Monday, June 23, 2008

Reflections on the Origin and the Stability of the State (Hans-Hermann Hoppe)

Hans-Hermann Hoppe on the irrational notion that we "need" a state, with suggestions on how to enlighten those who hold this unfortunate opinion:

Let me begin with the definition of a state. What must an agent be able to do to qualify as a state? This agent must be able to insist that all conflicts among the inhabitants of a given territory be brought to him for ultimate decision-making or be subject to his final review. In particular, this agent must be able to insist that all conflicts involving himself be adjudicated by him or his agent. And implied in the power to exclude all others from acting as ultimate judge, as the second defining characteristic of a state, is the agent's power to tax: to unilaterally determine the price that justice seekers must pay for his services.

Based on this definition of a state, it is easy to understand why a desire to control a state might exist. For whoever is a monopolist of final arbitration within a given territory can make laws. And he who can legislate can also tax. Surely, this is an enviable position.

More difficult to understand is how anyone can get away with controlling a state. Why would others put up with such an institution?

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