Thursday, August 20, 2015

Coercive Instrumentalities of the State

I heard about "monopoly on violence", for the first time at a lecture hall in Tsukuba-U. It as one of those eye-opening sessions that brought out the inextricable linkages between academic theories and the practice of statecraft.

Prof. H. Klienschmidt was at the podium, talking about Max Weber's theory. According to this theory, one of the pre-conditions for the existence of a successful state is its capacity to to uphold a claim on the 'monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force' (German: das Monopol legitimen physischen Zwanges) in the enforcement of its order.

It is from this theory that modern nation states enforce strict control on its citizens over the pocession and use of firearms and weapons. But the theory starts wobbling when the state is forced to cope with acts of terror.

Recently in India, we had a terror convict who was hanged after a trial that lasted 20 years. The execution was widely perceived as a decision that lacked balance. Here is an interesting talk by Ajit Doval, NSA that addresses some of these concerns:

"How does the values of the state manifest themselves? They are exercised by a few dictatorships and monarchies by one or two. In large democracies there may be a coupel of hundred people...leave aside the theoritical model, a recent survey concludes that the USA is controlled by 173 individuals...the real power is exercised by them. And actually, the substantial strategic power is exercised by a much smaller group...what matters is that they are all human beings. And they carry with them... their own prejudices, their own values, their own likes, dislikes, and also their self interests. And therefore the dilemma arises because of that."



- Lalit Doshi Memorial Lecture (4 August 2015) -

- Michael Bakunin 's Immorality of the State -

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