Might we conclude, then, that Nozick’s minimal state -– one that contemporary libertarians find quite appealing -– simply can’t work in a country like the United States, given its particular history of appropriation and exploitation? Might it be the case, as Nozick states, that “past injustices might be so great as to make necessary in the short run a more extensive state in order to rectify them”? Nozick doesn’t address this issue directly and neither do contemporary libertarians; instead, they seem content to take a time-slice view of things, to argue that they are entitled to the holdings they have today without thinking at all about the historical circumstances that allowed for their possession.
If we take seriously Nozick’s historical approach to theorizing about justice, don’t we have to abandon the part of the entitlement theory that libertarians use to argue against the majority of our taxes, at least until we can find a way to rectify the injustices of the past (that continue to impact our society today)? In other words, reading Nozick carefully would suggest that if some of our holdings might have come to us as a result of historical injustice, they aren’t justly ours and taking them from us in order to rectify the injustice is a legitimate action of government.”