Size doesn’t matter

Ok so as of now I’m no longer going to continue the practice of referring to  ‘small government’, ‘minarchism’ and other such terms that ostensibly refer to the size of governments as if the concept made any sense at all; it really doesn’t. ‘Limited government’ and ‘minarchism’ therefore join the long list of terms I will not use without apostrophes and disclaimer.

The other option is a trap that leads to one portraying government as an institution rather than a group of specific perpetrators, and methodologically, that is, I feel, as fatal as a mistake as one can make.

Secondly, and more importantly, it suggests that the consequences of violence – as well as the potential for negating the violence – depend on structures; they do not. The concept of the ‘reach’ of government is misleading: what matters is the attitudes of the people in a given polity – whether they reject violence or acquiesce to it will entirely determine the aforementioned consequences. We might speak of ‘limited violence’ in a comparable sense to how people have traditionally spoken of ‘limited government’ – indeed, such semantic honesty might help the cause of voluntaryism by persuading people to confront the violence they currently choose to ignore or to bow down to.

This is not to deny that there are discernible differences between living in Burma and living in Liechtenstein, but such differences do not depend on sizes, spaces or structures, but on the attitudes of perpetrators, and more importantly, of victims. In Burma, the perpetrators are far more likely to use violence in a greater number of scenarios, and the people are far more likely to be resigned to their oppression.

I would suggest that this is the be-all and end-all of what happens in a given place – the attitudes of the people. Size doesn’t matter.

What do you think?

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