Spectrums of Violence in the Monster Hunter International Universe

by


Violence

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

Recently, a third sphere of the use of legitimate violence has developed. This is the domain of Fourth Generation Conflict (4th GC), which is defined by a obscuring of the previously rather neat lines between law enforcement and war, between internal and external conflicts, and between soldiers and civilians. In 4th GC the nation-state finds itself in violent conflict with a variety of non-state belligerents, also called violent non-state actors (VNSA), such as organized criminal gangs, terrorist organizations, or guerilla forces. Such non-state actors, by definition, may use violence, but such violence cannot be legitimate. 4th GC requires the nation-state to use a holistic methodology of law-enforcement techniques and warfighting to combat the VNSA. The holistic methodology is a spectrum of legitimate violence from legal and proper arrest and interrogations, to raids on VNSA safe-houses and cells, through to “no-warning” killing of enemy combatants both inside and outside the national borders. 10

Scales of Violence

Of course, not all violent acts are equal. Rather all acts exist at some point along three different scales, or spectrums of violence. The spectrums of violence are magnitude-seriousness, instrumentality, and legitimacy.

Magnitude-seriousness is a scale of the number of the actors in the violent action and the outcome of the violent act. Two men duking it out in a bar fight until one is knocked unconscious is on the left, or low, side of this spectrum. Then this scale goes through two street gangs conducting a turf war with a handful victims and some property damage, to a riot of hundreds burning down city blocks, to thousands of military personal fighting a “brush fire war”, to millions of people taking part in a global conflict with millions of dead. In all cases destruction of property is always less serious than serious injury, including fatal injuries, to an animal or person.11

The instrumentality spectrum refers to both the tools of violence and the training to use those tools. The lowest level of this scale is the scoundrel kicking the friendly dog, moving through the well-trained martial arts practitioner, to the well-armed, if untrained, gangbanger, to the equally well-armed, but well-trained police officer; ending in the well-trained and experienced military officer who commands multiple high-tech weapons systems, up to and including weapons of mass destruction.12

The legitimacy scale refers to the legal, moral and ethical justification of the violent act. This spectrum goes from the violent intentional criminal to the unintentional killer, such as the man who accidentally kills another during a confrontation, to the person who acts in self-defense, or proper defense of another, to the police officer who legally coerces a suspect into surrendering, to the soldier who “hurts people and breaks things” within the laws of warfare in a just war.13 As such 4th CG fits squarely in the center of the three violence scales.

Monster Hunter International Universe

Monster Hunter International by Larry Corriea, the first book in the Monster Hunter International (MHI) series was self-published in 2007 and then republished by Baen Books in 2009. The first book was followed by Monster Hunter Vendetta (2010), Monster Hunter Alpha (2011), Monster Hunter Legion (2012), Monster Hunter Nemesis (2014), Monster Hunter Memoirs: with two more books planned: Monster Hunter Guardian and Monster Hunter Omega. Also a spin-off series, Monster Hunter Memoirs written by Corriea and John Ringo with two books; Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge and Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinner published in 2016.

In the Monster Hunter International universe, monsters are generally, but not always, homicidal, brutal and malevolent. In the very first chapter of the first book, Owen Zastava “Z” Pitt, the narrator, lives out the American dream and kills his boss. Of course, the boss is a bloodthirsty werewolf trying to kill and eat Z. So our hero shoots the creature several times and then throws it out fourteenth-story window. In the third chapter of the book, Earl Harbinger, the chief operating officer of the monster hunting company (MHC), Monster Hunter International, meets with Z and describes various kinds of monsters with which MHI, the monster hunting company deals. Zombies: “Slow ones, fast ones. Nasty bastards.” Vampires: “they ain’t the nice charming debonair kind of thing you see on TV, those suckers are meaner than hell… pop culture makes them all intellectual and sexy, there ain’t nothing sexy about getting your carotid artery ripped out.” Chupacabras: “They’ll tear you up.” Bigfoot exists, but doesn’t bother people and so is left alone. Some supernatural creatures are helpful and beneficial. For example there is the tribe of Orcs, or Urks, allied with Monster Hunter International and which live on the MHI compound in Cazador, Alabama. Earl Harbinger himself is a werewolf that can control his bloodlust.14

Rather than organize expensive and high-profile police and military forces to combat the wide-scale supernatural threats to humanity, many nation-states delegate their use of force against supernatural forces to monster hunting companies (MHCs) through a series of bounty payments. This use of bounties cuts costs and helps keep the monster threat a deep secret from the general public.15 In America, the bounty structure is organized under the Perpetual Unearthly Forces Fund, or PUFF. The PUFF, established by President Teddy Roosevelt, is a programmed set of payment on various sorts of supernatural threats. The PUFF is built on factors such as the size of the monster population and the threat posed by such a monster. PUFF bounties are decided by the federal government and are the chief, but not only, source of income for MHCs. Local and state government and even private companies will contract their monster hunting requirements to a MHC. 16

The MHCs are commonly organized by nationality. There are companies from the United Sates, South Africa, China, Australia, Brazil, India, France, Israel and South Korea. Further, many of the MHCs also act internationally. For example, Monster Hunter International works in Mexico and the German hunter company, Grimm Berlin, works a contract in the continental U.S.17

The monster hunting companies are consciously organized like Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs), that is to say MHCs and PMSCs “are tightly organized companies with a clear corporate structure that provide military services, including combat, in exchange for payment…” Or as one character in Monster Hunter: Legion puts it: “MHI is mercenary and proud.”18

Both MHC and PMSCs both recruit extensively, but not exclusively, from the pool of military veterans. This is because veterans have already acquired at least some the requisite skills for both mercenary and monster hunting activities. Parallel to the corporate structure both kinds of companies also have a military hierarchical organization as well. MHCs organize their teams much like military squads, or in the case of MHI, like Special Forces teams. Teams have leaders and seconds-in-command, they generally have specialists in explosives, electronics and heavy weapons, as well as armorers and snipers. The team leaders also provide intelligence and information, as well as direction to the team members. MHC also often have distinct identifying badges, patches or emblems. For example, MHI’s primary team out of Cazador has a smiling devil patch, MHI’s Team Haven’s emblem is a banjo playing walrus, and the Seattle team has a flaming warthog patch.19

Besides private companies, the various nation-states have agencies that are concerned with supernatural threats. In America, that agency is the Monster Control Bureau (MCB), once a special unit in the Justice Department, now part of Homeland Security. The British, and at least some member nations of the British Commonwealth, have the British Supernatural Service (BSS). However, the MCB’s main concern is not hunting monsters, but rather covering up their existence by any means necessary.20

The PUFF is not the only law which both authorizes and limits the MHCs use of force in combating unearthly forces. At least two other laws govern how monsters are dealt with; one is the “Anti-Lycanthrope Act of ‘95” which dictates the termination of all werewolves. The other law makes re-animating the dead “a serious felony” and under which the US government pay “a good reward” for the capture of “renegade witch doctors or mad scientists.”21

Monster Hunting and Spectrums of Violence

In the MHI universe, monsters act very much like terrorists and criminal gang members in that they, in most cases, either act alone or in small groups and conceal themselves, their identities and their bases of operation while conducting their activities. In a typical case of monster hunting, the fiends attack, usually killing and eating a number of humans. Someone in the know regarding monsters is alerted and the MHC is called in. The monster hunting team collects intelligence, assesses the situation, develops a plan of attack and executes the assault. In cases where the unearthly forces ramp up their levels of violence so do the nation-states, up to and including considering the use of weapons of mass destruction, i.e. nuclear bombing part of an American state. 22

Monster hunting is not wholly warfighting, although it does involve levels of legitimate violence similar to those usually associated with combat. Such as the deployment of heavy machineguns, rockets, flamethrowers and anti-personal mines, controlled destruction of property and “no warning” killing of monsters. Also, while monster eradication fulfills some requirements of law enforcement, such as it: “enforces the standards of conduct necessary to protect individuals and the community… and removes dangerous people (read monsters) from the community…” MHCs do not attempt to apprehend, or rehabilitate dangerous supernatural entities.23 As such, monster eradication most closely resemblances 4th GC in where it fits on our three spectrums of violence.

However, despite the apparent grey area in which the MHCs operate in the legitimate use of violence, in no way has the nation-state surrendered its monopoly on the use of legitimate violence in the arena of monster hunting. The PUFF, and other laws, as well as the MCB and congressional oversight maintain the monopoly, While delegating the actual use of violence to the private monster hunting companies.

Conclusion

According to the TV show Grimm, in the episode “Thanks for the Memories” there is “no justice within the law” for many targets of monster attacks. However the MHCs attempt to provide protection and justice to humans from supernatural forces. That is to say, monster hunting companies use controlled violence in the destruction of some monsters; as Max Weber stated, violence should only be used: “to help right to triumph by the use of force, otherwise you too may be responsible for injustice.” 24

About the Author

Patrick S. Baker is a U.S. Army Veteran, currently a Department of Defense employee. He holds Bachelor degrees in History and Political Science and a Masters in European History. He has been writing professionally since 2013.

His nonfiction has appeared in Medieval Warfare Magazine, Ancient Warfare Magazine, Sci Phi Journal, and New Myths. His fiction has appeared in the Sci Phi Journal, New Realm Magazine, and the King of Ages Anthology. In his spare time he reads, works out, plays war-games, and enjoys life with his wife, dog, and two cats.

 

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Bibliography

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Shaffer. 47–73. Philadelphia: David McKay Company, 1971.

Corriea, Larry. Monster Hunter: International. Riverdale, NY: Baen Books, 2009.

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_______. Monster Hunter: Legion. Riverdale: NY: Baen Books, 2012.

_______ and John Ringo. Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge. Riverdale, NY: Baen Books,

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1 Newton Garver, “What Violence is” The Nation (June 24, 1698), 817.

2 Robert Audi, “On the Meaning and Justification of Violence” in Violence, (Philadelphia: David McKay Company, 1971), 55.

3 Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers (New York: Ace Science Fiction, 1959/2006), 144.

4 Max Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, (New York: Routledge, 1948/2009), 334.

5 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (London: Penguin Classics, 1651/1985) Ch. XIII.

6 Sheldon S. Wolin, “Violence and the Western Political Tradition,” in Violence: A Philosophical Anthology, (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009), 37-39.

7 Bruce D. Porter, War and the Rise of the State: The Military Foundations of Modern Politics, (New York: The Free Press, 1994) xv-xix.

8 R. D. Yadav, Law of Crime and Self-Defence (New Delhi: Mittal Publications, 1993), xv.

9 Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1973), 126-130

10 Peter A. Kiss, Winning Wars amongst the People: Case Studies in Asymmetric Conflict, (Lincoln, NE: Potomac Books, 2014), 10-11 and 237.

11 Ian Sutherland, “The Causation of War” in The Collected Papers of Lewis Fry Richardson Vol. 2, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 33.

12 Johan Galtung, “Violence, Peace and Peace Research” in Violence: A Philosophical Anthology (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009), 87.

13 Alan Scott, “The Political Sociology of War” in The Blackwell Companion to Political Sociology, (Maldon, MA” Blackwell Publishing, 2001/2004), 185.

14 Larry Correia, Monster Hunter International, (Riverdale, NY: Baen Books, 2009) 1, 2, 47-48, 313, 462.

15 Larry Corriea and John Ringo, Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge (Riverdale, NY: Baen Books, 2016), 90.

16 Corriea, International, 24 and Ringo and Corriea, Grunge, 98, 265.

17 Larry Corriea, Monster Hunter: Legion, in passim. Corriea, Monster Hunter: Vendetta, 4

18 Sarah V Percy, “The Security Council and the Use of Private Forces” in The United Nations Security Council and War: The Evolution of Thought and Practice since 1945. Ed. by Vaughan Lowe, Adam Roberts, et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 625 and Corriea, Legion (Riverdale, NY: Baen Books, 2010), 9.

19 Corriea and Ringo, Grunge, in passim; Corriea, International, in passim.

20 Ibid, 30; Corriea, Legion, 65.

21 Corriea, International, 14 and 49.

22 Corriea and Ringo, Grunge, in passim; Corriea, International, in passim; Corriea, Legion, in passim.

23 President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice. (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1967), 7.

24 “Thanks for the Memories”’ Grimm. Dir. Norberto Barba. Writ. Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, (NBC TV, 2014.) Weber, Essays in Sociology, 334.

Patrick S. Baker

Patrick S. Baker is a U.S. Army Veteran, currently a Department of Defense employee. He holds Bachelor degrees in History and Political Science and a Masters in European History. Patrick’s nonfiction has appeared in Medieval Warfare Magazine, and Strategy & Tactics Magazine. His fiction has appeared in Broadsword and Blasters Magazine, Mythic Magazine as well as the After Avalon, Uncommon Minds and King of Ages anthologies. In his spare time Patrick reads, works out, plays war-games, and enjoys life with his wife, dog, and two cats. Patrick’s website can be found at https://bakerp2004.wordpress.com.

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