The very institution of the state is widely conceived of as inseparable from war.
If it constitutes peace within the borders or order of its sovereignty, this very
peace may be the condition for its potential for war with those other states and
social formations outside it. Indeed, in different state systems their very internal
order depended on predation beyond their borders. The one was the function
of the other. Since ancient times it has been observed that the distribution
of wealth within states, even the creation of what the Greeks recognized as
democracy, was critically related to the perpetration of war. Hobbes’s royalist
vision of the state within the context of England and Europe is consistent with
that founding paradox of the state that I have outlined here. This is so despite
his famous legitimation of the state as necessary for the overcoming of conflict
and violence that was inherent in human being and especially in social processes
otherwise not mediated through the institutions of the state. In other
words, for Hobbes the state is an extension of fundamental human nature. The
state is peace-making by virtue of its appropriation and monopolization of the
wherewithal for violence. But this direction toward peace is a protective function
organized to the benefit of the citizens of the state who surrender their
capacity for violence to the state. Clausewitz’s celebrated recognition of war as
an extension of politics expands on Hobbes making more explicit the paradox
of the state. This paradox arises from the monopolization of violence, for it can
lead to excessive violence demanding political constraint.
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