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Does the state have a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence?

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  • Jon Roland
    Max Weber defined the state in a 1919 lecture in German entitled Politics as a Vocation as that which has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 28, 2008
      Max Weber defined the "state" in a 1919 lecture in German entitled "Politics as a Vocation" as that which "has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence." That definition has been highly influential in political science since then, but it is a very European concept, not one that works for the United States or other constitutional republics. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly_on_the_legitimate_use_of_physical_force In our tradition, it is not the state but the law that authorizes violence, and we the people make the law. Weber used the term "state" to refer collectively to government officials, but in Anglo-American usage the "state" is a people in effective possession of a territory, which may or may not have a government. The primary mechanism for law enforcement is militia, not government professionals.

      Tyranny can be built on such seemingly subtle distinctions. The Nazi regime was built on the Weber concept.
      -- Jon
      Constitution Society 2900 W Anderson Ln C-200-322, Austin, TX 78757
      512/299-5001   www.constitution.org  jon.roland@...
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