Classical liberals have long debated whether they should support a minimal state or no state at all. Unfortunately that debate is usually framed as an all-or-nothing proposition. Either you believe that “a minimal state is everywhere and always necessary” or that a “state everywhere and always does more harm than good.” This polarization is a mistake. Everyone, at least sometimes, is an anarchist.
Classical liberals who typically label themselves anarchists believe that modern societies would function better without the state, while those who label themselves minarchists believe the opposite. That debate falls outside the scope of this essay.
Instead, it is my hope that classical-liberal minarchists will drop the label and realize that in many current situations, in other parts of the globe, they may prefer anarchy to any obtainable state. Furthermore, as classical liberals who are interested in a free and prosperous society, we should recognize that further study of anarchism is a valuable endeavor because it can inform where each of us believes we should draw the line in preferring no state at all to ones we live under. In short, all classical liberals should be interested in the study of the “A word.”