The purpose of the modern state is to serve the interests of its people, sentient beings in general, and possibly serve other values. Some political philosophers approach the definition and form of a state by looking for the smallest institutions that can serve some set of societal necessities. We reject this approach. Minimalist approaches to government are ahistorical and insufficient to maintain a healthy society. Historically, laws have formalised and represented the strongest social norms (morals and ethics) - those where society condones using strong forms to enforce conformity. Societies need these institutions, but these values slowly evolve as society's values change, and these laws thus cannot be cast in the scope of a "universal minarchy", but must represent norms that are not too distant from those held by society at the present time. The minarchist legal synthesis is not in the broad sense one that represents more than libertine subcultures, and that subculture would need to be sustainable on a broad societal scale for its values to be safely enshrined (I contend that it is not sustainable on that scale). Laws also must blend smoothly into the norms of the culture in which they exist - as an example, mediation of conflict - recognising when it starts and who is at fault, and determining what is reasonable are not things that can be judged outside of a cultural perspective. A minarchist approach also is designed to meet a value judgement that we reject - that society is happiest, best-served, or otherwise best-matched in our judgement criteria by valuing individual autonomy second only to the security from assault, preservation of property, and preservation of the system (or at least not much more than that, depending on which minarchic philosophy is considered). We recognise that in many cases government as an institution can be (but usually out of a fixable cultural problem rather than intrinsically) ineffective at reaching its ends, that heavy involvement with society can reduce potential for happiness of its people (but this should be weighed against private institutions fairly), and that corruption in government can be more problematic than in other societal institutions given the state's monopoly over force and likely solidarity between government institutions. However, we recognise as well that some unhappiness with state solutions is a result of stifled greed (and have no sympathy for this when we recognise a complaint as rooted in this), hold that problems of corruption and the like are fixable, recognise that private institutions don't even have a hypothetical requirement to serve the people and thus even when not corrupt or ineffective they still may actually serve the people worse than a state institution with some corruption or incompetence, and note that as a social, tribal species, societal ties, even in the context of coercion, are essential to our ability to live a full life, and barring exceptional immaturity some degree of coercion is acceptable to us for the good of the people. The notion of the private, of property, and the ordering of societal relations have varied across societies since we were human (and possibly before), and whatever we are familiar with we should recognise that it is not the only possibility and not sacrosanct.

Judgement on the efficacy of state solutions in a conflict should be made by those who are not philosophically disposed towards minarchism, who have no personal private interests that state solutions would block, and who do not have such pride or allegiance towards the state that they would be unable to judge the degree to which it suceeds or fails in a given application of its effort. Should the people sufficiently posess those characteristics, it would be preferable to submit it to broad public discourse, as the broadest body of people able to do justice to the topic is desirable. Should this not be true, a body should be found or constructed of those suitable for such judgement.

The state and broader society should improve themselves towards being generally effective at solving problems. Examining historical state and business structures, one recognises that several societies with a low level of social development encounter many of the same difficulties in corruption and poor work quality in both the public and private sector. Some of this relates to political difficulties - lack of personal engagement and identification with one's work is infectious in a workplace and a culture, making a devotion to quality a rare individual trait rather than one shared across many people. Some of this relates to low standards of living (particularly when much higher privilege of others is very visible). Some of this relates to inadequate inculturation from parents and schooling. The joint effect of this is a workforce with unrealised potential. Market systems have some ability to correct for this, in that higher attention to one's labour, particularly when one is near the edge of or outside of large enterprises with their own inner dynamic, provides an improved set of privileges in society. Nepotism (and friends networks), laziness, and cut corners have a more real impact in such a system and tend to be weeded out to the extent that they have a negative impact. This self-cleaning nature is a benefit, but with proper institutional mechanisms, societies can and should be able to perform similar tasks without the corrosive effect of uncontrolled disparity in personal wealth. This task of self-improvement of a people is a continuing, organic journey, and those who would broaden the role of the state to replace the private sector entirely would do well to first learn how to effectively manage these issues so as to mitigate some of the downsides of the tradeoffs inherent in state-managed systems. Learning from those corporations today that are well-run may be the best place to learn tools towards this end (even if some of them are unsuitable), as they must deal with many of the same issues.

State solutions towards societal problems may take varied forms, regardless of the overall role of the state in society. Even if a state is devoted towards being socialist, a variety of institutional forms conformant with socialist ethics and structure may be used, combined with a variety of inculturations of the people that may be done. Incentives and honours for good labour may be and have been applied as a secondary prod for good labour. These mechanisms should remain secondary to pride in one's work, but they may be used and are likely to be particularly useful in societies transitioning into broader usage of the state for problems. Likewise, competition between state institutions may be used to explore alternative approaches to problems, approaches to management, new technologies, or to allow competitive drives in humanity to express themselves in increased devotion to work. Mechanisms would need to be found to set the scope of appropriate competition based on the particular field (it may be undesirable to have 4 police departments in a city, but having 4 systems of food markets may be beneficial).

Pat Gunn (aka Improv) <>