Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Lebanese State Must Monopolize Use of Force

One defining characteristic of the state in political science literature is that it monopolizes the legitimate use of force. Why, you ask... Why is it that only the state has that legitimate right to use force? I’ll tell you why! Decisions pertaining to the use of violence against fellow men, be they within or without a country’s boundaries, are the most critical decisions in any civilization. Whether men are forced into orderly lines, or forcefibly arrested and thrown into prison for defrauding another person, violence stings, and there needs to be a consensus around using it!

Violence within the Polity

Political philosopher Adam Swift claims that “the state is justified in making sure that people carry out their duties to one another. It is justified in using its coercive power to force people to do what they might not do voluntarily….” I agree with Swift on the condition that “the state constitutes a collective agent of the citizens, who decide what its laws are, as opposed to something separate from and in charge of those who are subject to its laws.”

Violence Outside the Polity

Going to war against another state requires even more stringent controls and conditions because other states can and do fight back. Consequently, the risks attached to using force against another state is multiplied as well as shared by all citizens inhabiting the belligerent country. With such risks attached to using violence against other states, it is even more essential that the state act as the collective agent of its citizens in deciding to go to war, and in deciding what the objective of that war is.

As I’ve argued before, a military outfit must strive to maintain the highest state of readiness, it must train its soldiers and maintain its equipment to the best of its ability; but most importantly, it must submit itself to the will of the citizens it claims to protect. In so far as the state is the collective agent of that citizenry, the military must submit itself to the will of the state.

Lebanon's Legitimate Right, and Hizballah's Obligation

Of all the countries in the Arab Middle East, the Lebanese state’s claim to monopolize the use of force is the most legitimate because more than any of the other states, it is a collective agent. Hizballah must take heed of that fact. Its fighters are Lebanese. Its major constinuency are also Lebanese. Hizballah must recognize that those Lebanese who it does not consider to be its constituents have as much of a say in Lebanese affairs as its constituents do (or, more accurately, as certain elements in Iran do). Lebanon must have one voice on matters of going to war, and that voice can only belong to the state.


Anonymous said...

anarcho capitalists and anarcho communists say that the state monopolize the use of violence. They are against this

Anton Efendi said...

See Ali Hamade's piece and Bshara Sharbel's piece as well. It's remarkable how close Sharbel's reading is to mine. This was domestic politics all the way. All politics are local, as they say. In the Arab world, everything that has to do with Israel is domestic. HA is the perfect example. That is why, in agreement with what you said, I (and Sharbel) have noted that HA has just gave us the middle finger and said: "what are you going to do about it?" This has nothing to do with Israel.

JoseyWales said...

To anon,

Perhaps that's why there's never been an anarcho-anything state.