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Appendix H
Potowmack Institute, amicus curiae
US v. Emerson, Fifth Circuit, Case No. 99-10331

Max Weber: The Monopoly on Violence

In the original passage from about 100 years ago where the German sociologist Max Weber defined the modern state as maintaining the monopoly on violence the exercise of force was authorized or permitted by the state which means by law. The monopoly on violence is what a state is. Maintaining the monopoly on violence is what a state does.

Page 156.
Max Weber: The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. Translated by A.M. Henderson and Talcott Parsons; edited with introduction by Talcott Parsons, Oxford University Press, 1947


Since the concept of the state has only in modern times reached its full development [earlier sovereign powers had been empires, dynasties, and corporate bodies like churches and guilds often with overlapping authority and jurisdiction], it is best to define it in terms appropriate to the modern type of state, but at the same time, in terms which abstract from the values of the present

day, since these are particularly subject to change. The primary formal characteristics of the modern state are as follows: It possesses an administrative and legal order subject to change by legislation, to which the organized corporate activity of the administrative staff, which is also regulated by legislation, is oriented. This system of order claims bringing authority, not only over the members of the state, the citizens, most of whom have obtained membership by birth, but also to a very large extent, over all action taking place in the area of its jurisdiction. It is thus a compulsory association with a territorial basis. Furthermore, to-day, the use of force is regarded as legitimate only so far as it is either permitted by the state or prescribed by it. Thus the right of a father to discipline his children is recognized— a survival of the former independent authority of the head of a household, which in the right to use force has sometimes extended to a power of life and death over children and slaves. The claim of the modern state to monopolize the use of force is as essential to it as its character of compulsory jurisdiction and of continuous organization.

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