A night-watchman state is part of libertarian philosophy. Those who believe in a night-watchman state are called "minarchists" and they believe in minarchism. This view believes a government's only function is to protect the rights of its citizens.
The military, police, and court system are provided to protect citizens, while the free markets handle everything else. Minarchists believe that the most efficient way of providing products and services is through the use of free markets. This is the belief of free market capitalism or laissez-faire capitalism.
Ayn Rand, Robert Nozick, and Austin Petersen, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig Von Mises, and Frederic Bastiat are well known for adopting minarchism as a part of their beliefs.
This idea of a night-watchman state is related to libertarianism. It is especially relevant to the USA, and rarely used in other contexts. However, it has its origin in the social history of 19th century Great Britain.
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- Townshend, Charles (2000). The Oxford History of Modern War. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-285373-2. “Britain, however, with its strong tradition of minimal government — the ‘night-watchman state’ — vividly illustrated the speed of the shift [during World War I] from normalcy to drastic and all-embracing wartime powers like those contained in the Defence of the Realm Act”. (pp. 14-15)