory.The Minarchist's Dilemma. Strike The Root. 10 May 2004.
  2. ^ http://www.peikoff.com/2011/03/07/what-role-should-certain-specific-governments-play-in-objectivist-government/
  3. ^ http://www.peikoff.com/2011/10/03/interview-with-yaron-brook-on-economic-issues-in-todays-world-part-1/
  4. ^ Marian Sawer, The ethical state?: social liberalism in Australia, Melbourne University Publishing, 2003, p. 87, ISBN 0-522-85082-0, ISBN 978-0-522-85082-6
  5. ^ Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism, 1927, p. 37
  6. ^ Roderick T. Long & Tibor R. Machan, eds. (2008). Anarchism/Minarchism: Is a Government Part of a Free Country?. Ashgate Publishing.  
  7. ^ Holcombe, Randall G. http://www.independent.org/pdf/tir/tir_08_3_holcombe.pdf. "Government: Unnecessary but Inevitable". 
  8. ^ Long, Roderick, Market Anarchism as Constitutionalism, Molinari Institute.
  9. ^ Plauché, Geoffrey Allan (2006). On the Social Contract and the Persistence of Anarchy, American Political Science Association, (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University).
  10. ^ Rothbard, Murray N. (March 18, 2004). "The Myth of Efficient Government Service". 
  11. ^  
  12. ^  
  13. ^  
  14. ^ Linda & Morris Tannehill. The Market for Liberty, p. 81.

Bibliography

  • Robert Nozick. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. New York: Basic Books, 1974.
  • Wolff, Jonathan. Robert Nozick: Property, Justice, and the Minimal State. Cambridge, U.K.: Polity Press, 1991.
  • "Anarchism and Minarchism. A Rapprochement", Journal des Economists et des Estudes Humaines, Vol. 14, No.4 (December 2002), pages 569–88 Tibor R. Machan

External links

  • Anarchism/Minarchism: Is a Government Part of a Free Country? Roderick Long and Tibor Machan
  • Market Anarchism as Constitutionalism Roderick Long
  • Chaos Theory: Two Essays on Market Anarchy Robert P. Murphy
  • Robert Nozick and the Immaculate Conception of the State Murray Rothbard
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.