Minarchy: Arrangement #1

As obviated by the name, my brand is based on the idea of minarchy. This is the idea that anarchy is a functionally Utopian philosophy and that we should instead strive and work for the smallest possible government instead. One of the nice things about this school of thought is that is doesn’t actually chain you to any one form of this smallest possible government like many theories do. Over the next several weeks I plan to take advantage of this flexibility and try to explore some different possible constructions or arrangements that could serve as a functional minarchy.

There is a long history in Western thought of desiring a “philosopher” king. Going as far back as Plato’s theorizing in the republic he posits that we institute government here among ourselves to collectively ensure or attain justice and safety for those who for some reason couldn’t other wise. This goes hand in hand with the desire for a philosopher king because it necessarily takes some degree of wisdom and intelligence to discern what justice is and how it is to be achieved. I honestly think this is a worthy if misguided goal. It lends itself to abuse by the “king” element however. The danger of a monarch is the consolidation of power in a single person and the corruption that wells up out of such arrangements. It is not impossible for them to be virtuous but its difficulty is beyond dispute. Well what if the system replaced a king with some way to continuously test the motivations of the individuals trusted with discerning justice?

It was asking these questions that inspired this possible arrangement. I am not sure I could ascribe a name to this, but to try I am going to call it a monastic judicial republic.

The political “leadership” in this system will not be a leadership of any real or immediately recognizable kind. Instead it will more closely resemble a monastic order. Even within this order itself there would be no leadership no consolidation of power. Instead it will be completely egalitarian and open to the wider public. They will serve in randomized panels as judges and arbitrators for the broader polity of their area, and they will be on call at all times of the day to serve in this capacity. When they are not doing this they will be expected to be further studying the concepts and theories of both justice and how this world works. Metaphysics, religion, logic, ethics and any other relevant subject you can imagine will be required reading in their waking hours.

Membership will be completely voluntary, but before a person may join they must also be tested and questioned by existing members. A prospect would demonstrate a sincere interest in seeing justice done, and the critical thinking to suss out what the possible just out comes of any given case may be. There would be some pseudo-training period before they begin to join panels. They would also be subject to immediate dismissal should they spend any time at leisure outside of their studies. For this reason people who already value books and reading would be at a premium.

One of the biggest questions that might arise is what is the incentive to participate in this order? Practically speaking their are none. They will not be paid or compensated from the public coffers, and they will be forbidden from holding other positions. To offset the possibility of corruption, and to give incentive to participate outside of the obvious love of justice I’m going to propose what I’m sure will be the most controversial part. I propose a sales tax of an indeterminate amount to be collected from the polity to provide for these faux monks some basic housing, to keep up the libraries from which they will study, and to provide them with food. It is imperative that these provisions be as spartan as possible. A cot and four walls, maybe a desk and lamp if the people feel generous. The food should be similar, bread and water, vegetables, and cheap cuts of meat. By keeping these basic it will at least theoretically help to prevent potential feelings of entitlement, resentment from the population, and serve as a reminder that they are servants of their fellow man not rulers. I propose the funding via sales tax for this reason, it will compel people to get their money’s worth of  arbitration hopefully holding down the violence and general crime. It is also in my mind the least obtrusive form of taxation.

Finally there will be the questions of civil defense. I would imagine that with all the great texts and writings in military philosophy that these judicial monks could also serve *not* as an army but as coordinators and squad leaders of a civilian militia with no particular units in case of an incursion or assault. To further address this question, because spartan costs of living are so low and because it is I think reasonable to assume such a low tax and non existent regulation environment to have a fairly robust economy there should be plenty of tax income left over to issue a rifle and hand gun to every citizen of sufficient means to handle them. This would be all it needs to be as there should be no legal mechanism for initiating aggression. Any tax revenue still left after this, is to be divided equally and redistributed among the citizens.

Clearly this is not a perfect arrangement. I welcome feedback, whether at my twitter account or in the comments section. No need to be shy. This particular system drew inspiration heavily from Plato’s Republic as noted, and I expect to use radically different source material for the next minarchic proposal. Thank you for your time.


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