If states already exercise a monopoly over the legitimate use of force, why do they employ the tactics of terrorism? Introduction
Max Weber, German sociologist who profoundly influenced social theory and political economy, contributed immensely to the notion of the state as a political organization, where he argues that the legitimate use of force successfully rests in the hands of its administrative staff. (Weber, 1922; cited in Holton & Turner, 1989). Many claim, however, that there is a need to clarify a variety of possible misunderstandings that may derive from this definition. For instance, Wimmer (2003) presents a range of arguments in this direction, focusing on the pervasive character of violence within a social context and the ambivalent notion that the state successfully holds the monopolization of legitimate violence or use of force. After all, the state’s little power over certain criminalities and the use of violence speaks for itself. The lack of control over ownership of arms and other uncountable means of exercising violence contributes to the continuous – and impossible to supress - presence of the illegitimate use of force by non-state actors. Therefore, the state’s control over force refers solely to the legitimate form of force. As a result, the success of such monopoly is rather imprecise: are states effective in combating criminality? To what extent their legitimate use of force prevent illegitimate violence under their penal law? For sure it does not prevent all forms of violence, and its efficacy depends very much on the level of such violence in societies – high levels of homicide, damage of property or even some form of ‘private armies’ such as guerrillas and mafias. Wimmer (2003) refers to a range of examples to support this: Columbia’s unsuccessful claim on the monopoly of violence; many African countries that ignore a large number of illustrations of violence and even Central Asia can be challenged in its ‘success’ over the monopoly of legitimate use of violence. Adopting other perspectives, and having in account the end of the Cold War, it is argued that the representation of states has suffered a shift from their actual governments to certain private entities. Even though non-state actors of violence defy the states authority and monopoly of force – such as rebels, insurgents, terrorists, etc. – the sources of security have had a tendency to be privatized in the recent years. Public authorities’ transformation and reduction of economic resources may be behind such shift, but the truth is that states have been focusing much more in international engagement rather than internal tasks, and the budgets available are directed to other costs such as technological demands rather than territorial defence. The private sector is then the alternative to ‘fill in the gaps’: increasing number of companies that provide active security and defence services; very importantly, the business of make and trade of conventional weapons and even scientific and technological private sector laboratories. This creates great dilemmas on power-sharing and responsibility between private and public sectors, and leaves the state with little command over defence issues, the industries the possible hazards of the products – for example the current case of nanotechnology (Bailes, Schneckener & Wulf, 2007). The so called ‘New Threats’, particularly modern terrorism, has beneficiated considerably from more obscure parts of private economic identities, as Bailes, Schneckener & Wulf (2007) further explore. Crime, smuggling and corruption assume different proportions when confined to a much more spread trading circle than the earlier direct trading between states; and when industries such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other type of high danger materials are at stake, terrorist organizations can acquire enormous sources of machinery. Furthermore, the issue of fast propagation of information...
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