A. Barton Hinkle: From Russia to America, Government Power Rests on Violence

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Russian Government

“Ukrainian events have demonstrated,” writes Maria Snegovaya in The New Republic, “that control of violence is still at the very essence of the state.” She says Vladimir Putin’s aggression proves that Max Weber’s definition of the stateâ€"an entity with a monopoly on the legitimate use of forceâ€"is still relevant, even though we in the West “tend to think of the ‘monopoly on violence’ as a metaphor.”

We do? That would be news to the relatives of Kelly Thomas, a homeless California man beaten to death last year by police officers, who were later acquitted, writes A. Barton Hinkle. And to the relatives of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed man who was shot to death by New York City police officers (who were also acquitted). It would be news to a lot of black and Hispanic men who have been stopped and frisked in the streets of New Yorkâ€"or bent over the hood of a squad car anywhere in America.