Pacification of daily life means at the same time its defencelessness. By agreeing, or being forced to renounce the use of physical force in their reciprocal relations, members of modern society disarm themselves in front of the unknown and normally invisible, yet potentially sinister and always formidable managers of coercion. Their weakness is worrying not so much because of the high probability that the managers of coercion will indeed take advantage of it and hurry to turn the means of violence they control against the disarmed society, as for the simple fact that whether such advantage will or will not be taken, does not in principle depend on what ordinary men and women do. By themselves, the members of modern society cannot prevent the use of massive coercion from happening. Mellowing of manners goes hand-in-hand with a radical shift in control over violence.

—Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust, (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989), 107.


Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. Note that ‘territory’ is one of the characteristics of the state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it.

—Max Weber, originally a speech at Munich University, 1918, published in 1919 by Duncker & Humblot, München. Published as “Politik als Beruf,” Gesammelte Politische Schriften (München, 1921), pp. 396‐450, from H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (Translated and edited), From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1946), 77‑128.

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