Saturday, 12 November 2005

Can small government work?

A discussion on Free Talk Live (see Links list) the other day made me think.

Can smaller government work?

Naturally, I believe government is force, so it should be limited in size and scope so force is minimised. An anarcho-capitalist would probably state that his form of libertarianism is the logical one, since if government is force (and force is to be opposed by libertarians) then government is an unnecessary evil. I disagree with this.

There has never really been a working example of an anarcho-capitalist society. How would private protection agencies be more efficient than a state-owned police force? How would DRO's (as Ian from Free Talk Live puts it) provide proper protection to people? Anarcho-capitalists generally believe that limited government is a fallacy and that any government will naturally increase in size. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen. Nonetheless, I don't consider myself an anarcho-capitalist since I remain unconvinced that the private sector can provide a better national defence, police or court system.

As a minarchist, I believe that government should be tied down with the "chains of a constitution". This enables a clear framework, in which the powers of politicians are clearly defined and the size and scope of government is limited in statute. The current British constitution, in this regard, is wholly "unlibertarian". Our constitution is comprised of some written elements (such as statutes) but also of constitutional conventions. There are no penalties for violating these conventions. If, for example, the Prime Minister chose somebody from outside Parliament to be in his Cabinet, would there be any penalty for such an act? It's unlikely there would be.