Monday, February 11, 2013

Who Has A Monopoly of the Use of Force?

I often hear the quip that "Government has a monopoly of the use of force." Is that true? Really?

Government might have a laundry list of justifications for using force, but other people use force all the time: criminals, citizens defending themselves and others against criminals (and occasionally the government), and private police.

And to be more precise, the aphorism is from Max Weber's Politics as Vocation. He wrote that it was the state that "upholds the claim to the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its order." And here's a gem: "private force (as in private security) can be used too, as long as it has legitimacy derived from the state." - Wikipedia.

That sounds nice, but if you believe in rights, then the legitimate use of force does not rest with the state, but in the hands of the individual - for self defense or in the defense of another. No agent of a government has the right to use force to enforce the state's order.

Even if government has created a pile of statutes that violate natural, common, and constitutional law, government has not yet created an illegal monopoly of violence - yet. Good for us.

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