The State’s Monopoly on Adventure

The ability to do (morally aligned) violence independently is kind of essential to adventure. Fighting pirates, beating up bullies, dueling your mortal enemy, even shooting dangerous animals – you get the picture.

It’s violent and dangerous stuff. And these used to be (almost) perfectly legal for the average man to do. And who of us hasn’t dreamed of doing them?

The growth of the nation-state – that group of folks claiming a monopoly on legitimized violence – changed not the violence, but who can do it. Now the only folks who can fight the bad guys without getting thrown in jail themselves are the cops and soldiers. Want to have a (legal) adventure? Your options are limited unless you join up with the police or the military. Don’t want to join up and uphold a system of laws and bureaucrats you don’t like? You’re out of luck.

It’s arguable whether we’re much safer with the ability to do violence concentrated with the state (there are risks and rewards). But it’s certain that the life of the average man has gotten less adventurous. We can get permission to hunt big game, occasionally engage in self-defense (if we’re willing to face a legal battle), and have the surreptitious fist fight (if our opponent has enough honor to not call the police). But permission, legal liability, and the need for secrecy has tainted it all.

If men are sovereign – as I believe they are and should be – they should have the right to defend their sovereignty and set things right amongst themselves. They should choose arbiters if they want them – not the state.

But beyond the moral argument, there’s an aesthetic one: life in the shadow of the state has gotten boring. The state’s monopoly on violence has become a monopoly on adventure, and it needs to be broken.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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