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Use Of Force

Decent Essays
Comparative Political Scientist Max Weber defined a state as “a community which has over a given area a monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force.” While the definition of a state is widely contested among comparative political scientists, Max Weber’s definition has been remember for a reason should be given consideration. The primary role of the state is to protect its citizens. States do so through the threat or use of force. Citizens must consent to the state’s use of force in order to receive governmental protection. Within the state, this consent means people must forego their personal ability to use violence. In the confines of this contract, states are the only party with legal authority to use force. Any other violence committed within the state will either be legitimized (by the state) or been deemed illegal. To borrow Charles Tilly’s phrase, states are the sole “legitimate protector” of the people (171). For example, police may take violent action and not be punished for it because they derive the right…show more content…
Put another way, only the government can legitimize the use of violence. This distinction becomes especially prevalent when discussing violence outside of the state. Since people outside of the state are not subject to the state’s laws, states must find other ways of preventing them from committing violence against the state or its inhabitants. The state achieves this by using the military, both as a threat and as a tool. The military has a legal monopoly on the use of force because it is an extension of the state. It also often has the advantage of finance, which manifests as size, technology, and skill (which in turn makes the military more threatening). So long as the state’s use of force by way of the military seems legitimate to both the citizen and foreign nations, the state will retain the monopoly of
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