As a real (free market) anarchist, I always find that the most interesting debates come not with socialists (who are boringly wrong) or centrists (who are just boring) but with minarchists, those who believe in a small state. Minarchy, like full communism, is one of the most interesting of nonsense utopian ideology, as it flies in the face of logic, common sense and empirical evidence.
Indeed I would say that minarchists and anarchists are not actually ideological bedfellows. We may agree a lot with practical points, that X Y Z should be cut, but when it comes down to ideology and founding principles minarchists are as far from me as Stalin.
Anarchy, true anarchy, is a belief in voluntary interaction and co-operation. An action is only valid or justifiable if it is voluntary. You offering me a widget for £5 and me accepting is justifiable – we both agree to the action. You demanding I pay you £5 and then giving me a widget I do not want is not justifiable – I did not agree. Simply put, it is following the non aggression principle.
Minarchists seem to agree with this, to a point. They believe voluntary interaction is the best way to solve problems, except for in certain situations, security being the obvious example. In that case they argue that coercion and theft are the best way to solve the problem. In this way the minarchist agrees with the socialist. Theft, coercion and force are all justifiable, they simply disagree to the extent it is justifiable. Minarchists say a little, socialists say a lot, but that is just semantics; they fundamentally agree on the principle that might is right and that theft and coercion can be justified. In this way they are the same and are miles from the anarchist.
Minarchy is also illogical. Its proponents argue that voluntary interaction is best, that private firms can best provide a plethora of services. But then they decide there are a select few that the state can provide better. All the arguments they use against the state running services they don’t want it to run can be again applied to those they do want it to run: inefficiency, the problems of state monopolies, unaccountability, lack of market forces driving change etc etc. If you believe the free market can provide fundementals like housing, water, food, education, clothing better than the state, then why suddenly does the state become better when a select few industries are involved?
Finally minarchy is utopian because it defies all observations. States grow. Always. Even with the most constrictive of constitutions states manage to increase their size and oversight. Any level of government always looks to get bigger as priority number one. Minarchists, like socialists, fall at the first hurdle, thinking that the problem with government isn’t government itself but finding the right people to run government. Like bindweed government chokes life out of an economy and grows on the back of other people’s work; the problem is not with who is leading the choking, the problem is the choking itself. While anarchists correctly identify that like with a weed the only way to defeat the evils of government is pull it out by the roots, minarchists insist on living in a utopian fantasty where they just need to chop the head off the weed one more time and it will grow into a beautiful flower. It doesn’t. It never will.