June 14, 2014
WHEN JOURNALISTS THINK THE PHRASE “MONOPOLY OF VIOLENCE” IS SOME WEIRD IDEA, RATHER THAN A REFERENCE TO MAX WEBER, blaming the education system is an incomplete response. The truth is, most journalists don’t know much.
And, on a related note, let me quote Sandy Levinson on the notion:
Such analyses provide the basis for Edward Abbey’s revision of a common bumper sticker, “If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns.” One of the things this slogan has helped me to understand is the political tilt contained within the Weberian definition of the state–i.e., the repository of a monopoly of the legitimate means of violence –that is so commonly used by political scientists. It is a profoundly statist definition, the product of a specifically German tradition of the (strong) state rather than of a strikingly different American political tradition that is fundamentally mistrustful of state power and vigilant about maintaining ultimate power, including the power of arms, in the populace.
Any reasonably literate journalist — that is, one who stayed awake during an introductory political science class or two — should recognize both the Weberian approach and the American tradition.