In the past governments were instituted to allow one man or group to exert control over the masses within a society. Wether for religious reasons or military protection, a caste system of social strata developed. These social systems allowed the "strong" to exert a coersive force to move the "weak" toward their ends. Slavery is an excelent example of this. In most societies with slavery, the slave population greatly exceded that of the freemen. Because their spirits were broken and they had no hope the slaves had little or no military power to bring against their masters and so their labor, like that of machines, was directed to bear fruit for others.
With the Declaration of Independence came the death of that Idea which was the source of slavery; The idea that some men, by their heritage, are superior to others. Finally, after so many thousands of years, the idea that all men are equal in their potential was declared. Unfortunately its application left much to be desired.
For a hundred years slavery continued to exist in a nation suposedly founded on a principle of individual liberty. In addition, the government erected to defend these ideals was based on a coersive model: The government as the seat of power over the governed. Many checks, balances and impediments were created to help prevent the government from abusing its power. But why is it necessary or even right for one group of people to have power over another?
The excuse that is used is that anybody who meets the minimum requirements can achieve power. This doesn't adress the issue of wether or not he deserves to exert any amount of force against anybody. This is the point made by Anarchists. All governments are bad because all governments are necessarily coersive. Opponents say that governments are necessary to provide for a military to protect our borders, police to maintain order domestically, courts to provide objective third party adjudication, and other services generally believed to require a government for effective application. This is the libertarian dillema. We know that which governs least governs best, but some amount of government is usually considered a "necessary evil".
One question that should be addressed at this point is wheather or not these neccessary services actually require a government. Can these services be rendered effectively and justly without a powerful central government able to coerce those unwilling to participate and prevent external invasion or domestic anarchy?
As to domestic anarchy, the Los Angeles riots have shown me that there is little a state can do to prevent this. The people themselves are the key here. They must believe that their government is not a bunch of thugs out to get them. These riots also led me to believe that maybe the government is not the best choice for the enforcement of justice. The goal of any government is not the creation of a perfectly just society, but rather the maintainence and expansion of power. In modern America, as in other states, the function of the police is not "To protect and serve" but rather to enforce the will of the state and to maintain the status quo. This is because they are servants of the state and not free individuals with a desire to serve and protect their community. It seems that most police officers today look at their position as a job. Anything they do that is truly benificial is out of the kindness of their hearts and not from the performance of their duties.
In refrence to the military; What is to prevent a military coup without the existence of an overseeing government? The same thing that prevents one with a government. Nothing. Or rather patriotism and belief that the system and country they defend is worth the price. In Russia, their coup happened because their military leaders stopped believing in Communisim and allied themselves with a political force that could help them achieve their ends.
As far as our court system is concerned, the courts are nothing other than an arena where a third party official can adjudicate grievences between two parties. In the criminal court this is the state vs. the citizen and in civil courts it is citizen vs. citizen. In both these cases the judge is appointed by the government. This process hardly seems neccessary in light of the hundreds of years of british common law which recieved little or no support from the Crown. Also, if both parties have a choice in the selection of the adjudicator they are much more likely to respect his decission.
Lastly, the other services that are often considered to require government intervention, such as the economy, the infrastructure, fire departments, etc. If the government is not neccessary for the provision of the police, military, or courts then these extraneous factors certainly could use less government intervention.
Now that it has been established that a government is both evil and not neccessary, what actions are appropriate? Certainly if the government were thrown aside our country would fall into a state of chaos which would lead to other negative consequences. I believe that we need to move away from the perception of the government as a coercive, "governing" body and begin to see the potential it has for organization on a voluntary basis. The Red Cross is a perfect example of this type of large scale, humanitarian, private, voluntary organization.