Home > Musings > Government – the Grand Paradox

Government – the Grand Paradox

The modern definition of a state, as defined by Max Weber way back in the early 1900s, goes something like this:

A group of people having a monopoly on the legitimate use of force in a defined area.

In this case, force equates with violence. From this definition of a state, it follows that politics is based on violence insofar as that if I do not follow the law, and I resist every attempt to force me to follow it, at the end of the day there is a man with a gun who will shoot me if I do not comply.

I find this paradoxical because, as I interpret it, a government’s role (in liberal democracy, at least) is to preserve the welfare of its people. So basically we have a bunch of people whose job is to preserve our welfare pointing guns at us.

And that’s my amusing musing for the day.



  1. 17/02/2010 at 2:41 pm

    It is a strange paradox… but liberal democracy also rests on the assumption that everyone is self governing, or should be. Why would anyone dare make that assumption?

    • Tim
      17/02/2010 at 5:51 pm

      How does liberal democracy require everybody to be self-governing? I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at.

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