Spectrums of Violence in the Monster Hunter International Universe by Patrick S. Baker


Patrick S. Baker


The English word violence comes from two Latin roo vt words, vis (force) and lantus (carried at or take toward). Therefore violence is to carry force at or toward an object.1 For our purposes a more practical and concise definition of violence is action which causes or threatens to cause physical, or psychological, harm to a person, or animal, or property.2

Generally, explicit violence is to be avoided, but implicit violence is impossible to avoid. Most of us live in a world, surrounded, as it were, by “the violence inherent in the system.” The vast majority of nation-states have militaries designed to inflict violence on enemies of that state. All countries, and many localities, have police forces designed to use violence, or the threat of violence, to maintain law and order within their jurisdictions. The modern nation state, and in fact, human civilization is built on the use of force and violence. Or as Robert Heinlein remarked in Starship Troopers political authority is “using force. And force is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived.”3

Monopoly on Legitimate Violence

In 1919, after the end of World War One, famed sociologist Max Weber categorically asserted that the nation-state holds: “the monopoly of the legitimate use of violence.” That is to say, the threat and use of legitimate violence by the state is the definition of state power and acceptance of this monopoly is a government’s claim to political legitimacy. When nation-states fail to maintain a monopoly on legitimate violence they become a “failed state”.4 This state monopoly on violence is the embodiment of Hobbes’s Leviathan. Which is to say, that the state uses legitimate and controlled violence to prevent bellum omnium contra omnes, “where every man is an enemy to every man”. Further, Hobbes said that in having and using politically legitimate force to control the chaos which would otherwise ensue, the Leviathan-state also prevents life from being “nasty, brutish and short.”5

Generally speaking the political history of the nation-state has been one in which the nation has, over time, secured a monopoly on the use of legitimate violence. At the same time as the state assumed the violence monopoly, various relatively small groups of citizens began to specialize in the application of force for appropriate ends. That is to say the modern, centrally controlled, bureaucratic military developed to manage violence on a large scale and the modern police and criminal justice system developed to manage violence on a smaller scale. Both groups developed into professions with sets of rules, ethics and specific education as well as special forms of dress, identifying emblems and language to indicate to themselves and to others that they are specialists in the use of force.6

The state’s control over legitimate violence comes from two separate, but interrelated sources. The first source is peoples’ acceptance that the state acting in a rational and impartial manner secures safety, order and justice for the citizens and residents of the state. In order to secure those items, the state must have the means to compel and defend. The second source is that as the means of violence have grown more costly, in terms of time and other resources, only the state with its ability to procure such resources can afford to develop and deploy the required forces to maintain the violence monopoly, that is to say, large and expensive armies and police forces.7

The sole exception to the state’s monopoly of legitimate violence is the inalienable human right of proper self-defense and proper defense of others. Even given that, the state still retains the right to investigate and adjudicate if the self-defensive violence act was, in fact, a proper use of force.8

Generally, the two spheres of the proper use of force have been defined by magnitude and location. Lower magnitude and internal uses of force are held to be law-enforcement. Large-scale and external to national border uses of forces are seen as the military sphere. The exception to his rule is, of course, civil wars, or where the scale of internal disorder is such that only internal military invention is effective in controlling the illegitimate violence.9

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