Are there any countries that that can be said to be truly liberal, in the sense of only having a very minimal state (a so-called night-watchmen state)? If not, which ones come closest?

Edit: More specifically, I'm looking for examples of places where the state is very limited due to an underlying minarchism sentiment, not because its an undeveloped and/or conflict ridden area. Basically, think Bioshock.

  • Not really, such a thing is not even desirable. Without a state anyone with big muscles can come, steal everything you own and set your house on fire, and only your eyes remains to cry and your aggressors will never get any kind of punishment. – Bregalad Jun 27 '15 at 10:30
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    @Bregalad Not if there is a night-watchmen state, since the role of this type of state is hinder and punish crime. – Speldosa Jun 27 '15 at 13:56
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    @Speldose And how do you hinder and punish crimes without hiring police and army officiers, and thius, without collecting taxes? – Bregalad Jun 27 '15 at 17:40
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    @Speldosa I realized that but there are those that favor large government that like to misrepresent the question by suggesting places like Somalia and other violent anarchy ridden states are representative of small government libertarianism. – user1450877 Jun 28 '15 at 21:18
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    @Speldosa Usually, arguments for "minimal government" things comes from the refusal to pay taxes. If this is not your case then please ignore everything I said. – Bregalad Jun 30 '15 at 7:55

There are tons of countries where the state has a very minimal role: Large swaths of Africa, Asia, and even parts of the Americas are governed at the local/tribal level with minimal central-government oversight. However, that's not so much due to a philosophical commitment to minarchism, as to an inability on the part of the central government to effectively administer most of its territory. I doubt any of these countries meet the definition of a night-watchman state, but they definitely have minimal governance.

An example of such a region would be Zomia, which spans the highlands of 10 Southeast Asian countries.

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  • Where do those places exist in America? I think I'll move there. – Robert Harvey Jun 27 '15 at 19:43
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    @RobertHarvey "Americas" as in probably South or Central America – lazarusL Jun 27 '15 at 19:59
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    @RobertHarvey When you look at the US: the self-governed Indian reserves might be an example. – Philipp Jun 28 '15 at 10:22
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    @Philipp Well the Indian reservations are still subject to federal regulation. (Though many legal scholars say the Constitution does not actually give the feds this power.) It is true that the federal government's role on reservations is often quite limited, but I don't think it's comparable to how limited the central governments' roles are in Zomia, or the Congo Basin, or the Amazon rainforest. – PinkAmpersand Jun 28 '15 at 11:27

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