Governments begin as a monopoly on violence

Rush Limbaugh has said, about 4,000 times, that, “Ours is a world governed by the aggressive use of force, and it always has been.”  I believe science writer Matt Ridley would agree, based on his recent Times article laying out the history of governments beginning as a criminal gang and evolving into bureaucracies holding a monopoly on violence.  The article is behind a pay wall at the times, but Ridley has reproduced it on his website.  I found it interesting.

…the origin and defining characteristic of all government is that it is an organisation with a monopoly on violence. The deal implicit in being governed is at root a simple one: we allow the people who govern us to have an exclusive right to commit violence, so long as they direct it at other countries and at criminals.

The problem is that the same government also has a monopoly on how it classifies who is a criminal.  The new book Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice by Sidney Powell examines that problem.  If all government must do before exercising its monopoly on violence is declare anyone it doesn’t like to be a criminal, then the deal is off.

The military armor on display by the civilian police force in Ferguson, Missouri during the late protests suggests that the deal was broken quite a while ago.


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